Carrollton Dermatology Associates
Dr. Thomas H. Lamb, MD.
Brighter Image, Inc.
RA-Lin and Associates
North Georgia Turf, Inc.
Most computer users, including business owners and managers, know that while computers are incredibly useful, they can pose a security risk. While a security breach for personal users can be serious, it is potentially even more so for businesses. This is why, when it comes to company use, those in charge want to make sure that their systems are secure. The problem is that this is seen to be not only expensive but a drain on time and other valuable resources. In truth though it doesn't have to be.
Here are five low-cost things you can do to ensure that your business is secure.
1. Communication is key Many companies take adequate steps to ensure that their systems are adequately protected. The thing is, many security breaches come from within the company. If your employees keep passwords written on pieces of paper that they leave lying around their desks, this is a security issue. It is a good idea to agree with employees where to keep important information and ensure they follow these rules.
Beyond that, if you implement security changes or new systems e.g., new virus scanning software, it is important that you talk to your staff to ensure they know how the system works and how they can use it. You would be surprised at how much effective communication can help to minimize security issues, and best of all? It's free!
2. Educate your staff One of the more common security issues comes from spam and malware found in emails. It is a good idea to educate your staff on how to spot these different types of emails and other malicious websites, as well as how to avoid them.
It is worthwhile ensuring that your employees know their roles when it comes to security too. If you have a secretary who you believe is responsible for ensuring the office is locked at the end of the night, take steps to ensure that this person understands their responsibilities. The same goes for computers your staff use: If they are responsible for conducting security scans let them know this. While this may take some time, the cost is low to free.
3. Keep track of your keys To ensure the security of your IT systems and your physical office, you should keep control of your keys. That is, both the physical keys and those associated with your software (the codes you enter to verify software and unlock full versions).
Keep track of which staff members have a key to the office and if possible number them. The goal here is to know where your keys are at any given time, and if a staff member changes employers make sure you ask for them back.
Many software keys or licenses are single use only. If you invest in software and an employees steals this along with the key, you will likely have to purchase the software again. A good tip is to keep software keys secure and separate from the software itself. The best part about this step is that the cost of doing this is minimal.
4. Keep your software updated Hackers can be a lazy bunch. They will often target those with out of date software, because it's usually easier to hack. To reduce the chance of being hacked, you should take steps to ensure that your software is up-to-date. This includes your virus and malware scanners, as well as browsers and even software you don't use.
Get your staff to perform a 'software audit' on their computers on a regular basis. This means going through their computer and properly uninstalling software that they don't use, while also taking time to ensure their system is completely updated. This step is easy to implement and will cost you next to nothing.
5. Keep important systems off site Many small to medium businesses keep their servers on site. While this is convenient as your systems are right there and easily accessible, this could also create a security issue. One way to minimize this is to work with an IT partner who can host your systems or servers off site or in the cloud. While this involves some cost, working with an IT partner could save you profits and productivity in the long run, as good providers will ensure that your systems are secure and working properly.
If you are looking to make your systems more secure, please contact us today. We may have a solution that will work for your business.
One of the integral components of a computer is the processor. It's considered the brain of the computer because it runs all the various programs and software. The most popular processors are the Core processors created by Intel. Intel has recently introduced the latest version (generation) of their processor, code named Haswell.
While the new processors are not out just yet, many business owners and managers are wondering what exactly this new version will bring and whether upgrading is worth it when it's released?
Overview of Intel's processors If you have looked at buying a computer in the past three years you have likely heard or seen computers being advertised as having an Intel Core i3, i5 or i7. These processors are Intel's current line or models, used in laptops and desktops.
This year's generation is called Haswell by Intel, but many computer manufacturers will not use this name when presenting technical specifications to users. They will instead use the model name e.g., Intel Core i7 4xxx.
Changes made with Haswell There are numerous changes that Haswell processors bring and here are three that businesses will benefit from:
Should I upgrade my systems? From what we can see about Haswell it will be worth the upgrade for businesses with aging systems, or users needing a boost to the processing power of their systems. If you updated last year, or even the year before that, you will likely be better off waiting a while yet.
Another option could be to wait until computers with Haswell processors enter the market, which should be by mid summer. You will probably be able to get computers with a third generation processor for a lot less. Meanwhile, a third generation processor should be more than able to meet all of your computing needs, especially if you have or invest in a Core i7.
If you are thinking of upgrading or would like to learn more, please contact us.
Disasters come in all shapes and sizes and for businesses they can range from massive catastrophes to less severe but still damaging ones, such as dropping an external hard drive that contains vital backups. Regardless of the what type of problem you are dealing with, it pays to be prepared beforehand. One way to do this is to have a backup solution in place. Many experts recommend you use an offsite backup strategy, but the question we often get is, "why"?
Here are five benefits and a definition of offsite backup.
Offsite backup defined The definition of offsite backup can be a bit difficult to nail down, as when many IT providers talk about this idea they are usually referring to one of a number of different kinds of backup. The key idea revolving around offsite backup is that your company's data and backups are sent out of your physical location(s). In other words, your backups are not stored in your office or building.
Offsite backup is usually done in one of two ways:
Benefits of remote backup
1. It's more reliable The major benefit of remote backup is that it can be automated. Your files are updated on a daily basis, or you can set the time for the update. Because these solutions work over the Internet, you will be able to recover files quickly. Beyond that, the servers that offer this solution are often located in numerous locations, which ensures that your backups are always available, even if one server crashes.
2. It reduces workload Traditional backup solutions require a person, whether you or an IT professional, to manually back up or copy files. This can take a long time, and will take you away from your normal job. Many remote backup solutions can be initiated at the click of a mouse after setup, or can be scheduled for when you aren't in the office.
3. It's easy to set up Backup solutions are managed by an IT partner who can work with you to set up which files and data to back up. Other solutions can be set up with a few clicks and even automated, so you can rest assured that your data is backed up and up-to-date.
4. It's secure Most backup providers store their servers in secure locations, meaning that your data is physically secure. To ensure that backup data is transmitted securely, most solutions use advanced encryption tools to keep data secure.
5. It will save money If you have numerous computers with large amounts of data that you back up regularly, you know that physical storage solutions can be costly. The majority of remote backup solutions are billed on a monthly-basis and support a near unlimited amount of backup space. If your company operates in an industry where backups are mandatory, or you have a large amount of files to back up, these options will save you money.
If you are interested in learning more about how offsite, remote backup can help ensure that your business is ready for disaster recovery, please contact us today.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+, have become some of the main ways people communicate. The developers of these networks often change the layout or introduce new services in a continuous quest to make the platforms better. Google recently introduced a new update to Google+, with a number of interesting features.
Here is an overview of the new Google+ features recently introduced.
A new layout One of the first things you will notice about the updated Google+ is the layout has been drastically changed. On the main (Home) screen you will notice that posts have been changed to individual cards, similar to the Google Now cards, and are arranged in either one, two or three columns. These posts now take up more space horizontally which makes it far easier to view more content at the same time.
The menu bar that took up the left-hand side of the previous layout has been moved and is now collapsible. If you hover over Home on the upper-left of the screen the menu will pop out from the left-side. Circles and related feeds have also been added at the top of the window and clicking on a related circle name will bring up content only from your friends in that circle.
Adding new posts has also been turned into a card layout which is found at the top-left of the content stream. The different options e.g., Text, Photos, Link, Video and Hangout, are now big buttons that you can push to create a related post.
Improved Hangouts Possibly the most intriguing new feature introduced is actually an update to the existing Hangouts. The numerous Google chat functions have been merged into a single chat and video messaging app available for Google+, iPhone, iPad, Android, Gmail and Chrome.
This means that you can host group chats for up to 10 participants which users can access through various systems. What this means for businesses is that you now have an easier way to communicate across multiple systems without having to worry about compatibility.
Better pictures and albums A key component of any social media platform is visual content like pictures and videos. Google has introduced some interesting photo based features that could help make your content even more attractive. One feature is Auto Enhance, which will touch-up photos by looking at factors such as blur, contrast, saturation, etc. From what we have seen, the touch-ups are effective in making your pictures look better.
There is also a new feature called Auto Awesome, which looks at the types of photos you upload and can do various impressive things. For example, if you upload a series of similar pictures, say a sequence of images taken one after the other in a short amount of time, Auto Awesome will create an animated GIF which you can share on your wall. This function can also create panorama or HDR images.
Auto Highlight is another recently introduced feature which uses an algorithm to analyze pictures and skip over duplicate, blurry or underexposed pictures while uploading them, supposedly leaving you with only the best pictures.
Hashtags The hashtag (#) has become popular on many social media platforms and is an easy way to find similar content. Google+ has improved the hashtag system and will now automatically add relevant tags to your posts. You will see these as small blue tabs on the right of the card, and hovering over these will show the relevant hashtag. If you click on it, the card will flip over and show you other posts that have the same tag. This could be a great way to find similar content and could help bring more exposure to your profile.
The new Google+ layout is definitely a big change compared to previous versions and could prove to be useful for your company's profile and online presence. If you would like to learn more about using Google+ please contact us.
One of the more common security issues revolves around the passwords you use to access various Internet sites, your computer, and even your work systems. Chances are, you don't use the same password for all these different systems and accounts. While this increases the chance of your private information and files remaining secure, it can be a pain to remember so many passwords. That's why a password management system is helpful. The question is, which kind?
Below is a brief overview of the four types of password management system you can use.
1. Cloud or Internet-based These systems are usually cloud based and accessed through an app or browser plugin. Apps ordinarily store your passwords, or generate one to use, and will automatically apply this when you visit a site that requires a password. These systems are great for breaking the one password habit, However, because they store all of your passwords in one place, they could become a target for hackers.
2. Cloud or Internet-based with two-factor authentication The next step up from the cloud-based password management system is one that supports two-factor authentication. Your passwords are still stored in the cloud, but you will need to provide another piece of information before you can access sites.
The interesting thing is that many of the cloud based password systems actually offer this in their premium offerings. So, not only do you get better password protection, but it's with the same system meaning you likely won't have to switch.
The cloud based systems are a good idea if you use more than one system on a regular basis and if you work from outside of the office.
3. Computer-based Computer-based password management systems are similar to the cloud versions, only the passwords are stored on your computer, and accessed using a master password. Because many hackers usually don't go after individual hard drives - they have to get through your network and then find the program and try to break the password - the chances of your passwords being exposed are minimized.
The only problem with systems like these is that you normally have to log in for the service to work. If you forget to log out and someone walks by, they will be able to access everything. However, for the manager who wants a secure system, this is a better option than the cloud based versions.
4. USB-based There are a number of USB devices that have a smart card in them that can store passwords. When you plug in the USB to your computer, the software on the USB can input the stored passwords when needed. These devices are typically more expensive, with some costing as much as USD$100, but they offer the highest amount of security as your passwords are kept with you.
The main downside to these devices is that they aren't the biggest and are usually about the size of a standard USB stick. This means that they are easier to lose, making getting your passwords back even tougher.
If you are looking for a better way to keep track of your passwords, please contact us today to see how we can help.
With the rise of the Internet and social media, it's now expected that many more companies have an Internet identity. Be it a website or social media, you can guarantee that your customers are looking for you online. While having an online presence is positive, it can also open you up to negative feedback, which can ruin, or at least damage, your company's reputation and brand. Therefore, it is important that you practice some form of reputation management.
Here are five reputation management practices you can employ to better manage your online brand.
1. Don't remove negative content If you see a negative comment or post online it may be your first impulse to delete it. This isn't necessarily advisable, as the main rule about the Internet is that nothing ever goes away. If you delete negative comments on a regular basis, customers could notice and this may lead to them losing trust in your company and ultimately, to lost sales.
What you should be doing is replying instead and encouraging any users who complain online or make criticizing posts to contact you directly, or through a more private medium like email. That being said, if you see malicious posts or content that is posted just to incite a negative reaction (trolling), there is nothing wrong in deleting. Just make sure to acknowledge this by posting a warning that states something along the lines of: "Please note, malicious content will be deleted."
2. Address complaints promptly You should have someone monitoring your online platforms for complaints or negative feedback, so that you can respond promptly. This will also show customers that you actually use your platforms and are willing to engage. If you do not take steps to address negative material, you could be sending the message that you don't care enough about customers, which could drive them away.
3. Provide people with a place to complain Being proactive is important when it comes to reputation management. Instead of waiting for complaints to be posted on various review sites, blogs or even social media, which are all out of your control, why not provide a place that you can control, for all types of feedback.
Having an easy to see form, forum or other similar area on your website, where customers can interact with you, could go a long way in helping limit where complaints pop up. If you are in control then you're more likely to see complaints sooner and better able to answer them quickly too.
4. Ensure colleagues and staff are all on the same page Two things that turn almost customers off of a brand are a company that isn't organized and being told different things by different people within the same company. If you have more than one staff member managing your online reputation you need to ensure everyone is on the same page. If a client asks a question they should get one answer and if there is a complaint there should be one response or person handling it.
It is a good idea to establish how to deal with complaints, who will deal with them and when they will be dealt with, and communicate this with all staff, not just those handling your online presence. A unified procedure could go a long way in minimizing the harm negative feedback can cause.
5. Monitor online activity We don't mean monitor the activity of your employees, we mean take a look at the different communication channels used by your customers and the public at large. If your business relies on reviews, simply monitoring your own profiles and website isn't enough. Many customers complain on review sites like Yelp, Ripoff Report, or their own blogs. Taking time to search for, and browse these sites could help you gauge the general perception of your company. If you see an increasing number of negative reviews for example, you know it is time to look at what needs to be improved.
Having a well managed online reputation won't guarantee new customers will come flooding in the door, but it can help decrease customers from going out the door, taking valuable sales with them. If you would like to learn more about reputation management please contact us today.
Love it or hate it, Facebook has become one of the most popular and arguably important communication tools for businesses and the socializing public alike. If you have a personal account, you likely log in on a fairly regular basis. But there may come a time when you forget your password or need to recover your account information. This may prove to be tough if you can't remember specific information. However, Facebook has recently introduced a feature that could help make account recovery easier.
Trusted Contacts was officially introduced by Facebook in early May 2013, after nearly two years in testing. It is a potentially really useful feature that could help you out one day.
What exactly is Trusted Contacts?
According to Facebook, "Trusted Contacts lets your friends help you if you’re having trouble logging into your account." If you have been previously using the Trusted Friends feature, this has now been renamed and merged with Trusted Contacts.
Trusted Contacts allows users to set up to five Facebook friends who can help you regain access to your account. For example, if you forget your password your nominated friends can send you a phrase to enter so that you can get back into your account.
It is a good idea to set this up, but beware that at least three friends who you set as a Trusted Contact will need to send you a private code before you can regain access. The friends will only have access to the code if they log into Facebook, so make sure you pick someone who is able to log into Facebook regularly.
How to set up Trusted Contacts
You can set up Trusted Contacts by:
Facebook will notify the contacts you've selected with more information about how the process works.
If you are having trouble accessing your Facebook account you can tell your trusted friends to visit facebook.com/recover to get the code and then pass it to you. Once you have entered three codes, provided by your friends, you should be able to get into your profile.
Trusted Contacts could be a useful tool, especially if you don't use or access your personal Facebook profile on a regular basis. It's important to stress that you pick someone you trust, and who is reliable.
If you would like to learn more ways you can keep your Facebook account secure, please contact us today.
Computing power has more or less doubled every two years, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. While our computers are becoming increasingly powerful, it simply isn't feasible for many small to medium businesses to update their hardware or systems every couple of years. This often leads to businesses with aging systems facing increased costs, decreased productivity and the need (but not the budget!) to replace systems. One solution to this very real problem is to virtualize existing systems.
Virtualization is the act of taking an existing system, say a server, and creating a virtual copy of it that is hosted either in a physical unit or somewhere out of the office. Some systems you can virtualize include: Desktops, Operating Systems, servers, hardware and storage. Most small businesses start with storage and server virtualization as this can usually be done with relative ease and at an affordable cost.
Benefits of virtualization The question many business owners ask when they are looking into virtualization is what benefits it can bring. While the positives are numerous, here are the five most common:
1. Reduced space Physical hardware can take up a lot of space, and the common trend among many businesses is that the space available per person is shrinking in order to save costs. Take for example your servers. If you virtualize these, you can probably fit all of them onto one or two units. This will reduce the space your hardware takes up, freeing up extra storage capacity or possibly another desk.
2. Reduced overhead Having hardware and servers in an office can be expensive to maintain. You have to have climate control to start with which means higher electricity bills and higher maintenance costs. Virtualization will often reduce overhead costs and save you money. Beyond that, many solutions offer a pay-per-use pricing model which makes predicting costs easier.
3. Quicker backup and recovery Many virtualization solution providers also offer backup services that can be automated. This means that your vital data is always backed up and protected. Beyond that, the backups can be stored at a different location, meaning that if there is a disaster, you can recover lost data quickly and easily.
4. Longer hardware replacement cycles Virtualized solutions and platforms often require lower computing resources because they are hosted on the provider's servers. This means that you won't have to replace existing tech hardware. Beyond that, existing systems can be used for longer which will save you money.
5. Virtualization is scalable If your company is growing, you will eventually have to add new systems. In an already cramped office this means finding the space for hardware or servers needed to support your growth, not to mention investing in systems that are compatible with existing hardware. Virtualization is highly scalable, and can grow with your company, often without the need for extra services.
In general, virtualization could help your business grow, while IT costs remain stable, or are even decreased. If you would like to learn more about how virtualization of your systems can help your company, contact us today.
In an increasingly interconnected world, it's becoming harder and harder for business owners and managers to decide between choices. That's why many have started to implement Business Intelligence (BI) solutions, in the hopes that it will help them make better, more informed decisions. An increasingly popular component of BI is social data. The question is though, what is it and can small businesses benefit from it?
Here's an overview of social data and three ways small business owners and managers can use it to make decisions.
What is social data? Social data is any data or information collected from the various social media sites available. The easiest way to define social data is to differentiate it from social media. Social media is content that a user has created, copied or linked with the idea of sharing it with other people using a platform i.e., Facebook. Social data is the information that is linked to this content, such as shares, likes, location, time posted, etc.
It is social data that powers analytics and social media monitoring, (how popular your content, profile, etc. is), and if utilized efficiently could go a long way in helping you make better business decisions and a more focused marketing strategy.
Because there is so much data relating to and generated by social media activities, it can be nearly impossible to track and analyze it all. But, it is quickly becoming an important part of Business Intelligence, and will continue to become even more so as the number of social media sites and users continues to expand. That's why many BI solutions are starting to integrate social data gathering and analysis tools. While you may be able to track and analyze this data, do you know what you can do with it?
Three uses of social data
If you would like to learn more about social data and how your company can use it effectively, call us today for a chat.
Hackers and other cyber criminals are an ever present danger on the Internet. This is a fact that we simply can't escape, and what's more, you can be pretty sure that we will see an increase in the number of attacks against sites as the internet continues to expand and be used by more and more people. One of the latest major sites to be hacked is LivingSocial, so if you have an account with this website, you may want to keep reading.
LivingSocial is a daily deals website that focuses on bringing bargains and original deals to users based on their geographical location. In late April, news broke that the website had suffered a massive cyber attack with 50 million accounts being compromised.
From the reports we have seen, the attack targeted accounts world-wide with only account holders in Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea and the Philippines being unaffected. An email sent out by Tim O'Shaughnessy, LivingSocial's CEO shortly after the incident said, "We recently experienced a cyber-attack on our computer systems that resulted in unauthorized access to some customer data from our servers. We are actively working with law enforcement to investigate this issue."
The company assured users that their credit card data had not been compromised, as they are kept in another database. Account passwords were also encrypted, which means they are harder to crack but not impossible.
What should you do? If you have a LivingSocial account, we recommend that you go and change your password immediately. This can be done by:
It is advisable to pick a new password, one that is as different as possible from your old password and, as always, the longer, the better.
Is there anything I can to do protect my company? If you are a business owner who has websites that encourage customers to sign up for updates, accounts, etc. you may be wondering how you can keep your user's information secure from cyber attack. In truth, you can't keep your important information 100% secure, if a hacker is committed enough, they will be able to get the information they need or wreak the havoc they want to. But what you can do is to make it as hard as possible for cybercriminals to get your information. This could be as simple as using multiple databases to store different bits of information, or as complex as using the latest encryption methods and systems.
Each business is unique, and the best way to ensure your valuable data is secure is to work with an IT partner who takes the time to get to know your security needs and develop a solution that is as near to 100% secure as possible.
If you are worried about the security of your systems, contact us today. We may have the perfect solution that will meet your needs and budget.