New Year Computer Clean Out

 

Most of us like to start the New Year with a clean slate. We like to start fresh and do things differently, or at least better in the coming year. Unfortunately, for most of us these resolutions are long forgotten by the third week of January. A “Computer Clean Out Resolution” may be one that you will benefit from not just at the start of the New Year but also throughout the entire year. Here are a few digital suggestions of how to clean out that crowded email folder, desktop, or overstuffed folders this year. If you do this you may find that your computer runs better, looks more organized and keeps you efficiently “on-track.”

 

  • For starters clean off your system’s desktop. Your desktop should not be a storage area. You may need to take 5-10 minutes at the start of each day to get this one under control especially for the long run.
  • Empty your trash or recycling bin.
  • Clear out your documents and downloads folder.
  • Clean out your apps and programs that you have not used in a while. Do this on your smartphones and tablets as well.
  • Recycle the electronics that have been filling up the junk drawer at home or work. Usually towns and cities have an electronic recycle day once or twice a year. Take advantage of it.
  • Tackle the email. Yes, I said it. Start organizing folders of email even if it means starting with naming folders “Mail from 2017” and so on. Then get more detailed. You will be so happy once you have scrubbed all the junk and are left with folders that mean something when you are in a rush to find an important document.

 

Most of us let time slip by and these tasks get pushed aside to a day when we “have the time.” Use the new year as a marker to get yourself digitally organized. Need help? Call M&H Consulting at 1-(866)-964-8324 or visit our website at http://www.mhconsults.com

 

VPN and What you Need to Know

 

Over the past few months we have discussed cyber attacks such as WannaCry, Krack, and many others. We have also discussed the need to protect your data, from client information, right down to your personal credit card numbers you use to shop online. One of the solutions we often mention to protect your sensitive data is to use a VPN or Virtual Private Network. Let’s take a closer look at this and how it can be used to help you and your business.

 

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a service that allows you or your business to connect to the internet via a server run by a VPN provider. All data traveling between your computer, phone, or tablet, and this “VPN server” is securely encrypted. This type of “secure tunnel” between two or more devices protects private web traffic from snooping, interference, and censorship, or other cyber crimes.

 

Top VPN Uses

  • Hide your IP address and location as well as your private identity. Anyone monitoring your internet activity from the internet will only be able to trace it back to the VPN server not to your IP location.
  • Encrypt your communications. Even if a hacker somehow manages to intercept your data, for example by tricking you into connecting to an “evil twin” hotspot or packet-sniffing your WiFi data, the data is safe because it is encrypted.
  • Watch, read or view your favorite content privately. Your ISP can only see that you are connected to the VPN server.

Main Reasons Why You Need One

  • To protect & secure your WiFi connection
  • To avoid censorship
  • To encrypt your data

For more information or help securing your data call M&H Consulting at 1-(866)-964-8324 or visit our website at http://www.mhconsults.com

Dangers of Public Wi-Fi

 

We all love to use it, whether we are at an airport, hotel, conference center, or even at the little coffee shop around the corner – public Wi-Fi. This service makes our lives infinitely easier as we strive to remain mobile and yet still connected to our business data. However, convenience advantages aside, there are dangers to the use of these notoriously unsecure connections. Let’s take a closer look at what vulnerabilities lurk when you log in to free public Wi-Fi.

 

The Dangers of Public Wi-Fi Locations

 

  • According to the internet group Golden Frog, “There are over 100,000 unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots around the world, with reports that one out of four are completely unsecured.” This means that for the typical business traveler who uses free Wi-Fi, there is a good possibility that the network is not secure enough for your data.
  • Malware – A Wi-Fi network that is not secure can be used to inject malware into devices connected to the network, thus gaining access to your data.
  • Hackers – Cyber criminals love to infiltrate unsecured Wi-Fi networks and use them to collect personal details or sensitive login information.
  • Man-in-the-Middle – Malicious attackers intercept information as you access it via a hot spot and can illegally gain access to some of your sensitive business or personal information.

 

Steps to Take to Protect Yourself

 

  • Turn off file sharing settings, so others on the network cannot access your information while you are logged in.
  • Use a VPN – Virtual Private Network.
  • Use two-factor authentication for all login credentials on accounts, that way, even if they gain initial entry, they can not access individual accounts easily.
  • Turn off Wi-Fi whenever you aren’t using it – this prevents it from automatically connecting and putting you at risk while you travel through multiple hotspots.
  • Always use HTTPS for websites you visit. Remember the S stands for Security. Look for that on the address bar as well as the security lock.
  • Use a firewall to protect your data.
  • Update your settings to forget network, preventing these networks from being saved on your phone and automatically connecting without you knowing.

 

For more information or help securing your data call M&H Consulting at 1-(866)-964-8324 or visit our website at http://www.mhconsults.com

 

The Best Security Resolutions for the New Year

 

It happens around the globe at this time of year. People make resolutions to eat better and exercise more, or to live a better life in general. Here at M&H Consulting we suggest a resolution list that will help the health and security of your data and computer systems for the new year. While our list may not slim your waistline or lower the scale, it can decrease your stress factor when it comes to safeguarding both your business and personal information on one or more of the devices you own. So here it goes, our list of best security resolutions for the New Year.

 

  1. Set Up a Password Manager – Sure, you always mean to change those passwords or at least strengthen them but it somehow gets lost in the day-to-day events at work. A password manager can help you choose a secure password for each separate account – and you probably have a lot of them! The password manager can also help you when you fail to remember usernames and passwords.
  2. Back it Up – The IT department or consultant is always telling you to get in the regular habit of doing this, but, yet again, it can be overlooked unless it becomes a priority. Make it one this coming year. A disaster could hit at any time and you will need a way to access your information.
  3. Set Up a VPN – A virtual private network can help keep your business data secure. VPNs create an encrypted connection between your device and a secure server, which then allows you to browse and use the internet normally through an encrypted channel that protects you from eavesdroppers.
  4. Create a Disaster Recover Plan – What happens if your company floods, catches fire, or loses power unexpectedly? It is vital to plan for disasters so that you have a plan when you can not access your computers or data.
  5. Employee Education – Your company is only as strong as the security practices that your employees use. Train your employees to be the best line of defense against security attacks and to be aware of red flags so they are not duped into opening a virus or malware attachment.

 

Check back with M&H Consulting as we stay on top of recent breaches and will keep you up-to-date. Call M&H Consulting at 1-(866)-964-8324 or visit our website at http://www.mhconsults.com

 

The Latest on Krack

On October 16, 2017, security researcher Mathy Vanhoef publicly disclosed a serious vulnerability in the WPA2 encryption protocol. This  Wi-Fi vulnerability affects millions of routers, smartphones, PCs, and other devices, including Apple’s Macs, iPhones, and iPads. By using a  key reinstallation attack, dubbed Krack, an attacker can exploit the weaknesses and gain access to sensitive information such as: credit card numbers, personal information, passwords, usernames, photos, and business data that is accessed via the Wi-Fi in question.

 

While this latest attack has many computer and mobile users concerned, it is not really the time to push the panic button quite yet. There are still steps that you can take to protect your information. In fact, only six weeks after the event most operating systems have a patch and workaround planned that will eliminate this weakness. Apple has announced that it already has an antidote to the vulnerability affecting Wi-Fi routers across the board. The only catch is that the solution is currently only available as part of the latest beta version for iOS, 11.1 Developer beta 3. Google was also reported to release a patch in early November to secure Wi-Fi connections on Android devices. In the meantime, here are a few suggestions for users to exercise caution and prevent the Krack attack from impacting you and your sensitive information.

 

Protect Yourself from Krack

 

  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi, but if you must, stay away from any personal or business activities such as banking, business software, CRM, patient management software, or Medical EMR applications.
  • Consider using a VPN or Virtual Private Network, which means that all your network traffic (not just your web browsing) is encrypted, from your laptop or mobile device to your home or work network, even if it travels over an unencrypted connection along the way
  • Companies that deal with sensitive client data and material should stay away from accessing any sites that contain PII or PHI as it could be at risk unless using a secure VPN.
  • Be sure to install patches that are available from Apple and Microsoft and listen to what your IT department tells you to do regarding safeguarding business data.

 

Check back with M&H Consulting as we stay on top of recent breaches and will keep you up-to-date. Call M&H Consulting at 1-(866)-964-8324 or visit our website at http://www.mhconsults.com

Why Your Small Company Needs IT Consultants

 

Managing a small business is hard. Company leadership as well as employees need to be skilled at many different jobs, especially as the business grows and positions evolve. While it may be fine to ask a sales manager to assist with marketing ideas or an account manager to post company happenings on the Facebook or Twitter page, but asking an employee who has minimal experience in the tech field to choose, update or install software and manage security for your company’s network just won’t work. Here are a few reasons why your company should hire IT Consultants to not only stay on track but to remain secure, strategically ahead of the competition and ready for growth.

 

  • Skilled and Knowledgeable – While a fledgling company may be looking for a way to cut costs, technology and the running of your network are not the areas to do so. Having access to IT specialists will not only save your company money in the long run, but will be able to use best practices to get your company to where you want it. Don’t leave the security, data, and backups to an amatuer.
  • When Things go Wrong – We know the old adage that “To err is human, but to really foul things up you need a computer.” Well, this is very true. Whether a server has failed, your network was hacked or something as simple as you can not access data, you want a professional who is available when you need him/her to help you through the tech problem. You want someone who can not only help when things go wrong, but help you prevent things from going wrong in the first place.
  • Free Up your Time – No business owner wants to lose time during a busy work day solving computer issues. Instead, a consultant can take the time to find the root cause, create a solution, and prevent it from happening again. This frees employees and business leadership up to do the more important work of keeping the company on track.
  • Security – One of the biggest reasons people look to M&H Consulting is to protect their network and computer systems. Computer hackers, data breaches, and malware have gotten more and more sophisticated over the years. Knowing what security measures are right for your company is what we do best.

 

Have questions about what M&H Consulting can do for your company? Call M&H Consulting at 1-(866)-964-8324 or visit our website at http://www.mhconsults.com

The Right Social Media for your Business

It seems like everyone is on social media these days and that means that your company should be too. Not only should you have a presence on social media, but your business needs to have a clear and deliberate message on at least one, if not, several social media platforms. So, which social media platform is right for your company? There are so many to choose from including: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, or any of the number of industry specific social media channels. Unfortunately, most small- and medium-sized businesses don’t have the staff or budget to keep up with the influx of ways to market on all the social channels.

 

M&H Consulting suggests, in addition to studying your analytics and discovering who your target audience is and what audiences you hope to expand to in the future, that your business should have instead a professional examine where your time and money will be spent best in regards to social media. In the meantime, here is a quick cheat sheet of some of the top social media platforms and what audience they tend to attract.

 

Facebook:

  • American men and women between the ages of 25 – 54 make up 29% and 32% of Facebook users, respectively.
  • Only 9% of users are between the ages of 18 – 24. In other words, if your audience is under 24 years old, you may want to spend your money elsewhere when it comes to budgeting.
  • More than half of Facebook users check their accounts multiple times daily. That means if your audience is a little older that your business can get some serious bang for the buck with ads and posts on Facebook.

 

LinkedIn

  • This social media platform is used largely in a B2B (business to business) capacity. LinkedIn is more of a growth tool for independent businesses, as opposed to a way to connect with your audience.
  • LinkedIn is a perfect place to connect with other business owners for partnership opportunities, recruit employees, or share business-related content relevant to your industry.

 

Instagram

  • No wonder Instagram is a great place to make your business presence known, with 500 million users on the app and 59% of those users checking the app every single day.
  • A great place to build a brand with strong visuals or infographics that can be shared. Unfortunately, direct links back to your company site is not part of the Instagram algorithm.

 

SnapChat

  • 60% of snapchat users in the U.S. are under the age of 24, so if your target audience is young, this may be a great place to start.
  • There are 100 million users (mostly Millennials) consuming 30 minutes of content every day!

Keyboard Shortcuts

How did we ever survive when we had to wait for a modem to link with the internet or wait precious minutes for images to download only to lose the connection? We must have had a whole lot more patience a few decades ago. As our world becomes more and more technologically advanced, we expect immediate gratification when it comes to all types of computer work. Think of how aggravated we all get if our computer is running slow or websites do not load immediately. The same goes for our need to make everything into a shortcut, including the functions on our keyboard. Just by pressing a unique combination of keys, users can do things that normally require a mouse, trackpad, or other input device.

 

Macintosh Products

For quick keystroke shortcuts on Apple products, users will need to hold down one or more modifier keys while pressing the last key of the shortcut. Apple has conveniently published all of their shortcuts on their website so that users can have easy access to all keyboard commands. Some Mac keyboards and shortcuts use special keys in the top row, which include icons for volume, display brightness, and other functions. Press the icon key to perform that function, or combine it with the Fn key to use it as an F1, F2, F3, or other standard function key. For a list of all command shortcuts follow the link to the Apple site and you can either bookmark it or print it for easy reference. We guarantee after a few uses you won’t need a cheat sheet. Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

 

Microsoft Window PC Products

If you’re using a keyboard made for Microsoft Windows PCs, use the Alt key instead of Option, and the Windows logo key instead of Command. Dramatically increase productivity by memorizing or becoming familiar with these shortcuts we found at Microsoft’s Support Site. The list is rather extensive so you may need to categorize them for your easy viewing. However, the site does allow you to search by Windows version to make the job a little easier.

Customer Relationship Management Software

In the world of business, managing customer relationships is key to gaining and maintaining loyal return customers. CRM, or customer relationship management software, can aid businesses in handling customer data, customer interactions, customer support, client contacts, automate sales, access business information and other client needs. While CRM software is most commonly used to manage a business-customer relationship, CRM software systems are also used in the same way to manage business contacts, employees, clients, contract wins, and sales leads. Are you looking for CRM software to help your small- or medium-sized business manage client relationships? Here are some of the top rated CRM suggestions that can be customized for your specific client needs.

 

  • Salesforce – The Salesforce cloud is an on-demand customer relationship management (CRM) suite offering applications for small, midsize and enterprise organizations, with a focus on sales and support. The Salesforce app has capabilities that include sales management, marketing automation, partner relationship management and customer service. This CRM can grow with your business, which is especially important if you are just starting out. These applications help organizations manage customer accounts, track sales leads, conduct and monitor marketing campaigns, and provide service post-sale.
  • Hubspot – HubSpot offers a visual dashboard with a real-time view of the entire sales funnel. Users can track customer interactions automatically through email, social media, or phone calls, and every interaction is stored in a timeline organized by lead. It is considered best for companies with 10-1,000 employees.
  • InfusionSoft – InfusionSoft is a cloud-based sales and marketing platform that brings Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Marketing Automation, and E-Commerce together in one centralized system, so small businesses can deliver personalized sales and customer service experiences.

 

For a side-by-side comparison of multiple CRM software packages, check out the PC Magazine research for 2017. For specific assessment of your business needs when it comes to CRM talk to the professionals at M&H Consulting at 1-(866)-964-8324 or visit our website at http://www.mhconsults.com

Personal Cyber Security

Cyber security can be so huge and sometimes abstract, that it can overwhelm even the most technically savvy people. So imagine what happens to the typical smartphone, desktop, laptop, or tablet user when they begin to consider steps they should take to prevent viruses, malware, ransomware, data breaches, and hacking events. Sometimes it may seem like it is inevitable that a cyber crime will happen to you. Cyber predators can steal personal information and use elements of an identity to commit fraud in addition to damaging your computer, potentially permanently. But there are steps that even novices can take to personally protect themselves from malicious cyber events. Here are a few suggestions to protect yourself:

 

  • Be Cautious Online – When surfing the net or shopping online, be sure that you are on secure sites, especially if you are entering your credit card or personal information. To be secure, check that you are on a HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) site in the URL.
  • Update Software – Those pesky updates are not only meant to install the updated version of the software you already have, but also to install the latest security fixes and patches for weaknesses in your security.
  • Social Networking Warning – Avoid giving out personal information on social media such as your birthday or other sensitive information that could be used to create a fake identity.
  • Attachments – Do NOT open attachments or links if you do not know who the sender is or if the attachment seems out of the ordinary.
  • Use Secure Passwords – Always practice good password protection. Never use a word or number that is easily figured out from learning a little bit about your life such as your dog’s name, anniversary, or birthday. Use a password manager to help you remember them and create distinctly different passwords for each account.

 

If you need help creating your own personal security plan, call M&H at 1-(866)-964-8324, or visit our website at http://www.mhconsults.com