5 Ways Business Enterprises Can Protect Themselves from Cyber Crime

If you own or manage a computer network worth worrying about in regards to a cyberattack or other kind of cyber breach, your worries are likely well-founded. It’s really not if your network receives some kind of cyber threat or attack – it’s when. Black hat hackers and cybercriminals are becoming bolder by the day, creating a global cloud of fear that has descended over the collective IT-network matrix, causing, among other things, some misconceptions – and deep need for the facts – about cybersecurity. Fact: 71 percent of cyberattacks occur at businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Here are 5 ways your enterprise can bolster itself and guard against cyber crime:

  1. Understand the risks and how they evolve with more sophisticated efficacy and frequency. Learn to identify points of vulnerability on your network – both internally and externally – and exactly how cybercriminals gain access and operate. Know as much as you can about all types of cyber threat, including email phishing scams, malware/ransomware, social engineering, spyware, system hacking, and more.
  2. Implement security policies that are adopted by your corporate culture. This one is a biggie, in that it has been proven that employees are the number one cyber threat, believe it or not. Whether inadvertent or unwitting, one of your employees could easily click on the wrong link or expropriate sensitive company data. Cyber safety awareness accounts for most of what executives and owners seek to fulfill via throwing more technology and hardware at it. Having your staff by highly-educated about passwords (encryption and sharing), “mimic” or bogus emails that exploit corporate trust, to mobile device management – you can’t have too much cyber safety in the workplace.
  3. Use phone verification when receiving questionable email requests. As mentioned in the previous entry, iffy emails sent by cybercrooks with the same email address as an executive will request things like money transfers. Always verify by phone with your higher-ups, vendors, clients, or other associates that what they are asking of you is legit.
  4. Take advantage of all software upgrades and updates. Proprietary software engineers work overtime to patch vulnerabilities in their programs, and regularly put out updates to operating systems, applications, and other programs that will help you fight unethical hackers and cyber threats. Make sure you are up to date on all programs by making upgrades and updates regularly.
  5. Establish a workable incident response plan, test it, and put it into practice. Think of it like being in a high-rise tower and having a fire escape plan. It’s an absolute necessity to have a cyber breach plan that all your employees know down to the letter. As cyberattacks increase in frequency and impact, having an effective cyber defense drill in place is tantamount to having a champion sales force, though the profit comes in the knowledge and preparedness that will help you escape what other (unprepared) organizations suffer to the tune of sometimes millions of dollars.

Cyber Security

Need Further Cybersecurity Advice?

If you need further advice about cyberattack preparedness, cyber safety awareness and security, {company} is a proven leader in providing IT consulting and cybersecurity in {city}. Contact one of our IT experts at {phone} or send us an email at {email} today, and we can help you with all your questions or needs.

Do You Know What’s Hiding Out On YOUR Network?

 

We really want to jumpstart your organization’s Digital Transformation. But first we need to understand the way your systems work today. That starts with an in depth analysis of all of the different parts of your business’ “digital puzzle”, from servers and web services, to the photos from your last office party. Because companies, technologies, and resources shift at such a fast pace, we feel that this process is crucial. It lets us understand how your current system is – and isn’t – serving your business.

The Business Opportunity – Without this information, it’s hard to know what opportunities you might be missing out on. The SystemScan process lets us analyze data from dozens of touch points across your network. Once the process is complete, we can sit down with you and come up with a tailored technology strategy to help your business become more productive and efficient, and ensure you’re getting the most out of your technology investments. 

The Proposal – The SystemScan project includes:

  1. Discovery Session
  2. Assessment
  3. Analysis
  4. Reporting Session

Interested in putting the SystemScan project to work for your business? Contact us at {email} or {phone}. We’re the IT experts local businesses trust.

Digital Creative Spotlight Josh Weiss

Where do you live?

Echo Park in downtown Los Angeles.

What are you listening to this week? (music, podcasts, etc.)
I am listening to a lot of music on SoundCloud, and MixCloud. I have quite a few playlists on SoundCloud.

What’s your current profession / project / passion?

I have two. I am the CIO, President, and owner of LA Creative Technologies, and I’m also a DJ/Event Organizer. I’m known as DJ Gozar.

What are some recent examples of your work that you’re most proud of?

I am really proud of how well we able to help one of our architecture clients. We moved them from the same office they had been in for the last twenty years, to a much more modern one in downtown LA. This client is very particular, so it was good to see everything fall into place for them. I am also really proud of the branding that I have done for LA Creative, and for my DJ work.

LA IT Support

Describe your creative process.

It ranges from being tight and process-oriented, to manic and all over the place. Lately when I’m working, I usually have about 45 tabs open in Chrome. My process involves some creation, some distraction, and some research. I usually like to take walks when I know I’ve been at it too long.

Which tools, products and services do you use in this process?

As a DJ, the main tools I use are my Mac computer and Serato DJ, and I organize my music in iTunes. I also use SoundCloud for a lot of my music, and I’m always online looking for new music wherever artists happen to be promoting it. Once I have my music downloaded, I organize it there and back it up in my Dropbox account. Dropbox is very important to my process. Backing up continuously keeps it all safe. That’s the techie in me bleeding into my creative side.

What one major benefit do you get from technology you can’t imagine creating without?

When I used to DJ with records, having to carry all of my gear with me was always awful. We’re talking about a hundred pounds or more. These days, everything I need fits in a small backpack. I have access to thousands of songs, and the flexibility to play wherever I want, in all kinds of interesting locations, anywhere in the world. That’s something I could never have done a decade ago.

What do your colleagues / collaborators always want to do manually/analog that you wish they would automate/design a system for?

As an event organizer, I would really like to see the planning of events become a little more automated. Checklists are great because you don’t have to rely on other people remembering to take care of things. I wish we had an automatic check list to follow so everyone would always be on the same page. Unfortunately, things are always much crazier than that.

What do you do when you need a break from screens?

I get a break by moving and walking. I tend to walk a lot. My neighborhood is filled with old, Victorian houses. Getting outside and enjoying the scenery makes for a nice change.

Anything you want to add on the relationship between creative work and tech?

We live in an interesting time. Regardless of your profession, so much of our creative work happens on screens and computers. It’s important to remember what happens away from the screens, and what happens in the room around us. The ‘real world’ needs to stay a part of the creative process.

Top 10 Gmail Optimization Tips Worth Taking Note Of

It’s probably the most popular free email platform out there – but have you taken advantage of all the Gmail options available? Most of us know the basics, like spam filtering and message labeling, but there are many other Gmail options that will make both your personal and business email communications easier and more manageable. An article on LifeHacker.com called “Top 10 Gmail Tips for Power Users” has spelled it out quite nicely. We’ve featured and highlighted our favorite points in that article for you below.

GMAIL optimization

Our favorite tip on the list is this one, since it can save so much needless embarrassment or damage:

  1. Enable Undo Send to Take Back Messages You Didn’t Mean to Send. Once solely in the domain of Gmail Labs, the ability to “unsend” mail is now part of Gmail’s default feature set. All you have to do is enable it in your Gmail settings. Undo Send gives you the choice of 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds to click “undo” after sending a message to take it back, whether you:
  • Realized, only after pressing send, that your message was ridden with typos and mistakes, or
  • Sent your message to the wrong person (or you left someone important off of it!), or
  • Wrote it hastily and in anger and you really should have taken more time to stop and think before you sent it.

Other Noteworthy or Standout Gmail Tips

10: Use Multiple Inboxes to Organize Several Accounts in One View. For those who have a personal Gmail account and another Google account for work, or those you have multiple Gmail accounts just to keep everything separate, Multiple Inboxes can pull them all together, make replying from the right address to the right person easy, and give you one view for all of your email. This, instead of being forced to open multiple tabs or windows.

  1. Create Infinite Email Addresses that All Arrive at the Same Inbox. Although it’s been around for a very long time, this Gmail power-user tip gets a big highlighter pen from us. For those who believe that someone is going to give away your email address or spam you, reformat it by adding a plus-sign between words. It all goes to the same address, and it’ll make it easy to both see who sold you out, and to filter out the resulting spam.
  2. Mute Never-ending Threads and Block Annoying Senders. It’s time to acquaint yourself with the Mute feature in Gmail and reap its special rewards. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a seemingly endless reply-all thread, Mute will be your best friend. Open up the specific thread, or select it from your inbox, and then just head up to the “More” menu and select “Mute.” The thread will continue, and you can even check up on it manually when/if you want to, but new messages in the thread will no longer clutter up your inbox. If you ever do need to get back in on the conversation, however, you can always unmute it.

If you’re enticed (and you should be), click here to read the rest of the tips.

Get More Email Optimization Tips

If you desire further advice about optimizing Gmail or another email platform, you can also speak to an IT expert at {company}, which is a proven leader in providing IT consulting in {city}. Contact one of our representatives at {phone} or send us an email at {email} today, and we can help you with all your questions or needs.

How to Protect Company Information When Employees Leave

It’s a problem that has only grown in equal proportion to the advent and proliferation of computer networking, email, and the various high-tech ways employees communicate in the business world. What’s the best way to safeguard company proprietary data when an employee departs, whether by choice, or by firing? Information technology and communication experts are increasingly pointing to strategies that include administrative file sync and share programs that safeguard proprietary documents that contain sensitive information. It’s become especially critical in this day and age of ransomware and the growing number of employee-related cyber breaches.

Protecting Corporate Information

Here are some key ways you as an enterprise owner or CIO can guard and secure company data in the event of employee departure.

  1. Have a company-sponsored Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) solution in place. As endorsed by the director of product marketing of Citrix Systems, Chanel Chambers, having an EFSS system in place to augment or replace less-secure email platforms for the sending and sharing of files will help enterprises keep much better tabs on their company data. EFSS gives its users authentic enterprise-class data services that cover all the corporate and personal mobile devices on a given network. It gives network administrators total control of every document sent, shared, or archived in secure networks.
  2. Have Information Rights Management (IRM) in place, to ensure access to files will always require authentication. Companies that deal with higher-level executives exiting the organization need a specific strategy for mitigating the possible exposure of trade secrets, proprietary data, and intellectual property walking out the door with them. It’s not enough to rely solely on the severance policies of the past, such as having high-level executives leave on the day of their resignations or firings, due to there being no transition time provided for. The other worry for company owners is having the surety that only the intended recipients of executive communiques received a copy of emails, texts, or other electronic communications. Having an EFSS program in place with IRM ensures that a given organization retains full control of exactly who is allowed to access company communications and documents. IRM capabilities also help you:
  • Revoke file access even after files have been sent.
  • Track those who attempt to access or share restricted files.
  • With total access and application control of sent or shared docs (who can edit, screen capture, print, or cut and paste, etc.).
  • Control when, who, and from which IP address downloaded files can be used.
  • Thwart employees who think cutting and pasting will get them around IRM permissions and controls.
  1. Implement Data Loss Prevention (DLP) tactics and tools that restrict sharing access based on file content. Most corporations and even SMBs can’t afford to have any proprietary data getting seen and used beyond its intended use. Enabling data loss prevention allows IT managers, CIOs, and other executives to ensure that their exploitable data is secured, via the adjustment of sharing and access privileges based upon key terms related to unique NDA docs and files. DLP preferences then allow access based on IT department and executive access parameters. DLP jibes with company policies, which is an especially needful thing in compliance-regulated industries.
  2. Adopt a firm Mobile Device Management (MDM) policy and mindset. Chambers also recommends adopting a mobile device management “mindset” in the workplace – even with BYOD policies already in place. In some ways, BYOD presents more chances for company data to be absconded with, simply by having the device not be strictly in company access control. If you’re going to have a BYOD policy in place, it’s imperative that you have MDM in place as well, using multi-factor authentication so that disgruntled or ill-intentioned employees cannot filch sensitive corporate data on their way out of the building (or even during their tenure). With MDM, IT departments can wipe company devices and restrict or completely deny access to stolen mobile devices.

Seek Out an IT Expert for Better Business Data Security

You can keep your company data safe from unauthorized access by taking the above steps. You should also inquire with an IT specialist about better policies for proprietary data protection at {company}, a proven leader in providing IT consulting and cybersecurity in {city}. Contact an IT expert at {phone} or send us an email at {email} today, and we can help you with your questions or concerns.

Human Error Accounts For 70 Percent of Data Loss & Failure in Small Business

Emergencies involving IT networks can strike at any time, whether it’s a malware attack, natural disaster, or system crash. A less-known fact is that human error accounts for 70% of data loss/failure in the small business world. That is why it’s crucial that you have a detailed plan in place to make sure your business can continue its operations, avoid irrevocable data loss, and keep unproductive downtime to a minimum. It’s also equally important for you to have a viable business continuity plan that will allow your staff to get back up and running after a disaster knocks out your hardware.

Human Error Computers

IT security company Databarracks released findings of their data health check survey in September 2015 showing that human error is the biggest cause of data loss, hardware failure, and data corruption, accounting for a total of 70 percent of all data loss and failure in small businesses, collectively. Databarracks interviewed over 400 IT professionals from 20 business sectors, asking pointed questions about their IT experiences during 2015. The surveyed respondents mostly represented the IT sectors, with public services coming in second. They represented equally small businesses, medium-sized enterprises, and larger corporate bodies.

Technical operations manager at Databarracks Oscar Arean said of the results: “Human error has consistently been the biggest area of concern for organizations when it comes to data loss. People will always be your weakest link, but having said that, there is a lot that businesses could be doing to prevent it, so we’d expect this figure to be lower.”

As a business owner, you need to ask yourself these questions:

  • How long will it take and how much will it cost to replace your hardware?
  • When is the last time you tested your data backup?
  • How much does it cost per day to be without your data?
  • If you lose access to your IT network, where will you put the replacement hardware? Where will you work?
  • How much revenue do you lose each day?
  • How much would you be paying your employees each day to not work during the downtime?

Recent surveys conducted in the UK have shown that cybersecurity attacks are becoming increasingly more common. 51 percent of those surveyed regularly review their security status and make changes accordingly upon recognizing an attack vector. In an ideal world, that number would be closer to 100 percent, but in lieu of having a perfect world, we can at least implement reliable business continuity plans that can provide an ideal solution that will ensure your business can get back to work in the wake of a disaster with minimal downtime.

For Better Data Protection and Disaster Recovery 

If you need further advice about data protection and disaster recovery, {company} is a proven leader in providing IT consulting and security in {city}. Contact one of our IT experts at {phone} or send us an email at {email} today, and we can help you with all your cyber safety, defense, and security questions or needs.

5 Antidotes to Common Workplace Tech Distractions

When it comes to workplace productivity, technology can be a double-edged sword. The same applications and devices that keep employees connected to clients and each other can prove to be annoying distractions, and disruptive time-wasters. Managing these distractions doesn’t have to call for major policy changes or constant policing of employee behaviour. It can be as simple as having a conversation with your team and setting some basic ground rules.

LA TECHNICAL SUPPORT

  • Smartphone use in the office – Decide when it’s appropriate to check emails and text messages, and whether or not alerts should be muted on all devices. Consider a no phones rule for meetings to help keep employees focused.
  • Social media during business hours – Personal and professional life is often blurred due to the number of hours employees spend working both in and out of the office. A “coffee break” rule with specific times during the day where social media use is allowed can curb the tendency to continually check Facebook or Instagram.
  • Inter-office communication – Set standard practices for connecting with other employees. Email should be avoided for time sensitive or mundane questions. Instead, make use of an instant messaging program. It’s both faster and more convenient to have a “conversation” about smaller issues instead of a long chain of emails.
  • Limit notifications – Most applications on both mobile devices and computers come with notifications and alerts that can be disabled. Turning off these notifications cuts down considerably on an otherwise steady stream of stimuli that is guaranteed to be a distraction.
  • Encourage face-to-face conversation – Holding productivity meetings can help get everyone on the same page, and keep them there. Urge employees to make use of their lunch hour by participating in voluntary productivity sessions to help drive the message home.

Looking for more tips to help your get the most out of your staff, and your technology? Contact us at {email} or {phone}. We’re the trusted IT experts for businesses in {city}.

How At-Risk is Your Business from Cyber Threats?

It’s well worth your time to get an assessment on just how at-risk your enterprise is from cyber threats and attacks. Most businesses consider themselves to be at a lower level of cyber-threat risk than they actually are. It’s not something that busy executives necessarily want to face up to, but having an IT company with significant know-how analyze and assess the risk-averse status of your IT network security will give you a realistic picture of where you stand. It’s no longer enough to have “that IT guy” come in every now and then to shore up holes in your cyber defense and do a little adjustment here and there. If you want to reach a maximum level of risk-averse performance with your IT infrastructure, then we can help you!

Business Cyber Security

Part of our strategic IT consulting involves assessing the overall security performance of an organization’s network and making suggestions on how to optimize its cybersecurity tools and defenses, for one. Cyber threats, many still don’t realize, can just as easily come from within as from without any given IT network. We provide IT security services that give you a diagnostic workup and overall analysis of your network that includes a cybersecurity performance assessment which will tell you how vulnerable your data center, server, and computing network are to possible cyber breach. We then make suggestions on how to get you to a much more minimal at-risk level.

Data Protection, Compliance, and Cost

There are perhaps three main areas of concern for a business owner when it comes to cyber threat: data protection, staying in compliance, and the cost of downtime and/or compliance violations. But, cybersecurity happens on multiple fronts. It begins and ends with having everyone as authorized users of your network (employees, guests, etc.) being educated in full regarding all possible cyber threats and risky behaviors. So, we get you to that level of maximum security using tools, technology, and tutorials for staff designed to keep everyone on the same page in terms of cyber safety, allowing you a much greater chance of avoiding things like costly data loss and downtime, along with HIPAA or PCI compliance violations, fines, and sanctions.

Don’t Let Cyber Threats Slow You Down

{company} provides comprehensive IT services {city} SMBs trust for effective cybersecurity solutions. Contact one of our friendly IT experts at {phone} or email us at {email} today and we’ll help make cyber threats to your network a thing of the past!

How Search Engine Rankings Have Fared Since Google’s Panda 4.0 Update

Ever since Google first rolled out the Panda “upgrade” to how it ranks search engine results in 2011, online entities have been taking a dip, due to the newly-configured algorithms that more harshly judge web site and page rankings. In 2014, the latest version of Google’s search engine results decider Panda 4.0 was introduced, and many more websites fell to the search engine parameters thresher. Panda vehemently vets-out sites and URLs it deems of low quality, pushing them lower in the overall rankings, while also pushing those of decidedly higher-quality to the top of the SERP’s. Why is Google doing this? To encourage those sites that “create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics,” according to an April 2012 Google Webmaster Central Blog post.

Panda SEO

The whole Google Panda platform and cycle was designed to both show results of more “worthy” web sites and pages, and push site owners to provide more original, authoritative content. Case in point: Aggregator websites are ranking much lower post-Panda 4.0, and, many would argue, for good reason. Aggregator sites like Press portals, celebrity and gossip-column news sites, price comparison sites, and some Weather and Forum portals repackage and present content already extant on the Web. The hue and cry of Panda supporters then being, “Why rank those sites that are simply recycling original content above or on par with those whose content is original, fresh, and authoritative?”

The Searchmetrics Panda Results

Searchmetrics analyzed the effects of the Panda updates and listed the winners and losers, which could almost be grouped together by industry, or category. Sites like globalpost.com, spoonful.com, and songkick.com lost more than 75% of their former Google rank standing; gossip columns like thehollywoodreporter.com and aceshowbiz.com lost more than 50%, as did examiner.com. Conversely, sites that provided salient medical and health content like emedicinehealth.com and medterms.com increased their ranking by more than 500%. Interestingly, Zimbio.com, which is a celebrity gossip and trend-oriented site also went up by 500%. The difference? Original and relevant content combined with popularity, instead of recycling already-available or even questionable content.

Google as the Decider

Many who do business on the Web are (rightly) concerned about what one single company thinks is relevant, over what many others might consider relevant. And, just how does Google define or distinguish a high-quality page from one of low-quality, given the many millions of pages the monolithic search engine has to sift through?

A “relevant” answer to that question can be found in an article posted by Google’s own Webmaster Central Blog in in 2011 (the year of the first Panda rollout, remember) under the headline “What counts as a high-quality site?” The article asked the following pointed questions (of a prospective site visitor) towards determining a web site or web page’s relevancy:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?

We all know what Google and its Panda are doing to web pages that fail to get the visitor to answer yes to any and all of those queries. So, in one sense it has hurt the business of certain sites, like the aforementioned Aggregator types. It has also hurt the rankings of those well-meaning yet not-up-to-par search-engine-wise sites that don’t mean to be spammy but are now basically counted as such by the Google-Panda bearing down on unoriginal or “untrustworthy” sites. In another sense, it’s a very good Web filter and is raising the bar for those who own or curate websites, blogs, and who publish articles on the Web. “You better have something useful and original to say, or you won’t be a high-ranking site,” says Google’s fierce Panda bear, which is shaking the tree, letting the old and stale fruit fall, and allowing new, relevant content to replace it.

Need Help with Getting Higher Ranking?

If you have questions about creating relevant content for your site and attaining higher Google ranking, {company} is the leader in providing IT and Web development services in {city}. Contact one of our expert IT staff at {phone} or send us an email at {email} today, and we will answer any of your questions, concerns, and needs.