4 Must-Have, Low-Risk Cloud Solutions

Let’s face it, your business has more competition than ever. And they’ll eat you alive if you fall behind in today’s technology “arms race.”

Maybe your network needs greater security. Or you haven’t yet taken advantage of new cloud-based apps that help your team get more done in less time. Today, the action is in the cloud. And if you don’t know what’s out there, it’s just that much easier for competitors to pull ahead.

To help you stay on top, here’s a quick survey of four ways to put the cloud in your corner, along with examples of each.

Network Security

As devices on your network become more diverse and mobile, monitoring them in real time is absolutely critical to averting cyber-attacks. A good network-security tool probes for weak points and alerts you to potential threats. It can employ both hardware and software technologies. And today’s environment demands a bevy of checkpoints, from access control to WiFi-intrusion monitoring.

But how do you protect against threats that evade your monitoring efforts? Due to the recent spread of “fileless” malware, no antivirus program is 100% “bullet-proof.” However, you should be able to find basic software protection for around $40 per user. Look for features such as e-mail security, data loss prevention, network segmentation and behavioral analytics. And ideally, it scans quickly, takes up little space on your devices and may even be able to recover files encrypted by ransomware.

Collaboration

Giving your team the right cloud collaboration tools can be almost as good as giving them steroids… (Except, of course, it’s legal.) With the wide array of apps available today, the trick is finding the best one – or the best combination – for your company. Top contenders include Asana, Slack, Teamwork, Trello and Google Drive. These and similar apps can improve efficiencies in areas like project and task management, team communications and collaboration, brainstorming, document processing and storage, and more. And with cloud collaboration, you’re no longer restricted to bringing aboard talent from your local area alone.

Contracts & Accounting

Contracts and proposals that get bogged down in logistics can hurt monthly revenues. Is your sales team still asking customers to sign and fax back important documents? If so, they’re losing precious minutes every day. Then there’s the cost of storing and managing physical files. It all adds up. It’s no wonder so many companies now use electronic signature apps, such as DocuSign, Adobe Sign and RPost. They’ll let you manage the signing of important documents entirely online, and will encrypt and store files for you. Some are even court-approved and create a full audit trail.

For small business accounting, industry veteran QuickBooks, now with an online version, and upstart Xero can help you keep the books with relative ease. They both offer a clean, intuitive UI and affordable pricing with a comprehensive set of features. And, of course, being cloud-based, they can be accessed from a variety of locations, adding flexibility to your workforce.

Business Planning

Does your company need to prove its mettle to investors? You’d be hard-pressed to find a better all-in-one planning solution than Tarkenton GoSmallBiz. Created by NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, it’s specifically built for small businesses. You get highly customizable and detailed data fields to help simplify your planning process. It then lets you create financial statements and projections without external spreadsheets. And as a subscriber to GoSmallBiz, you also get access to business-planning experts who can help you tweak your plans and proposals.

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In Your Company’s Cloud Technology

If you’d like to know how well your company is (or isn’t) taking advantage of today’s cloud, I’d like to offer you a FREE Cloud Utilization Audit, through the end of this month only. Normally priced at $300, this customized report could be worth thousands to you in both cost savings and increased efficiency for your business. We’ve helped dozens of companies set up and run cost-effective, powerful and secure cloud networks. For your FREE Cloud Utilization Audit, at no cost or obligation to you, visit [TRACKING URL], or contact us at [PHONE] or [E-MAIL] TODAY.

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7 Ways To Dodge A Data Disaster

You stride into the office early one Monday morning. You grab a cup of coffee, flip on your computer and start checking e-mail…

A note pops up that rivets your attention:

“Your files have been encrypted. Send $5,000 within five days or they will all be destroyed.”

You start sweating as your throat constricts and your chest tightens. Sure enough, every time you try to open a document, the same message appears. Your phone rings. It’s Bob in accounting, and he’s having the same problem. All files across your entire network have been encrypted. You contact the local police. They suggest you call the FBI. The FBI says they can’t help you. What do you do next?

  1. You pay the five grand, desperately hoping you’ll get your data back, or…
  2. You calmly call your IT pro, who says, “No problem, your backups are all current. No files were lost. Everything will be restored by noon, if not sooner.”

If your answer is “b,” you breathe a sigh of relief and get back to work as your backup plan kicks in…

Ransomware attacks are more common than ever, especially at smaller companies. That’s because small companies make easy marks for hackers. The average small business is much easier to hack than high-value, heavily fortified targets like banks and big corporations. According to Time magazine, cybersecurity experts estimate that several million attacks occur in the US alone every year. And that figure is climbing.

So how can you make sure you never have to sweat a ransomware attack or other data disaster? One sure solution is having a solid backup plan in place. When all your data and applications can be duplicated, you have plenty of options in the event of an attack. Here then are seven ways to make sure you’re in good shape, no matter what happens to your current data:

Insist on regular, remote and redundant processes. A good rule of thumb is 3-2-1. That means three copies of your data is stored in two off-site locations and backed up at least once per day.

Don’t cheap out on disk drives. Less expensive arrays that save money can leave your data at risk. Get features like a redundant power supply and hot spare disks.

Guard against human error. Make sure people doing backups know exactly what to do. Take people out of the loop and automate wherever possible. And watch for situations where backups aren’t a part of someone’s regular duties.

Check backup software settings routinely. When new software or updates are put into service, a change in the way the settings are configured can cause incomplete backups, or backups that fail. Do the people who maintain your backups include this on their regular to-do list?

Make sure critical files aren’t getting left out. As resources are added and priorities shift, documents and folders can get misplaced or accidentally left off the backup list. Insist on a quarterly or annual meeting with your backup management team to make sure all mission-critical files are included in your organization’s data recovery systems.

Address network issues immediately. Any component in your network that isn’t working properly can introduce another point of failure in your backup process. Every juncture in your network, from a misconfigured switch to a flaky host bus adapter, can hurt your backups.

Ask for help with your data backup and recovery system. You cannot be expected to be an expert in all things. Yet data is the backbone of your business – its protection and recovery should not be left to chance. Leverage the knowledge, skill and experience of an expert who stays current with all the latest IT issues.

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“Lucky Charm” Keeps Hackers Out

Ralph’s been a good employee for you. Shows up on time. Gets the job done. Doesn’t hassle anybody.

He’s also a porn addict. When nobody’s looking, he’s visiting sites – on your network – that you’d be appalled to see. IF…you knew about them. Without careful monitoring and filtering, this kind of Internet use on your network can remain hidden.

Shocking? Hard to believe it could happen at your company? A survey by International Data Corporation (IDC) revealed that 70% of all web traffic to Internet pornography sites occurs during the work hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ralph’s little visits may seem harmless, but they’re adding a serious level of risk to the financial health and security of your company.

Here’s how. A visit to an adult website can be tracked. And if a logged-in user’s identity is leaked, it can be embarrassing, to say the least, to that user. The user may even become a victim of “sextortion” or blackmail. Just ask any of the people who used Ashley Madison, a dating site for illicit affairs. When the site was hacked, users were suddenly at risk of having their indiscretions revealed. This gives cybercriminals a powerful lever to pressure an employee into revealing sensitive company data. Considering that 60% of security breaches start from within the company, you have to wonder what someone at risk of being exposed might do to keep their little secret, well…secret.

Let’s face it, if you’re not carefully monitoring and managing how your network is being used, your company’s data could be in serious jeopardy.

Content Filtering In Today’s Web 2.0 World

Whether you’re already monitoring user activity on your network or not, you need to stay vigilant about evolving risks. And content filtering is key. If your business is like many, you may already be doing some filtering. But is it enough? As technology evolves, hackers drum up ever stealthier ways to invade your network.

Cloud-based filtering, for example, becomes a must when mobile devices tap into your network. The old concept of a static, location-based “firewall” just doesn’t cut it anymore when your staff goes mobile.

Then there’s social media. It’s like a big window into the personal lives of your personnel. It lets cybercriminals “case the joint” before breaking in. For instance, when users log in to a personal Facebook account at work and talk about vacations, favorite hangouts or weekend activities, hackers can use that information for social engineering and other ploys.

The number of ways your network is exposed to potentially damaging content grows daily. It’s no wonder that 90% of companies and government agencies surveyed by IDC detected computer security breaches within the previous 12 months. Eighty percent of those organizations acknowledged financial losses due to these breaches. With odds like that against you, an up-to-date content filtering system could well be THE “Lucky Charm” that keeps your company, and your data, safe from all kinds of harm.

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I’m making this offer because I’d like to give you a bite-sized sample of our extraordinary customer service and proactive approach to protecting you and your organization. And to be perfectly clear, no matter what we may find during your audit, you are under no obligation to buy anything or ever use our services again.

However, there is a catch: we’d like to help every company in the [CITY] area eliminate this risk, but we’re only able to perform [NUMBER] audits per month. Call [PHONE] or visit [TRACKING URL] now, while you’re thinking of it. The five minutes you invest could save your company thousands of dollars in lost productivity, potential lawsuits and company resources.

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Cloud Computing: Good, Bad & Ugly

When a network of IoT gadgets like routers, DVR machines and closed-circuit TVs can take down hardened, well-provisioned Internet giants like Twitter, Spotify and Amazon – as happened last October – you’ve got to think twice before moving your data to the cloud.

Yes, a move to the cloud can yield big payoffs in terms of cost savings, increased efficiency, greater flexibility, collaboration for your workforce and more. Yet there is a dark side. It would be naive to think otherwise. Your choices about whether and how to use cloud technology in your network merits serious consideration.

So, just what is “the cloud”?

Instead of constantly buying new equipment and software, cloud computing allows you to pay for just what you need. Just as with a utility company, you get software and storage on a monthly basis, with no long-term contracts. Chances are, most of the software you now use is cloud-based. You simply access it on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Similarly, you can store data in the cloud, where it can be easily accessed when you need it. This reduces the need to buy and manage your own backup gear and software, thus reducing overhead. Yet, as with any major decision, it’s critical to be aware of both the benefits and pitfalls of putting your company’s data in the cloud.

The Pros

There are three major advantages offered by cloud computing:

  1. Flexibility. Scaling up or down can be done without major investment or leaving excess capacity idle. It also enables your entire workforce to get more done, where and when they need to.
  2. Collaboration. With data and software in a shared cloud environment, staff can collaborate from anywhere. Everything from HR to accounting, and from operations to sales and customer relations, can be managed from diverse and mobile environments, giving your team greater power to collaborate effectively.
  3. Disaster Recovery. Typically, data stored in the cloud can be easily retrieved in the event of a disaster. It also augments local backup and recovery systems, adding protective redundancy.

The Cons

While the cloud offers obvious benefits, it also increases your company’s potential “attack surface” for cybercriminals. By spreading your communications and access to data beyond a safe “firewall,” your network is far more exposed to a whole bevy of security concerns. Many of them can be addressed with these three best practices:

  1. Social Engineering Awareness. Whether you go cloud or local, the weakest link in your network is not in your equipment or software; it’s in the people who use them. Cybercriminals are aware of this fact. And you can count on them to come up with an endless variety of ways to exploit it. One day it’s a phone call ostensibly from your IT department requesting sensitive data, the next it’s an e-mail that looks official but contains malicious links. Make sure your employees are aware of and trained to deal with these vulnerabilities.
  2. Password Security and Activity Monitoring. Maintaining login security is absolutely critical any time you’re in a cloud environment. Train your staff in how to create secure passwords and implement two-factor authentication whenever possible. Take advantage of monitoring tools that can alert you to suspicious logins, unauthorized file transfers and other potentially damaging activity.
  3. Anti-Malware/Antivirus Solutions. Malicious software allows criminals to obtain user data, security credentials and sensitive information without the knowledge of the user. Not only that, some purported anti-malware software on the market is actually malware in disguise. Keep verifiable anti-malware software in place throughout your network at all times, and train your employees in how to work with it.

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And Pitfalls For Your Company From A Move To The Cloud

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That Fake App Just Stole Your ID

Ryan loved tweaking photos on his Android phone.

He’d heard rave reviews from his friends with iPhones about Prisma, a new iOS app for image editing. So when he heard Prisma would soon be released for Android, he logged in to the Google Play Store to see if it was there yet.

To his surprise, he found one that looked just like what his friends were describing. Delighted, he downloaded and started using it. Meanwhile, the app—a fake—was busy installing a Trojan horse on his phone.

When he got to work the next day, he logged his phone into the company network as usual. The malware jumped from his phone to the network. Yet no one knew. Not yet, but that was about to change…

Now, this isn’t necessarily a true story (at least, not one we’ve heard of—yet…), but it absolutely could have been. And similar situations are unfolding as you read this. Yes, possibly even at your company…

Fake apps exploded onto iTunes and Google Play last November, just in time for holiday shopping. Apple “cleaned up” iTunes in an effort to quell users’ concerns, but hackers still find workarounds. Unfortunately, these fake apps pose a real threat to the security of your network. Especially if your company has anything but the strictest BYOD (bring your own device) policies in place. And the more your network’s users socialize and shop on their smartphones, the greater the risk of a damaging breach on your network.

Fake apps look just like real apps. They masquerade as apps from legitimate merchants of all stripes, from retail chains like Dollar Tree and Footlocker, to luxury purveyors such as Jimmy Choo and Christian Dior. Some of the more malicious apps give criminals access to confidential information on the victim’s device. Worse yet, they may install a Trojan horse on that device that can infect your company’s network next time the user logs in.

So what can you do?

First, keep yourself from being fooled. Anyone can easily be tricked unless you know what to look for. Take the following advice to heart and share it with your team:

Beware of Fake Apps!

In case you weren’t aware, one of the latest and most dangerous Internet scams is fake apps. Scammers create apps that look and behave like a real app from a legitimate store. These fake apps can infect your phone or tablet and steal confidential information, including bank account and credit card details. They may also secretly install on your device malicious code that can spread, including to your company network.

Take a moment and reflect on these five tips before downloading any app:

  1. When in doubt, check it out. Ask other users before downloading it. Visit the store’s main website to see if it’s mentioned there. Find out from customer support if it’s the real McCoy.
  2. If you do decide to download an app, first check reviews. Apps with few reviews or bad reviews are throwing down a red flag.
  3. Never, EVER click a link in an e-mail to download an app. Get it from the retailer’s website, or from iTunes or Google Play.
  4. Offer as little of your information as possible if you decide to use an app.
  5. Think twice before linking your credit card to any app.

Most importantly, get professional help to keep your network safe. It really is a jungle out there. New cyberscams, malware and other types of network security threats are cropping up every day. You have more important things to do than to try and keep up with them all.

The Most “Bullet-Proof” Way To Keep Your Network Safe

Let’s not let your company become yet another statistic, hemorrhaging cash as a result of a destructive cyber-attack. Call me TODAY at [PHONE], or e-mail me at [EMAIL ADDRESS], and let’s make sure your systems are safe. I’ll provide you with a Cyber Security Risk Assessment to check for and safeguard against any points of entry for an attack. This service is FREE, but DO NOT RISK WAITING: contact me NOW before the next scam puts your network at risk.

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Your #1 MUST-DO Resolution For 2017

With every New Year comes the chance to reset priorities. Unfortunately, when the topic of implementing a data recovery plan comes up, the comment we most often hear is “I know I should, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet…”

So…what if the pilot on the next flight you’re on announces right after takeoff, “I know we should have run through our preflight checklist, but we haven’t gotten around to it yet…”???

Without a solid backup and recovery plan in place, just one mission-critical file that gets lost or stolen could put your company in a world of serious hurt. When you compare the high cost of replacement, repair and recovery to the relatively trivial price of keeping good backups, the choice is an absolute no-brainer.

Why disaster recovery planning matters more than you think Let’s face it, data is the nucleus of your business. That means that a single ransomware attack could wipe you out in a matter of minutes. Today’s cybercriminals are raking in literally billions of dollars (yes, billions) preying on the unwary, the poorly protected and those who “haven’t gotten around to it yet.” Let’s consider the facts…

Ninety-seven percent of IT services providers surveyed by Datto, a data protection company, report that ransomware attacks on small businesses are becoming more frequent, and they expect that trend to continue. These attacks are taking place despite anti-virus and anti-malware measures in effect at the time of the attack.

Windows operating systems are most often infected, followed by OS X. Cloud-based applications, particularly Dropbox, Office 365 and Google Apps, are also being targeted.

Ransom demands typically run between $500 and $2,000. About 10%, however, exceed $5,000. And even at that, paying a ransom demand is no guarantee that encrypted files will be released.

For a typical SMB, downtime from ransomware can cost around $8,500 per hour, and will take an average of 18.5 hours of the company’s time. That’s a hit to your bottom line somewhere in the neighborhood of $157,250. Yet in many cases the ultimate cost has reached into multiple hundreds of thousands.

In a recent survey of 6,000 IT professionals by the Ponemon Institute, 86% of companies had one or more incidents causing downtime in the past 12 months. Typical downtime was 2.2 days, with an average cost of $366,363. And that’s just the average. Could your company survive that kind of hit? It’s no wonder that 81% of smaller businesses suffering such an attack close their doors within three years.

It’s tragic. And yet the solution is so simple…

The #1 antidote for a data disaster

What’s behind these costly incidents? Here’s the breakdown of contributing factors:

  • Human error: 60%
  • Unexpected updates and patches: 56%
  • Server room environment issues: 44%
  • Power outages: 29%
  • Fire or explosion: 26%
  • Natural disasters: 10%

Note that human error accounts for 60% of the breaches. It’s no wonder then that ransomware attacks are on the rise, since they can be triggered by just one employee inadvertently clicking a bad link in an e-mail or social media site. Human behavior is hard to control. However, the #1 antidote for a ransomware attack is having a secure backup ready and waiting to replace encrypted files.

And when you scan through the rest of the list above, it becomes clear that, while you need to implement a comprehensive set of data security measures, having a solid and reliable data recovery plan in place and ready to go the moment disaster strikes is still your best defense.

Protect Your Company From A Knockout Blow In 2017

Cyberthreats are proliferating and are expected to grow throughout 2017 and beyond. Will this be the year you finally get your data backup and recovery plan DONE?

The choice is yours—exposure to a devastating loss…or rock-solid security. Let us help. Contact me at [PHONE] or [EMAIL ADDRESS] and let’s schedule a thorough Backup And Recovery Plan Audit for your company, absolutely FREE. Do NOT wait until disaster strikes. Let’s make 2017 the year you finally get this DONE. Contact me TODAY so we can keep your company’s story from becoming yet another unfortunate statistic.

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$1.5M Cyber-Heist Typifies Growing Threat

Efficient Escrow of California was forced to close its doors and lay off its entire staff when cybercriminals nabbed $1.5 million from its bank account. The thieves gained access to the escrow company’s bank data using a form of “Trojan horse” malware.

Once the hackers broke in, they wired $432,215 from the firm’s bank to an account in Moscow. That was followed by two more transfers totaling $1.1 million, this time to banks in Heilongjiang Province in China, near the Russian border.

The company recovered the first transfer, but not the next two. They were shocked to discover that, unlike with consumer accounts, banks are under no obligation to recoup losses in a cybertheft against a commercial account. That meant a loss of $1.1 million, in a year when they expected to clear less than half that. Unable to replace the funds, they were shut down by state regulators just three days after reporting the loss.

Net result? The two brothers who owned the firm lost their nine-person staff and faced mounting attorneys’ fees nearing the total amount of the funds recovered, with no immediate way to return their customers’ money.

Avoid Getting Blindsided

While hacks against the big boys like Target, Home Depot and Sony get more than their share of public attention, cyber-attacks on small and medium-sized companies often go unreported, and rarely make national headlines.

Don’t let this lull you into a false sense of security. The number of crippling attacks against everyday businesses is growing. Cybersecurity company Symantec reports, for example, that 52.4% of “phishing” attacks last December were against SMEs – with a massive spike in November. Here are just a few examples out of thousands that you’ll probably never hear about:

  • Green Ford Sales, a car dealership in Kansas, lost $23,000 when hackers broke into their network and swiped bank account info. They added nine fake employees to the company payroll in less than 24 hours and paid them a total of $63,000 before the company caught on. Only some of the transfers could be canceled in time.
  • Wright Hotels, a real estate development firm, had $1 million drained from their bank account after thieves gained access to a company e-mail account. Information gleaned from e-mails allowed the thieves to impersonate the owner and convince the bookkeeper to wire money to an account in China.
  • Maine-based PATCO Construction lost $588,000 in a Trojan horse cyber-heist. They managed to reclaim some of it, but that was offset by interest on thousands of dollars in overdraft loans from their bank.

Why You’re A Target – And How To Fight Back!

Increasingly, cyberthieves view SMEs like yours and mine as easy “soft targets.” That’s because all too often we have:

  1. Bank accounts with thousands of dollars.
  2. A false sense of security about not being targeted.
  3. Our customers’ credit card information, social security numbers and other vital data that hackers can easily sell on the black market.

If you don’t want your company to become yet another statistic in today’s cyberwar against smaller companies, and your business doesn’t currently have a “bullet-proof” security shield, you MUST take action without delay – or put everything you’ve worked for at risk. The choice is yours.

Here are three things you can do right away:

  1. Remove software that you don’t need from any systems linked to your bank account.
  2. Make sure everyone with a device in your network NEVER opens an attachment in an unexpected e-mail.
  3. Require two people to sign off on every transaction.

Let Us Help

When it comes to defending your data, whether it’s bank account information, customer and employee records or proprietary intellectual property or processes, Do NOT take chances. Our experience and track record in keeping our clients’ data safe speaks for itself:

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3 “Must-Do” IT Resolutions For 2017

“Never before in the history of humankind have people across the world been subjected to extortion on a massive scale as they are today.” That’s what The Evolution of Ransomware, a study by Mountain View, California-based cybersecurity firm Symantec, reported recently.

If you have any illusions that your company is safe from cyber-attack in 2017, consider just a few findings stated in a recent report by the Herjavec Group, a global information security firm:

  • Every second, 12 people online become a victim of cybercrime, totalling more than 1 million victims around the world every day.
  • Nearly half of all cyber-attacks globally last year were committed against small businesses.
  • Ransomware attacks rose more than an astonishing 300% in 2016.
  • The world’s cyber-attack surface will grow an order of magnitude larger between now and 2021.
  • The US has declared a national emergency to deal with the cyberthreat.
  • There is no effective law enforcement for financial cybercrime today.

Clearly, your company’s information and financial well-being are at greater risk than ever in 2017. And you cannot count on the federal or state government or local police to protect your interests. That’s why I STRONGLY SUGGEST that you implement the following resolutions starting TODAY.

Resolution #1: Tune up your backup and recovery system. The #1 antidote to a ransomware attack is an up-to-date backup copy of all your data and software. Yet managing backups takes more than just storing a daily copy of your data. For one thing, if your business is at all typical, the amount of data you store grows by 35% or more PER YEAR. If your data management budget doesn’t expand likewise, expect trouble.

Resolution #2: Harness the power of the cloud—but watch your back. Huge productivity gains and reduced costs can be achieved by making full use of the cloud. Yet it’s a double-edged sword. Any oversight in security practices can lead to a breach. Here are two things you can do to harness the cloud safely:

  • Determine which data matters. Some data sets are more crucial to your business than others. Prioritize what must be protected. Trying to protect everything can take focus and resources away from protecting data such as bank account information, customer data and information that must be handled with compliance and regulatory requirements in mind.
  • Select cloud providers carefully. Cloud vendors know that data security is vital to your business and promote that fact. Yet not all cloud vendors are the same. You can’t control what happens to your data once it’s in the cloud, but you can control who’s managing it for you.

Resolution #3: Set and enforce a strict Mobile Device Policy. As BYOD becomes the norm, mobile devices open gaping holes in your network’s defenses. Don’t miss any of these three crucial steps:

  • Require that users agree with acceptable-use terms before connecting to your network. Be sure to include terms like required use of hard-to-crack passwords, conditions under which company data may be “wiped” and auto-locking after periods of inactivity.
  • Install a Mobile Device Management System on all connected devices. A good system creates a virtual wall between personal and company data. It lets you impose security measures, and it protects user privacy by limiting company access to work data only.
  • Establish a strong protocol for when a connected device is lost or stolen. Make sure features that allow device owners to locate, lock or wipe (destroy) all data on the phone are preset in advance. That way, the user can be instructed to follow your protocol when their phone is lost or stolen.

Free Network And Security Audit Resolves Your Biggest Data Security Problems and Makes Your Systems Run Like A Fancy Swiss Watch

Ever asked yourself why some business owners and CEOs seem so blithely unconcerned about data protection? Don’t let their ignorance lull you into a false sense of security. If you’ve read this far, you are smart enough to be concerned. Contact us today at [PHONE] or [EMAIL ADDRESS] and we’ll send one of our top network security experts over for a FREE Network and Security Audit. It’s your best first step to a safe and prosperous 2017.

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Blurbs

Who needs an office when you have a car? Microsoft has partnered with Mercedes on a project called In Car Office, slated to debut in 2017. Actually, the idea isn’t to replace your office, but to help you make your time in the car more productive. In Car Office links your car with MS Exchange, your calendar and other apps to help you make better use of your time in traffic. For instance, it pulls data from your to-do list to suggest calls to make and places to go. It can even program your car’s GPS with info from your calendar. And Mercedes isn’t alone. Volvo and other carmakers are adding features to help you get a bit more done from behind the wheel. DigitalTrends.com, 09.05.16

You don’t have to be a behemoth like Google to make a bundle from IoT. Smaller companies too can cash in on the “Internet of Things.” For instance, with data-rich sensors, cloud and mobility, the whole face of field service has changed. Smart companies are ditching the high cost of reacting to unplanned crises caused by broken equipment. Now, instead of fixing broken things, they’re offering service plans that assure nothing breaks in the first place. And people are more than happy to pony up for that kind of assurance. Field service, in fact, is now getting the type of high-tech makeover that IT, CRM, HR and marketing have already had. As smaller companies are now proving, it’s not just size that counts. Readwrite.com, 09.02.16

Betcha didn’t know your iPhone could do these 4 things: The iPhone might not be a superhero’s first weapon of choice, but did you know your iPhone could track any villain who nabs it? It even records every place it’s been over the past few months. Click through Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services. Need to send a self-destructing message? Go ahead, send that secret picture or video and tell it to self-destruct in two minutes. Head to Settings > Messages. Need to hang shelves in your Batcave? Just go to iPhone’s Compass and swipe left to access its level feature. You can even discover hidden power hogs. Navigate to Settings, then Battery, for a peek at your phone’s worst offenders. Mashable, 09.05.16

Trouble meeting deadlines? This app can help. If you’ve ever wished for a project management tool that’s just simple, intuitive and flexible, then Aeon Timeline is worth a look. It’s a little like a Gantt chart, but a lot easier to use. Aeon’s smart interface lets you map out all the parts of your project on a timeline. Just add people, places and resources to an event. You can link dependencies, so things get done in the right order. Then filter events to narrow your focus, and nest them to easily zoom in for more detail. You can even add bookmarks to easily jump to key milestones. Details and deadlines may not be your strong suit, but with this handy app, no one will ever know. AeonTimeline.com

Love digital books, but hate reading on a laptop or tablet? If you’ve never tried an e-reader, you are really missing out. So what makes e-readers so different? For one thing, they don’t let you do anything else. No temptation to tweet, or check up on work. They’re built just for reading. And they don’t shoot light into your eyeballs. With no glare, it’s a more pleasant read, even in sunlight. Plus, battery life is a breeze. You could easily go two to four weeks without a charge. Then there’s the content itself. Sure you can find endless material on the web, written for skimming, and for visitors with the attention span of a gnat. But isn’t it time you cozied up with a great novel instead? TheNextWeb.com, 09.02.16

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Why Goal-Setting Doesn’t Work

By Darren Hardy

When we were kids, we thought we could write down everything we wanted and mail it to the North Pole, and then, magically, all our desires would appear, on schedule, under the tree in our living room, complete with pretty paper and a bow.

I think many people must still believe in Santa Claus. You cannot simply write down a list of wants on New Year’s Day, stick it in a drawer for the rest of the year and wait around for your life to change. Sorry, but it’s time to grow up and get serious.

The heart of the problem

The first step to changing the trajectory of your life, as well as what you achieve and sustain, is to take complete responsibility for your circumstances today. Wherever you are in life right now is your own doing – good or bad, it’s your fault. Your parents aren’t responsible, the economy isn’t, McDonald’s isn’t; you are. You are 100% responsible for everything – by what you did, what you didn’t do or how you responded to what was done to you. Once we get that straight, then we can get to the heart of how to fix or improve any outcome as you desire.

You don’t get in life what you want; you get in life what you are

Let’s say you want to earn an extra $100,000 in income this year. Who do you have to become to achieve this? Once you’ve decided who you need to be in order to accomplish your goals, you have to figure out how this elevated person operates. How do they show up in the world? If you’re unsure, if you lack a vision of your potential, find a model. Emulating the habits of someone you respect is one of the greatest keys to moving from where you are to where you could be.

The price

During the pursuit of what you want in one area of your life, be careful what you sacrifice in other areas. Also, be aware of the price you must pay to achieve the prize you seek. Some prizes might cost too much, and they might only be realized after payment has been made.

It’s up to you

Now is the time to write the script for the life you have always dreamed of having – the health, the relationships, the thriving business, the financial abundance and freedom, and the knowledge that you are making a significant difference in the world and with the people around you. You can have it all, but it will require you to get serious and relinquish the fantasies that debt fairies will leave a stack of cash under your pillow while you sleep. Or that the Easter Bunny will bring you miracle diet chocolate. Or that you can click your heels and your relationships will all be better. It will take rigorous planning, relentless commitment and steadfast dedication.

And that is why success is reserved for the willing few.

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