Illustration of an infected computer

Latest Ransomware Variant Going Global

There’s a new global ransomware threat, it’s a variant of Petya, and it’s spreading fast.

First, if you’re one of our customers, we want you to know that you’ll be okay. Our client backup solutions are monitored daily and tested regularly. So, even if the worst should happen, QualityIP—Knows IT and we’ve got you covered. Read more

Internet Speed Dial

Your Internet Speed

Your Internet Speed—Are you getting what you’re paying for?

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) make lots of promises about the speed and reliability of your Internet connection. Yet, most businesses don’t really know if they’re getting the upload and download speeds for which they are paying. Many factors affect your connection speed including: Read more

The Worst Password Mistakes that Compromise Security

Broadcasting your password on national television may be the easiest way to invite hackers, but common password mistakes make it almost as easy for your data security to be compromised.

Password safety may not be one of the most interesting topics in the realm of cybersecurity, but having a strong password is one of the easiest ways to protect your business’ data integrity. The importance of a robust password has been emphasized by many experts, yet often users who think that they are utilizing a secure password are actually opening themselves up to attacks. You may not be broadcasting your password on national television, but if your password falls into one of the following categories, you could be just as vulnerable to hackers.

Passwords

Short and Simple

Short, simple passwords may be easy to remember, but they are also easy to guess. In general, the longer a password is, the harder it is for hackers to break it. Each additional character that you add to your password increases the possible combination of letters, numbers and symbols exponentially. Remember that hackers tend to go after low-hanging fruit, so any steps that you take to make your password harder to crack increases the likelihood that someone trying to break in will move on to the next target instead.

Lacking in Numbers or Symbols

Letters-only passwords may be more intuitive for you–but they are for hackers as well. Just as adding additional characters to your password exponentially increases the number of the possible combinations, so does using numbers and symbols in addition to letters. Just think about it: using letters, symbols and numbers means that each character in your password has almost twice as many options as if you only use letters.

Based on Personal Information

As highlighted in the clip from Jimmy Kimmel Live, using personal information such as a pet’s name or a birthday is incredibly common. Including personal details in your password, however, makes you very vulnerable to hacking. You may think that “Fido111379” is secure and difficult to guess, but blog posts discussing your dog or Facebook comments wishing you a happy birthday can broadcast your personal details to anyone who cares enough to look for them.

Simplistic Patterns

Being able to remember your password is, of course, necessary and utilizing a pattern might seem to be an easy solution to commit it to memory. Complex patterns that use letters, numbers and symbols within a long password are not a security risk. However, most people who use patterns in their password rely on overly simplistic ones, and this makes you vulnerable to hackers, particularly if your password is short. One particular type of pattern that you must avoid is keyboard-based patterns, such as “123qwe” or “1qaz2wsx.”

Worried that your business’ data might be vulnerable to hackers? The experts at {city}’s QualityIP can help you evaluate your security procedures to see if you have any glaring holes. Contact us today at (330) 931-4141 or info@qualityip.com to learn more.

Used by permission

Wisdom Wednesday: How to Avoid Computer System Infection

Criminals want your company’s financial data, customer lists including credit card information, intellectual property, and anything else they can sell.

Computer System Infection

Cyber crime is a huge endeavor with severe consequences for organizations that are victimized. Criminals want your company’s financial data, customer lists including credit card information, intellectual property, and anything else they can sell.

Besides the immediate impact on your business’ ability to operate (for example ransomware can shut you down), there are significant costs associated with a data breach. These costs include:

  • Potential fines from regulatory agencies for failure to protect personal identification data (PI) or personal financial information (for example a credit card number). Some fines have been in million dollar multiples.
  • The cost of notifying all persons and businesses that had their data breached.
  • Costs of providing credit monitoring and identity theft protection for all involved.
  • The potential cost of defending a class action lawsuit against your company for failure to adequately protect sensitive information.
  • Loss of customers
  • Loss of business reputation
  • Inability to attract new customers or clients

Following are Best Practices for securing your computer system and company data.

Best Practices for Computer System Protection

The following list is the Best Practices for keeping your business’ computer system, programs, and data, safe from prying eyes.

  1. Make sure your firewall is on so that intruders cannot access your system from the internet.
  2. Install security software and keep it updated.
  3. Filter all email for computer viruses.
  4. The more popular a program used by your business is, the more appealing it is a target for cyber criminals. Criminals know that many users do not regularly patch their programs against malware infections, so popular programs give them a wider pool for targeting. Make sure that your computer programs are updated as soon as a security patch is released.
  5. Exercise caution when using free 3rd party software claiming they check for software updates. Free software may be bundled with malicious software.
  6. Instruct employees that they should never open emails from unknown senders since they might be a source of infection to your company’s computer system. Attached malware might be anything from a virus to ransomware.
  7. Tell your employees they should check with senders they know if an email has a suspicious attachment. A phone call to the sender can help avoid the consequences of a data breach.
  8. Inform employees they should not open websites they are not familiar with and they should make sure the address bar is the site they want to visit. A random click could take them to a website that is just waiting to download malware onto your company computer system.
  9. Buy your software from a reputable buyer and never use pirated software as it may be infected with malware.
  10. Before using thumb drives and other portable media, scan them with security software to ensure they are virus free.

Computer security may surpass your company’s IT capabilities. Accordingly, consider a computer managed services provider with a strong background in computer security. For more information about managed services and how an MSP can help your company contact QualityIP in {city}. (330) 931-4141 or contact us by info@qualityip.com.

The New Outlook for Mac Update Is Great for Businesses: Here’s Why

Outlook for Mac now works with beloved apps like Google Calendar and Contacts: Take a look at the details!

Outlook for Mac began with a simple goal: Provide Outlook services for Mac users with a new app. Many users are familiar with Outlook or prefer using Outlook services for business along with other Microsoft apps, while also preferring to use a MacOS or iOS platform. Outlook for Mac allows people to have it both ways.

Outlook For Mac

However, in the past, OfM has lacked in-depth integration, which may have kept you from considering it. Fortunately, in the latest updates Microsoft has pushed new functionality to the email client: Now it’s more useful for companies than ever before, especially to those who already depend on Google apps for their communication. Here’s what has changed.

Outlook and Gmail

If you have used Outlook for Mac in past years, you may know that it is designed to link to your Gmail account: This is particularly useful for Mac-based companies and sole proprietors who tend to rely on Gmail for their communication before adopting Outlook for Mac. This way, Gmail emails are synced to the Outlook account, and users don’t have to go around telling all their clients about a new email or changing their logins for every site that requires an email. It’s an effective solution, but for a long time it stopped with basic email syncing.

Now, Microsoft is adding new, deeper connections to Gmail services. This way, you don’t have to bounce between Outlook and Gmail tools when trying to organize events or plan out your schedule, significantly increasing the usability of OfM for most Mac users that are still accustomed to Gmail.

Create and Edit Google Calendar Events

One of the biggest features coming to Outlook for Mac is the ability to connect to Google Calendar as well as traditional email. That means that your Outlook Calendar and Google Calendar will be synced. Any events that you have in your Google Calendar will be automatically transferred to Outlook, and vice-versa.

The syncing is adept enough carry changes across programs no matter where you decide to make edits. If you prefer to add events in Outlook, they will carry over to Google. If you want to open up Google Calendar quickly and make an edit to an event, that edit will carry to Outlook as well. Because Calendar can essentially function as a separate app, you don’t even need to be heavily invested in Gmail to take advantage of this feature – just have a Google account and make use of Calendar. This adds a lot of usability for people who were not interested in the original Gmail syncing.

Add and Manage Google Contacts

Really, it’s a little surprising that it took this long for Google Contacts to sync with Outlook. But now that the two programs share information readily, Contacts will now port over to your Outlook list. This change also works both ways, so no matter where contacts are added or modified, they will be synced. This can be especially helpful if you have a sales rep or marketing employee who loves to use Google Contacts, while you are trying to get everyone to use Outlook. They can continue to use the Google version, while Outlook will still be updated with their latest contacts.

Sync with Mobile Devices

Yes, the new version of Outlook for Mac will sync on both iOS and Android devices. If you pull out a mobile device and update a contact or calendar event during a conversation, it will carry over for both Google and Outlook. Since most of our common on-the-fly calendar and contact adjustments tend to occur on the go when our mobile devices are easy to reach for, this feature guarantees that such updates will transfer without trouble.

Gmail Now Benefits from Traditional Outlook Features

Outlook for Mac has several features that tied its emails to other functions. Those features now work with Gmail emails as well. For example, if you talked about an even and its time in an email, Outlook would add that to your events. Now Outlook will look into Gmail emails for the same information and automatic event posting. This also applies to package delivery details, travel reservations, and other relevant information found in emails.

Note on Downloading

The new OfM features are already available if you already have an older version software. Just update your current Outlook for Mac app, and you should now be linked to Calendar and Contacts. If you do not currently have Outlook for Mac, it’s an easy online download and you still have a couple months to download it for free before June 30, 2017, after which Microsoft will put a price tag on the software. It’s in your best interest to act quickly on this one to save money!

For more information on the apps and services that can make your {city} business more efficient (and a lot easier to handle), contact QualityIP at (330) 931-4141 or info@qualityip.com and let us know how we can help!

Want to know how to save the planet AND 40% on IT this Earth Day?

On April 22nd, more than 193 countries will celebrate Earth Day. Multiplied thousands of events will be put on across the globe to promote environmental awareness and action. These events will range from tree plantings at elementary schools to proclamations in presidential palaces.

Earth Day 2017

But what are you going to do?

What action are you going to take to make your world a better place?

Whether you believe climate change to be a global crisis or not, it is certain that we have been given the privilege of stewardship of this planet.

So, as a globally-aware corporate leader, what do you do?

You want your business to do more than only provide employment and make money for shareholders…

Make a difference AND save money.

Here’s how to do it!

The IT systems of today are evolving at a frantic pace. With that evolution of technology has come breakthroughs that can save you money and lower your company’s negative impact on the environment.

Want a lower carbon footprint?

Want your brand to be seen as a part of the solution instead of part of the problem?

The QualityIP team is here to show you THREE WAYS to save the planet AND save up to 40% on your IT!

#1 – Out With the Old!

We know that getting rid of old infrastructure and spending money on new equipment may seem counter-intuitive when we are talking about reducing waste and decreasing spending – but it works!

Think about it from this perspective…

You’ve replaced your washer, dryer, freezer, and refrigerator – even your light bulbs – at home for better, more power-efficient options.

Why?

Because it’s going to SAVE YOU MONEY!

That means more money for the things you WANT to do and the causes you care about.

It’s not that different in the workplace.

Your old systems use more power and require more maintenance than the new power-smart options.

So… switch now and realize an ongoing return on and environmentally-friendly investment!

#2 Get Into the Cloud!

Shifting from in-house servers to cloud-based, virtual servers is the single biggest technology-related action your company can take to become more environmentally friendly.

After all…

Those servers use a lot of valuable office space and eat up a ton of power each year. Plus, there’s the environmental impact of disposing of the servers over and over again when they hit their life expectancy – every three years on average.

It’s time to explore the environmental and financial benefits of allowing the QualityIP team to virtualize and manage your server assets within a cloud environment.

#3 Go Mobile!

Looking to relocate, expand, or renovate? Now’s the time to have the “wired or wireless network?” conversation with the IT professionals of QualityIP.

Yes, there are advantages and disadvantages to each approach, but in the world of environmental impact and cost savings, the smart money is on wireless networks.

Why? The production of cabling requires the mining of metals and the production of plastics. Neither of which is great for the planet…

Add to that the financial cost of purchasing and installing the cabling and you can quickly see why an informed conversation should be had surrounding this important business and environmental choice.

High mobility / low environmental impact is where technology is going.

Is your leadership, your company, and your brand, keeping up?

Ever look at the advertisements that bigger companies do showing their commitment to the environment and wish that your brand could be seen as a force for environmental good and progress?

Now you can!

Save money AND be the environmentally-friendly corporate citizen you have always wanted to be.

Contact the QualityIP team now at (330) 931-4141 or info@qualityip.com. We’ll make it easy and profitable to celebrate Earth Day this year!

The Challenges and Opportunities for HR Departments in the Digital Transformation

A recent study by Deloitte found that most HR departments are significantly behind the curve in adopting and adapting to new technology, but these challenges present opportunities for HR departments to improve their effectiveness in the digital age.  

Human Resources Digital Transformationa

As companies of all types and sizes continue on the path of their digital transformation journey, many will find that individual departments seem better suited to adapting to and integrating new technology than others. In their most recent annual Global Human Capital Trends report, professional services firm Deloitte found that human resources departments, in particular, have difficulty keeping up with the rapid pace of technological change. Executives across industries rated their HR departments as significantly below average in adopting and utilizing new technology, while only 17 percent of business leaders felt that their companies were ready to oversee an “augmented” workforce that includes people and AI working together. Despite these challenges–or perhaps because of them–HR departments have some of the strongest opportunities for any practice area to significantly improve their functionality, increase their effectiveness and boost the overall results of their entire company by taking strides toward technological integration.

A large reason that HR departments have difficulty responding to new technology is that the potentially transformative effect of these innovations is often much greater for HR than it is for other departments. Like Deloitte, competing for professional services firm Accenture believes that digital technology has the potential to completely disrupt the role of HR departments–and that this could result in a total shift in the function of HR.

For example, talent management has long been seen as a function that resides solely in the purview of the HR department, but shifts in technology stand to disperse this role throughout a business. Digitization and an increasing utilization of cloud-based tools will move the talent management process toward becoming an everyday activity for managers and employees themselves rather than a centralized function overseen and run by HR departments.

This radical change in function doesn’t eliminate the need for HR departments, however. Instead, HR professionals have the opportunity to take on a more expansive and strategic role within their organizations. For example, Accenture foresees HR departments will play a much more significant role in evaluating external technologies as well as creating more effective interfaces between external tools and their organization’s internal systems and data. About employees, HR will still play a major role, but the opportunity is now to act more as a marketing department for talent. Analyzing employee data and using this information to create a strong company brand and custom talent offerings will be the functions of the HR departments that fully embrace the digital transformation.

What does all of this mean for small businesses and their HR professionals? As many small business owners know, their size doesn’t mean that they can ignore new technology; indeed, adapting to innovations and staying nimble in the face of change is often more important for small businesses than for large corporations. The HR departments of small businesses have a potentially transformative role to play for their entire company. By relying more on technology to replace rote tasks and integrating more closely with other departments as part of the digital transformation process, HR departments can add significant value to a business by acting more like a strategic partner and engaging with current employees, potential employees and outside vendors on a higher level.

Are you curious if your HR department is staying on target with adopting new technological solutions? At {city}’s QualityIP, our digital transformation experts can help you identify your business’ problem areas and the solutions that can address these issues. Please contact us today at (330) 931-4141 or info@qualityip.com to learn more.

5 Surprisingly Effective Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Computer

Spring clean your computer with this full checklist!

Computer System Cleanup

Spring is the perfect time to clean out your computer – and we’re talking about both outside and inside! If you can’t remember last time you really cleaned your computer and other electronic devices, then schedule a space to really spend some time cleaning off the dirt, dust, and unwanted files or data. Not sure where to begin? We’ve got just the place for you to get started!

1. Clean Your Screen and Apply a Screen Protector

Screen protectors are those thin, invisible films that you apply to your screen to help protect it against scratches and make it easier to clean. While screen protectors are fairly common on smaller devices like smartphones, they are also available for larger screens, but few people take advantage of them. This is often a missed opportunity! The right film can not only protect screens but also help reduce glare, improve privacy, and much more. It’s an ideal solution for a laptop that’s frequently on the go.

The key is finding a screen protector film that fits your electronics and is a high-quality product. Poor quality films aren’t worth the time, so make sure you check out reviews before buying the first film protector that you see.

When you have your screen protector, carefully clean and dry your screen with a soft cloth and a neutral cleaner. Take this time to clean off all those little specks that have been on the screen forever. Then carefully apply the film – many versions use some kind of adhesive or spray in the process, so everything needs to stay extra clean. Smooth out the film, and don’t worry about a few small bubbles, since these tend to settle down over time.

2. Get Up Close With Your Keyboard

While you’re cleaning, give your keyboard some love, too! If you have the type of keyboard with cracks between the keys, you know what’s coming: It’s time to disconnect the keyboard, gently pry up the keys, and give everything a thorough cleaning to remove any dust and grime. Water and isopropyl alcohol will remove tough stains, and you can use cotton swabs and Q-tips to get inside all the little spaces. Clean each key, too! When you’re finished, gently replace the keys – not only does this clean up one of the dirtiest parts of your computer, it also usually improves keyboard functionality!

If you have a flat keyboard with thin keys that don’t easily pop up, take a cloth and Q-tips and carefully clean around them instead, before rubbing the surface clean.

3. Air it Out: Have Your CPU Cleaned Professionally

You may not think about it much, but the inside of your computer can get dusty as well, as dust finds its way in through vents and other openings. Dust inside your CPU is bad news because it can cause far more damage there, especially over time.

Fortunately, you can clean out a CPU effectively with compressed air. However, since this requires some disassembly and careful use of air to avoid damage, you may want to leave it up to a professional. QualityIP of {city} provides quick CPU cleaning for just this purpose, so don’t be afraid to stop by as you start cleaning up!

4. Go Through Your Backgrounds Apps and Unnecessary Apps

Chances are good that your operating system may have gotten a little cluttered too. There are dozens of ways to clean out your computer data, but we’re going to talk about an effective way to speed up and de-clutter your PC that many people don’t even use. One of the best places to start are the background apps. These are apps and software that may not be currently open or visible, but are still active in the background, slowing down your computer – often unnecessarily.

Halting and deleting these unnecessary background apps can speed up your computer and even your Internet. Both the Windows Task Manager and the Disk Cleanup tool are useful here. MacOS offers to Reduce Clutter and Activity Monitor to spot any hidden apps. These tools will also allow you to delete any temporary or junk files that you don’t recognize to help clear up some more room.

5. Download a Password Manager

We have a lot of passwords to deal with these days, spanning multiple devices and services. If you really want to gain the upper hand and end your spring cleaning with some great organization, download a password manager like LastPass to help keep all your passwords organized, remembered, and even changed across every device you have. No more scattered physical lists of your passwords!

For more information on cleaning up and fixing your {city} computer, QualityIP can help you find solutions fast. Contact us as info@qualityip.com or gives us a call at (330) 931-4141!

How the FCC’s New Stance on Privacy Safeguards Will Affect Small Businesses

As the new FCC Chairman rapidly reverses the commission’s stance on privacy protection and cyber security, small businesses are faced with the need to tighten their own security protocols to protect their sensitive data.  

secure company data

Many business owners assume that the Federal Communications Commission has a set of stringent rules designed to regulate the actions of internet service providers and help protect the security of sensitive business data transmitted over the web. However, recent steps were taken by the newly appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai clearly demonstrate that this is not the case. According to Pai, the FCC has no role to play in communications cyber security, and this change in approach by the FCC leaves internet service providers free to sell their customer’s sensitive data without oversight. For businesses across industries, this shift in the FCC’s stance on their role in privacy protection and cyber security signals a need for stronger cybersecurity protocols at the corporate level.

Before this policy shift, the FCC was working on new and robust privacy rules that would have placed greater constraints on what internet service providers could do with private customer information. In general, service providers would have been required to let their customers know that their data was being collected and gain affirmative opt-in consent before utilizing the data or sharing it with any third-parties. Given that internet service providers have access to a wide range of sensitive data including financial information, internet history, email content, Social Security numbers and more, these rules would have served to protect small businesses from having their sensitive data exploited.

New FCC Chairman Pai, however, had suspended these new regulations before they even had a chance to go into effect. Moreover, under Pai’s direction, the FCC has also reversed course on plans to enact federal regulations that would require Internet service providers to let their customers know when a data security breach has occurred, deferring to state laws instead. This change in policy means that businesses may not even find out when hackers have gained access to sensitive and critical data through an attack aimed at their internet service provider. What is the reasoning for these changes on the FCC’s part? The new FCC Chairman is responding to two key groups: Internet service providers who disliked the cost of the regulations and the industry trade groups that benefit from purchasing sensitive information from Internet service providers.

In the face of this shift in rules and regulations at the FCC, what should business owners do? To a great extent, many small businesses should take these policy changes as an important reminder of the need to maintain strong cybersecurity in general. Treating any data that is shared over the internet as potentially vulnerable is a good practice, and enacting robust protocols to encrypt and protect the sensitive business or customer data is a smart move in any climate.

Concerned that your business’ sensitive data might be at risk? The cyber security experts at QualityIP can evaluate your security protocols and check for weak spots that could leave your firm vulnerable. Contact us today at (330) 931-4141 or info@qualityip.com to learn more.

Wisdom Wednesday: The Importance of Training Your Employees to Spot Spoofed Emails

The number of security issues and malware risks that your company must contend with continues to grow every year, but one of the most potentially devastating threats that your business faces is surprisingly low-tech in nature. Spoofed emails don’t rely on complex ransomware or sophisticated keystroke loggers. Instead, your company’s bank account and sensitive information are at risk simply by your employees attempting to perform their job duties. Training your team to spot spoofed emails is key to avoiding falling victim to common scams.

CEO Fraud

What types of spoofed e-mail scams are out there?

Examples of two common types of spoofed email scams played out in recent weeks. The first, an instance of the CEO fraud, involved an Internet criminal passing himself off as the head of a small Kansas construction company. The fraudster pretended to be the CEO of Cornejo & Sons and emailed the finance department of Sedgwick County to request $566,000 in payment. Because the county actually owed the construction company money for services rendered, they submitted payment as directed–only to later find out that the payment request hadn’t come from Cornejo & Sons and the construction company never received any funds.

A similar scam aimed at a Wyoming hospital system sought to obtain employees’ W2 forms. In this case, the Internet fraudster posed as an internal executive at Campbell County Health and requested the W2 files for all staff from the hospital group’s finance department. The finance department complied, exposing the hospital’s 1,300 employees to potential tax return fraud.

Can you and your staff spot a spoofed e-mail?

No longer completely confident that your employees won’t fall victim to one of these commonly spoofed e-mail scams? Luckily, there are steps that you can take to train your staff to spot a spoofed e-mail. Conducting training sessions to alert your employees to the existence of such scams is an important first step. Putting in place internal practices to verify the veracity of any request before responding will also help your employees understand how to deal with any potential scam emails that your business receives.

However, some employees don’t understand the real threat that accompanies spoofed emails until they have actually been the recipient of a fake request. For this reason, some businesses choose to initiate a simulated attack to reveal to their employees firsthand how easy it is to become the victim of a spoofed email. Some services exist that make it easy to carry out a pretend to attack. Some of these services such as PhishMe allow you to target the attack to match the real threat each of your employees is likely to face, such as an email sent to marketing asking them to provide their SharePoint credentials. Experts assert that it is fundamental to follow any simulated attack with further training as your employees will be particularly receptive to in-depth lessons on avoiding spoofed emails after falling for your staged attack.

Concerned that your employees might be vulnerable to spoofed emails? The security experts at QualityIP can help you discover your business’ weak spots. Contact us today at (330) 931-4141 or info@qualityip.com to learn more.

Contact us today at (330) 931-4141 or info@qualityip.com to learn more.