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

Preventative Cyber Security

There is a growing movement of IT professionals who are looking at the idea of preventing cyber-attacks and data breaches before they happen – otherwise known as Preventative Cyber Security. Small- and medium-sized businesses are leaning toward this technique as a way to stop a hack, breach, or malware in advance from happening to their company as they are realizing that even smaller businesses are vulnerable. Here are some things to consider if your company hopes to avoid becoming an all-too-familiar statistic of cyber crime.

 

  • Understand Threats – Know what security threats are out there and may find their way to your doorstep. This may mean bringing in an IT specialist or beefing up the IT department you already have.
  • Understand Vulnerabilities – Have a risk assessment done on your network, look for problems that may red flag your software, internet connection, or computer devices as open to hackers, malware, or data breaches.
  • Make a Plan – Create a security plan that includes every single one of your devices, including mobile devices used by people who work remotely or salespeople who often connect to the company data remotely.
  • Simulate – With help from IT experts, your company can simulate a breach or hack, and pinpoint your business’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Follow the Plan – Depending upon what the conclusion of your research shows about your company, you may need to consider: training for employees about about password management and mobile device usage, routine checkups for software updates, licenses, and patches, an increase in front-line defenses such as firewalls and web-filtering devices, and an increase in anti-virus/anti-malware software.

 

Call M&H Consulting for any IT security issues 1-(866)-964-8324 or visit our website at http://www.mhconsults.com

Lock down your Smartphone

Where would we be without our mobile devices? We use them to keep track of our busy work and home lives. We use them to navigate traffic and circumvent construction hold ups. We use them to connect with clients and communicate important business dealings. Can you even remember a time when you conducted business chained to a desk?

 

Businesses rely heavily on mobile devices, especially smartphones, to keep track of business calendars, client data, and to communicate with consumers on a daily basis. So keeping that vital device safe and secure is critical. Let’s look at some of the ways you can lockdown your device and keep your sensitive information private.

 

Today, smartphone users have a multitude of ways to lock and unlock their phones including face scans, fingerprint presses, PIN codes, location detection, and the list goes on.

  • iPhones – Currently, iPhone users have the option of Touch ID fingerprint scans and a PIN code, which these days has to be six digits long (ramped up from the former four digit code). The next generation of  iPhone will offer some sophisticated face recognition tech as well as.
  • Android phones – For these versions of smartphones there are more manufacturers and models to consider, and thus more variety in options. For example, the fingerprint sensors and PIN codes are standard virtually everywhere now. The Galaxy S8 from Samsung was one of the first major flagships to introduce iris scanning as an option. Overall, most Android handsets also support pattern unlock, which is slightly more convenient than a PIN, with a smaller number (including the Galaxy S8) offering their own take on face recognition too.

 

Almost all smartphone locks have been hacked, so try to follow some simple rules researched and recommended by the Guardian to increase your security.

  • Install the most recent software updates to maintain the most recent security fixes.
  • Be warey of the Apps you install.
  • Be sure to lock your device whenever it is not in use.
  • Plan ahead and have tracking capabilities on your phone in case it is stolen or lost.
  • Don’t leave online services unlocked.
  • Be wary of public or open WiFi.
  • Review your Apps often and get rid of the ones you no longer use.

 

Call M&H Consulting for any IT issues 1-(866)-964-8324 or visit our website at http://www.mhconsults.com

Hackers: The Good and the Bad

Between pop culture movies such as The Matrix, Mr. Robot, The Net, and Hackers, and the constant news coverage of cyber events such as the recent Equifax, Verizon, or WannaCry breaches, most Americans have a pretty good idea of what hacking is all about. But is this accurate? Are all hacking incidences bad? Let’s take a closer look at the types of hacking and how it can impact users as well as IT departments globally.

 

When asked what a hacker is, most of us would answer something like this: Someone who has expert computer programming knowledge and uses this to gain unauthorized access to systems, corporations, governments, or business networks, in order to cause problems, delays, or lack of access. This type of hacker, who usually has malicious intent, whether it is stealing data, passwords, or money/valuables, are considered Black Hat Hackers.

 

There are, however, other types of hackers. These hackers are considered White Hat and Hacktivists. White Hat Hackers or “good hackers” are those individuals who break into computer systems to root out security flaws or bring attention to a cause. Their intentions are not necessarily to wreak havoc, but rather to do a public service. Many times these White Hat Hackers are hired by security companies or the businesses themselves to pinpoint network vulnerabilities that should be shored up in order to prevent a Back Hat from discovering the weakness.

 

There are still other types of hackers known as Hacktivists. They are groups that have ideological beliefs about government, politics, and/or the greed of large corporations, and they tend to use their hacking expertise to further their groups cause or ideology. One such group that you may have heard of before is Anonymous or Lulz Security group. So, as you can see, there is more than meets the eye to the groups we tend to lump together into the criminal hacking type. While there are a multitude of malicious hackers, there are still some out there with good intentions and those who hope to use their expertise for the greater good.

Red Flags for the latest Phishing Scam – “Office 365 Account Compromise”

Are you one of the 70 million active users of Microsoft’s Office 365? Since 1 in every 5 corporate employees and most federal and governmental employees use this, you are not alone if you have fallen prey to the latest phishing attack. According to the Better Business Bureau, “Scammers send an email claiming to be from Microsoft and notify the user that their account has been suspended. The message then states that in order to take action, you must click on a link in the email. Once the user has clicked on the link, they are asked to provide their login credentials. If the user follows through, their account is compromised. This will only allow the criminals to gain access to the user’s contacts, but also to confidential information about your company that could leave it susceptible to internal hacks.” How can you tell whether an email is real or a phishing attempt by scammers? First and foremost, specific to this particular phishing scam, Microsoft does not issue suspension notices by email. Second, there are tell-tale signs of a fake email.

 

These Red Flags should put you on alert:

 

  • You don’t recognize the sender’s email.
  • The sender’s email is from a strange domain name.
  • The email seems to be from someone you know but it is out of the ordinary that they would send you an email of this kind.
  • The email has an embedded hyperlink.
  • The email is addressed to an unusual mix of people or people who have no connection to you.
  • When you hover your mouse over a hyperlink that’s displayed in the email message, the link-to address is for a different website.
  • The hyperlink has a misspelling of a common website.
  • The email is blank except for the hyperlink.
  • The email was sent at an unusual time for business – say 4 am.
  • The email is a reply to something you never requested.
  • You notice an attachment with a possibly dangerous file type. The only file type that is always safe to click on is a .txt file.
  • The title of the email claims a negative consequence will happen if you ignore the email.
  • The email has bad grammar or spelling errors.
  • You have a gut feeling that something seems illogical or off by the sender, content, addressee, or other item.

 

Want to know more about phishing scams and how to protect your business? Call M&H Consulting at 1-(866)-964-8324 or visit our website at http://www.mhconsults.com

Mother Nature and Disaster Recovery

Let’s take a walk down memory lane. Remember Hurricane Sandy in 2012 when it shut down data centers in New York including servers hosting BuzzFeed, Gawker, Huffington Post, and other sites. A general loss of power in companies all over the area caused outages and loss of connectivity and ultimately loss of data. Fast forward five years and we have recently had three very powerful hurricanes – Harvey, Irma, and Marie – that impacted the states of Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and the territory of Puerto Rico. Businesses all over those regions dealt with loss of power, flooding and destruction due to high winds. Is your company ready for an act of nature, whether it is a category five hurricane, a tornado, snow storm, flash flood, earthquake, or any number of other things that Mother Nature can throw at us?

 

Here are some things to consider when designing your disaster recovery plan.

 

  • Create a Disaster Recovery Plan or Plans – Don’t have a disaster recovery plan? Ummm well you should. While action may differ depending upon the event, all businesses should plan ahead for a disaster. The plan should include not only what steps to take to protect, recover, and rebound from a disaster, but also how the data will be handled. The plan should prioritize critical processes depending upon emergency scenarios and each team member’s response role.
  • Complete a Data Review – Map out exactly where all of your data is and where you would need to access to regain control of backed up data. Your business team should do a periodic review of where all the digital assets are so that the information can be easily dealt with in the case of an emergency.
  • Risk Assessments – Have a professional risk assessment done on your company including your hardware, software, and all the data you have stored. Identify your system vulnerabilities and patch them up as best you can. Once inspected, if anything is not up to par you should seek outside expertise for recommendations to secure your data.
  • Assess Back Ups – If you do not have multiple layers of back ups depending upon the data, you will be in a tough spot once a disaster strikes. Be sure to have a backup plan and a solution for each area that you deem a priority. Customers expect that even after a large event that their data is accessible again fairly quickly.

 

Do you have questions about Disaster Recovery or Backup Plans?  Call M&H Consulting at 1-(866)-964-8324 or visit our website at http://www.mhconsults.com