Practical Tips for Creating and Managing your Online Passwords

The average computer and Internet user manages over a dozen passwords for various websites. You probably have passwords for your computer, your company email, your personal online email accounts, your favorite social networking websites, your twitter feed, your online bank account, your favorite online store, and more. Using the same password for everything is not very secure, but keeping track of unique passwords for each can be a pain. Here are some quick tips to help you not only create secure passwords, but also easily manage them: Do not use real words. Words such as “password”, “god”, “love” or some other common phrase can easily be guessed at by hackers. In addition, hackers use tools that automate guessing – randomly trying words from a dictionary one at a time until it gets it right. No personal information, please. It’s tempting to use personal information since it’s easy to remember. However, passwords based on your name, your child’s name, your birthday, anniversary and the like can also easily be guessed at or researched online. Not too short. Again, automated tools can make quick work of short passwords. The longer it is the harder it is for these tools to crack. A good rule of thumb is at least six characters, with eight to twelve being ideal. Mix it up. Use numbers and special characters in your passwords. One technique is to substitute special characters for letters. For example, a becomes @, e becomes 3, i becomes !, l becomes 1, o becomes 0, s becomes $, and so on. Another tip is to also append or prefix with a special character so that your password looks something like this:  “_!p@$$w0rd!_.” Use a password management tool. There are several tools that can help you manage and safely store your passwords. Some require you to download software which stores your different passwords encrypted on your hard drive, and you only need to provide one ”master” password to access the rest. Others have you store that information online . Particularly handy, especially for managing online passwords, are those that plug into your browser and can autogenerate a password on the fly based on the website you are using. Creating secure passwords is a must, but managing them can difficult. Using these tips can make the process not only easier but also more effective and safe.

Evolving With the Times: Keeping Your Software Up to Date

There are few (if any) people who’ll tell you that technology has reached its limit. On the contrary, technology continues to grow every day, leaving information technology companies scrambling to keep up and not get left behind. The demands of your industry can be taxing, but one way to make sure that you’re one of those at the top is to always keep your software up to date. Updating software will allow you to deliver your services in a more efficiently and effectively. Updates give you access to improved features that help you work faster and improve your overall output. Updates also fix bugs that cause problems you might not be affected by it now, but sooner or later will come back to bite you – so it’s best to avoid them altogether. Another important reason to update involves security. New viruses and malware are constantly developed, and criminal identity theft rings are on the rise throughout the world. You need to guard against the damage that can be caused by malicious software. Your company’s continued operation, as well as the privacy of your data (and that of your clients), depends on up to date software – especially anti-virus programs. Updating software is a key part of keeping your business on top of its game. Staying current may sound easy – but it can be difficult to make sure things stay secure and are compatible with your current hardware and applications. Don’t hesitate to give us call and find out how our Managed Services takes the headache out of staying up to date.

Air Travel Tips with Your Mobile Devices

There are plenty of general tips at various websites and blogs for air travelers, but few address travelling with your laptop and gadgets in tow. The following advice will save you time and perhaps even make the trip a more pleasant experience. Keep it light. Bring the absolute minimum you need. Stuff can easily get lost, shuffled around, or become quite heavy in a run from one gate to the next. If you’re a frequent traveler opt for a netbook or an ultralight laptop. And if a PDA or smartphone will serve your needs, use that instead. Carry it on. Don’t put your gear in your check-in luggage – you’d be appalled at how your luggage is handled at some airports. It’s routinely stacked, thrown around, and dropped. Always bring your expensive electronic equipment on board with you. Be prepared to unpack it. In many airports, you’ll be asked to unpack your laptop for x-ray. Normally you’ll be asked to put it in a bin on the conveyor belt for x-ray. Make sure to use a carrying bag that’s easy to open and repack. Be alert. It’s very common for technology items to be stolen in airports and even on the plane. Never let your items out of your sight. Don’t leave them behind where they can get lost, and always be on guard. Keep it accessible. Airport regulations require you to shut off your device during the takeoff and landing. Keep your devices easily accessible, preferably near your body or tucked into the pocket seat in front of you. If you have information stored in your phone or mobile device such as your itinerary, the person who is picking you up at the airport, rental car information, etc., you’ll thank yourself later for keeping it within easy reach. Traveling can be exciting, but without the proper preparation can also be a pain. Hopefully these tips will help make your next air travel adventure more pleasant.

How Managed Services Can Help You Weather the Recession

Industry analyst IDC predicts that the global economic recession will have a dramatic impact on small and mid-sized companies. But that doesn’t means these companies will stop spending on information technology (IT). “Small and mid-sized businesses…will be increasingly interested in the productivity gains made possible by advanced technology,” said Raymond Boggs, vice president of SMB research at IDC. “New mobile communications solutions, videoconferencing, and online resources will be especially attractive, as will alternative approaches to technology acquisition and deployment.” The reason, says IDC, is that these advanced technologies can help reduce costs and provide growing businesses with an important competitive edge. One way to gain access to these advanced IT technologies is through Managed Services, which offers smaller companies access to and quick deployment of affordable best-of-breed technologies. Managed Services is cost-effective because it offers companies a way to make use of precious capital by fulfilling their IT needs on a pay-per-use basis. Who can benefit from Managed Services? Smaller companies that don’t employ dedicated IT staff but want to take advantage of the latest developments in security, backups, messaging, and business communications. Mid-size companies with some in-house IT staff that want to see productivity gains among by eliminating problems and downtime. Contact us for more information about how our Managed Services can increase your productivity while saving your money.

Disaster Recovery—An Increasingly Important Aspect of Your Business

As networks and devices become increasingly complex, more and more things can go wrong. As a result, disaster recovery plans have also become more complex. Is yours good enough? According to Jon William Toigo, the author of Disaster Recovery Planning , 15 or 20 years ago a disaster recovery plan might consist of powering down a mainframe and other computers, disassembling components, and drying circuit boards in the parking lot with a hair dryer. That’s because a disaster, in those days, was usually a fire that set off a company’s sprinklers. Today, there are many more threats, including sabotage. Moreover, most companies’ IT systems are too large to be recovered using such a simple hands-on approach. Even if you could recover from a disaster in the manner Toigo recalls, you probably wouldn’t want to due to the downtime it would require—downtime that could have a significant financial impact. Consider the case of Hurricane Katrina. When it slammed the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005, it wiped out the communications infrastructure of a whole region, uprooting 1,000 wireless towers and knocking down 11,000 utility poles. Many businesses were forced to shut down entirely—even critical ones, including 25 hospitals and 100 broadcast stations. But clients of such company did stay in business—by relocating to off-site facilities equipped with the computing power and backed-up data to keep systems and services online. Some even utilized 18-wheelers with servers and other office equipment inside. Disaster recovery in the modern age is a detailed, step-by-step course of action for quickly getting back on your feet after a natural or manmade disaster. The details may vary depending on your business needs, and can be developed in-house or purchased as a service. How prepared are you for disaster? Call us today for a review of your plan.

Your Copy Machine: A Serious Security Risk?

It seems that even the most innocuous machines in the workplace can serve as a security threat to companies. According to this report from CBS News, many office copiers save the images they copy on a dedicated hard disk installed inside them. This means that everything from mundane memos to your most sensitive information such as financial statements and contracts are stored – and could potentially extracted. So the next time you dispose of a copy machine, if you’re not sure what’s stored on it and how to get it off – give us a call to help out. To see the news report, watch this video.

Working Toward a Paperless Office

A paperless office is one of the simplest ways a company can minimize clutter and mess, and also help contribute to making business operations more green and environment friendly. Having a paperless office essentially means drastically decreasing the use and consumption of paper in the office. Of course there will always be a need to use paper for some things, but reducing the paper you consume can save you a lot of money and at the same time help the environment. There are many ways to go about doing this. One is to invest in equipment and technologies to make paper use more efficient for when you do need to use it – for example, printers that allow you to print on both sides or scale down images. Here are some other actions you can take: Digitize your hardcopy files so that you have soft copies as well as reliable backups. Assess which paper records you can recycle (or shred then recycle) – this also reduces your document storage space. Release online memos instructing people to avoid or eliminate unnecessary printouts (such as printer test pages). Send web links through email or IM instead of printing a webpage to share. Distribute presentations on flash drives instead of printing them for your audience, or use websites such as SlideShare.com that allow you to share online. When you use less paper, you save on paper and printer ink costs. Minimizing the paper you store also saves you valuable office space. In fact, one company saved $30 million in lease costs when they went paperless. Of course, we can’t really completely eliminate our use of paper. But even small changes can go a long way toward a paperless office and healthier environment – and lower operating costs. Resources: http://156.98.19.245/workplace/index.html http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/resources/technology/communications/6-tips-for-a-paperless-office.aspx#tipsforapaperlessoffice http://www.ismckenzie.com/eight-ways-to-eliminate-paper-and-clutter-in-your-office/

Hackers Employing Sophisticated Techniques to Trick Users

Hackers are employing increasingly sophisticated techniques to scam users into downloading malicious software. For instance, today’s hackers and malware authors have begun using so-called “doorway pages” – web pages optimized to rank highly in results for common search engine queries. These pages often feature trending or hot topics to show up favorably in search results, and may contain content that has been copied from other websites. Some even employ sophisticated technology techniques to customize the page based on each individual visitor’s location, browser, and operating system – and may include a referring page to entice users further into the scam. Internet users should be aware of these techniques, and think twice before following search results links. Fortunately there are equally sophisticated tools and techniques designed to block malicious search results. Contact us to find out how you can combat this particularly devious threat. Related articles: Cyber-criminals pounce on McAfee crash story (v3.co.uk) The Importance Of Using Proper SEO Techniques (ronmedlin.com)