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

 

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

Safety and the Cloud

In today’s digital world your small- or medium-sized company is like a castle that needs to be defended from attacks by hackers, viruses, and cyber criminals. Like the moats and turrets of castles from the middle ages, your castle probably also has various lines of defense. While you may engage password, protections, firewalls, backups, and the latest cybersecurity, one defense that you still may want to consider is “the cloud.”

 

For many companies keeping data “in the cloud” has become a fact of life, but others still have yet to recognize the benefits of lower costs, operational agility, and adaptability that can come with a professional IT group managing your data in the cloud. The idea behind having a company manage your cloud data is that instead of overwhelming your IT Department with fending off cyber attacks daily, that security is managed through the cloud.  For example cloud security means that you have employed the security experts who are following best practices to keep your sensitive data safe.

 

Here are some questions to consider when choosing the security of a cloud company.

  • Does your company have a dedicated team focused on security? How many will be able to access your data?
  • Is data encrypted by default?
  • How is data secured when in transit across the public internet?
  • How are the physical data centers secured? What layers of security are operational?
  • What is the process for preventing, detecting, and countering network intrusions?
  • How are users authenticated? Get specifics on types of authentication.
  • Which security certifications have been done, if any?

 

Do you have questions about your IT security and need help tightening up your SMB? Call M&H Consulting today at 1-(866)-964-8324 or visit our website M&H Consults

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?

 

Data Backup Failures

Data is the lifeblood of most companies, whether it is files kept on clients, financial data for revenue analysis or documentation of current/past projects. As we have discussed before, data should be backed up on a regular basis using multiple methods. But what happens if those plans fail? What causes back ups to terminate or fail to execute at all?  Let’s take a closer look at the process of back ups and why they fail.

 

  • Human Error – Honestly we all mess up from time to time and backing up data is no exception. It is very possible that an employee forgot to begin the nightly backup or and IT leader changed the data and information was lost. It happens more often than you would think.
  • Data Corruption – For companies that use tapes for this process, you may want to periodically test them because after years of use they can become corrupt.
  • Incomplete Backup – Depending upon the amount of information being backed up, the process can take an extensive amount of time and use up critical features that you may need for daily operations. Unfortunately, many companies have incomplete data backup because they stopped the process too early.
  • Only One Copy – It may seem incredibly redundant, but some files are so critical that they need to be made twice. One copy may be lost, damaged or corrupt so be sure not to take for granted the one copy you do have.

 

If you are looking for solutions to your data management problems call M&H Consulting to find solutions to your backup issues.

 

Keeping Your Personal Information Secure

 

Today’s modern employee carries their work with them everywhere they go via smartphones, tablets or laptops. Mainly this can be seen as a convenience, but for employees that carry around not only their work files on their mobile devices, but also personal information this may be a dangerous practice. Here are a few suggestions to keep your personal information secure especially if you keep personal files, data, photos or financial information on your work devices.  

 

  • Beware of Impersonators Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or know who you’re dealing with. If a company that claims to have an account with you sends email asking for personal information, don’t click on links in the email. Instead, type the company name into your web browser, go to their site, and contact them through customer service.
  • Encrypt Your Data – Keep your browser secure. To guard your online transactions, use encryption software that scrambles information you send over the internet. A “lock” icon on the status bar of your internet browser means your information will be safe when it’s transmitted. Look for the lock before you send personal or financial information online.
  • Use Security Software – Install antivirus software, antispyware software, and a firewall. Set your preference to update these protections often. Have your IT Department or Consultants like M&H update your security regularly.
  • Lock your Device – Your laptop, phone or table should be locked when you are not using it. Do not use automatic sign ins instead use personal identification protocols.
  • Be Wise About Wi-Fi – Before you send personal information over your laptop or smartphone on a public wireless network in a coffee shop, library, airport, hotel, or other public place, see if your information will be protected. If you use an encrypted website, it protects only the information you send to and from that site. If you use a secure wireless network, all the information you send on that network is protected.

 

Call M&H Consulting if you have questions about your personal or business data and security.

 

 

Can Virtual Reality Help Your Company?

Virtual Reality seems more like the plot of a sci-fi movie that anything that could help you in the business world. Well, more and more businesses are coming up with new and different ways to integrate virtual reality into their businesses in ways that could benefit their customers, clients or even employees. Virtual Reality may be able to help your clients access content in a way that is not always possible in a two dimensional setting. The year 2017 may be the time that VR explodes in the business world. Let’s take a look at just a few of the ways that virtual reality may benefit your company.

  • Prototypes – For many businesses that have products that are in development, VR could allow clients or employees to create, use or rework a virtual model of your product and make necessary changes before actually paying for production.
  • Designing – If part of your service or product requires designing, VR may help save time and energy in engineering plans or designs. Replications of structures can make this work easy and allow a better viewpoint that can troubleshoot any design flaws.
  • Tours – For businesses that want to show off their showroom or workshop VR can allow for virtual tours even from a remote location. For example, in real estate, a buyer from another state could easily see a property hundreds of miles from home without leaving their home.
  • Training – Many businesses require training on equipment that may mean hiring a specialist. VR can allow employees to get their hands on equipment in the virtual world where there is no fear of breaking equipment.

Wondering how VR could be useful to your business? Give M&H a call.

What you Need to know about Servers

Not many people know the use and function of servers, and for those who are not tech savvy or experts in IT, it is important to know the use and function of your computers server.

A server is a computer, or computer program, that is setup to run one or multiple server applications such as mail, network, applications, print and web servers among many others. Basically, it is the main component of a network, since it manages access to the resources, files, programs used by all other computers. Many believe they have to be custom-built, but that isn’t the case. Servers simply have to be able to run server applications when you need them to. Older and less expensive computers can also be setup as servers.

There are different types of servers, such as:

  • Dedicated servers – A dedicated server is a single computer within a network that is used for only one single purpose. They are mainly used when talking about web hosting, which allows you to make a website that is accessible to the internet.
  • Virtual Private servers – Instead of having one physical computer used for one business’ needs, a virtual private server (VPS) is used on a single server computer but services multiple customers.
  • Cloud servers – A cloud server is created, hosted and delivered through a cloud platform. A cloud server is made up of remote servers that are all hosted online. When using a cloud server, you are renting virtual server space and accessing it remotely through a cloud provider.

Servers are essentially the spine and life blood of your business. If it crashes, then your business crashes. As a result, you want to take reasonable precaution to get rid off any single points of failure in your server’s architecture. Many ‘server-class’ computer has multiple levels of redundancies and typically has hot-plug capabilities.
Now you can know the importance of servers without being an IT expert.

What If . . . things go wrong with your computer?

Accidents happen especially when we are stressed and overworked. Accidents on and around technology can be a whole lot more than a “whoops” moment. They can be downright damaging to the hardware and potentially files that are on the hard drive. We have compiled a few “What If. . . “ moments in case you are wondering what will happen to your technology if  (insert horrible event here) happens.  Here’s hoping you don’t have one of these events any time soon.

  • What if you spill a drink on your keyboard? The answer according to Guardian Online is fairly straightforward. “If you‘ve only spilled a small amount of clean water on it, you may well get away with it. You can remove and clean a sticky keyboard using a damp cloth or soft toothbrush and distilled water before drying it thoroughly, and in extreme cases, people try methylated spirits (ethanol) or solvents (isopropyl alcohol).”
  • What if your hard drive gets physically damaged? The answer really depends on the extent of the damage and if data can be recovered. If the damage is minimal try to get the data off the drive and take it in for a check up. If the drive is seriously damaged now is not the time to find out that your data recovery strategy is not up-to-date. Contact your IT department or the consultants working with your department who may be able to find backed up data or recover the data on that drive.
  • What if I accidentally open suspicious email? Obviously don’t click on emails that look suspicious in the first place but if your mouse gets moved or something unforeseen happens, disconnect your device, backup your files, and then call your IT department or IT consulting company to check your machine for malware or other suspicious content.
  • What if I get ransomware? According to PC World, “Don’t negotiate with e-terrorists. Instead, remove many ransomware viruses without losing your files. The process varies and depends on the type of invader. Some procedures involve a simple virus scan, while others require offline scans and advanced recovery of your files.” For specifics read here.