Monthly Archives: December 2019

Using VOIP to Optimize Your Interns and Seasonal Staff

Interns using VOIP

Quick setup for seasonal staff, temporary numbers, special queues, temporary routings, no problem!

Every industry has a busy season, of a sort. The holiday shopping season, the tax preparation season, the summer construction season; these are just a few examples. Some businesses fluctuate more than others, and many bring on seasonal staff to help tide over the busiest time of year. You may also be the type of business that occasionally welcomes interns, sponsors job training programs, and other types of temporary staff.

Of course, one of the biggest challenges of bringing on temporary staff, whether interns or seasonal, is the constant task of onboarding. Helping your new staff get adjusted to the office and dive into the workflow quickly is the key to optimizing your time with temporary staff members. And VOIP is the perfect aspect of your stack to make onboarding and integration a smooth process.

The Intern Number

If you bring on a set number of interns each year, every time they come in they occupy the same desks. They do the same tasks and they answer the same phones. One thing you can very easily do with VOIP is to set aside a special number, or set of numbers, just for the interns. This can keep your records clean and help your clients or vendors that work with the interns always calling the same numbers when it’s intern season.

Whether you have your interns calling vendors, performing customer service, taking care of follow-ups, or updating inventory; setting aside numbers for your interns means that interns can come and go but the job stays exactly the same.

Scale Up or Down with Seasonal Staff

Businesses that hire seasonal staff often find themselves investing in too many phone lines most of the year in order to have enough during the one part of the year when your staff size swells. But with VOIP, this isn’t necessary. VOIP scales easily with the size of your company, allowing you to reserve as many active lines as you need at any given time. When your staff is small during most of the year, you can pay for and manage only the phone lines you need. And when your seasonal staff members arrive to help carry you through the busy season, you can expand your plan to as many phone lines as you need.

This not only means that you save money and logistical time during the non-busy season, but also that you can scale to however many numbers you need if a particular year is especially busy. Then, if you hold onto some of your best seasonal workers by making them permanent, you can easily hold onto their lines and release the rest when the seasonal team moves on.

Fast and Smooth Onboarding Every Year

Finally, VOIP makes it incredibly easy to onboard new team members whenever they join and no matter how quickly they leave. VOIP communication platforms have team members automatically joining your phone network, chat network, and cloud communication. No need to worry about providing devices or asking your employees to use their personal numbers for BYOD workplaces. Whether you hire remotely, in-office, or your seasonal team members are out in the field, the VOIP number will work on whatever devices are used. No SIM cards, no new phone lines, and an easy-to-access platform that any new staff member can get the hang of quickly.

All they have to do is install the VOIP app on their phones, laptops, or tablets and they are instantly able to access their assigned phone number while keeping their personal contact information completely private.

VOIP is one of the best possible tools for any business that hosts interns or hires seasonal staff because it is so easy to scale and manage. Whether you keep a few numbers on the back-burner for interns or scale as-needed for impressive changes in staff-size throughout the year, VOIP is the key to smooth onboarding and efficient cost-effective cloud communication. If you’d like to explore how VOIP plans can scale with your seasonal staffing needs, contact us today!

4 Signs that There’s Malware Hiding on Your Work Computer

Portrait of shocked and surprised IT manager realizing there is malware hiding on the work computer

Having a proactive plan to deal with malware can minimize the impact

Malware comes from everywhere. You can pick it up from files, websites, interesting PDFs and so much more. Everyone is subject to a little malware and it’s understood that professionals who must access the internet for work will inevitably get some kind of malware on their work computers. That’s just the world we live in now, and businesses have long since adapted to the idea of Backup Recovery when cybersecurity is never 100%.

But as a professional living your day-to-day, it’s also important to know how to identify malware when you pick it up. Unlike when the trend started back in the 90s, modern malware is pretty darn sneaky. It doesn’t cover your screen in ads anymore or obviously open and close programs. Instead, it eats your processor speed and steals your data in the background. Sometimes for months before you realize.

Today, we’re here to share four of the most tell-tale signs that there’s malware hiding on your work computer and it’s time to do a little BDR with a fresh operating system.


Unusually Slow Performance with Offline Programs

Internet speed ebbs and flows, even in the most high-speed office or the quietest residential neighborhood. You may expect the occasional slow performance due to internet speeds (or you may not) but slow offline programs are a completely different story.

You know your computer. You know how fast it can handle the offline programs you use regularly. Things that don’t need the internet like a simple calculator, word processor, or image editor. If you’re getting serious lag and latency when you should have your computer’s whole processing power to yourself, this can indicate that you’re sharing power with malware.

A malware program may be able to hide its install location or running processes. But it can’t hide the resources it uses up.


Unseen Programs that “Refuse to Close” When You Reboot

When you reboot your computer, Windows will tell you if there’s a program that didn’t close out smoothly with the ShutDown command. Often, this is just a Chrome browser you didn’t fully close. But sometimes, it’s a surprise. Your computer may tell you that Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge are still running when you never use those programs. It might tell you something called xvb55t is running and won’t close, and that is a definite tip-off.

If something is opening programs invisibly on your computer and won’t close when you shut down… that’s malware. No two ways about it. And it’s time to fully wipe your system, because it’s hidden deep.


Your Web Extensions Aren’t Working as Expected

So often, web extensions are the cause or target of a malware attack. Most modern professionals run with some kind of ad blocker on. If you use Adblock plus, for example, it tends to pop open an extra tab nearly every time you open a new browser window. Especially from a new or recently cache-cleared device. If that browser window stops popping open, or if any of your other extensions start acting in an unusual or suspicious fashion, malware is often the cause.

You may want to clear your caches, prune your unused extensions, and possibly recover the entire computer to make sure no malware files have been hidden on your computer.


After a Scan/Clean/Reboot, You Still Scan Trackers

If you have a manual scanning program like CCleaner or something similar and you suspect there’s malware on your computer, there’s one sure way to check just how virulent that malware really is.

Start with a scan-clean cycle. Scan for trackers and junk and clear them. These could be anything and are often just clearing your temp files of web-junk that could be slowing you down. Reboot your computer, then do another scan. Find new trackers? Find new junk? There’s malware adding malicious crud to your computer as soon as it gets a chance. Also, watch your scanned-for and threat-eliminated results. If the scanner says 1 tracker was found, but it eliminated 3 trackers by the end-report, those trackers were added while the sweep-and-clear was ongoing.

You not only have malware, you have seriously aggressive malware and BDR is the best option.

Find malware on your computer? Have a really intense suspicion that there’s malware lurking? Now is the time to use your company’s backup recovery plan or get in touch with your IT help desk for guidance on how to fully wipe and safely restore your work computer. For more cybersecurity, backup recovery, and malware protection insights, contact us today!

When Should Your Employees Contact the IT Help Desk ASAP?

Employee contacting the IT help desk for a computer emergency

Engaging your help desk immediately can save you time and loss of data

An intuitive modern employee who’s contacted the help desk a few times knows that most technicians are happy to help, but generally there are a few troubleshooting steps they’d prefer team members go through before clocking a ticket. When the solution is as simple as rebooting, there’s hardly a need to call IT.

However, sometimes there are situations that team members might not realize are reasons to contact IT without any delay. No troubleshooting, no delay, no need to wait. Sometimes, it’s important to get the attention of your technical staff ASAP before a problem has a chance to get any worse. Today, we’re here to highlight the most important of those situations that apply to every business in every industry.

Here’s when you should contact the IT help desk without a moment of delay:

When There are Signs or Suspicion of a Hacker Attack

Hackers are an epidemic in the modern business world, and they come from every possible angle. Like insects out of the woodwork in a horror movie, there’s nowhere a hacker won’t try to invade your company data and the faster you smash them, the better. If an employee sees warning signs that a hacker or malware might be at work, they need to contact the IT help desk right away.

This way, your most expert technical support team can scramble and engage the highest possible data defenses. Network monitoring tools can be used to seek and destroy a lurking hacker in the network or their hidden malware. Virus scanning can be turned up to eleven to detect and eradicate anything suspicious. They may even be able to catch and report the hacker red-handed.

So it’s vital that any signs or suspicion of hacking is reported immediately, before the hacker has a chance to grab their stolen data and run.

When Something’s Sparking or Overheating

Hardware problems are often far more urgent than misbehaving software. When a computer dies, keeps crashing, or starts making a suspicious clicking sound, that’s when IT needs to be called. But some hardware problems can wait until after lunch and some should absolutely not wait.

The most urgent hardware problems involve heat and electricity, which are of course linked inside any computer or device. If you see exposed sparking or wire exposed outside of a computer case, it’s time to call your IT help desk immediately. If a computer or device is so hot that it’s uncomfortable to touch or be near, call IT. And if you smell anything remotely like smoke, smoldering, or that special hot-copper smell you might recognize from certain cooking pans, call IT without a moment to spare.

Any time there is sparking, overheating, or smoldering, then IT needs to know ASAP. If possible, very carefully pull the plug or ask maintenance to pull the plug with one of their rubber cleaning gloves.

When Vital Files are Obviously Missing or Corrupted

Sometimes, it doesn’t take a hacker or a smoking computer to cause an immediate-solution catastrophe. Sometimes, all it takes is a human error or a failed automated software update to put your entire company’s file system at risk. Employees working up in the company software have the best chance to spot when vital company files are missing or somehow corrupted and therefore are in the best position to let IT know that backup recovery procedures are needed right away.

If you run across a file, database, or server that isn’t providing data the way it should, submit that ticket without delay. A good IT team who is already on the ball will have backups ready and can get that file, database, or server back online within the day if you give them fast enough notice.

When a Distressed Customer is On the Line

Finally, it is always OK to contact your IT help desk ASAP if you have a customer on the phone (or chat) who needs technical assistance fast. Distressed customers have always been an aspect of IT assistance, even if you’re calling the internal IT help desk to to solve a problem that is technical beyond your depth but still officially a customer service issue. Your IT help desk will be happy to get you out of the hot water by guiding you to the customer’s needed solution or sometimes even taking over the call to help the customer conquer the technical troubles on their end.

If you or anyone on your team run into one of these problems, don’t stop to troubleshoot. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Just call your IT help desk and let them know what’s up so the experts can be on the job as fast as humanly possible. For more IT help desk insights or to design the perfect IT support structure for your business, contact us today!

The Importance of Multi-Factor Authentication

Digital fingerprint login multi-factor authentication

Doing nothing is no longer an option as cyber criminals are no longer targeting just large corporations.

Doing nothing is no longer an option: maintaining security for your business’s data–and your customers–has become more critical than ever. If you aren’t actively protecting your business, you can experience downtime (which can mean an expensive loss of income, not to mention the loss of employee labor during your downtime) or lose data. Turning to multi-factor authentication can offer a number of key benefits for your overall network security.

Benefit #1: Weak or stolen credentials play a role in a high percentage of cyber attacks.

Weak credentials, like poor passwords, can make it easy for hackers to break into your company’s system. Worse, when a hacker steals a worker’s credentials, they can often access your company’s data almost entirely unnoticed. A high percentage of cyber attacks begin with weak or stolen credentials that then allow the hacker full access to the system. The higher up the person the stolen credentials come from, in many cases, the more access is provided to the hacker due to those stolen credentials.

Multi-factor authentication makes it harder for hackers to log into your system.

Instead of relying on those weak credentials, multi-factor authentication uses something unique to the user–a phone number, for example–to add an extra layer of protection when they attempt to log in. While it’s not impossible for hackers to work around this barrier, it does slow them down substantially.

Benefit #2: Multi-factor authentication is easy to implement.

You  may already use multi-factor authentication in many areas of your life, often without realizing it. When you forget your email password, for example, the system may trigger a text alert that lets you access your account. It’s a quick, easy method to add an extra layer of security–and it’s one that even your most technologically-challenged team members will be able to easily add to their arsenal.

Benefit #3: Password theft is getting easier.

Tricks like keylogging and phishing are becoming increasingly common, and more hackers than ever have the keys to unlocking your password. Through multi-factor authentication, on the other hand, you make your private data much more difficult to steal–which can in turn create a substantial layer of protection around your entire company. You don’t want to leave your customers or your data at risk–and multi-factor authentication can offer the protection you need.

Benefit #4: Multi-factor authentication helps show the effort your company is putting toward cybersecurity.

Today’s customers are savvier than ever. They understand the threat represented by hackers and other cybersecurity challenges, and they want to know that your company is taking the right steps to protect their private information. When you require multi-factor authentication, you let your customers know that you genuinely care about their security and are willing to take the right steps to protect them.

Benefit #5: Multi-factor authentication can actually streamline workflow.

One of the biggest objections to multi-factor authentication is that it can make it harder to log into the systems you use every day. The reality, however, is that multi-factor authentication is fast. Most of today’s systems deliver a text within seconds, allowing you to quickly log into the system and access the information you need–but they also provide a substantial layer of protection that makes it much more difficult for a hacker to access company data. Advances in technology continue to streamline the process, making it easier on your employees and customers without decreasing the protection added by those elements.

You can no longer afford to do nothing when it comes to securing your company. If you’re ready to take the leap and protect your business and your customers with multi-factor authentication, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.