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The Power of IT: 3 IT Service Must-Haves

Having IT is paramount no matter the size of your business. Today, technology affects almost every aspect of operations, from internal and external communication to security of financial data and other proprietary information. When it comes to your business, you need an IT team with the tools and resources to help prevent problems and monitor your network on an ongoing basis.

1. Overall Security

Having an IT provider you can trust is essential. Remember, your provider holds the key to all of your company’s sensitive information. Your IT team is responsible for your network’s security and working on your behalf with all of your users. Overall, you should view them as your partner rather than your vendor.

2. Trend Awareness

One guarantee in IT is that everything is changing all the time. Every business needs a service provider who is willing to learn, grow and adapt to the trends of today. Having someone who is always one step ahead will only benefit you as your business expands.

3. Proactive Problem-Solving

An all-encompassing preventative maintenance package will ultimately save you and your team time and money. You know your IT provider has your best interest in mind when they are actively monitoring and maintaining your network, searching and preparing for potential problems rather than waiting for the next ones to come.

4 Mac Security Tips All Users Should Know

Although Apple has marketed its systems as more secure than others, Mac computers can still be at risk. As our lives become more and more digital, the risk of experiencing data theft and other security issues continues to increase. This should alert users to take the proper steps to ensure their Mac security is top-notch.

Here are four things you can do now to help prevent security breaches later:

1. Enable the OS X Firewall

This firewall filters your network on a per-port basis, allowing you to control what programs can accept incoming connections. Most firewalls have this capability, but the OS X is much more flexible, as it’s able to work on a per-service basis as well. It’s a good idea to turn this on while you are connected to public Wi-Fi, but you can also enable it at home for additional security purposes.

2. Enable FileVault

Make sure FileVault is enabled; it is the encryption sequence in OS X that secures all files on your drive that may contain private data. This is a helpful tool that can provide extra security to prevent unauthorized access to your computer. Although using FileVault is a personal decision, it is a wise idea for Mac owners (particularly those using portable laptops) to use it in case their computer is misplaced or stolen.

3. Utilize the Password Management Feature

Chances are you use several online services on a regular basis, and you probably have different login information for each of those sites. These passwords may become difficult to remember. However, OS X offers a built-in password management system called the keychain. This feature encrypts and stores your passwords by default, allowing for quick and easy access to your sites of choice for you, but much more difficult to crack access for would-be hackers.

4. Lock Your Computer When Unattended

It’s important to secure your computer when you’re not around. You can do so by opening the general tab of your Mac’s security and privacy system preferences and enabling the require password option. This way, if someone were to try to use your computer without your permission, they would be forced to enter your password.

 

Maintain Security With Password Management

Keeping personal and business data secure can be a daunting task, especially when one person could have 50-200 passwords just for business. Combine that with the number of personal passwords, and it can feel overwhelming. As a result, users often practice insecure methods to keep their passwords straight. This could be using the same password across many services, writing down passwords and keeping them next to the computer or in an easily accessible place, or using easily guessed and common passwords. It’s impossible for humans to practice perfect security, but with the help of technology, you can rest assured that your data is safe.

Password Management is the Safest Solution

A solution to this ever-present security issue is password management using encryption software. Utilizing this software allows individuals to remember just one, secure password. The rest of the passwords can be long, complicated, and unique, making them nearly impossible to guess. If an attacker somehow does gain access to an account, they’ll only reach one, leaving all other accounts untouched.

As an added safety measure, login information is guarded by multi-factor authentication, which requires two things: something you know and something you have. When you type your username and password (something you know), the software automatically sends a command to your phone (something you have). You then must have access to the phone to confirm that you are the one trying to log in. This method ultimately improves account security by preventing attackers from breaking in.

Strengthen and Protect Your Passwords Today

Having a secure password is crucial for both personal and business purposes, with password length being a primary factor. If you don’t have password management in place, it is recommended that your passwords be at least sixteen characters long, use at least three numbers, uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and symbols (! @ #).

Just like other IT areas, password management is not one size fits all. Talk with your IT company about the right password management for your business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Tips to Increase Your PC Speed: What The Experts Have To Say

cartoon laptop with watch on the display and the banner reads 6 tips to increase you pc speed

It’s frustrating when you’re in the middle of something, and your computer is running slowly. Before you start pulling your hair out, check out these quick computer tips that can give your PC speed a boost:

Delete all the programs and files you don’t use.

Did you install programs like Skype or Dropbox and then lose the need for them after a while?  Go ahead and uninstall them. There’s no point in having programs or files you don’t use, as they only eat up space.

Limit startup processes.

Many programs have processes that run each time the computer restarts, which can slow down your computer. You can stop this by selecting which programs load each time your computer reboots.

Change your power settings.

Windows 10 offers a Power Saver plan that while conserving energy, actually decreases your computer’s performance. Switching to the High Performance or Balanced option may help improve the speed.

Disable visual effects.

Fancy graphics can be pleasant to look at, but they can also be a culprit behind a slow PC. You can change your visual settings by letting Windows decide what’s best for your computer, adjusting for best appearance, performance, or customizing what you want to see.

Make sure you have the latest updates.

Although those little pop-up windows can be annoying, it’s important to pay attention to them.  Software updates add new features, remove old ones, and fix security defects that could harm your computer.

Check for malware and other security threats.

It’s advised to regularly scan your computer for malware or other malicious software such as viruses, worms, and spyware that could be causing damage.

 

 

The Top 7 Benefits of Outsourced IT

Man touching smartphone tablet with the banner reading the top 7 benefits of outsourced it

The rapid and continuous evolvement of technology has caused many businesses to question the best way to meet their IT needs. Outsourced IT is a viable option when it comes to selecting your company’s IT services. Outsourced IT is the process of hiring workers outside of the organization for all or part of an IT job, rather than conducting all operations through internal employees.

Outsourcing Provides You With Efficient Technology Services

  1. Outsourced IT companies participate in proactive problem-solving strategies rather than being reactive. They analyze the company’s infrastructure from a top-down perspective.
  2. External companies are made up of multiple individuals with a wide spectrum of skill sets that enable them to field a variety of questions and handle diverse issues.
  3. When you hire an outsourced company, you pay only for their services. You don’t pay benefits or any extra costs that come with hiring an employee and you get an entire team for far less than the cost of a full-time hire.
  4. An external IT company is available 24/7, eliminating the possibility of sick days or out-of-office time that can affect productivity.
  5. Because of their specialized experience and their team approach, it’s highly probable that your outsourced company has seen your problem before and already has a solution in place to solve it.
  6. Outsourced IT providers mitigate risk as they work with a variety of clients and remain up-to-date on best practices and the latest software.
  7. Every manager has limited time and attention, but with the help of outsourcing, you can be free from IT worries and focus your internal resources on your business.

IT Trends: The Internet of Things and 3 Things You Need to Know in 2018

IT Trends: The Internet of Things and 3 Things You Need to Know in 2018

The Internet of Things, also known as “IoT,” is the connection of devices to the Internet and/or to each other, and it’s set to be one of the biggest trends of 2018. The IoT can include a variety of things such as smart watches, coffee makers, and any other electrical devices with the ability to connect to the Internet.

However, it mainly refers to things that can communicate with the network without a person’s help. IoT can create solutions to specific problems, improving efficiency in many aspects of our lives. For example, what if your office devices could recognize when it was time to buy supplies and automatically ordered more? The possibilities are endless.

Here are three things to be aware of when it comes to IoT:

Your Private Information Could Be At Risk…Right Now.

When everything’s connected, it’s important to question how your sensitive information will remain safe. After all, being part of the digital movement means sharing loads of personal data with third parties. Developers are aware of the privacy issue and are currently working to solve it as best they can. However, it very well may come to a point where users enter the IoT world at their own risk.

“IOT” Mostly Refers To Electric Devices You Wouldn’t Think Would Have An Internet Connection.

Technically, PCs and smartphones aren’t IoT devices. The term is dedicated to things that can join the network without human action. Some examples include thermostats, light bulbs, refrigerators, etc.

Virtually All Industries Will Be Impacted.

Since technology has become such a crucial part of our work lives, every industry that uses it will be affected. Manufacturing, retail, transportation, and healthcare are just a few.

Keep IoT on your radar in 2018 and the years to come. Although numerous challenges will come with it, there are also many exciting development opportunities that will hopefully change our lives for the better. For more news on information technology, gadgets, and computing, be sure to check out all of our blog posts. 

The Cost of Information Technology Management

The Cost of IT Management

As technology evolves, IT services are becoming a necessity for businesses big and small. With information technology management, you get a dedicated team of professionals who solve your problems quickly and efficiently. You may understand all the benefits of managed IT support, but what about the cost?

Costs of managed IT services vary based on the provider’s experience level and amount of services offered. It’s important to recognize your business’s goals and then match your technology needs accordingly.

There are a variety of pricing plans for Managed IT services, including per user, per device, tiered, and “all-you-can-eat”. However, many companies utilize the per-user plan, in which the customer is charged a flat monthly fee with the additional users increasing the cost. In this plan, customers know exactly what’s coming when they receive their bill because the price is directly related to the growth of their business. Most enjoy this pricing plan because they are simply paying for what they need without the worry of receiving an expensive surprise.

Reactive vs. Proactive Customer Service Models: What’s the Difference?

It’s good to know the difference between reactive and proactive IT models because it can impact the price you pay later.

In reactive IT models, professionals are on standby, responding to service calls and fixing issues immediately as they arise. It’s a break/fix type of service, requiring systems to fail before problems are solved. However, just one outage can cause you thousands of dollars in damage. You also lose productivity when your systems are down, which can ultimately lead to a loss of business.

In proactive customer service models, the providers are always anticipating issues and strategically planning solutions through constant monitoring of your systems. This preventative thinking gives providers the upper hand when it comes to solving problems quickly. It also lessens the likelihood of outages and other technical disasters, saving business both time and money.

Check out our managed IT Services now. 

The Importance of Network Security Management at Work

image of laptop and the words: network security management

As the number of hackers continues to rise, so does the risk of encountering security threats in your business’s network. Network Security is the process of protecting and monitoring a network’s usability, data, and integrity from unauthorized use. Keeping your network safe is more complicated than you’d think, involving a complex combination of hardware, i.e., router firewalls, and anti-malware software to do the job.

Most threats come through the internet, with the most common including viruses, worms, spyware, adware and identity theft. Since there isn’t one complete security bundle that will protect against every single threat your network may encounter, it’s essential to use multiple layers of security.

Secure Your Company With Network Security Management

 

Here are some steps you can take to avoid a security breach in your network from cyber attacks:

1. Keep Your Passwords in Check.

Utilize strong and unpredictable passwords and change them frequently.

2. Update On A Regular Basis.

Although we all despise those annoying pop-up update messages, they are there to help us. Make sure to update your systems and applications to the latest versions when these messages appear.

3. Secure Your Router.

Hackers can access your data without even entering your business through your router. Ensuring that encryption is enabled can prevent cyber attacks.

4. Back Up All Data.

Your organization’s data is extremely valuable, and you don’t want to lose it. Backing up your information will make sure that doesn’t happen.

5. Conduct Frequent Audits.

Regularly check your systems to identify potential problems and suspicious activity. Proactively analyzing your network can save money and time later.

It is best to always ere on the side of caution when it comes to dealing with potential security threats. For example, if you receive a strange email or an email from an address you don’t know, get it checked out by your IT company first. It’s much cheaper and less time-consuming in the long-run if you prevent problems through network security management instead of reacting to them after a security breach.

The Equifax Data Breach: 3 Crucial Things to Do Now

lock and the words: what to do in the equifax data breach

In late spring of 2017, hackers gained access to sensitive data from Equifax, one of the three major consumer credit reporting agencies in the U.S. This left approximately 143 million Americans’ social security numbers, birth dates, and other personal information exposed. If you have a credit report, you have a higher risk of being among those affected by credit fraud, identity theft, and other harmful situations. Here are three crucial steps you need to take immediately to ensure that your information is secured:

Steps To Take To Avoid Cybercriminals From Destroying Your Identity

  1. First, you need to find out if your data was exposed. To do this, visit Equifax’s security website and click on the “Am I impacted?” button. Enter your last name. Then, the last six digits of your Social Security number. Finally, hit submit. The site will immediately inform you whether you’re at risk. However, it may be best to assume your information has been compromised. Take this precaution just in case the online system is flawed.
  2. Second, if you do not want to participate in a credit freeze, you should consider placing a free credit fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert lets creditors know that you are a potential identity theft victim and that they should confirm your identity every time there is a credit request.
  3. Finally, staying on top of your account activity is essential. Look out for charges you don’t recognize and other suspicious activity. Equifax offers a free year of credit monitoring. These services are offered to everyone, but only if they enroll on Equifax’s security site before January 31st, 2018.

Cybercriminals can even use the information from the Equifax data breach to impersonate people such as creditors and service providers. Assume you are at risk.  Protect yourself from credit fraud by enrolling for credit monitoring services and remaining alert. Although no further information has leaked since the announcement, it is advised to take the proper measures to ensure the safety of your sensitive information.

The Cloud: What Is It?

InfoTech Explains What Cloud Computing is in Central Illinois

Ever heard an IT person mention the cloud and wondered what they were talking about? We’re here to clear things up.

The cloud is a term referring to a collection of network servers that each have a different job. Some allow you to store and access information, while others provide online services.  The truth is you’re already utilizing the cloud if you’re a social media user or you use online data drives such as Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive to store information. These services function solely through Internet connection instead of your computer’s hard drive.

Here’s an example: you take a selfie on your cell phone. That picture is stored in your phone’s internal memory, but when you upload that photo to a social media site like Instagram, you are delivering it to the cloud. The majority of cloud services can be opened in web browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox, and some companies even offer mobile apps with cloud-like features. A few examples of cloud services include iCloud, Netflix, Yahoo Mail, and Dropbox.

Advantages of Cloud Services for Businesses

Cloud computing refers to the products, services, and platforms that give both businesses and customers complete access to resources delivered to them through the Internet and other types of networks. The cloud offers companies a variety of benefits, as it allows one to access their information on any device with a stable Internet connection. It is what allows a person edit a document in one place and begin where they left off on another computer. It also allows multiple people to work together on the same document in real-time, making collaboration easier and more efficient.

A little over a decade ago, computers began securing reliable, high-speed Internet, with mobile devices following soon after. Experts soon realized that because of constant online connection and faster data transfer rates, practically everything could be stored online. Data distribution across many servers has also lessened the load on web-based applications, allowing them to run more smoothly. Furthermore, since the cloud servers are continuously updating, there are always backups prepared in case one of them crashes.

The cloud has significantly helped both business owners and private users. It has assisted businesses by letting them pay only for space they use on an as-needed basis rather than having to buy data storage equipment of their own that may or may not be enough, thus saving them thousands of dollars each year.

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