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August 31st, 2015

You’re probably all too aware of the Ashley Madison hack by now. Maybe you are closely following the names and people involved, perhaps you don’t care or most likely you are somewhere in the middle. No matter where you find yourself standing on this issue, it should be used as a valuable learning tool for your company’s security. Here are three lessons your business can take away from the scandal.

1. Make sure your company’s security data is actually secure

You probably tell clients their information is secure, but just about every company makes that claim. One of the biggest mistakes made by Ashley Madison was the failure to know if its data was truly secure. The company publically lauded its security, but it now seems like those claims were rather hollow. In fact, it appears as if no one at Ashley Madison knew a whole lot about its security practices until it was too late.

Don’t simply pass off your business’s security to the IT department. Being involved will allow you to see how it works. You don’t need to be a tech expert to understand how your data is being secured. Your security provider, whether it be in-house or via a managed services provider, should be able to explain security practices in layman’s terms. This will allow you to ask questions and be proactive because chances are if you see a weakness, others will notice it as well.

2. Beware of your employees and their email and Internet activities

Another takeaway from this scandal was the fact many employees, both from private companies and government offices, were using business email accounts to sign-up for Ashley Madison and office Internet connections to access the site. Putting the ethical questions aside for a moment, public sentiment is undoubtedly negative and companies with employees who used Ashley Madison at work have been exposed to the scandal’s backlash.

By placing the appropriate email and Internet security solutions in place at your business, you can reduce the amount of risk your company is exposed to by employees. No one really wants to put restrictions on their employees’ Internet and email access, but it is important to be smart. Being connected to scandals like this can bring unwanted publicity to your business. Worst of all, your employees might not even realize they are putting your company in harm’s way when they access this type of content at work.

3. Be prepared for data loss

As the Ashley Madison case has shown us, massive data theft or loss can be the end of your business. When clients trust your business with their data, they are confident in your ability to protect it. Of course, things do happen and if your data does go missing, it’s important to have a plan of action ready. While it’s unlikely your company’s data breach is unlikely to garner the attention of Ashley Madison, it means a whole lot more to you, your company and your employees. Just because your company isn’t big doesn’t mean it’s invincible.

A disaster recovery plan can help your company ensure it has backups and even backups of your backups. If you believe your data has been stolen by hackers, it is important to act immediately. You’ll need to quickly assess what information has been stolen and inform the appropriate parties so they can take the necessary steps to protect themselves. From there, you will want to re-secure your company closing any security loopholes that have been found. Finally, access your backups and make sure your business continues to operate as close to normal during the crisis.

Worried about your security? We can show you how to protect yourself. Contact us today for more information on how to keep your company safe.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
August 28th, 2015

Businessman push web button shield security virus sign

Cyber Security Advancements

Using the terms “cyber security” and “data science” in the same sentence seemed very out of place until recently. Traditionally, cyber security solutions have been based on signatures, relying the matches to specific patterns that were previously identified malware to capture the attacks in real time. This has led to the use of big data, advanced analytical techniques, and all the traditional components that have become synonymous with “data science” not being at the center of cyber security solutions that are focused on prevention of cyber attacks and identification.

However, this is not very surprising. With a signature-based solution, any given malware will need to be identified, and sometimes reverse engineered and have a matching signature deployed in an update of the product in order for it to be considered “detachable.” Due to this, signature-based solutions are not able to prevent zero-day attacks, while also providing a very limited benefit when compared to the predictive power that is offered by data science.

There are three main technological advances that are enabling data science to deliver innovated and new cyber security solutions, including:

  1. Computing – the easy availability of large computing power allows for the easy use of sophisticated machine learning techniques to help build models for malware identification.
  2. Storage – simply and efficiently collecting and storing large amounts of data to which various analytic techniques can be applied, which is distrusted systems as cluster deployments.
  3. Behavior – which is the fundamental shift from identifying malware that has signatures to identifying the specific behaviors that an infected computer will exhibit.

For more information on the new cyber security solutions and how they can benefit your company, contact Proactive Networks in Pasadena, California.

August 26th, 2015

BusinessIntelligence_Aug25_ADashboards have become an extremely useful tool for companies to make the most of their raw data. With proper implementation, a dashboard can display essential information in an easy-to-understand format, allowing business owners to take in the most important data about their company at a glance. But a dashboard can say a lot of things depending on its setup, and it’s important to choose one that can best serve your purpose. Here are three types of business dashboards to consider.

Strategic dashboards

Ideal for senior managers and executives, strategic dashboards are designed to help identify potential opportunities for business expansion and improvement. This type of dashboard doesn’t provide information in-depth enough to make complex decisions, and is typically is updated once a month or quarter.

Benefits of strategic dashboards As the name suggests, strategic dashboards are designed to provide strategic guidance. The dashboards give a bird’s-eye view of your business. They can contain anything from overall sales numbers to sales and revenue comparisons, or inventory levels, making it easy for executives to understand the overall health of the organization.

Analytical dashboards

This type of dashboard provides users with insights from a volume of data collected over time, enabling you to understand why certain things are happening, and what changes should be made in the future in order to accommodate them. The data presented in analytical dashboards tends to be complex, and usually requires advanced training to use. That’s why they are generally used by business analysts, instead of being widely deployed to other employees and across all departments.

Benefits of analytical dashboards When it comes to creating and implementing strong business strategies, understanding the trends and events in your data is crucial. Analytical dashboards provide detailed information that allows you to compare current against historic data. Implementing analytical dashboards allows you to enjoy in-depth analysis, identify patterns and opportunities in your data, and determine why processes are working in certain departments.

Operational dashboards

Operational dashboards are used to monitor the real-time operations of employees, allowing them to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of their work performance. This type of dashboard is commonly found in departments where it’s essential to respond to critical information quickly, such as those working in sales and marketing.

Benefits of operational dashboards Business owners rely on operational dashboards to track their employees’ progress, and to be notified of issues as they come up in order to respond quickly. What’s more, the dashboards provide up-to-date information, all bundled in one place, making it easy for employees to make quick decisions without having to dig through large amounts of data.

Dashboards concentrate all data, metrics, and parameters in one place, bringing a totally new dimension to business intelligence. Your company can significantly benefit from the right dashboard. If you’re looking to implement dashboards for the first time, or to enhance the functionality of your current dashboard, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 21st, 2015

Cloud computing connectivity concept being pressed in a one persons hand on blue technology background

Google Cloud Encryption

Google recently announced that it will allow enterprise customers of one of its Cloud Platform services to use their own encryption keys to lock up their data if they are concerned that the company is looking at their corporate information.

Google started offering companies that use their Compute Engine service the option to use their own encryption keys instead of the industry standard AES 256-bit ones that are provided by Google. The encryption keys are used to lock up data so that it is not able to be read by other parties.

The keys can be used the entire time that the customer’s data is stored on Google’s platform, including any data that is stored on boot disks, data volumes, and solid state drives. Google does not retain the keys and does not have any access to any data that is encrypted. Google has not yet mentioned if this feature will be extended to any other Cloud Platform services that are offered.

Even though Google does not monitor customer data that is stored on the Google Cloud, having your own keys to secure your data can help to provide the extra assurance that is needed to protect highly sensitive data. The new option is also working to allow organizations to streamline their encryption process, allowing them to use a single set of keys for both Google Cloud and all of their in-house operations.

Sungard Consulting Services has already expressed that they are excited to start using the new option. The company, which uses GCE to run a customer service to process high volume financial market transactions, will be able to better control client data without having to pay for third-party encryption providers.

Contact Proactive Networks in Pasadena, California for more information on the new Google Cloud security and how it can benefit your business.

August 17th, 2015

164_SM_AOne of the most valuable tools available to the modern-day marketer is the email list. A large one can make you millions, and a small or nonexistent one can prevent your business from properly taking off. So how do you grow yours? Using social media is one way that is often less talked about. Here are three tips on how you can leverage it to grow your email list.

Post and share your emails publicly

If you create great content for your email list and no one sees it except your subscribers, how are your non-subscribers going to know what they’re missing out on? They won’t, which is exactly why you should give your social media fans and followers a taste of the valuable content that awaits them after sign up.

Now let’s be clear. This doesn’t mean you should share every single email you send out to your list. If you did, there would be less of a need to subscribe. Instead, try sharing or posting an email once every few weeks or once a month.

Make it easy to sign up

Let’s face it. Many of us will take the easier, simpler path whenever possible. This is just as true in marketing as it is in other more primal aspects of human nature. Take eating, for example: if you’re short on time and have a choice between two restaurants for lunch, and one delivers and the other doesn’t, which one are you going to take? Likely the delivery. Even if you prefer the one that doesn’t deliver slightly better, you’d probably still take the delivery for the simple fact that they’ve made it easier for you.

In the online marketing world, the same concept works for gaining subscribers. This is why you need to make it as easy as possible for people to sign up after they’ve read your publicly shared email. To do this, simply add a sign-up link to the emails you share.

Create valuable content

You’ve probably heard the phrase “content is king”. However, whoever came up with this catchphrase left out a very important keyword. It should instead read “valuable content is king.” If you’re shelling out dozens of blog posts, emails, podcasts or videos a month but the content is useless to the reader, you’re not going to make any traction with your email list.

When trying to gain subscribers, always ask yourself, “what’s in it for them if they sign up?” If you simply have a signup box on your website or social media page, but no valuable content to go along with it, why would someone sign up? Would you sign up? The point is that there needs to be a reason for someone to subscribe to your email list. And valuable content is a very good reason.

Lastly, don’t forget to demonstrate why it’s more valuable for your future audience to subscribe rather than simply follow you on social media. To do this, give them an incentive to sign up. This could be in the form of an exclusive offer or a free ebook, course, report, or something similar.

Want more tips on leveraging social media to grow your business? Send us a message today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
August 13th, 2015

Abstract illustration of business network grid

LinkedIn Marketing Tips

LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing social media sites. For both industry professionals and those who are looking to expand their network, knowing when and what to post can help you get noticed. Keep these tips in mind to help you write and schedule the best updates for your profile.

  • One post a day, at least 20 times per month – posting at least 20 times a month can help you reach 60 percent of the unique audience that you are targeting. If you have the resources, time, and content to post more than 20 times a month, you should start aiming for 3 to 4 posts a day.
  • Updates of around 25 words – the number of words that your update should contain depends on who you are targeting. If you are a business to business company, your updates should be between 16 and 15 words. However, if you are a business to consumer company, your updates should be between 21 to 25 words.
  • Post during workday hours – schedule your posts when the largest audience is logged onto their account, which is during work hours. Try to avoid posting in late afternoons, weekends, and evenings when your posts are more likely to be skipped over.

You should also be paying attention to what you are posting. Industry highlight content is the most in-demand among LinkedIn members. If you are looking for higher engagement, your posts should include links. For more comments, include images or questions when you post. Status updates that have an image lead to a higher comment rate of more than 95 percent.

For more LinkedIn marketing tips to help build your network and profile, contact Proactive Networks in Pasadena, California.

August 10th, 2015

BusinessContinuity_Aug10_AIn the current world, business continuity planning (BCP) is imperative to the sustainability of your business. Without a well-thought-out plan in place, it is highly unlikely that your company will be able to survive and recover from disasters. However, there are several major roadblocks to the successful implementation of a business continuity plan. If you’re struggling with BCP, check out our list of some common challenges organizations face, and learn how to address them properly.

Challenge #1: Prohibitive costs

Business continuity planning has become exponentially expensive as availability requirements increase. Many solutions require substantial investments on the installation and maintenance of additional hardware, software, and data center infrastructure. These requirements drive up the cost of business continuity, and many company owners are reluctant to invest in protective measures.

The solution Instead of relying on costly physical servers to accommodate your backups, consider using efficient and affordable cloud computing solutions. You can transfer your important business files to the cloud and eliminate the expense of having to install and manage hardware infrastructure and software licenses.

Challenge #2: High complexity

Traditional business continuity planning is complex to implement, manage and execute. From managing the recovery infrastructure to updating disaster recovery documentation and testing the BCP to find and close potential loopholes, the prospect of embarking on a BCP project can be daunting, and the whole experience can prove time consuming. Combine with the pressure of your ordinary day-to-day duties, it can seem almost impossible to focus your attention on initiating a BCP.

The solution With all this in mind, it makes more sense to hire a professional IT service provider to plan, implement, and execute your business continuity plan. This way you can leverage their experience and expertise to ensure that, in the event of a disaster, your company will be able to get back on its feet and resume business operations as quickly as possible.

Challenge #3: Lack of staff involvement

There are so many requirements to be considered in a business continuity plan. And the more employees your organization has, the more difficult it is to relay the essence of the plan for everyone to understand. Staff involvement isn’t an option - it’s an absolute necessity if you wish for a successful BCP implementation!

The solution Depending on the size of your organization, you can either hold a company meeting to announce the essentials of your BCP, or schedule a meeting with key staff members who take an active role in the planning process. To create a long-lasting BCP program, you need to get everyone on the same page by emphasizing the importance of the plan in an easy-to-understand way.

Business continuity planning is one of the most important things you need to have in place. You never know when, or in what form, a disaster will strike - all the more reason to take a preventative approach to securing your company and all you’ve worked for.

Need a reliable partner to take care of all your business continuity planning needs? Get in touch with us today - we have exactly what you need to prepare and protect your company.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 5th, 2015

Wifi icon showing on smartphone

Windows 10 and WiFi Sense

The recent launch of Windows 10 has brought on tons of discussions about the new capabilities and features offered by the OS. While some of the features are upgrades to what was previously offered, others are already starting off controversial, including WiFi Sense, which was brought over from the Windows Phone 8.1.

WiFi Sense automatically connects you to crowd-sourced WiFi networks that are detected, and can be used to automatically share your WiFi password with various contacts on Skype, Facebook, and Outlook, and acquire network information and provide “additional information” to networks that require it.

WiFi Sense is automatically enabled by default in Build 10240 of Windows 10. If you choose “Express Settings,” the options will be automatically enabled and will allow your device to acquire WiFi passwords from your friends and share your password with them. If you decide to leave the function enabled, it will request permission to connect to Skype, Outlook, and Facebook. Your friends who also run Windows 10 will have all their contact information shared with you as well, as long as they have enabled the function.

Microsoft claims that WiFi Sense helps to reduce frustration and improve security. Instead of having to write down and remember passwords for friends and guests, they will automatically connect as soon as they are in range for your home network. Keep in mind that you will not be able to see the WiFi passwords, and will simply get Internet access. Your guests and friends will not have access to devices, computers, or files that are stored on your home network, and you will not have access to theirs.

One of the biggest concerns with WiFi Sense is that there is no granularity beyond the surface level. While you can choose to share or not share information with Outlook, Facebook, and Skype, you cannot choose specific contacts. If you share it with your Facebook friends, you are sharing it with all of your Facebook friends.

For more information on Windows 10 security and how it may affect your devices, contact Proactive Networks, in Pasadena, California.

July 30th, 2015

Hand of man opening lock on the laptop

Password News

Anytime you want to access your profile, no matter if it is your social media profile or your online banking profile, you have to input your password. While this may not seem like a big deal, it is very easy to forget your password, which could mean being locked out of your account. As hackers get better and better at figuring out passwords, companies are finding ways to get around passwords with new ideas, including:

  • Smartphone solution – many companies use a two factor authentication system, which requires you to confirm your identity by entering a code that is sent to a separate device, to help keep information secure. While this was an issue in the past since nobody was carrying around two computers, the smartphone has made this issue obsolete. Almost everyone has a smartphone with them at all times, which makes it very easy to ask for an authentication code.
  • Biometrics – smartphones are going way beyond access codes. Apple Pay, Android Pay, and the upcoming Samsung Pay allow users to use their fingerprints to verify payments for mobile devices. USAA also deployed various biometric options to login to its mobile app, which is being used by more than 650,000 of their members.
  • Stay protected – while all of the newest technology is working to make life easier, it is still important to make sure that you stay safe right now. Make sure to use different passwords for all of your accounts, and change your passwords a few times a year. Never use a password that is easy to guess, such as “password” or “12345.”

Contact Proactive Networks in Pasadena, California for more information on how your business may be affected with the ending of passwords in the future.

July 28th, 2015

BusinessValue_July28_ATechnology has allowed businesses to get more work done with less time and expense. When properly implemented, it serves as a great tool that allows your employees to work remotely, collaborate more efficiently, and manage their time more effectively. If you want to thrive in today’s competitive marketplace, you need to make technology work for you. Here are some things you can do to make your employees more productive.

Change office communication

In order to increase efficiency, set up instant messaging software such as Skype on your employees’ workstations. This allows them to send instant messages to correspondents instead of having to get up from their desks to see whether the person is available. Of course, if you need to discuss big projects or issues, face-to-face communication is likely the best choice. But you can simply send a quick message for more trivial conversations, saving precious minutes and allowing you to get more work done.

Install video conferencing

Traveling to offsite meetings and training sessions takes time and, all too often, time spent on the road is time lost. Rather than commuting for hours outside your office, opt for a networked phone solution that offers video calls and conferencing. This way you can hold a video conference to discuss business matters from the comfort and convenience of your office. You can also take things up a notch and equip the conference room with tools to pull up documents and have them displayed on a big screen, so that everyone in the meeting can follow the conversation with ease.

Upgrade workstations

Outdated technologies and workstations limit your business’s progress, and are a hindrance to developing clued-up, efficient employees. Aging phone systems and slow networks can frustrate your team and bring productivity to a standstill. So it’s important to take the time to assess your current workstations, applications, hardware, and tools. This doesn’t mean that you have to buy a set of entirely new workstations. But you should replace obsolete equipment with more up-to-date machines. In addition, make sure all software and applications are up-to-date to ensure maximum efficiency and employee satisfaction.

Implement ERP software

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is business process management software that allows organizations to automate processes and centralize data in order for employees to collaborate more efficiently. ERP software provides employees with up-to-date business information that they can easily access and make use of. What’s more, ERP also eliminates redundant data entry and reduces the number of spreadsheets that are used to record critical business data, by storing information in a centralized database.

To get the maximum return on your technology investment, it’s also important to partner with a knowledgeable and reliable service provider. Get in touch with our tech experts today to find out how we can implement technology to help your employees become more efficient and productive.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.