Google launches new Backup and Sync app

July 27th, 2017

Employees don’t usually prioritize managing files and photos because they can be tedious and time-consuming. Those who have to deal with a high volume of files and photos across different devices often depend on the auto-sync functions of Google Drive or do manual backups on external drives or SD cards. With Google’s nifty new application, managing files and photos is more seamless.

Seamless backups and syncing

Google’s new application, Backup and Sync, allows both PC and Mac users to seamlessly back up files, photos, and video files from various devices, SD cards, and USB drives in Google Drive or Google Photos.

To use the app, download and install it on your Mac or your Windows computer, sign in with your Google account, select your sync settings, and choose the folders you wish to back up. If you’re uploading photos or videos, you can choose between High or Original quality upload size. And if you want to upload photos only, you have the option to upload to Google Photos.

Once you’re done setting up, a folder will be created on your computer where files can be saved and accessible anywhere via the cloud. Any file dropped into this folder will automatically sync to Google Drive.

Benefits and downside

Although Backup and Sync is free, you can store only up to 15 GB of data. But if you want to exceed the limit, simply upgrade your Google Drive storage. That said, this new tool is valuable because it simplifies the backup process.

The app is especially beneficial to businesses because it’s easy to set up and requires minimal effort from users. It’s also useful to companies with remote work policies; employees can simply drag and drop files into their computer’s folder and access them anywhere from any device.

Backup and Sync not only gives your business greater flexibility by providing anytime-anywhere access to your files, but it also helps keep them safe and sound in the cloud. If you want to explore other productivity tools for your business, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
July 26th, 2017

For most small-business owners, processing email takes up a good chunk of the day. If you use Gmail, you’re already working with a powerful platform with numerous productivity-enhancing features. But what if you could streamline the process even further while ensuring each message is dealt with appropriately? These Gmail tips will do the trick.

Undo Send We've all had an email or two we wish we could take back. Gmail has a neat feature that gives you a short period of time to recall a mistakenly sent message. After activating Undo Send, quickly retrieve the email and it's as if nothing ever happened.

Canned Responses Dubbed as ‘email for the truly lazy,’ Canned Responses is a Gmail Labs feature that allows you to save time and reuse an email that you designate as a Canned Response. Working like an email template, it saves copious amounts of time since you won’t have to retype the same responses over and over again. It comes in handy for businesses that send plenty of routine emails.

Send large attachments with Google Drive With Gmail, users can easily send attachments reaching 25 MB. But say you have a huge zip file for a photo shoot that the clients want to review -- you’re going to need more space. If you use Google Drive with your Google account, you can send larger files on Gmail. Copy the large file to your Google Drive, then click Compose in Gmail and type your message. When you’re ready to attach the large file, click the Google Drive icon (next to the Attachment icon that looks like a paper clip). Insert the files you want to attach and send your message.

Turn on Priority Inbox As hinted in the name, Priority Inbox will organize your messages by their importance. You’ll be able to divide your inbox into five sections, where the messages will be displayed in the following order: 1. important and unread messages, 2. starred messages, 3. [customizable section], 4. [customizable section], 5. everything else. To enable it, go to Settings > Inbox > Inbox Type and choose Priority Inbox.

Back up your messages If you ever need to back up or migrate your Gmail messages, Gmvault can help. It is an open source solution that can back up your entire Gmail directory or just a handful of messages. The email data is then available whenever you need to restore or recreate your Gmail folders. You can also use it to migrate messages from one account to another.

Gmail Labs To get the latest Gmail features, you should sign up for Gmail Labs. This is where Google tests up-and-coming features before making them part of Gmail. Access Gmail Labs by heading over to Settings.

Spending the right amount of time with emails while managing other crucial business areas is a balancing act many business owners find difficult. If you have questions or need further assistance regarding Gmail or IT in general, feel free to contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web & Cloud
July 25th, 2017

More firms are using the Internet of Things (IoT) to create new business opportunities. For instance, companies that install smart sensors can automate data entry and monitor their inventory. However, if left unsecured, IoT devices also give hackers an opportunity to breach your network. In order to keep attackers at bay, we advise you take the following precautions with your IoT devices.

Set passwords Many often forget they can set passwords for IoT devices. When this happens, they tend to leave their gadgets with default passwords, essentially leaving the door open for hackers. Make sure to set new and strong passwords -- preferably with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols -- for each device connected to your network. Then, use a password manager to securely keep track of all your passwords.

Disable Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) UPnP is designed to help IoT gadgets discover other network devices. However, hackers can also exploit this feature to find and connect to your IoT devices. To prevent them from getting to your network, it’s best to disable this feature completely.

Create a separate network When you’re dealing with IoT devices, it’s wise to quarantine them in a separate network unconnected to your main office network. By doing this, user gadgets will still have access to the internet but won’t be able to access mission-critical files.

You should also consider investing in device access management tools. These allow you to control which devices can access what data, and prevent unauthorized access.

Update your firmware If you want to keep your devices secure against the latest attacks, then you need to keep your IoT software up to date. Security researchers are always releasing security patches for the most recent vulnerabilities, so make it a habit to regularly check for and install IoT firmware updates. If you have several gadgets to secure, use patch management software to automate patch distribution and set a schedule to check for updates monthly.

Unplug it Disconnecting your IoT devices from the internet (or turning them off completely) whenever you don’t need them significantly reduces how vulnerable you are to an attack. Think about it, if there’s nothing to target, hackers won’t be able to make their move. Turning your IoT devices on and off again may not seem like the most convenient strategy, but it does deny unauthorized access to your router.

Unfortunately, as IoT devices become more commonplace in homes and offices, more hackers will develop more cunning ways to exploit them. Getting into the above mentioned security habits can protect you from a wide variety of IoT attacks, but if you really need to beef up your security, then contact us today. We have robust security solutions that keep your hardware safe.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
July 22nd, 2017

New strains of malware are being developed every day. In fact, the number was nearly one million per day in 2015. With so many in existence, some have gone under the radar, as such is the case with CopyCat. So if you’re using any type of Android device, know that CopyCat likes to use its claws.

What is it?

CopyCat is a strain of malware that pretends to be a popular app on third-party app stores. Alarmingly, it has already infected more than 14 million Android devices around the world, with the majority of victims in Asia. However, users in the U.S. aren’t in the clear as 280,000 Android devices have been hit since 2015.

Why is it dangerous?

Once downloaded, CopyCat collects data from the infected device and downloads rootkits that cut off the device’s security system. From there, it can download fake apps and hijack your device’s Zygote, the launcher for every app on your phone.

With control over your Zygote, CopyCat will know about every new app you’ve downloaded and opened. This allows it to replace the Referrer ID on your apps with its own and send revenues for every ad that pops up on the app to hackers instead of the app’s creators. Sometimes it even throws in its own ads to increase fraudulent ad revenues, too. So far, there have been nearly 4.9 million fake apps installed on infected devices, estimated to make CopyCat hackers more than $1.5 million.

And while it’s mainly after ad revenues, it could easily compromise confidential data collected from your Android device.

How to protect your Android device?

The malware spreads through five exploits that hit devices running Android 5.0 and earlier versions. Luckily, Google was able to track down this malware to update Google Play so all exploits have been discovered and patched.

However, Android users on older devices should avoid downloading apps from third-party vendors just to be safe. And even if you’re using newer versions of the Android OS, we recommend you ensure your Play Protect function -- Google’s security system which consists of application scanning, browser protection, and anti-theft measures -- is activated. It should be on by default on your Android device, but you can check its status by opening Google Play Store app > Tap Menu > Play Protect.

In an ideal world, you’ll no longer have to worry about cyber attacks and all the damage they can cause. But for now, staying knowledgeable and informed is the best way to protect yourself. If you’d like to learn more about how to keep your Android devices safe, just give us a call. We’ll be happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic android
July 21st, 2017

It’s nearly impossible to discuss virtualization without bringing up Amazon Web Services (AWS). It was one of the first big names in user-friendly virtualization services and it’s only gotten better over the years. With its latest release, AWS is providing customers with some serious computing power.

What are AWS virtual desktops?

If you have employees who need occasional access to lightning-fast workstations, hardware costs add up quickly. One way to tackle this problem is by providing users with low-end hardware that connects to a cloud service provider that delivers virtual desktops. These full-fledged desktops can be accessed over the internet and are far more cost efficient.

For quite some time, AWS’s “Standard” package has offered 24-hour access to virtual desktops with dual CPUs, 4+ GB of RAM and 130 GB of data storage for $43 per month. As long as you have a computer with an internet connection and are able to pay the subscription fee, you can run programs on an AWS virtual desktop that greatly exceeds your local machine’s capacity.

The WorkSpaces Power bundle

In June 2017, AWS introduced a new virtual desktop service for businesses that need a bit more capacity. The WorkSpaces Power bundle grants users access to machines with the power of four CPUs, with 16+ GB of RAM and 275 GB of storage.

Obviously, anything that requires such high-end hardware is going to be pretty technical work, but with the help of an experienced IT provider, you too can profit from the Big Data movement. AWS is advertising the Power bundle to developers, but it’s also great for businesses that want profitable insights from their huge databases.

The Power bundle virtual desktops have tremendous capacity, and that does come at a higher cost. The WorkSpaces Power bundle costs $78 per month for unlimited usage, or if you need it for only a couple days, $19 per month plus 68 cents per hour.

Faster data access for Standard and Power bundles

Regardless of whether you need the Standard or Power bundle, all AWS virtual desktops benefit from excellent data access speeds. The servers that host AWS cloud storage and AWS virtual desktops are in the same physical location, which means you don’t need to worry about lag when connecting the two.

Even if you’re “just a small-scale eCommerce site,” or a single-location office, every business can benefit from more affordable computing power. To find out what virtualization can do for your organization, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 19th, 2017

Workplace Analytics is a program that helps managers determine staff productivity levels using data gathered from their email, calendar, documents, and other applications within Office 365. Previously, Microsoft’s MyAnalytics allowed only employees to view their individual data, but with this updated version, managers now have access to this data, too.

How it works

Now available as an add-on to Office 365 enterprise plans, Workplace Analytics extracts behavioral insights from data gathered from Office 365 email, calendar, documents, and Skype. This means that any data an employee types into their email and calendar -- whether it’s on the subject line or the main content itself -- can be used to indicate their productivity status.

The program has an overview dashboard that provides specific information:

  • Week in the Life provides an overall view of how the entire organization spends time and how members collaborate
  • Meetings shows the amount of time spent in meetings
  • Management and Coaching gauges staff-manager one-on-one meetings
  • Network and Collaboration takes a look at how employees connect to colleagues

What does it aim to do?

Workplace Analytics aims to address what, according to Microsoft, are businesses’ most common challenges: complexity, productivity, and engagement.

Using Analytics data, managers and human resources departments can form productivity strategies for the entire company. If, based on Workplace Analytics data, a majority of your employees are spending 60% of their time attending meetings and not enough time doing creative work, they can come up with a strategy that reduces meeting time and focuses more on productive tasks.

It also identifies how employees collaborate with internal and external parties. Suppose one of your sales staff frequently communicates with certain contacts. By using Workplace Analytics data, the employee’s manager would be able to determine whether this particular collaboration pattern is helping the employee hit sales targets or whether he or she is missing out on other more critical contacts. Also, based on this info, managers would be able to determine which employees are most likely to meet or exceed their targets and set company-wide standards accordingly.

Data gathered by Workplace Analytics also allows managers to determine an employee’s level of engagement (i.e., whether the organization’s collaboration patterns are good for the company) and whether workloads are fairly distributed among workers and/or departments.

Is it useful for small businesses?

Large corporations have been using Workplace Analytics, but small businesses can also benefit from it. For one, the data used to provide the insights are all based on data generated by employees themselves -- how much time they spend on meetings, whom they frequently communicate with, and how much time they spend on productive tasks.

Aside from letting managers examine their staff’s working behavior, Workplace Analytics also provides an overall look into what happens at an organizational level. If you want your organization to harness the capabilities of Workplace Analytics and other Office 365 tools, give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office
July 15th, 2017

The recent WannaCry and Petya ransomware attacks have caused massive disruptions for Windows users. Although ransomware infection has slowed down in the past few weeks, many experts are saying that this is only just the beginning. Soon, newer and far more dangerous strains of malware will be developed. To help people defend against these threats, Microsoft has released new security features.

Controlled folders With Microsoft’s new Controlled folders access feature, you can list certain documents and folders as “protected.” Only whitelisted apps can access and edit these folders, while any attempted changes by malicious apps are simply blocked by Windows Defender.

In theory, this should slow down a ransomware’s ability to encrypt critical information. Some reports suggest that other threats like malicious file macros and viruses can be prevented by this feature.

So far, only Windows Insider users have access to controlled folders. But if you’ve already signed up, you can access the feature by going to Windows Defender Security Center and then enabling Controlled folder access. From here, you can choose which folders will be protected and what apps are allowed to access them. To save you time, common Microsoft applications are trusted automatically, but you can remove them from your whitelist whenever you want.

Application Guard Apart from folder protection, Microsoft also made security enhancements for web browsers. The Windows Defender Application Guard is designed to prevent intrusions, using Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtual machine technology to detect and isolate compromised applications from the rest of your system. So if someone accidentally downloads a virus from their web browser, Application Guard will contain the threat before it infiltrates the rest of your company’s devices, apps, data, and network.

Device Guard In a similar vein, the Device Guard feature, which is also found in the Windows Defender Security Center, minimizes computer exposure to malware by using advanced threat detection policies to make sure only approved code is running throughout the system. This is meant to add an extra layer of defense in between your firewall and antivirus software.

As mentioned, Windows Insider users can get early access to these security features, but if you want to make sure that these security features are as strong as they can be, we suggest you wait for their public release around September for the Fall Creators update.

Want to stay on top of the latest technologies that can help you beat ransomware, viruses, and other nasty cyberattacks? Contact us today for any security updates and advice.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
July 14th, 2017

The WannaCry ransomware, which infected 200,000 business globally and made over $100,000 in ransom payments, is said to be one of the worst cyber attacks in history. However, a new ransomware strain named Nyetya is shaping up to be a more formidable security threat. It has already affected businesses globally, and security firms and researchers believe it to be stealthier and more sophisticated than WannaCry.

Worse than WannaCry

Nyetya is deemed worse than WannaCry mainly because it spreads laterally, meaning it targets computers within networks and affects even systems that have been patched. Because it also spreads internally, it needs to infect only one device to affect several others within a single network.

Cyber researchers trace its origins to a tax accounting software called MEDoc, which infected 12,500 systems in Ukraine. Since the initial infections in June, it has spread to thousands of networks in 64 countries. And although it hasn’t spread as fast as WannaCry, it might have a wider reach soon because it uses three attack pathways to infect a system. It hasn’t made as much money as WannaCry, which is why cyber researchers are concluding that the attacks are not economically motivated.

Don’t pay the ransom

Cyber security firms and researchers strongly recommend affected businesses to avoid paying the ransom. According to them, paying the ransom would be a waste since the infected user won’t be able to receive a decryption key to unlock their files or systems. This is because the email provider has blocked the email address on the ransomware message.

Although it operates like a ransomware -- locking hard drives and files and demands a $300 ransom in Bitcoin -- it functions more as a wiperware that aims to permanently wipe out data and/or destroy systems. So far, it has affected big-name multinationals in various industries, including Merck, Mondelez International, and AP Moller-Maersk, among others.

Perform backups and update outdated security patches

The only way businesses can be protected is by performing backups and staying on top of patch updates.

It’s safe to say that in case of a Nyetya attack, there’s no chance of getting back your data. In such a scenario, you would have only your backup files -- whether on an external storage or in the cloud -- to fall back on. But backing up is not enough; you should also ensure that your backups are working, which you can do by testing them regularly. Given the nature of Nyetya, you should also make sure that your backups are stored off-site and disconnected from your network.

Like its predecessor, Nyetya exploited vulnerabilities in unpatched Microsoft-run computers. As a business owner, make it a part of your cyber security routine to update your systems with the latest security patches, or risk having your files or systems permanently corrupted.

As a business owner whose operations’ lifeline depends on critical files, your backups are your insurance. If your systems’ network security needs another layer of protection, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
July 12th, 2017

Everyone wishes there were more minutes in a day. Between repetitive emails and seemingly endless meetings, it’s hard to find time for important tasks. Thanks to the increasing affordability of enterprise-level IT however, SMBs can start getting at least half of those problems under control with email automation.

What is email automation?

Usually included in customer relationship management (CRM) software, email automation centers around the idea of combining your business data into emails to customers and prospects. This allows you to draft templates with placeholders for names, addresses, and other variables that the platform will match with individuals from your email list.

Even better however, is personalizing how and when your emails go out to clients. Automatically inserting customer data into an email is great, but it still requires that you draft the content that surrounds it and hit Send. Email automation grants you the ability to create templated emails that are automatically merged with client data and sent when certain conditions are met.

Examples of email automation

To really get an idea of how valuable this solution is, it’s important to see what it looks like in action. Say you own an eCommerce site that sells complementary goods, like golf clubs and golf balls. You could create a campaign wherein anytime someone buys a set of clubs, pre-written emails automatically go out one month later on how high-quality golf balls improve your handicap.

You’re not limited to two-step workflows either. Take a look at this example:

  • Step 1: Send a personalized email with a special offer on golf balls for existing customers.
  • Step 2: Send a follow-up based on how customers interacted with the offer email:
    • If a customer cashed in the offer, send a thank you email.
      • Step 3: Follow it up with a similar offer three months later.
    • If a customer visited the promo page but didn’t convert, send a promo email for another type of product, like golf bags.
      • Step 3: Follow it up with either a thank you email or another promo for golf clothes.
    • If a customer didn’t even open the email, send a survey email asking about their interests.
      • Step 3: Follow it up with email campaigns based on what they selected.
Email automation means there’s no need to micromanage your customer relationships. As long as you define the path to purchase for high-volume products, you can program workflows to nurture customers and prospects automatically.

For as little as a couple hundred bucks a month, your customer outreach campaigns can compete on the same level as your corporate counterparts with little effort from your team. Add in an expert IT provider and you have the ability to blow the competition out of the water. To learn more, contact us today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
July 11th, 2017

Facebook has numerous built-in features to help small- and medium-sized businesses thrive. But chances are that most business owners are taking advantage of only just a few. With Facebook’s audience reaching 1.8 billion users monthly, it’s vital for your business to leverage the right tools to enhance growth. Here are four features you should start using right away:

Audience Insights tool This free tool is designed to help businesses learn more about their target audience. Audience Insights takes the guesswork out of identifying your customers by providing data such as geography, purchasing patterns, and even the Facebook pages they like. You can also use your existing customer database, Facebook page, or email list to learn more about your clients. Audience Insights help save a lot of time and money by determining whom you should advertise to.

Facebook Product Shops This allows you to sell your products directly from your Facebook page. After following these instructions, you can set up your product shop in just a few clicks. You can choose whether you want buyers to purchase directly on Facebook or whether you want buyers to complete checkout on your website. Consider running ads using the data gathered from the Audience Insights tool to target ideal customers and increase sales.

New Facebook Ads Facebook’s advertising platform offers endless combinations to create the perfect ad. It features numerous placement options that go beyond the traditional newsfeed. There are two new ad destinations that could help you reach new audiences:

  • Facebook Messenger ads - deliver a highly personalized experience by providing an opportunity for you to chat with prospective customers. You can answer questions or schedule appointments from the Messenger app.
  • In-stream video ads - despite being relatively new, this prime advertising space allows businesses to deliver 5-15 second mid-roll video ads within live and non-live videos on Facebook.
Facebook Live marketing Due to its rising popularity, businesses are looking for ways to incorporate Facebook Live into their social media marketing strategies. Here are a couple of tips to optimize Facebook Live usage:
  • Livestream pre-scheduling - this tool creates and pre-schedules Facebook Live streams, thereby boosting anticipation for your videos and prompting viewers to mark their calendars if they want to tune in.
  • Merge it with your Product Shop - this feature can be used on your Facebook page only if you’ve set up your Product Shop. When you mention your products in a livestream, you’ll be able to tag your products in the video, allowing viewers to access your Product Shop directly from the video.
In order to surpass your competitors, you’ll need to not only establish a strong online presence but also know how to leverage Facebook to your business’s advantage. If you’re interested in adopting a social media marketing strategy, feel free to give us a call or send us an email!
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media