Top Security Issues for Small Businesses

Over the last few years, business security breaches have been top billing on the news and in the headlines.  It almost feels like a new company is compromised daily. Target, Anthem, J.P. Morgan Chase, Ashley Madison, Home Depot and the IRS are just a very few of the world’s largest data breaches. (Knowledge is Beautiful) In response to these breaches, the National Cyber Security Alliance, whose partners include the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Small Business Administration, National Institute for Standards and Technology, Symantec, Microsoft, CA, McAfee, AOL and RSA, developed a list of the top threats your small business may face on the Internet.  Here is a review of the top security issues for small businesses.

  • Malicious Code – This is the term used to describe any code in any part of a software system or script that is intended to cause undesired effects, security breaches or damage to a system. Malicious code includes attack scripts, viruses, worms, Trojan horses, backdoors, and malicious active content.
  • Lost or Stolen Laptop or Mobile Devices – While device theft is hard to stop, limiting what a thief can access if possible.  Solutions to protect data include: encryption programs that encode data or make it unreadable to outsiders, until a password or encryption key is entered.
  • Phishing – Email that is intended to both deceive and gather information are fairly common phishing scams. Typically an email is sent to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft.
  • Unsecure Wireless Networks – Many hackers can easily access unsecure wifi and gain access to private information.  To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, set up a wireless network with a unique password (not the default password). In addition, make sure you encrypt your wireless network with WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access).
  • Employee Threat – Employees that have been passed over for a promotion, fired or laid off pose a threat since they may have access to passwords and data access points.  To stop this from happening experts suggest dividing critical functions and responsibilities among employees within the company, limiting the possibility that one individual could commit sabotage.

Why Backing up your Data is Critical

Think of the vast amounts of data on your home or business computer.  Financial documents, client data, projects, presentations, human resource information, and of course the massive amount of email data.  This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the data that is contained on your computer.  In short, data is probably the most important component of your computer.  While applications and operating systems can be reinstalled, data is almost impossible to recreate if it is lost. Therefore having a data backup plan is imperative for the health of your business or personal computer.

In the event of some catastrophic system failure, a hacker breaks in, a fire, or a corruption of data, having backup for your information is critical.   There are a wide number of data protection strategies that can assist your business or personal data from being lost in the data graveyard.  Just a few years ago,     the terms “disaster recovery” and “data protection” were synonymous with large budgets and an army of IT personnel to manage the process. In today’s business environment, companies and even individuals can protect themselves from data loss and other outside threats in some fairly common ways.  At M&H we can assist you with data backup options. Depending upon your business and type of data these could include:

  • NAS Device – A network attached storage device is dedicated to saving data.  It can operate either wired or wirelessly — depending on the drive and your computer – and, once configured, can display as simply another drive on your computer.
  • External or Portable Drives – These differ from NAS in that they connect to one computer at a time. They are usually wired devices, although some have wireless capabilities.
  • Cloud Storage – Online or “in the cloud” storage options are growing rapidly.  These are usually pretty affordable and are secured in a remote location.
  • Flash Drives USB Stick – These small handheld drives are small enough to fit in your pocket.  The size capabilities are rising and the cost are dropping.

The Importance of Network & Office Evaluations

When you think of the word “evaluation,” what comes to mind? Perhaps when you think about evaluations you think about anxiousness, annoyance, or maybe tediousness. Sometimes evaluations can bring all those thoughts and feelings when thought of, but it does not have to be this way. Computer network evaluations and employee office evaluations are very important and can help prevent many issues.

Network Evaluations:

If you are not already aware of what network evaluations are, it is the process of assessing a current network’s infrastructure, system, software, security and implementation.

Out of the two evaluations, this one is the more expensive one. The reason for this is because having this type of evaluation done can be very time consuming and requires the time of IT managements and a key business personnel in order to do it. But, if this could be overlooked, there are a lot of issues that can be prevented by this process.

Performance:

By doing this evaluation, you could prevent any future performance issues. With this you could find any areas that may need improvement and address them ahead of time. You could also find that, maybe this network is not beneficial for your growing business any longer and could help decide what you would want an upgraded network to do for you.

Security:

Security issues are a huge problem for any business especially if the company works with confidential data. If there were ever any security problems it could become expensive to correct, and it could cost the business their customer’s trust.

According to Smallbusiness.chron.com, the Department of Homeland Security believes this kind of evaluation to be so important that they allow requests for free evaluations.

Office Evaluations:

Office, or employee, evaluations are done in order to measure job performances. This type of evaluation can be extremely helpful and beneficial for the business.

Performance:

By handing out employee evaluations, you would be forced to face difficult situations that need to be dealt with ahead of time or in a timely matter. This way, by the time of the next evaluation, all the major issues have already been dealt with and under control.

Motivation:

Being honest about the evaluations and addressing the strengths and weaknesses of an employee, you could help keep your employees motivated. By doing this, you could also set future performance goals and objectives for them in order to help them stay on track with work.

At first, getting these evaluations can seem as a long tedious, and sometimes expensive process, but the benefits for these issues can be much greater than the initial annoyances.

Help with Integrating QuickBooks and Excel

Who says that you cannot have the best of both worlds? Well, we say you can, and by both worlds we mean QuickBooks and Excel. Everyone understands that it can be a bit more difficult to edit and create files on QuickBooks but less safe to create important files, like budgets, onto an excel spreadsheet so, why not integrate both together?

Here is how you could create and edit a budget file for QuickBooks in Excel:

If you want to create a file, you should go create a new budget list inside the QuickBooks program by clicking on “Company” located in the top menu, go to “planning and budgeting”, and click on “setup budget”. You should then follow the standard procedures of choosing what this file is for.

Once that is set up, the next step is to export the file as an IIF file. This can be done by going to the “file” menu, click on “utilities”, “export” and then “list to IIF files.” After this is done, make sure to uncheck all the irrelevant file options, and click on the one that best fits your file type.

If you are looking to simply edit a file already made, then you could skip the first step and move onto the exporting step.

You would then want to open the file in Excel by going to open file option, or simply dragging the file into an excel spreadsheet.

Once the exporting step is complete, you can make all the desired edits.

The final step would be to transfer the edited IIF version of the file back to QuickBooks by going to the program, clicking on the files menu, then utilities, and, finally, import and IIF budget list.

Before going ahead and attempting to integrate QuickBooks with Excel, make sure that this is being done with the following Windows versions of QuickBooks: Premier, Pro, Enterprise, and Accountant.

SSD vs. HDD

Solid State Drive (SSD) and Hard Disk Drive (HDD) are data storages for operating systems (OS) accumulating all system applications and personal files. They also help with booting systems. Many wonder what the actual differences are between these two drives and which one they should chose for their hardware. On this blog, we review comparisons on both SSD and HDD.

If you are not already aware, HDDs are much older than SSDs. They are metal platters with magnetic coating that contains all saved data. Because this type of drive is older, it is more established, therefore two times less expensive than an SSD. Because of this, there are also more available choices for these from different manufacturers. This point is something you should definitely keep in mind if you decide to go with an HDD, and especially if you are one to be rougher with your technology, considering the fact that HDDs are easier to be ruined if your computer or laptop is dropped, due to its moving disk.

Another downfall that comes with an HDD is that files, especially larger ones, can become fragmented much more frequent than with an SSD. This is due to OS saving data wherever possible, on any free space available on the disk.

A big difference between an SSD and an HDD is the way they are built and how they save data. Unlike an HDD, an SSD does not have any moving parts. Instead, it has many interconnected flash memory chips that gather all data. Because SSDs are much newer, they are set up to boot more quickly and allow computers to perform a lot faster overall. Unlike HDDs, which makes noise when running, they also do not make any noise when powering through, this is due to it being non-mechanical. For this same reason, they are likely to be more durable than an HDD because they do not acquire movable disks that can be ruined. With laptops becoming smaller over time, SSDs are becoming the more popular drives to use because of its ability to be created in smaller sizes. HDDs in the other hand are limited to how small they can be produced because of their spinning platters.

The only main downfall that comes with an SSD is that they are more expensive than the older drives. If you could look past this initial purchase, then you could potentially save a lot of time and future expenses by changing to one of these.

Why Cloud Services are Best for Your Company

If you are not already aware, the cloud is a form of software and services that run on the Internet rather than a hardware of which you could have access to from anywhere. If you have decided to read this blog, then it is probably because you have been thinking about using a cloud service for your company.

Well, aside from “everyone else is doing it” and being able to have access to all the important data you need at all times, here are some reasons for why you should make the switch:

Proficiency:

The number one reason for making the switch is proficiency. With cloud services, your company would no longer have to suffer the long wait of reaching out to an IT professional and having them fix service issues. IT resources are available at anytime and can get the work done quickly. Maintenance delays could be wiped out completely.

Accessibility:

Like we have already mentioned, with the cloud services, everyone in the company can get access to important information they may need whenever they need it. In other words, if your company has remote workers and there are certain information and data that needs to be shared with them, this can be easily done by simply logging into the appropriate cloud service. This is especially beneficial for employees in different time zones.

Another way in which a cloud service has great accessibility is during a computer crash. If you do not have a cloud service, your important files and data could probably get destroyed during a computer crash and you may never be able to access them again. This can be avoided in the cloud because everything saved goes into the external cloud automatically and can be accessed from there.

Security:

Using a cloud service to save all your documents is one of the most secure ways to store your information. The reason for this is because identification information is required in order to get access to the materials. You could also give access of certain files to certain employees.

Cost:

Cloud computing could potentially save you a lot of money. Aside from paying for whatever fees are required, you could save money on many things like service management, storage, restoring files after a crash, and more!

If these are not good reasons to want to switch over to cloud computing, then we don’t know what is.

What are The Top Operating Systems for Businesses

When it comes to Operating Systems (OS), there are definitely two that stand out among the many, and those are Windows and Apple’s OSX. If you are wondering which one would be the best for your company to use, then read on to the following where we will be comparing and contrasting these OS for you.

Windows (7-10):

Windows is a widely popular operating system in the business world. This OS has had many versions, like Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 (most popular version today). Here are the pros and cons available with the OS.

Pros:

  • Minimizes compatibility issues
  • Has the largest library of commercial software
  • Has fast start up
  • Free upgrades are available
  • Built-in digital voice-responsive assistant named Cortana (Available with Windows 10)

Cons:

  • Less touch-friendly because of the need for browser extension
  • Is more susceptible to crashes, viruses and malware
  • Less open source software (OSS) available to users

Apple OSX Yosemite:

Apple’s OSX operating system is thought to be one of the more easy to use systems. This OS is more popular when it comes to creative content, whether it is visual or written. Here are some pros and cons available with the OS.

Pros:

  • Less viruses and malware, therefore less crashes
  • Revamped new looks consistently
  • Free updates available for Macs made in 2008 or later
  • Extension of usage on iPhones and/or iPods from your Mac
  • Most efficient screen landscape with social media, and Apple ecosystem assimilation

Cons:

  • Expenses for software upgrades each year can become expensive
  • Software upgrades can cause a small learning curve for new features
  • OS is only available on Apple hardware

Overall, both of these OS are popular today. When deciding which one you think is best for your company, you must take into consideration the types of jobs you would want to use the OS for. If you are looking for a system to do more factual or business-type work, then considering a Windows OS would be best. If your company is more creative based both visually and in writing, then you should consider OSX.

Tips on Streamlining Data Management

Having an efficient streamlining data management system is crucial to the growth of your business. Here, we put together some tips that could help your business better manage data.

Keep an organized data:

Sure, having a spreadsheet and manually typing in all the important inventory data could be the best way to keep information accurate. But, in all honesty, who has the time to punch in numbers when your inventory is growing?

Using an inventory management system, or and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, can help manage all customer, inventory, e-commerce, and manufacturing data in a single database.

By doing this, not only would it make work go faster, but it could also help obtain and achieve increase in profits.

Give ERP access to relevant employers:

Everyone knows that communication is the key to a successful anything. By giving relevant employers access to the ERP system, employers throughout the company. This way everyone will see and know how much inventory is left and see the sales data.

Keep up stock levels:

By keeping an organized data, you could determine an accurate sales forecast in order to predict stock levels for items in your inventory. This way you would know how much should be spent on building up stock.

Do some micro managing:

Track each SKU’s pricing, inventory levels, and lead time by using an ERP system. This way you can track whenever an inventory level reaches a minimum and it will notify you to let you know that order need to be made.

You could also set up the ERP to automatically create purchase orders whenever inventory levels are low so that it could be ready to send to vendors.

Keep detailed records:

Keeping records of inventory and sales can make it easier to track SKU numbers and lot numbers. By doing this, you could make better decisions on future decisions.

Why You Need 24 Hour IT Services

IT services are needed throughout the day everyday in order to eliminate any business disruption. Because of this, companies are contracting outside 24-hour IT services for the benefit of their businesses.

By hiring these 24-hour IT services, your company would be saving money. The company would no longer have to support in-house IT departments or invest tons of money in their infrastructure. You would also save a ton of money in maintaining their department.

Having an IT service provider is also important because, with many cloud services on the rise, becoming major use for businesses nowadays, it is crucial to have IT available whenever there is something going wrong with the service.

It is also crucial to have your IT service providers involved in every technological implementation so that everyone could be on the same page in case of any further tech issues. This way your employers could reduce time being wasted, as well as energy, trying to figure out what could be going wrong.

Now, we are all aware that at times, not all departments get along. Usually, due to poor communication, the business department and the IT department tend to have trouble seeing eye to eye on certain situations and have differences of opinion. Clarity can be enforced between business priorities and IT priorities if outside IT services are appropriated.

Overall, having a 24-hour IT service provided by outside sources can be more efficient. They are available whenever you may need them, can help ensure that all departments are working well together, and can keep business moving along faster and more precise.

 

Make Your Computer Run Faster

You know how computers begin to slow down after a few years of working with them every day? Well, we put together some ways for you to keep your work computer running like new without actually having to spend money on a new one.

Here are some ways to rejuvenate your computer:

Get Rid of Dust:

Dust can clog up the airflow in the system ultimately leading to overheating, which makes it run slower.

To clean it out, a small vacuum can be used on the low setting. Before doing this, though, make sure all cables are disconnected and that the computer has been off for at least a half hour.

Get Rid of Unused Programs:

After a while, it can take a long time to start up your computer. This is because there are programs you may not know about, running background processes at the same time. Just because you are not using the program, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t run.

To get rid of these, go through your control panel’s program and disable all those you do not use.

Get Rid of Temp Files:

Temporary files that download from the Internet can accumulate over time, cluttering your hard drive, and slowing down your computer.

One way to get rid of temp files is by cleaning up the disk by going into your System Tools. Another way is to go to your “Temp” folder and delete all the unnecessary files. If you do this one, make sure to go into your recycling bin after and delete them from there also.

Defragment Hard Drive:

Sometimes, files can become fragmented and wind up spread out around your computer’s hard drive causing it to work slower.

Go through your computer’s properties to defragment your hard drive.

Replace Hard Drive:

Depending on the kind of work you do, your hard drive can eventually fill up pretty quickly. For example, if you are working on videos and other big files, you should consider purchasing a new one with a lot of storage space. One with at least 1TB.

 

Get More RAM:

Also depending on what kind of work you use your computer for, RAM (Random Access Memory) is important to keep your computer from slowing down or freezing when downloading/uploading large files. RAM works as a temporary memory storage while using many programs.

You can add more RAM with a memory stick or by purchasing new memory.

Install an SSD:

A Solid State Drive (SSD), can help speed up your computer with its fast reading time and by speeding up the startup process. It essentially works like a USB memory stick but saves files through microchips instead.

Reinstall Windows on PC:

If your computer is a PC and is really running slow, you can solve this by backing up the important files and reinstalling a newer version of windows.