The Problem with Outdated Hardware

Technology is evolving faster than most businesses can handle. While few businesses can continuously have the latest-and-greatest advances in hardware, it is important to have machinery and devices that are not ancient. If you are clinging to old hardware because you subscribe to the philosophy “If it’s not broken, why fix it?”, then you may have some problems down the line. Here are some of the risks of keeping and maintaining outdated hardware.

 

  • Security Risks – If your technology is aging, you may not be able to install the latest software, and that means your security is at risk. The older it is, the more vulnerable it is. Updating means your company will have newer and stronger security protocols.

 

  • Moving Parts – Hardware that has moving parts have the potential to break down. Take for instance, disks. For every spin those tapes or disks take they are one step closer to having a mechanical failure. Are you willing to risk it with your company data?

 

  • Loss of Competitiveness – If your business field is tight and the competition is fierce, you may want to stay ahead of the pack with newer technology.

 

  • Loss of Business – If your hardware fails it is possible to lose infrastructure and possibly clients who are relying on your product or service. Investing in newer hardware may help you stay at the top of the game and keep your business running smoothly. Old hardware can mean service downtime that you may not be able to afford.

 

In addition to these reasons why your company should consider upgrading your machinery and hardware, productivity and efficiency can be at risk with older tech. Call M&H Consulting if you are looking to invest in new hardware and need help designing and purchasing.

Remote Conferencing

Communication is key to a successful business, whether it is staying in touch with clients, customers, vendors, or your employees. Our American economy is no longer just local or regional in nature, but global. That means communication many times happens remotely through video conferencing, email, web applications, or smartphone apps. Does your company have the right technology to stay in touch from a distance? Here are a few of the top web conferencing software programs that will help you stay in touch and maintain communication necessary for a successful business:

 

  • ConnectWise Control – This program allows for 1:1 screen sharing through remote support and remote access tools. Remote meetings allow for an unlimited number of attendees. It also allows users to collaborate, hold training sessions, provide project updates, talk customers into buying their stuff, or anything in between.
  • Blackboard Collaborate – This web conferencing solution supports a modern workplace with two-way VoIP(Voice over Internet Protocols), multi-point video, built-in phone conferencing, interactive whiteboard, desktop sharing, and more.
  • Webinato – Used by industry leaders such as Amazon and Hubspot, this platform allows for a secure environment for professional presentations and has many interactive features.
  • Same Page – Collaborate with your team on video calls and through content sharing. Combine files, tasks, calendars, maps, videos, and team conversation together on one page. Edit a page simultaneously with anyone all while chatting with them in great video quality.

 

There are hundreds of conferencing platforms and software packages. Let M&H Consulting help you decide which is best for your company. Call us at 1-(866)-964-8324 for a free initial consultation.

 

Protecting your Business

Are you doing everything you can (and should) to protect the computers, technology, and data related to your business? Do you even know what security risks exist? Here is a quick checklist of things you can do at your company to increase security.

 

  • Conduct a Security Audit – If you don’t know what parts of your business are vulnerable or what data you have that needs to be protected, you can’t properly secure it. Meet with professional IT consultants who can identify what needs protecting and how.
  • Train Personnel – Sometimes all it takes is one employee opening a corrupt email or attachment to cause a disaster. Be sure all employees are trained for red flags on emails and signs of hacking.
  • Beef Up Passwords and Encryption – Make sure you have passwords that are strong and are changed on a regular basis. Limit the number of employees that have access to certain data.
  • Back IT Up – Use systems to regularly backup your data and networks so in case there is a disaster you have the most recent information saved.
  • Protect Your Mobile – Lots of companies have great security but fail to provide the same level to their mobile devices. Be sure that mobile devices are as secure as possible and have limited access since they will be often used in public WiFi locations and remotely.
  • Have a Security Policy – Create a security policy that every level of the workforce knows, understands, and strictly follows.
  • Physical Security – With the focus on cyber crimes it is easy to forget how easily a thief can walk off with valuable technology, such as a tablet or laptop. Be sure you follow smart lock-up policies especially for those employees who travel.

 

If you need a security review, call M&H Consulting at 1-(866)-964-8324 for a free initial consultation.

Using Technology to Get Ahead

Are you getting the most out of the technology at your business? Are the tablets, laptops, mobile devices, networks, and hardware/software helping your business enough? A recent Gartner survey found that CEOs are not utilizing breakthrough technologies ⧿ the Internet of things, 3D printing, AI automation ⧿ to improve productivity. Some are not even using the technology that has been around for years to its fullest extent. How can your company start optimizing its technology usage to get ahead in this very competitive world in which we live?

 

  • Review Your Current Technology – Conduct a staff meeting to review what technology is currently being used and what is available. Take stock of what employees need training or advanced training on the hardware or software that you currently have. Many free trainings are online, or splurge and sign a group up for a training seminar.

 

  • Make A Wish List – Create a list of technology that you would love to have at your fingertips to get your company ahead. Explore options such as tech shares to cut the cost burden with other businesses in your area.

 

  • Start Small – Many employees and business leadership get overwhelmed when too much tech happens at once. Start introducing technology slowly so that proper training and adjustments can be made in the office. This will give workers a chance to become accustomed to the changes and not feel outdated or undertrained.

 

  • Network – Talk to other businesses to see how technology is helping them advance. While you may not want to give away your trade secrets, you will want to talk shop and find out what your competitors are doing so you can remain competitive yourselves.

 

If you need help deciding how technology can further your business goals, call M&H Consulting  at 1-(866)-964-8324 for a free initial consultation.

Creating a Teched-Out Conference Room

So your business is thriving and you need to have access to a conference room that allows you to present, teach, train, and hold professional meetings with clients, vendors, and employees. What you need is a teched-out conference room that will “wow” your clients and make your work more efficient and professional looking. But how do you decide what technology you may need to install?

 

Creating a conference room for your business is an investment, so before you begin buying AV equipment, know what you need and how you will be able to use it to showcase your service, product, or company as a whole. Here are some wish list items from our consultants to make your presentations and meetings amazing.

 

  • Phone System – With so many remote clients to deal with, having a phone system that allows you to conference call is a must in any professional business conference room. Be sure it can integrate with computers, messaging, and possibly allow for video conferencing as well.

 

  • Visual Display – Whether it is a smart board, television screen, or projector, being able to show and present is a huge part of having a conference room. Be sure you have the ability to design your presentations and link to your conference room equipment quickly and with ease so you don’t need to call in the IT department every time you want to meet with a client.

 

  • Sound System – Nothing is worse than a dull presentation. Install a sound system that can give your presentation some “pop” with music, microphones, or projecting to a large group and the ability to have remote listeners.

 

  • Ports, Plugs, and Adapters – Going to a presentation is no longer a passive event. Viewers may bring laptops, phones, tablets, and all sorts of technology to enhance their experience. Be sure to have ample ports, plugs, and adapters.

 

  • Control Systems – If you really want a “tricked out” conference room be sure it is all integrated with remotes so that presenting is as easy as clicking a button. This should include sound, visuals, and even shades that darken the room.

 

Call M&H Consulting for more ideas and help designing your technology packed conference room.

Hacking Methods

Most IT Departments are well aware of hacking as a threat to a company and its precious and sensitive data. Hackers tend to target vulnerabilities such as mobile devices, weakly protected networks and, of course, the ultimate weak link in the business security world – employees who are unaware they are putting themselves at risk to hackers. Let’s look at some of the most common hacking techniques to better understand how to avoid them.

 

  • Bait and Switch – Sure, we used to hear about this method when it came to selling cars but this method is also popular in the world of hacking. Cyber criminals offer “the mark”, something that they’re sure to want, then swap it out for something different when they’re not looking. In the world of cyber crimes this trick has many variants, including pop ups with false info forms, links to unsecure sites and the list goes on. Be sure you are getting what you are requesting to avoid hackers infiltrating your system.

 

  • Cookie Theft – “Cookies” or files are held by sites you visit that keep tabs on what you look at and specific information on you. This information could include: personal and financial data, user credentials, and passwords. Once stolen, cookies may be read or decrypted to reveal your information, or used to impersonate you online

 

  • Denial of Service/Distributed Denial of Service (DoS/DDoS) – This common technique is used to bring down systems or networks by overloading them with login attempts, data requests, repetitive tasks, etc. The goal is to bombard or flood a site with traffic and allows hackers the ability to gain access by filling out forms.

 

Stay tuned as we discuss other hacking techniques next month. As always, call M&H Consulting if you need help protecting your business systems from hackers. Call M&H Consulting at 1-(866)-964-8324 for a free initial consultation.

 

The Dangers of Unknown Emails

If you are like the rest of the American public, your email inbox is probably overflowing with advertisements, business data, announcements, newsletters, and of course, important work information. It is tempting to just click away and open-and-discard, but don’t do it! Between Trojans, spyware, and ransomware, your data and your operations can be severely and irreparably affected by just one successful cyberattack that could occur due to opening an email.

 

By now we all know that opening an unknown email is bad news. But what signs and red flags should you look for to identify an email that may trigger a disaster? Here are a few things to be aware of as you sort through your daily email list.

 

Be aware of emails that . . .

 

  • Don’t use your name but call you “sir” or “madam” or other vague title.
  • Have attachments that are executable files. Generally, attachments you receive will be documents or graphics with the corresponding “.doc,” “.pdf,” “.jpg,” or “.png” extensions. Avoid opening double extensions or executable file attachments.
  • Are from a company or person you do not know.
  • Have masked hyperlinks.
  • Request personal information that could put you at risk.
  • Have a threat or demand in the sender line.

 

Remember that most emails are safe but all it takes is clicking on the one that isn’t that could damage or lock up your computer system. Training employees on what to look for is a business’ best line of defense, as the employees are the ones receiving and reading through the emails on a daily basis. If you need training or help with protecting your computer systems from cyber crimes, call M&H Consulting at 1-(866)-964-8324 for a free initial consultation.

Are You Concerned About Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. Are you concerned about this cyber crime occurring at your company or even for your personal accounts. According to Kaspersky Lab, the number of users affected by file encrypting ransomware rose from 131,000 in 2014-2015 to 718,000 in 2015-2016! Extorting money from individuals and organizations has become a big business and unfortunately signature-based PC Anti-Virus software just isn’t able to keep up.

 

What should you be doing to counteract or aid your company in the case of a ransomware attack? Here are a few suggestions that can help you avoid the fallout if your data is held captive by a cyber criminal.

 

  • Regularly save copies of all your files. Having a backup plan can save you from figuring out what data is locked up and how to possibly recover all of it. This way if your files, data, presentations, or images are being held from you, there will be back ups that you can use. Backup your files to an external drive, another computer, or the cloud to minimize loss and inconvenience in the case of an attack.
  • Be alert and aware. Don’t click on links that you don’t recognize or download files from people you don’t know personally.
  • Maintain good Internet security practices, including keeping your computer’s operating system and security software up-to-date.
  • Avoid visiting questionable websites.
  • Be extremely careful when using USB drives to transfer data to more secure computers.
  • Use strong security passwords and encryption with dual authentication.
  • Use common sense. If something seems off, your instincts are probably right.

 

If you need help with counteracting a ransomware attack or preparing for one call M&H Consulting at 1-(866)-964-8324 for a free initial consultation.

Disaster and Data Recovery Steps

In our world of hackers, potential weather-related events, and massive computer failures, it is well within the realm of possibility that something disastrous could happen to the technology at your place of business. Having a Disaster Recovery Plan or Business Continuity Plan is paramount to keeping your company afloat no matter what the event may be. IT disaster recovery plans provide step-by-step procedures for recovering disrupted systems and networks, and help them resume normal operations.Here is what your Disaster Recovery Plan may look like.

 

According to the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-34, Contingency Planning for Information Technology Systems, the following summarizes the ideal structure for an IT disaster recovery plan:

 

  • Complete a Risk Assessment to know what programs, data, and technology is at risk in the case of a disaster. Identify what management perceives as the most serious threats to the IT infrastructure including: fire, human error, loss of power, system failure.
  • Gather all relevant network infrastructure documents, for example: network diagrams, equipment configurations, databases. Include in this list all of the technology that keeps your business running. Identify the most critical IT assets, including call centers, server farms, Internet access, etc…
  • Identify procedures that will be instituted in the case of a system failure or disaster.
  • Determine who and what will be a part of an emergency response team in the case of a disaster.
  • Prepare IT disaster recovery plan(s) to address critical IT systems and networks.
  • Conduct tests of plans and system recovery assets to validate their operations.

If you need help drafting your Disaster Recovery Plan call M&H Consulting at 1-(866)-964-8324 for a free initial consultation.

Sending your College Student off with the Right Technology

The moment has arrived when your teenager is heading off to college and you have to say goodbye. You bought all the books, dorm room necessities, and supplies. But what about the technology that your student needs to succeed in the academic aspect of the college experience? Are you confused by the multitude of options out there and need some help navigating the laptop world? Here are some things to consider when choosing a laptop. (Keep in mind, these considerations remain the same if you are choosing for employees at your work too!)

  • Usage – Ask yourself what you plan to use the laptop for. What type of programs to your plan to use: business applications, engineering programs or maybe graphic design apps? Do some research to find out what will run optimally on the type of laptop you are looking to buy.

 

  • Battery Life – Laptops are meant to travel, so consider how long your battery will last. Be skeptical of the length that the manufacturer claims it will last as they are estimating under optimal conditions.

 

  • Storage/Memory – If you store your data via the cloud, storage may not be a huge concern for you, but be sure to check out how much you store in case you want to add movies, videos, or presentations.

 

  • Security – With more and more users putting sensitive information on their laptops, security is a critical consideration. Look for encryption abilities and password protections.

 

  • Size – Consider the size and sleekness that you are looking for in a laptop before purchasing. No one wants to be lugging around a heavy piece of machinery that takes up too much desk space.

 

  • Processor – Once you know what you will be using the device for it will be easier to decide on the power of the processor. For example, if you know you want to watch videos then you will need a processor with speed.

 

  • Price Tag – As always consider the price of the laptop. Is it within your budget? Are you going to need add-ons or upgrades?