November 23rd, 2015

Man with tablet computer reading news at motning in cafe

Certain tablets being sold on Amazon are coming with preloaded malware that cannot be deleted.

Amazon is one of the most convenient ways to get whatever you need. With one-day shipping, you don’t even have to brave the masses at the mall to cross off all of your holiday gifts. However, if you are looking for a new tablet, you may want to jump in your car and head to the store instead of going through Amazon.

Many users are complaining that the tablets that are being sold on Amazon are being delivered with pre-installed malware which can delete users’ apps. If you are looking for a Google Nexus tablet or iPad, don’t worry. The malware is only being reported on “no brand” tablets that are built in China.

Most tablets are being affected by a particular Trojan called “Cloudsota.” Cloudsota has the ability to silently install malware or adware on the table while uninstalling anti-virus apps. It can also replace boot wallpapers and animation on certain devices with advertisements while changing the browser’s homepage to strange ad pages.

The devices that are affected are simply “fulfilled” by Amazon but sold by third party sellers. This means that Amazon holds the stock in the warehouses but does not have any other connection to the tablets.

For more information on the Amazon tablet malware warning and for all of your IT needs to keep your personal information safe, contact Proactive Networks in Pasadena, California.

November 23rd, 2015

Blogging has gone from being a fun side project for aspiring creatives to an absolute necessity for businesses of all sizes. For many companies, especially small to medium-sized ones, it’s likely to be just about the only web page that is updated with any regularity on their websites. And that’s why you need to be pushing your blogs. With hard work and engaging content, you can morph your company’s blog from afterthought to valuable asset that brings in people to your site.

Do any of these sound like your blog?

Sporadic posts often months apart A once vibrant blog that is now nothing more than digital tumbleweeds blowing by A page that says “coming soon”

We’re not here to judge. However, if any one of these scenarios resembles the current state of your blog, it might be time to do something about it. We know you’re busy and that the last thing you want to do is write about your business but, with content that is carefully crafted and curated, your company will have an unique asset that can help lead your marketing, by establishing you as an expert in your field, and promote sales efforts by driving people to your website.

You’re probably wondering where to begin. Well go ahead and reset the password for your WordPress or Tumblr account, because we have a few pointers to help you get started.

Use your blog to build your brand identity

For small and medium-sized businesses, it can be difficult to build a brand identity. You have your logo and colors, but what does your brand consist of beyond that? What is its personality, what characteristics does it have, and what is its tone? These are just a few of the questions you need to consider before you begin writing your blog posts, or having someone else write them for you, of course, which is a good option for busy business people.

A blog that reflects the personality of your business helps to give you a brand identity in the minds of readers by letting them know just what your company is. A hardware store is most likely going to want the contents of its blog to be straightforward, reliable and no-nonsense, while a marketing company is likely to have a blog that shows off its creativity, playfulness and skill at design and wordplay. This is your chance to develop your company’s identity, and explore just how you wish to be perceived by online readers.

Tip: Before starting to write posts for your blog, picture your business as a person, and write down what this person would say and how they would say it. This should be used as the foundation for each and every blog post.

Create a strategy and schedule for your blog

A clearly defined schedule and game plan for your blog will help make sure that once the ball starts rolling, it keeps rolling. Your goal from a scheduling perspective should be to have at least one new post a week. More is always better, but weekly posts will at least let both readers and Google know your site is still active.

In terms of a blogging strategy, don’t feel like every post needs to be a second coming of The Odyssey. Sometimes all you need to do is come up with a quick tip, or share a video you think is useful to people visiting your website. Varying the the length and type of content featured on your blog is a good way to keep things fresh.

Tip: At the start of each month, you should come up with blog topics and a deadline for each post. This should help make sure content is always going up on your blog.

Lead and inform, but do not sell

One of the biggest challenges for small and medium-sized businesses with a blog is to keep the content related to your company without putting on the hard sell. Realistically, the goal of your blog should be to point people in the direction of your business without pushing them into buying something. They should be able to reach that conclusion organically.

Let’s use an auto parts store as an example. A blog on the quality of the windshield wipers it sells is unlikely to generate a lot of interest. That’s because it is not something that resonates with a lot of people. A post on the dangers of driving with old wiper blades, however, will help get readers more interested in investing in new blades. And the good news for them is that they can purchase new wiper blades right, without even having to leave your website.

Tip: In addition to creating informational posts, don’t be afraid to add blog posts about your employees, especially if you do not have dedicated staff pages on your website. This can enable people get to know the names and faces behind your business, and help potential customers to feel more comfortable with your company as a whole.

You made it to our blog, so there must be something to this whole blogging thing. Get in touch with us if you want to know more about how blogging, or any other technology-related tools, can help add value to your business. And of course, feel free to keep reading our blog while you’re here!

Published with permission from Source.

November 17th, 2015

Paying with credit card online

Safely cross everything off your holiday shopping list with these tips.

While you are shopping for the perfect gifts for your loved ones this holiday season, identity thieves are gearing up for one of their busiest times of the year. To help keep your personal information safe this season, keep these holiday shopping identity theft prevention tips in mind.

While heading to the mall:

  • Only bring what you need – empty out your purse and wallet so that you only have the one credit card that you will be using. The less you bring with you, the less that will be stolen if you are targeted by a thief.
  • Use the right ATM – avoid using free-standing ATMs, since they are more likely to have skimming equipment installed. Only use ATMs that are connected to a bank and always shield your PIN number when typing it in.
  • Leave your Social Security Card at home – your should never keep your Social Security Card on you, especially when you are shopping in case someone gets a hold of your wallet or purse.

If you are shopping online:

  • Use a secure site – before you enter in your credit card information, check the URL. Only use sites that start with “https” since the “s” shows that it is a secure connection.
  • Update your software – having up to date software will do a much better job at keeping identity thieves at bay. Allowing your computer to automatically update will help to ensure that your virus protection software is always working its best to keep your information safe.
  • Choose the right password – strong passwords are the best defense against identity thieves. Your password should contain uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols and not contain any personal information, such as your birthdate.

For more tips on keeping your personal information safe this holiday season, contact Proactive Networks in Pasadena, California.

November 16th, 2015

You have finally decided your small or medium-sized business is ready to utilize Business Intelligence (BI) software. This is a big step for your company and one that must be approached with diligence. If you are not careful the cost of BI software, not to mention training, could far outweigh the actual benefits you end up receiving. However, with thoughtful BI planning, you are likely to see results you would have never thought possible.

Quite a few business owners see other companies using BI software and tools successfully and hope to emulate those results. Unfortunately, BI goes far beyond installing a program on your employee’s computers and expecting them to churn out results because of it. In fact, without proper planning in place, you could end up losing money on your BI investment.

If you’re ready to bring BI software and tools to your small or medium-sized business but aren’t quite sure what your should be looking for, here are four things you need to consider during the planning process.

What data do you need to know

BI software is great at helping you obtain data and presenting it to you in all kinds of different ways. But it’s only helpful if you can actually use the information. Too many businesses jump on the BI software bandwagon because they hear about the great results other companies have achieved using these tools. However, if you don’t know what information you’re looking for or how to use that data to your advantage, BI software essentially becomes a toy for you and your staff to play with.

That’s why you need to fully understand what information and data your business needs before implementing any BI software. This will help you pick the best tool for your needs and then utilize it to great effect.

Create specific goals

When you are planning to implement BI software it is vital to have a specific endgame in mind. Increasing profits sounds great but it’s hard to utilize BI effectively when tackling a goal of that magnitude. Instead focus on performance metrics you can measure like higher closing rates or more online conversations. This will help make your planning easier and allow you to find the BI tools required to reach those goals as well as track your progress along the way.

Think about today and the future

It is important to not only think about BI software in correlation to your short term goals but your long term ones as well. You want to make sure your BI software is useful both now and in the future. Find something that can grow alongside your company over the long haul. You don’t want to constantly be changing or adding on to BI tools unless it is absolutely necessary. If possible, find BI solutions that are scalable and flexible so they can help over a longer period of time.

Keep it simple

Sometimes the desire to know more about your company can see you end up overloading your staff and employees with complex toolsets and data. The goal, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, should be data that is quickly accessible and easy to comprehend. This will allow you and your team to make speedy and informed decisions. Convoluting the process with unnecessary information or complicated process will only serve to negate what you are trying to do by installing BI software in the first place.

BI tools and software are designed to help you work smarter, not harder. When you plan to bring them to your company, this is something you will want to keep at the forefront of your decision making process.

If your company is looking to start utilizing BI tools, our team of experts can help. Together we can create a BI plan that works best for your business.

Published with permission from Source.

November 13th, 2015

Cloud Computer Networking background

Choosing the right data loss prevention systems will help to keep your company secure.

Finding that all of your data has been lost or compromised can be devastating to your company. From trying to find out what happened, to looking for ways to fix the issue, a major data loss can end up costing your company hundreds or thousands of dollars. When it comes to preventing data loss at your company, there are three types of protection to consider, including:

  1. In motion protection – which applies when any sensitive data is in transit on any type of network. It will typically depend on having strong enough encryption technologies and tools to help mitigate the risk of eavesdropping while lowering the probability of a successful decryption attack. The more valuable the data is, the stronger encryption you will need.
  2. In use protection – which will apply when any sensitive data is used by applications for service delivery. It will typically depend on the type of user authentication that is needed to establish identity for anyone who is requesting to access the data as well as access control systems that have the ability to deny or permit any requests based on the user identity, role, job, and security policy. This data is usually encrypted at all times to prevent any unauthorized access.
  3. At rest protection – which will apply to the data as it is being stored in any kind of continuous storage medium. This will generally involve access controls that will limit the access to programs to users who have a legitimate need to access the information while tracking all users who access the data.

For all of your IT support needs to ensure that your data security systems are always up to date, contact Proactive Networks in Pasadena, California.

November 9th, 2015

164_A_SMFor many business owners who have dabbled in social media, they may think their efforts have been in vain and growing a large social media presence is impossible. They may go as far to believe that social media simply doesn’t work, especially when you don’t have an exciting brand like Nike or Google. The truth is you can succeed with social media, even if you have a boring brand. And here is one company that is doing just that.

Owning a “boring brand” is not an excuse for a poor social media presence

You've probably heard of 3M but may not know exactly what they do. However, there’s a good chance you may have some of their products in your house. If you have Ace bandages, Scotchgard, or Post-it notes lying around your bathroom or home office, then you are guilty of being an owner of 3M products.

So when it comes to social media, why does this company matter? Simple. They have 121,000 followers on Twitter, which may sound pretty remarkable when the name of this brand isn’t Apple, BMW or Taylor Swift. So how does a company like 3M succeed? Here are a few things they do well, and you can do too.

Invest in people

If you’re the sole person shooting out tweets, updating the status of your business’s Facebook page or writing articles to post on Linkedin - all while you’re trying to run your business - it’s no wonder your social media presence is failing. You know as well as anyone, that you don’t have the time for it. And for this reason, it’s impossible to put your full effort into growing a social media presence. So why not hire at least one expert (or maybe a few) to manage it for you? You’ll likely see a noticeable uptick in your followers. And even better, you’ll no longer be distracted with social media, and can focus on growing your business. What’s not to love about that?

As for may wonder, how many people do they employ to manage their social media presence? The answer is about ten, which is a very tiny percentage of the 90,000 employees who work there. Obviously, with 120,000 followers, their efforts are paying off.

Shoot for more content over quality content

Quality content is undoubtedly important, but quality should not be an excuse to avoid publishing content. As a business owner, that means you can’t review and approve every post and article that goes out. You need to trust your social media team to do their job. What’s more, you may fear that your team could commit some social media faux pas and accidentally publish content that outrages some of your followers. Here’s a news flash for you: it’s likely going to happen at one point or another. 3M publishes content quickly. Do you think they’ve posted content that some of their 120,000 followers have disagreed with? Of course they have. When you speak to the masses, there is no way to please everybody. So sit back, accept it and trust your social media staff. Mistakes will happen, but nothing engages your followers more than fresh, timely content. That is except for this last pointer...

Ask questions

Many social media platforms are all about engagement. If you’re aiming for more followers, you need to engage your customers and prospects. And a perfect way to do so is to ask questions. Not only does this create a connection between your brand and your customer, but it also attracts new followers. 3M posed the question, “what does science mean to you?” to their Twitter following with some incredible results. The tweet generated more than 500 favorites and 200 retweets. This is an example of the power of a question. So when it comes to social media, remember to ask questions, respond and engage. This is what many of the platforms are designed for.

What it comes down to is that your business already provides value and improves your customers’ lives in one way or another. If it didn’t, no one would buy from you and you wouldn’t have a business to begin with. So leverage that value and educate your customers on social media. You are the expert, and there are people out there who are interested in what you have to say.

For assistance with your social media presence or any of your IT needs, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Social Media
November 2nd, 2015

As it is only a matter of time before the first winter storms hit in many places, you might want to consider taking a look at your company’s business continuity plan. Each year heavy snowfall and other weather-related incidents interrupt services and cost businesses money. One way to prevent this from happening is by communicating with clients and staff before a storm hits, in order to ensure everyone is prepared.

While weather varies drastically depending on where you live, nowhere is immune from inclement conditions during the winter. It’s only a matter of time before your local weatherperson appears on TV warning you to brace for yet another “Storm of the Century”, and in turn everyone whips themselves into a frenzy preparing for the worst-case scenario.

However, you shouldn’t just be focusing on your personal affairs; you need to make sure your business is ready as well. Even if the forecast doesn’t turn out to be accurate, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. For this to happen, you will need to stay in constant contact with both your employees and customers before and during a storm to make sure they know what to expect. Doing this will help limit interruptions and make sure clients can adjust the expectations they have of your business. Here is how you can use communication technology to prepare for any possible service interruptions caused by bad weather.


The great thing about technological advancements over the past few years is that they allow for many employees to work from home, or from anywhere that has an internet connection. However, they must be prepared to do so. That means you should be letting employees know that there is a chance they might be working from home three or four days before a storm is due to hit. During this time, have your IT department or provider check with those employees to ensure they have the capabilities to work from home, even if it is in a limited capacity.

During this time, designate certain employees as flex workers if you can’t determine just how bad the weather will be the next day. This means that they will check the weather in the morning and come in if it is safe. They will also be in charge of informing other employees whether or not they will need to come into work.

Finally, make sure there is an updated spreadsheet or file with all your employees’ contact details, and that this is available to those who may need it. It is important that each person at your company is able to be reached via multiple channels, because you never know which services a storm may knock out. Having this ready before anything happens will allow for more efficient communication during inclement weather.


Your customers depend on you, and it is absolutely vital that you keep them informed of how the weather situation will affect your business. One of the easiest ways to do this is via social media. In the days leading up to the storm, let your followers know that you are keeping an eye on the situation, and provide contact information for someone at your company who can give them additional information if needed.

If your business will have to close because of bad weather, it’s good practice to announce it as far ahead of time as possible. Ideally this will be done on the night before or, at the latest, early in the morning of the closure. You don’t want customers trekking in three feet of snow to get to your shop or office, only to find out it's closed.

Make sure you get in touch with clients right away to inform them of any delays that might occur in delivering goods or services because of the office shut-down, and give them an estimate as to when your business will be fully operational again. Just because you aren’t responsible for the weather doesn’t mean you can stop being accountable altogether. Staying ahead of the game will prove to clients that your company is organized and prepared for anything.

Of course, communication is just one part of a comprehensive business continuity plan. Contact our experts today and find out how we can keep your company functional no matter the weather.

Published with permission from Source.

October 29th, 2015

Hand pressing an email icon on blurred cityscape background

Email Safety

Email is a vital part of any business. While it allows employees to easily communicate with others as well as clients, it also opens the door to online dangers. Working with a secure email system can help to ensure that your company is able to operate safely and efficiently.

At Proactive Networks, we offer bulletproof email solutions that will help to guarantee your email services while protecting you from spam, viruses, and malware. Our email solutions can provide your company with many necessary services, including:

Simple administration

  • No software or hardware that needs to be installed
  • Users can manage their own spam with Spam Quarantine Reports
  • Complete control for administrators through the role-based permissions

Security filtering

  • State of the art filtering system that is based on virus, spam, and attachment filtering
  • More than a 99 percent capture rate for spam
  • Disaster Recovery system for 5 days with notification

Message compliance and archiving

  • Compliant solutions for SEC, SOX, FINRA/NASD, HIPPA, and many more
  • Quickly deployed solutions to meet specific compliance standards

When you choose to host your email with Proactive Networks, you will have access to the support you need, any day of the year, at any time. You will also have access to unlimited mailbox storage, mobile device synchronization, Akamai-enabled performance optimization, and much more.

For more email security tips to ensure that your email system is not the weak spot in your company, contact Proactive Networks in Pasadena, California.


October 26th, 2015

164_A_SecWhile small businesses lack the big budgets of their enterprise counterparts, that doesn’t make security any less of an issue for SMBs. In fact, small and medium businesses are more and more often the target of cyber criminals precisely because they generally have fewer security measures in place. So to ensure your business has enough security to stay protected, here are a number of rules every SMB should follow to keep themselves secure.

Recognize where your most critical data lies

Is it in the cloud? Hard drives? Backup disks? Mobile devices? Whether or not you have the budget and resources to adequately secure all of your data, the critical data that your business relies on must be sufficiently secure. If you’re unsure of what that is, ask yourself which data you would need to access within 24 hours of your business suffering a major disaster, in order to ensure your operations remained up and running. Once you’ve answered this question, talk with your IT managers to determine the security measures that need to be implemented to protect your most vital data.

Learn the basics

After you’ve bulletproofed your critical data, it’s time to arm your network with the basics. If you haven’t already done so, ensure that you have anti-malware protection on servers and endpoints, and firewalls for both wireless and wired access points.

If you have the budget, it’s worth seeking outside counsel from an IT expert fluent in today’s security best practices. They’ll ensure your business is protected from the latest cyber threats. However, if you don’t have the budget, then it’s time to take matters into your own hands. Read up on security trends, join technology networking groups, and ask your fellow business owners about their own IT security policies.

Cash a reality check

Bad things happen to nice people. Tornadoes, fires, thieves, and faulty technology couldn’t care less about how your business donates to local charities and supports your community’s youth sports clubs. What’s more, hundreds of small businesses across the country suffer severe data loss each year. Ignorance and turning a blind eye will not protect you, so make a wise decision and automate your data to be backed up daily. This allows your business to remain in operation if you’re hit by a security breach.

Dispose of old technology properly

Whether it’s a computer, server or tablet, any device that stores data on it must be properly disposed of when it conks out. Specifically, the hard disk must be destroyed completely. And remember, proper data disposal is not only limited to technology, as critical information is also revealed on paper files. So if you’re migrating the content of physical documents to the cloud, make sure to shred the paper versions too.

Mind your mobiles

The mobile age is here, and along with it come employees who may access your business’s critical information via their smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. Recognize that many of these devices have different operating systems that require varying security measures. You and your IT manager should be aware of this, which leads to our last point...

Think policy

Have a policy for all your company’s devices. If you don’t inform your employees they shouldn’t access company information via their phones or tablets, then they’ll likely assume it’s okay to do so. But thinking policy doesn’t pertain only to mobiles. You should also determine acceptable online behavior for your employees, as well as how data should be shared and restricted. Put this in writing, and then have your employees read and sign it.

Of course, it’s not always wise to be overly restrictive. Rather the point is to have policies in place and make everyone in your organization aware of them because if you don’t each staff member will make up their own rules.

Are you concerned your business’s security isn’t up to par? Need the guidance of a seasoned IT provider who specializes in security? Talk to us today.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Security
October 21st, 2015

Concepts cloud computing devices

Online Backups

No matter how well you secure and protect your company’s vital information, there is always a threat that it will be lost. Backing up all of your files and data can help to give you the peace of mind that you deserve.

There are countless ways that your data and files can be lost, including:

  • Virus – malicious and aggressive viruses can quickly corrupt files and disable entire computers.
  • Crashes – computer crashes seem to happen at the worst moments, and can lead to the complete loss of your information.
  • Failed hard drives – hard drives have a specific lifespan and can fail with little or no warning. Having your hard drive suddenly die can cause you to lose all access to years of files and data.
  • Computer damage – if your company uses laptops, your information may be at greater risk. Dropping your laptop or spilling a drink can cause complete loss of all your information.
  • Theft – thieves commonly target computers for their value and will go to great lengths to steal computers, which can also lead to the theft of your information.

The best way to keep all of your information and data secure is with the right online backup system. Keeping all critical information on an online system can help to ensure that you have access to it, even if you do not have access to your computer. It will also help to make sure that it is saved and can be downloaded into any new devices that you start using.

Contact Proactive Networks in Pasadena, California to ensure that all of your data and information is properly backed up.