Are your company mobile devices protected?

Mobile devices are indispensable. Smartphones, tablets, and other mobile gadgets play a big part in everyday processes, especially for individuals and companies that value connection and convenience. But as the number of mobile devices used in business operations increases, so do the cyberthreats that target them. Be sure to follow these steps to safeguard company mobile devices.

Ensure mobile OS is up to date

The updates to Apple and Android operating systems (OS) improve overall user experience, but their most important function is to fix security vulnerabilities. Reduce your business’s exposure to threats by installing updates for all devices as soon as they become available. Don’t delay updates, as doing so gives cybercriminals ample time to exploit vulnerabilities on devices that run on an outdated OS.

Install business applications only

Downloading apps seems harmless. However, lenient policies on what should and shouldn’t be downloaded on company mobile devices could lead to staff installing non-business-related apps, many of which are notorious for malicious advertising codes and other threats. It’s imperative that employees download and install only business applications necessary for their work on their company-issued mobile devices.

Be careful when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks

Emergencies may compel your staff to use password-free Wi-Fi networks in hotels, airports, cafes, and other public places. Connecting to an open network can expose your confidential information and sensitive company data to cybercriminals connected to the same network.

You can avoid this by providing a practical internet data plan, preferably one that includes roaming services, for remote workers. And if connecting to a public Wi-Fi network is really necessary, using a reputable virtual private network (VPN) can help protect your sensitive data. A VPN creates a direct, secure connection for data from your end to your intended point on the internet.

Enable phone tracking tools

Losing a company-issued mobile device is unfortunate. Devices can be misplaced or stolen, but enabling Find My iPhone for iOS devices, GPS Phone Tracker for Android, or any device-tracking app helps users locate lost phones. Some also have the option to delete data on stolen devices. Downloading and setting up such an app takes only a few minutes and it will give you peace of mind knowing that even if your phone is lost or stolen, its contents will not be compromised.

Screen SMS carefully

SMS phishing can be used to trick you into clicking malicious links. Cybercriminals send messages purporting to be from someone you know, asking you to urgently disclose confidential information. Should you encounter such an SMS, you can either delete it or alert your IT department. You can also block unknown senders without even opening their messages.

Mobile devices are becoming more critical to operations. And with more devices open to attacks, businesses must bolster their cybersecurity efforts. Malicious actors will exploit every possible vulnerability and that includes those in unsecured smartphones and tablets. Get in touch with us if you need comprehensive security solutions for your business.

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What are the ownership costs of VoIP?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems are a cost-effective way to improve business communication, as they are billed at a standard monthly fee. But aside from the monthly bill, your VoIP system will also come with other costs of ownership that you should know about.

Upfront costs

Upfront costs are largely determined by the manner in which you acquire your systems, such as whether you buy a VoIP system outright or rent it from a third party. Although the former carries a steep upfront cost, payment does not continue indefinitely. This makes sense for large, fully staffed corporations with massive budgets. Meanwhile, the latter option is better for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that prefer to pay a small monthly subscription rather than make a huge initial investment.

Beyond the price of the VoIP package, upfront costs also include additional costs like headsets, webcams, and a higher-bandwidth network connection to ensure crystal-clear, uninterrupted calls.

Implementation costs

Implementation costs include the fees of consultants or managed IT services providers that design, deploy, and configure your VoIP system. And if you’re installing a completely new phone system, you also need to factor in costs associated with training employees on how to use the VoIP system effectively and securely.

Operational costs

This covers monthly recurring costs of voice and data plans. For example, some service providers charge local and long-distance calls per minute, while others offer unlimited local calls for a fixed monthly fee.

If you’re managing your VoIP infrastructure yourself, you also have to take into account monthly power, cooling, and maintenance fees. If you opt for hosted VoIP services, however, you are only billed for maintenance.

Upgrade costs

You should also need to set aside some room in your budget for VoIP upgrades. For instance, you may need to integrate customer relationship management (CRM) software with VoIP to ensure high levels of customer satisfaction. Aside from the cost of the upgrade itself, you should also anticipate spending on consultation, as upgrade integrations have a better chance at success if deployed by experts.

Evaluating all the costs that apply to your business will give you a clear idea of how much you can expect to pay for your VoIP system. If you’re having difficulty calculating the actual costs of VoIP implementation, call our experts today. We’ll help you figure out which VoIP solution is most ideal for your business and budget.

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Microsoft 365’s must-try features for hybrid workers

Keeping employee productivity up, maintaining operational efficiency, and streamlining communications are just some of the challenges in today’s hybrid workplace. Fortunately, organizations can overcome these problems with the help of Microsoft 365’s dynamic new features. Let’s take a look at the most promising upgrades in M365.

Work seamlessly with Windows 365

Windows 365 is a cloud service that allows users to experience a more powerful and more agile version of Windows 10 or 11. Also called the “Cloud PC”, Windows 365 will enable you to access your entire PC — including personalized apps and settings — from any device. This means Windows 365 users can start working from anywhere right away, which is especially useful when finishing an urgent task or getting the most out of a productivity streak.

Windows 365 eliminates logistical complexities and security concerns that often get in the way of efficient hybrid working. With a Cloud PC, you can start working on your office computer, pick up where you left off on your tablet during your commute, and jump right back in on your desktop if you’re working from home the next day.

Experience a more powerful Teams app

Teams is now loaded with new apps that are sure to make Microsoft’s communication platform even more collaborative. One of the new apps coming to Teams is Confluence Cloud by Atlassian, which allows users to take notes during a Teams meeting. The notes can be formatted as action items, mentions, tables, and the like to make the salient parts of the meeting more digestible. On top of this feature, the notes are also easily shareable in the Teams channel, allowing everyone to immediately access a copy of the minutes of the meeting.

Salesforce will also be available for Teams. With the Salesforce for Teams app, you can integrate Salesforce records into different chats, calendar meetings, or channels so you can access and refer to the documents during discussions.

There’s also a new Q&A app that will help improve question and answer sessions in meetings or webinars with a large number of participants. Attendees can now ask questions and reply to other participants’ questions throughout the meeting, and organizers can moderate discussions by filtering responses, marking the best answers, and pinning posts. This gives the Q&A more structure and makes it easier for everyone to search for relevant information.

Get better organized to improve productivity

It’s easy to get disorganized when you have several things on your plate. With Microsoft 365’s new features, it is a lot easier to prioritize tasks, organize events, and take necessary breaks in between.

For one, you can now pin emails to the top of your inbox so you can readily find important emails later. Message reminders in Outlook will also help you stay on top of your tasks by nudging you to take action on emails that you might have missed.

There’s also no need to sift through thousands of documents to find the right files to attach to your plan in Microsoft Planner. The app can now show you a list of files related to your agenda that you might want to attach, helping you save time and effort.

What’s more, a new setting in Outlook lets you schedule meetings early or late so you can carve out essential breaks between back-to-back engagements. Scheduling breaks between meetings gives you and your employees time to breathe and prevents you from feeling overwhelmed or burned out.

We’ve only just scratched the surface of Microsoft 365’s newest features. If you want the latest updates on this topic, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our tech experts are always ready to answer your queries.

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5 Savvy Gmail features you should try

Today, over 1.8 billion people use Gmail, choosing it over other email services for its ease of use and productivity-boosting capabilities. They’ll be surprised to learn that they can still take their Gmail experience up a notch by putting the following features to use.

Undo Send

In the fast-paced world of business, mistakes happen. And because everybody deserves a second chance at writing that email, Gmail has provided a way to recall sent emails — as long as you do it immediately after hitting Send.

To rescind your email, simply click on Undo or View Message > Undo beside the “Message Sent” prompt at the bottom left of your screen.

Gmail templates

Gmail templates, formerly known as canned responses, are pre-written email formats that you can use as is or as the starting point of a fresh email. These are great for regular messages that follow a specific template. Instead of writing the same lines of text over and over again, you can simply choose any of the customizable templates with a few clicks.

Make sure the feature is enabled by clicking on the gear icon at the top-right corner of the screen and then See all settings. Go to the Advanced tab, and select Enable in the Templates section before clicking the Save Changes button at the bottom.

Once this feature is enabled, you can access your Gmail templates by composing a new email and clicking Templates > Insert Template.

Send large attachments with Google Drive

Need to send a high-resolution RAW image to a client but Gmail’s attachment size restrictions won’t let you? You can simply upload your files to Google Drive and click on Share to get a sharing link you can send to your client or your boss.

Alternatively, you can click on the Google Drive icon at the bottom of your email composition window and choose the files you wish to send.

Turn on Priority Inbox

The Priority Inbox feature organizes your messages by importance using machine learning. You’ll be able to divide your inbox into five categories, where the messages will be displayed in the following order:

  1. Important and unread messages
  2. Starred messages
  3. [Customizable category]
  4. [Customizable category]
  5. Everything else

Enable advanced settings

Configuring Gmail’s Advanced Settings is an excellent way to increase email efficiency. Some of these features include Multiple Inboxes, Preview Pane, and custom keyboard shortcuts. Access them by going to Settings > See all settings > Advanced.

Spending the right amount of time with emails while managing other crucial business areas is a balancing act many business owners find difficult. If you have questions or need further assistance regarding Gmail or IT in general, feel free to contact us.

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Your business needs a business continuity plan — here’s why

Do you know why some small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) fail during the first five years of operation? Poor leadership is one reason, inadequate capital is another. Another possible cause is the lack of preparation for major disruptions like natural disasters and cyberattacks. If you want to prevent this from happening to your business, you need a business continuity plan (BCP).

What is a BCP?

A BCP is a predefined set of protocols on how your business should respond in case of an emergency or natural disaster. It contains contingency plans for every aspect of your organization, including human resources, assets, and business processes.

Key threats to business continuity

Various types of threats can affect SMBs such as:

  • Natural disasters: These are natural phenomena such as floods, storms, earthquakes, and wildfires.
  • Man-made disasters: These include cyberattacks, intentional sabotage, and human negligence.
  • Equipment and utility failures: These include unexpected power failures, internet downtime, and disruption of communication services.

How to build an effective BCP

If your company does not have a BCP in place, now is a good time to create one. These steps will help you formulate an effective BCP that will ensure your company keeps running even during a major crisis.

  1. Perform a risk assessment
    To create an effective BCP, it’s important to identify the risks to prioritize. Start by identifying potential threats that may impact your daily operations. List down as well industry risks, geographical area, rising trends, and issues that your stakeholders may encounter. Next, categorize the risks based on the level of impact, likelihood of occurrence, or other criteria.Once risks have been identified and a plan has been developed, carefully identify any possible gaps. Collaborate with your team to identify any weak points in the plan, and make changes as necessary.
  2. Perform a business impact analysis (BIA)
    A BIA will help you determine how a disruption can affect your company’s current functions, processes, personnel, equipment, technology, and physical infrastructure. IT will also help you calculate the potential financial and operational loss from each function and process affected.
  3. Identify your recovery options
    Identify key resources for restoring your business to minimum operational levels. Some recovery options you can take include using data backups, allowing employees to work from home or operating from a secondary location.
  4. Document the plan
    Make a record of the BCP and store the document in a secure location, preferably an off-site one to reduce the risks of loss or damage in case of a disaster.
  5. Test and train
    Once your BCP is in place, your continuity team needs to perform tests regularly to identify gaps and make necessary changes to ensure the plan’s effectiveness. They also need to conduct regular employee training so that everyone knows their respective roles should a disaster strike.

Having an effective BCP is a great way to ensure your business can quickly recover after a major disaster. If you’re thinking about creating a BCP for your company but don’t know where to start, give us a call today.

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Reasons you should switch to Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge is a web browser that offers a fast, intuitive, and productive user experience. If you’re in the market for a new and high-performing browser, Microsoft Edge has several new features that are worth checking out.

1. Vertical tabs

Vertical tabs are a handy feature if you often find yourself opening dozens of tabs at once at any given time. Instead of having to hover over or click on one to see which page it’s on, you can easily find and manage your tabs on the side with a single click. You’ll never have to lose track of or accidentally close tabs again.

With the recent Microsoft Edge update, users will now be able to hide the horizontal title bar at the top of the screen so there’s additional vertical space to work with. To enable this feature, go to Settings > Appearance > Customize toolbar and select Hide title bar while in vertical tabs.

2. Tab groups

Microsoft Edge allows you to group related tabs so you can better organize your web browser and workspace. For instance, you can have all project-related tabs grouped together and designate another tab group for recreational YouTube video watching. Using tab groups is as easy as right-clicking on an open tab and selecting Add tab to a new group. From there, you’ll be able to create a label and choose a color to identify the tab group. When the tab group is set up, you can add tabs to the group by clicking and dragging.

3. Collections

Collections allows you to gather information from different sites, then organize, export, or return to it at a later time. Doing these can be especially difficult if you’re working across several sites and multiple devices. To use this feature, simply click on the Collections button and a pane will open on the right side of your browser window. Here, you can easily drag and drop web pages, text, images, videos, and other elements into a group, which you can then import to a Word document or Excel workbook.

4. Tracking prevention

Whenever you visit a site, online trackers can collect information about your internet activity, including pages you visit, links you click on, your search history, and more. Companies then use the data collected to target you with personalized advertisements and experiences.

The tracking prevention feature in Microsoft Edge is designed to keep you from being tracked by sites that you aren’t accessing directly. It’s enabled by default, and it gives you control over the types of third-party trackers to be detected and blocked, thereby enhancing your online privacy.

5. Password Monitor

Millions of online personal credentials are frequently exposed due to data breaches and sold on the dark web. To keep your online accounts safe from hackers, Microsoft developed the Password Monitor. When enabled, this feature notifies you if the credentials you’ve saved to autofill are on the dark web. It then prompts you to take action, allowing you to view a list of all the leaked credentials and then leading you to the respective site to change your password.

6. Immersive Reader

Built into the new Microsoft Edge, Immersive Reader makes reading online easier and more accessible by removing distractions on the page and creating a simplified environment that helps you to focus. This feature also gives you access to a variety of capabilities, including hearing text read aloud or adjusting the text size.

7. Easy switching

Microsoft Edge is available to download for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. What’s great is that you can easily copy or migrate your bookmarks, form fill information, passwords, and basic settings to the new Microsoft Edge with just a single click.

If you want to learn more about the latest features of Microsoft Edge and how to enjoy these benefits on your business computers, give us a call today.

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4 Important details about HIPAA compliance

Getting your practice up to code when it comes to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations can seem challenging upon first glance, but knowing where your IT efforts must be prioritized is the first step. In this article, we’ll zero in on four of the most critical items you must look into to become HIPAA-compliant.

1. Whether it be on-premises, on the cloud, or both, data storage must be HIPAA-compliant

Electronic protected health information (ePHI) and any sensitive documents like billing records, appointment information, and test results must be stored in HIPAA-compliant devices and servers. More specifically, your devices and services should have multiple layers of security, including endpoint protection software, encryption systems, and strict access controls.

Healthcare providers tend to prefer building their own data centers since they won’t require internet connectivity to access on-premises data storage. However, storage space may be limited, so the cloud is viable, especially for less sensitive ePHI. When choosing cloud-based storage for your EHRs, make sure that you and your service provider meet HIPAA requirements.

2. Data must be secured while providing telehealth and mHealth services

If your practice has invested in or is thinking about investing in telehealth or mobile health (mHealth), then you need to make sure that the tech you utilize is HIPAA-compliant. While most telehealth technologies are HIPAA-approved, one or two additional measures may be required for complete compliance. For example, you may need to utilize encryption in transit to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks during virtual consultations. An IT specialist should have no problem making sure your telehealth solution is up to code.

On the other hand, mHealth may be a little more problematic, as it is a new and constantly changing field. Your best bet is to consult with an expert to make sure that you’re following all the necessary regulations when providing mHealth services.

3. Healthcare business associates must also be HIPAA-compliant

Conforming to HIPAA regulations is not just limited to medical practices, healthcare clearinghouses, and health plan organizations. Any business that has access, electronic or otherwise, to PHI is also required by law to be HIPAA-compliant. This includes any accounting or law firms you work with that may already be accessing your files electronically to carry out work.

To avoid any potential trouble for your practice or its partners, it is best to ask them if they are HIPAA-compliant before partnering with them. If they aren’t, do not grant them data access privileges.

4. Your protected health information (PHI) notice must be available online

If your practice has a website, HIPAA rules dictate that your website must contain a copy of your updated PHI notice for patients to access. This notice informs patients of their rights with regard to their health information. If this information is not currently posted on your website, rectify this as soon as possible to avoid any problems.

Still not sure if you’re 100% HIPAA-compliant? Our team of experts can run the necessary risk analysis and identify areas of your technology that may not be in line with current regulations. Just give us a call today.

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How updated firmware keeps cyberattacks at bay

Your business may have all the latest cybersecurity solutions in place, but if you haven’t updated your computers’ firmware in a while, you may still be at risk of data breaches and other cyberattacks. Here’s how updating firmware can beef up your company’s cyber defenses.

What is firmware?

Firmware is a basic type of software that is embedded into every hardware component in computers, computer peripherals (e.g., keyboards, mice), printers, mobile devices, and Internet of Things devices. It’s also found in some household appliances and gadgets such as TV remote controls, as well as everyday objects like traffic lights.

Essentially, firmware controls the device it’s installed on, sending instructions for how the device communicates with its different hardware components. It is only compatible with the make and model of the particular hardware it is installed on, and it cannot be uninstalled or deleted.

Why is updating firmware important?

According to Microsoft’s 2021 Security Signals report, firmware attacks are on the rise. These attacks involve injecting malware into computer systems to tamper with the firmware on motherboards or hardware drivers. From there, cybercriminals can do any number of things to the infected computers, including remotely controlling the devices, disabling the antivirus software, exfiltrating data, and blocking access to the devices and the data they contain.

Experts recommend installing firmware updates as soon as these become available to effectively protect against firmware attacks and other threats to your business’s cybersecurity. Users will also enjoy increased speed and enhanced performance with a firmware update.

How to install firmware updates

The method for updating firmware differs from device to device. For instance, you can simply download and install firmware updates on both iOS and Android devices. However, for devices such as routers, you will have to apply firmware updates from the manufacturer’s website or administrative console.

Keep in mind, however, that updating firmware can be tedious and time-consuming. In some cases, a firmware update can reset your devices and restore factory settings, causing you to lose custom configurations on your computers, routers, and the like. And if you fail to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter, you risk damaging your systems.

It’s therefore best to leave the installation of firmware updates to the experts. For more information about firmware security and how to safely install firmware updates, or for any questions related to business IT, give our specialists a call today.

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Why your company should record calls

If you own and operate a small- or medium-sized business that relies on positive word of mouth, you probably need to make sure the quality of your customer service is top-notch. It definitely pays to have excellent products and/or services in the first place, but it wouldn’t hurt to leverage other tools at your disposal. If you haven’t already, start using your Voice over Internet Protocol’s (VoIP) call recording feature so your business can enjoy these advantages.

1. Upgrade employee performance

According to Edgar Dale’s Cone of Learning, people only remember 10% of what they read, 50% of what they see and hear, and 90% of what they do. By providing your agents with actual recordings of good and bad calling examples during training sessions and having them simulate calls afterwards, they’ll be able to learn better and provide high-quality customer service faster.

2. Improve customer service

One of the most important reasons why businesses should always record their calls is to ensure high-quality customer service. By reviewing calls, managers can understand how their agents have been dealing with customers, find out whether or not they’ve followed company protocol, and pinpoint any aspects that can be improved on.

Without call recording, managers would have to listen to each call in real time, which is time-consuming. By recording each call, not only will your managers save time, but your employees will also be motivated to perform at their best, since they know their calls can always be reviewed.

3. Retrieve missed details and prevent potential lawsuits

Your employees handle hundreds of phone calls daily, so it’s understandable if they don’t catch every single detail. And for companies that require their agents to manually input information during calls, there’s always a possibility that they’ll forget or miss certain information, which could then lead to disgruntled customers. If not properly handled, this can harm your reputation, reduce work opportunities, and if things escalate, proceed to litigation.

VoIP’s call recording feature lets you replay saved audio files to make sure you haven’t missed any details, ensuring that all customer demands are met. And if you ever get into a dispute with your clients regarding who said what, you can always retrieve the exact audio file and have both sides listen to it, saving you thousands of dollars in legal fees.

4. Understand customer preferences

Have you ever received an inquiry about a product or service that’s not included in your offerings? While your agents usually jot these requests down and pass them on to the relevant personnel, they may overlook some of these if numerous calls are being made that day. Tiny issues like this can lead to potentially huge losses.

With call recording, you can review all your calls at the end of the day. You’ll have a better picture of what certain customers are looking for so you can address their needs better.

VoIP allows businesses to make on-demand calls affordably, and its call recording feature helps companies improve their customer service and prevent litigation. If you think business VoIP is right for you, or if you have any questions, give us a call today.

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