Why Your Business Should Choose Exchange Online Over Traditional POP/IMAP Email

Overview

In today’s digital world, email is the backbone of business communication. While traditional POP/IMAP email services have served us well, the demands of modern business require more robust, secure, and integrated solutions. Enter Exchange Online—Microsoft's premier email solution designed to meet the needs of contemporary businesses. If you're still on the fence about upgrading from traditional POP/IMAP email, this blog post is here to highlight why Exchange Online is the smarter choice for your business.

1. Storage

Traditional POP/IMAP email: Laura’s design studio uses traditional POP/IMAP email and often struggles with limited email storage, leading to frequent archiving and deleting important emails to free up space.

Exchange Online: Paul’s design studio uses Exchange Online, benefiting from large mailbox sizes that accommodate extensive email storage. Paul and his team never have to worry about running out of space, allowing them to focus on their creative projects without interruptions.

2. Sync Capabilities

Traditional POP/IMAP email: Bob’s sales team uses traditional POP/IMAP email and faces issues with syncing emails across multiple devices. Bob often misses important emails when switching between his phone, tablet, and laptop.

Exchange Online: Lisa’s sales team uses Exchange Online, which offers seamless synchronization across all devices. Lisa and her team can access the latest emails, calendar events, and contacts from any device, ensuring they stay connected and productive wherever they are.

3. Security

Traditional POP/IMAP email: Mike’s tech company uses traditional POP/IMAP email and occasionally deals with phishing attacks that bypass basic protections, putting sensitive company data at risk.

Exchange Online: Karen’s tech company uses Exchange Online, which provides advanced anti-phishing and anti-malware tools. These features significantly reduce security threats, ensuring that the company’s confidential information remains secure.

4. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Traditional POP/IMAP email: Emma’s financial consulting firm uses traditional POP/IMAP email. When employees work remotely, they log in using just a password, which can be easily compromised if their passwords are compromised with modern Cyber threats.

Exchange Online: John’s financial consulting firm uses Exchange Online, which includes Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). With MFA, employees must verify their identity using a second form of authentication, such as a text message or an authentication app on their phone. This extra layer of security ensures that even if passwords are compromised, unauthorized access to sensitive financial data is prevented, providing peace of mind for both the firm and its clients.

5. Automated Backups

Traditional POP/IMAP email: Nora’s consulting firm uses traditional POP/IMAP email and struggles to keep up with manual backups. They occasionally lose important emails when backups are missed or corrupted.

Exchange Online: James’s consulting firm uses Exchange Online, benefiting from automated backups and cloud storage. This ensures their email data is always safe and easily recoverable, allowing Nora and her team to focus on their work without worrying about data loss.

6. Peace of Mind for the Business Owner

Traditional POP/IMAP email: Tim’s plumbing business has multiple branches and uses traditional POP/IMAP email. Tim constantly deals with email downtime, security breaches, and syncing problems between branches, causing him stress and distractions from managing his business.

Exchange Online: Megan’s plumbing business, also with multiple branches, uses Exchange Online, which offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee, advanced security measures, and seamless synchronization. These features give Megan peace of mind, knowing that her email system is reliable and secure across all branches. This allows her to focus on expanding her business without the constant worry of email issues.

Conclusion

While traditional POP/IMAP email services might seem cost-effective initially, the long-term benefits of Exchange Online far outweigh the investment. From advanced security and reliability to seamless integration and scalability, Exchange Online is designed to meet the demands of modern businesses. Make the smart choice for your business—upgrade to Exchange Online and experience the difference it can make in your daily operations and overall productivity.

If you’re ready to take your business email to the next level, contact us today to learn more about Exchange Online and how it can benefit your organization.

Navigating the Deceptive Waters of Email Impersonation in Outlook

Introduction

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital security, email impersonation stands out as a particularly insidious threat. This blog post delves into the world of email impersonation, focusing on its manifestation in Microsoft Outlook, and provides practical tips for users to safeguard themselves against these deceptive attacks.

Understanding Email Impersonation in Outlook:

Email impersonation isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a real and present danger in our inboxes. From display name spoofing, where attackers hide behind familiar names, to more sophisticated domain spoofing tactics, the methods are varied and increasingly cunning. We’ll explore these techniques, ranging from the use of lookalike domains to compromised accounts, and even the cunning reply-to manipulations.

Red Flags in Your Inbox:

But how do you spot these digital wolves in sheep’s clothing? The key lies in vigilance and knowledge. This section of the blog will guide you through the telltale signs of impersonation attempts:

  • Mismatched email addresses
  • Requests that set off alarm bells
  • The Trojan horses of email: attachments and links
  • The devil in the details: spelling and grammar
  • Signature discrepancies
  • Suspicious requests for sensitive information

Fortifying Your Digital Defenses:

Awareness is only the first step; action is equally crucial. We’ll cover essential strategies to reinforce your digital defenses:

  • The power of educating your team
  • The shield of email authentication protocols
  • Advanced security features in Outlook
  • The necessity of regular updates and patches
  • The importance of double-checking: When in doubt, reach out!

 

Below is a great example of an impersonation email:

 

From: Jane Doe janedoe.manager@gmail.com
To: John Smith john.smith@companydomain.com
Subject: Urgent Request for Financial Transfer

Dear John,

I hope this email finds you well. I’m currently in a meeting and can’t discuss this over the phone. We have an urgent payment that needs to be processed today to secure a critical deal for our company. The regular procedure is too slow for this particular case.

Please make a wire transfer of $50,000 to the following account as soon as possible. I’ll explain everything and sort out the paperwork once I’m out of the meeting.

Account Details:
Bank Name: XYZ Bank
Account Number: 123456789
Sort Code: 00-00-00
Beneficiary: ABC Ltd.

It’s imperative that this is done today to avoid losing this opportunity. Your prompt action on this will be greatly appreciated.

Best regards,

Jane Doe
Senior Manager
Your Company

 

Conclusion:

Email impersonation in Outlook is a formidable foe, but with the right knowledge and tools, we can significantly diminish its power. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and remember, the best defense is a proactive approach.

New Team Member – Nicolene De Bruyn

Welcoming Our New Senior IT Technician to the Team!

Nicolene De Bruyn

We are thrilled to introduce our newest team member, Nicolene De Bruyn, our Senior IT Technician! With over 4 years of hands-on expertise in network administration, server management, troubleshooting, and system integration, she brings a wealth of knowledge to our team.

What Is App Fatigue & Why Is It a Security Issue?

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The number of apps and web tools that employees use on a regular basis continues to increase. Most departments have about 40-60 different digital tools that they use. 71% of employees feel they use so many apps that it makes work more complex.

Many of the apps that we use every day have various alerts. We get a “ping” when someone mentions our name on a Teams channel. We get a notification popup that an update is available. We get an alert of errors or security issues.

App fatigue is a very real thing and it’s becoming a cybersecurity problem. The more people get overwhelmed by notifications, the more likely they are to ignore them.

Just think about the various digital alerts that you get. They come in:

  • Software apps on your computer
  • Web-based SaaS tools
  • Websites where you’ve allowed alerts
  • Mobile apps and tools
  • Email banners
  • Text messages
  • Team communication tools

Some employees are getting the same notification on two different devices. This just adds to the problem. This leads to many issues that impact productivity and cybersecurity.

Besides alert bombardment, every time the boss introduces a new app, that means a new password. Employees are already juggling about 191 passwords. They use at least 154 of them sometime during the month.

How Does App Fatigue Put Companies at Risk?

Employees Begin Ignoring Updates

When digital alerts interrupt your work, you can feel like you’re always behind. This leads to ignoring small tasks seen as not time-sensitive. Tasks like clicking to install an app update.

Employees overwhelmed with too many app alerts, tend to ignore them. When updates come up, they may quickly click them away. They feel they can’t spare the time right now and aren’t sure how long it will take.
Ignoring app updates on a device is dangerous. Many of those updates include important security patches for found vulnerabilities. When they’re not installed, the device and its network are at a higher risk. It becomes easier to suffer a successful cyberattack.

Employees Reuse Passwords (and They’re Often Weak)

Another security casualty of app fatigue is password security. The more SaaS accounts someone must create, the more likely they are to reuse passwords. It’s estimated that passwords are typically reused 64% of the time.

Credential breach is a key driver of cloud data breaches. Hackers can easily crack weak passwords. The same password used several times leaves many accounts at risk.

Employees May Turn Off Alerts

Some alerts are okay to turn off. For example, do you really need to know every time someone responds to a group thread? Or just when they @name you? But, turning off important security alerts is not good.

There comes a breaking point when one more push notification can push someone over the edge. They may turn off all the alerts they can across all apps. The problem with this is that in the mix of alerts are important ones. Such as an anti-malware app warning about a newly found virus.

What’s the Answer to App Fatigue?

It’s not realistic to just go backward in time before all these apps were around. But you can put a strategy in place that puts people in charge of their tech, and not the other way around.

Streamline Your Business Applications

From both a productivity and security standpoint, fewer apps are better. The fewer apps you have, the less risk. Also, the fewer passwords to remember and notifications to address.

Look at the tools that you use to see where redundancies may be. Many companies are using two or more apps that can do the same function.

Consider using an umbrella platform like Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace. These platforms include several work tools, but users only need a single login to access them.

Have Your IT Team Set up Notifications

It’s difficult for users to know what types of notifications are the most important. Set up their app notifications for them. This ensures they aren’t bombarded yet are still getting the important ones.

Automate Application Updates

A cybersecurity best practice is to automate device and software updates. This takes the process out of employees’ hands. It enhances productivity by removing unnecessary updates from their view.

Automating device updates through a managed services solution improves security. It also mitigates the chance there will be a vulnerable app putting your network at risk.

Open a Two-Way Communication About Alerts

Employees may never turn off an alert because they’re afraid they might get in trouble. Managers may not even realize constant app alert interruptions are hurting productivity.

Communicate with employees and let them know they can communicate with you. Discuss how to use alerts effectively. As well as the best ways to manage alerts for a better and more productive workday.

Need Help Taming Your Cloud App Environment?

Today, it’s easy for cloud tools to get out of hand. Get some help consolidating and optimizing your cloud app environment. Give us a call today.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

These Everyday Objects Can Lead to Identity Theft

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You wouldn’t think a child’s toy could lead to a breach of your personal data. But this happens all the time. What about your trash can sitting outside? Is it a treasure trove for an identity thief trolling the neighborhood at night?

Many everyday objects can lead to identity theft. They often get overlooked because people focus on their computers and cloud accounts. It’s important to have strong passwords and use antivirus on your PC. But you also need to be wary of other ways that hackers and thieves can get to your personal data.

Here are six common things that criminals can use to steal your information.

Old Smart Phones

People replace their smartphones about every two and a half years. That’s a lot of old phones laying around containing personal data.

Just think of all the information our mobile phones hold. We have synced connections with cloud services. Phones also hold banking apps, business apps, and personal health apps. These are all nicely stored on one small device.

As chip technology has advanced, smartphones have been able to hold more “stuff.” This means documents and spreadsheets can now be easily stored on them. Along with reams of photos and videos.

A cybercriminal could easily strike data theft gold by finding an old smartphone. They often end up at charity shops or in the trash. Make sure that you properly clean any old phones by erasing all data. You should also dispose of them properly. You shouldn’t just throw electronics away like normal garbage.

Wireless Printers

Most printers are wireless these days. This means they are part of your home or work network. Printing from another room is convenient. But the fact that your printer connects to the internet can leave your data at risk.

Printers can store sensitive documents, such as tax paperwork or contracts. Most people don’t think about printers when putting data security protections in place. This leaves them open to a hack. When this happens, a hacker can get data from the printer. They could also leverage it to breach other devices on the same network.

Protect printers by ensuring you keep their firmware updated. Always install updates as soon as possible. You should also turn it off when you don’t need it. When it’s off it’s not accessible by a hacker.

USB Sticks

Did you ever run across a USB stick laying around? Perhaps you thought you scored a free removable storage device. Or you are a good Samaritan and want to try to return it to the rightful owner. But first, you need to see what’s on it to find them.

You should never plug a USB device of unknown origin into your computer. This is an old trick in the hacker’s book. They plant malware on these sticks and then leave them around as bait. As soon as you plug it into your device, it can infect it.

Old Hard Drives

When you are disposing of an old computer or old removable drive, make sure it’s clean. Just deleting your files isn’t enough. Computer hard drives can have other personal data stored in system and program files.

Plus, if you’re still logged into a browser, a lot of your personal data could be at risk. Browsers store passwords, credit cards, visit history, and more.

It’s best to get help from an IT professional to properly erase your computer drive. This will make it safe for disposal, donation, or reuse.

Trash Can

Identity theft criminals aren’t only online. They can also be trolling the neighborhood on trash day. Be careful what you throw out in your trash.

It’s not unusual for garbage to enable identity theft. It can include pre-approved credit card offers that you considered “junk mail.” Your trash can also hold voided checks, old bank statements, and insurance paperwork. Any of these items could have the information thieves need to commit fraud or pose as you.

A shredder can be your best friend in this case. You should shred any documents that contain personal information. Do this before you throw them out. This extra step could save you from a costly incident.

Children’s IoT Devices

Electronic bears, smart kid watches, Wi-Fi-connected Barbies… all toys that hackers love. Mattel’s Hello Barbie was found to enable the theft of personal information. A hacker could also use its microphone to spy on families.

These futuristic toys are often what kids want. Parents might think they’re cool, but don’t consider their data security. After all, these are children’s toys. But that often means they can be easier to hack. Cybercriminals also zero in on these IoT toys, knowing they aren’t going to be as hard to breach.

You should be wary of any new internet-connected devices you bring into your home. That includes toys! Install all firmware updates. Additionally, do your homework to see if a data breach has involved the toy.

Schedule a Home IT Security Audit & Sleep Better at Night

Don’t let the thought of identity theft keep you up at night. Give us a call today and schedule a home IT security audit. You’ll be glad you did.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

How to Use the New Virtual Appointments in Microsoft Teams

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Scheduling appointments is a common activity. Salespeople often set up virtual appointments to answer questions about a product. Software companies allow people to schedule live demos. Telehealth therapists allow clients to book video sessions.

Those are just a few examples of some groups that are going to love a new Microsoft Teams feature. Virtual Appointments was recently added to the platform. It adds a new meeting style tailored for engagements with customers.

Have you’ve been using Teams and a different online appointment app? This new feature will streamline the experience.

What Is Virtual Appointments in Teams?

Virtual Appointments gives you an all-in-one meeting platform for customer engagements. You can schedule, manage and conduct B2C meetings in Microsoft Teams.

This new feature brings together the scheduling component with the video conference interface. Anyone with the link can join the virtual appointment. They do not need a Teams account.

The power of Microsoft’s scheduling app, Bookings, connects to Teams. This makes the Virtual Appointments function as seamless as possible.

Some of the features below will be available with any Microsoft 365 plan. Some are available with a premium plan.

Teams Virtual Appointments Features

Manage Scheduled Appointments

You can see your scheduled appointments in a single view. Manage cancellations and time changes easily.

Send Customized Confirmations & Reminders

You can send customers a customized message via SMS or email. This personalizes the experience for them. You can also use automation to give that personal touch without having to send each one manually. Automated appointment reminders are another time-saving function.

Customized Waiting Room

Add a personal touch to your virtual engagements. You can customize the Teams waiting room. You can use themes and logos to brand your business. You can also chat with attendees while in the lobby waiting room. This is helpful if your current appointment is running a little long. You can let them know you’ll be right with them.

Meeting Follow-ups

You can send meeting follow-ups after a virtual appointment. This helps you reduce the time it takes to send any promised follow-up information. You also keep all details in a single place. This makes your client communication trail easier to follow.

Organization & Department Analytics

How effective are your appointments? It’s hard to know if your demos are resulting in sales if you don’t have a good tracking system. It’s also important to have visibility into customer appointments across the organization.

You can do this with a premium analytics feature. It gives you helpful reporting. The reporting provides insights into B2C virtual appointments in all departments.

How to Use Virtual Appointments

To start using Virtual Appointments in Teams, admins must set up a few things. Note, they must be a Bookings admin to access these settings.

Create a Calendar

In the Virtual Appointments app choose to “Create a calendar.” You can find this option on the Home tab.

Larger organizations may wish to create different calendars for different departments.

Add Staff

Next, add staff members. You can add up to 100. You will also need to assign them a role. Once you’ve added your staff, you can view their availability in both Teams and Outlook.

What’s another nice thing about using an integrated platform like M365? It’s the cross-app compatibility. Your calendar syncs across apps.

Create Appointment Types

You’ll next set up your appointment types. You can choose from these two options:

  • Scheduled: You schedule the day/time. The system adds this information to the email confirmation.
  • On-demand (Teams Premium): Customers can choose when to meet from your booking calendar.

Set Up SMS Notifications (If desired)

If you choose to use SMS notifications and have the right Teams plan, you can set this up next. This allows you to easily send appointment confirmations and reminders via text message.

Note: Attendees currently need a valid U.S., Canadian, or U.K. phone number to receive the SMS notifications.

Link Forms (If desired)

If you would like your attendees to fill out any forms, you can link them now. Virtual Appointments allows linking up to four cloud-based forms. These would be forms you have created in Microsoft Forms.

Publish Your Booking Page

If you want to give customers the ability to book on-demand appointments, take this next step. You will need to publish the booking page. You do this on the “Manage” tab of Virtual Appointments. Select “Booking page,” and turn on “Publish booking page.”

Get Help Using Your Microsoft 365 Tools More Effectively

Microsoft 365 is a platform with many possibilities. Often, companies aren’t using all the features they could. As a result, their team may be less effective. They could also be wasting money on apps they don’t need.

Are you interested in help supercharging your Microsoft 365 experience? Give us a call today to set up a meeting.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Check Out the Coolest Tech from CES 2023

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At the beginning of each year, a group of global innovators meets. They introduce and show off breakthrough technologies. It’s done at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is typically held each January in the U.S.

This year, over 3,200 exhibitors from 173 countries showed off the future. Giving us a glimpse of what could show up in our homes offices, living rooms, or kitchens. The show includes both wacky and very sensible inventions. All designed to push the limits and expand how we use technology.

People love their gadgets, so it’s always exciting to see the new tech that CES showcases. It’s estimated that the global smart home household penetration was 14.2% in 2022. By 2027, it’s expected to more than double to 28.8%.

What new gadgets did innovators introduce at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show? Here’s a rundown of some standouts that you may want to check out.

Loona – Intelligent Petbot

Do you love the thought of having a pet, but not the mess? Can’t have one because of where you live? Loona might be your answer. The developer promotes this smart gadget as “the most intelligent petbot.” It’s currently gathering funding through a Kickstarter campaign.

Loona - Intelligent Petbot
Image from Loona’s Kickstarter page.

The cute little motorized pseudo pet can welcome you. It can also follow you when you walk around, sneeze, scratch, and much more. Just like a dog or cat, Loona investigates suspicious objects. Unlike most pets can beatbox, pose for pictures, and dance.

Ring Car Cam

Another consumer IoT device displayed at CES is already for sale on Amazon. It’s the Ring Car Cam, which takes the popular doorbell cam concept on the road with you.

This small internet-connected video cam has dual-facing cameras. It can capture images in the car and on the road. It includes two-way talk to connect with loved ones at home. It also has motion detection and real-time motion alerts.

AtmosGear Electronic Skates

If you’re feeling brave, you can soon strap on a pair of electric inline roller skates. AtmosGear introduced the skates at CES. It expects to begin shipping them starting in May of 2023.

The skates can get up to speeds of 25 km/H (15.5 MPH) and can reach a full charge in about an hour. The “skate” is actually a motorized frame that you can attach to “all roller boots.”

Tilt Five Augmented Reality Glasses

If you’ve been waiting to use augmented reality (AR) outside a video game, your chance may be here. Tilt Five introduced an AR glasses system that connects to a computer device. It can be used on board games as well as video games.

Ready to bring some holographic life to your tabletop play? The system includes the glasses and a board game. The glasses look somewhat like heavy-duty safety glasses. Both interact to bring an AR element into the real world.

Jabra Enhance™ Plus

This earbud/hearing aid combo can be very helpful to those with hearing loss. Jabra Enhance Plus are earbuds that offer a 3-in-1 experience. You can use them for listening to music, phone calls, and for hearing enhancement.

The small design makes them discrete, and they are also designed to be easy to use. They include state-of-the-art technology to provide superior audio clarity.

Hasbro Selfie Series Figures

Have you secretly wished to have your own action figure…of you! Hasbro has you covered with its new Selfie Series. You can use your phone’s camera to upload a pic and choose from figures based on several franchises.

Make a figure of yourself from these universes:

  • G.I. Joe
  • Ghostbusters
  • Power Rangers
  • Marvel
  • Star Wars

Use your smartphone and Habro’s app to customize your new digitized figure. Then all you have to do is buy it and wait for it to arrive.

Twinkly Squares

Twinkly Squares are like the Lite-Bright toy all grown up. The squares allow you to add panels of colored and automated lights to any wall. They’re great for a home office or to add a pop of color to any space.

Because these are IoT gadgets, you can also program and control them. Create digital artwork, have them sync with music, or use their voice feature.

Xebec Tri-Screen 2

Do you wish you had more screen space on your laptop? Don’t like the uneven feel of using a second monitor that is higher than your laptop screen? Then Xebec’s Tri-Screen 2 may be your answer.

This gadget enables you to expand your laptop screen on both sides. It sits behind the screen and expands the screen space both left and right.

Don’t Introduce Smart Tech Into Your Home without Security

New electronic gadgets and home tech can be great. They can also expose your network to security risks. Get help from a pro. Give us a call for a home security audit.


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7 Customer-Facing Technologies to Give You an Advantage

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Customers look for convenience. In today’s world that means technology that makes their life easier. From webforms to POS systems, you need to keep the customer experience in mind in all you do.

When people aren’t happy with their experience interacting with a company, they leave. And their experience might not have anything to do with your products or services. Maybe they found it hard to navigate your website. They may have a question, but no one was around to answer it.

Customers expect you to make it easy for them to do business with you. Companies that do that, reap the benefits. Customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than those that aren’t.

Technology is key to converting website visitors into clients. It’s also key for keeping customers happy and returning to buy again.

Where should you focus? Below are several ideas for all business budgets.

Cloud Forms

Are you still emailing forms in Microsoft Word to your customers? Using cloud-based forms makes the experience much better. Your customer doesn’t need to save a form to their computer and remember to email it back. Instead, they can follow a link and fill out the info online from any device.

Moving your forms to the cloud makes it easier for you as well. The form data comes in automatically. These systems also collate forms and provide analytics.

If you use Microsoft 365, then you already have a cloud form tool. Look for Microsoft Forms in your available applications or visit Microsoft’s site.

Digital Signatures

Experts expect the use of eSignatures to grow by 69% by 2024. The ability to digitally sign documents means more contracts get signed. People don’t have to print out a form, sign it, then scan it back in. Any of those activities could mean a bump in the road.

Printers run out of ink. People have trouble with a scanner they rarely use. The list goes on. Any problem can mean a customer rethinks signing a document that you need.

Using digital signatures streamlines the process. You can handle the transaction online. You also ensure you have a legally binding signature.

Smart Chatbot

When someone makes a buying decision, they often have a question. If they don’t have a quick and easy way to get an answer, they may go elsewhere.

Chatbots are really smart these days. If you program them right, they can answer a large percentage of repeat questions. They’re there 24/7 on your website ready to help in a moment of need.

Many customers actually like them. About 68% of consumers are happy using helpful chatbots. They say they like that they get a fast answer from a bot. This isn’t always the case when customers send an email.

SMS Notifications

SMS notifications are another type of technology that can improve customer experience. Emails have become flooded with junk mail. When someone needs to know about a shipment or purchase, they often prefer it by text. This way the message isn’t missed.

Think about implementing SMS notifications for important customer alerts. Make sure you have an opt-in and opt-out method. It’s also a best practice to let the customer choose which alerts they want to receive. Such as payment notifications, sales, or shipping details.

Business Mobile App

People have been in a transition from websites to apps for a while. Of course, the internet isn’t going away, but apps are gaining ground. A big reason for this is the rise of smartphone use.

Smartphone searches are overtaking web searches. And when people are on a mobile device they prefer apps over websites. Studies show that mobile users spend 90% of their time using apps, and just 10% using an internet browser.

Think about implementing a mobile app for your business. This can make it easier for customers to do business with you. It also gives you more marketing and service capabilities, such as push notifications.

If you’re on a tight budget, you could start with a “wrapper” app. These are solutions that take your existing website and transform it into an app.

FAQ Kiosk

For retail stores, having an FAQ kiosk available can provide a positive experience. It can allow customers to get questions answered quickly. It could also help them look up sales and coupons.

Service businesses can also benefit by using this digital tool. They can use it for commonly asked questions. They can also use it to direct clients to staff offices.

VoIP Phone System

You might think of your phone system as an internal piece of IT. But it’s also one of your most customer-facing technologies. The experience people get when they call is a vital part of how they view your business.

VoIP phone systems give staff the flexibility to help customers anywhere. This is true even when away from their desks. They also enable things like group ring, auto-attendant, and voicemail to email. All these features make for better caller interaction with your business.

Get Help Planning Your Technology Roadmap

Which technology upgrades will benefit your bottom line the most? How should new systems integrate into existing solutions? These are some of the things we look at when helping you look ahead to the future. Give us a call today to schedule a chat.


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6 Things You Should Do to Handle Data Privacy Updates

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Once data began going digital, authorities realized a need to protect it. Thus, the creation of data privacy rules and regulations to address cyber threats. Many organizations have one or more data privacy policies they need to meet.

Those in the U.S. healthcare industry and their service partners need to comply with HIPAA. Anyone collecting payment card data must worry about PCI-DSS. GDPR is a wide-reaching data protection regulation. It impacts anyone selling to EU citizens.

Industry and international data privacy regulations are just the tip of the iceberg. Many state and local jurisdictions also have their own data privacy laws. Organizations must be aware of these compliance requirements. But they also need to know about updates to these rules.

By the end of 2024, about 75% of the population will have its data protected by one or more privacy regulations.

Authorities enact new data privacy regulations all the time. For example, in 2023, four states will have new rules. Colorado, Utah, Connecticut, and Virginia will begin enforcing new data privacy statutes.

Businesses must stay on top of their data privacy compliance requirements. Otherwise, they can suffer. Many standards carry stiff penalties for a data breach. And if security was lacking, fines can be even higher.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) uses a sliding scale. Violators can be fined between $100 to $50,000 per breached record. The more negligent the company is, the higher the fine.

Does all that sound scary?

Don’t worry, we have some tips below for you. These can help you keep up with data privacy updates coming your way.

Steps for Staying On Top of Data Privacy Compliance

1. Identify the Regulations You Need to Follow

Does your organization have a list of the different data privacy rules it falls under? There could be regulations for:

  • Industry
  • Where you sell (e.g., if you sell to the EU)
  • Statewide
  • City or county
  • Federal (e.g., for government contractors)

Identify all the various data privacy regulations that you may be subject to. This helps ensure you’re not caught off guard by one you didn’t know about.

2. Stay Aware of Data Privacy Regulation Updates

Don’t get blindsided by a data privacy rule change. You can stay on top of any changes by signing up for updates on the appropriate website. Look for the official website for the compliance authority.

For example, if you are in the healthcare field you can sign up for HIPAA updates at HIPAA.gov. You should do this for each of the regulations your business falls under.

You should have updates sent to more than one person. Typically, your Security Officer or equal, and another responsible party. This ensures they don’t get missed if someone is on vacation.

3. Do an Annual Review of Your Data Security Standards

Companies are always evolving their technology. This doesn’t always mean a big enterprise transition. Sometimes you may add a new server or a new computer to the mix.

Any changes to your IT environment can mean falling out of compliance. A new employee mobile device added, but not properly protected is a problem. One new cloud tool an employee decides to use can also cause a compliance issue.

It’s important to do at least an annual review of your data security. Match that with your data privacy compliance requirements to make sure you’re still good.

4. Audit Your Security Policies and Procedures

Something else you should audit at least annually is your policies and procedures. These written documents that tell employees what’s expected from them. They also give direction when it comes to data privacy and how to handle a breach.

Audit your security policies annually. Additionally, audit them whenever there is a data privacy regulation update. You want to ensure that you’re encompassing any new changes to your requirements.

5. Update Your Technical, Physical & Administrative Safeguards As Needed

When you receive a notification that a data privacy update is coming, plan ahead. It’s best to comply before the rule kicks in, if possible.

Look at three areas of your IT security:

  • Technical safeguards – Systems, devices, software, etc.
  • Administrative safeguards – Policies, manuals, training, etc.
  • Physical safeguards – Doors, keypads, building security, etc.

6. Keep Employees Trained on Compliance and Data Privacy Policies

Employees should be aware of any changes to data privacy policies that impact them. When you receive news about an upcoming update, add this to your ongoing training.

Good cybersecurity practice is to conduct ongoing cybersecurity training for staff. This keeps their anti-breach skills sharp and reminds them of what’s expected.
Include updates they need to know about so they can be properly prepared.

Remember to always log your training activities. It’s a good idea to log the date, the employees educated, and the topic. This way, you have this documentation if you do suffer a breach at some point.

Get Help Ensuring Your Systems Meet Compliance Needs

Data privacy compliance can be complex. But you don’t have to figure it all out yourself. Our team is well-versed in compliance needs. Give us a call today to schedule a chat.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Windows 8.1 Just Lost All Support. Here’s What You Need to Know

Free Microsoft Notebook photo and picture

Companies both large and small share this one cybersecurity problem. They have computers that are still running older operating systems. Staff might use these devices only occasionally. Or the company may be running customized software that won’t run on newer OS versions.

The problem is that when the OS becomes outdated, the system is open to cyberattacks. When Microsoft or another developer retires an OS, it means that it is no longer supported. No more feature updates and no more security patches for newly found vulnerabilities.

The latest operating system to lose all support is Windows 8.1. Microsoft released the OS in 2013, and it was officially retired on January 10, 2023. Microsoft issued the following warning for companies:

“Continuing to use Windows 8.1 after January 10, 2023 may increase an organization’s exposure to security risks or impact its ability to meet compliance obligations.”

Here are a few facts you should know about what this retirement of Windows 8.1 means.

The OS Will Still Technically Work

When an operating system reaches its end of life, it doesn’t just stop working. Thus, many companies go on using it without realizing the security risk. Technically, the OS will work as it did the day before retirement. But it’s a lot less safe due to the loss of support.

Your System Will No Longer Receive Security Patches

Software and OS vulnerabilities are sought out and exploited all the time. This is what hackers do for a living. The vulnerability cycle usually begins with hackers finding a software “loophole.” They then write code to exploit it that allows them some type of system access.

The software developer learns of this, usually once hackers start breaching systems. They write code to fix that vulnerability. Developers then send the fix to users via an update that they install. This protects the device from one or more hacker exploits.

When an OS reaches its end of life, these fixes are no longer made. The developer has moved on to focus on its newer products. So, the vulnerability remains. It leaves a device vulnerable to hacks for days, months, or years afterward.

Approximately 61% of security vulnerabilities in corporate networks are over five years old.

Options for Upgrading

If you have a computer that is still running Windows 8.1, you have two options for upgrading. You can opt for Windows 10 or Windows 11. If the computer is running such an old OS, there is a chance your system may not meet the requirements for one or both. In this case, you may need to buy a new device altogether.

Microsoft states that there is no free option to upgrade from 8.1 to Windows 10 or 11. Some of the advantages you gain when upgrading include:

  • Better built-in security
  • Faster processing
  • Capability for more modern features (like facial recognition)
  • Improved accessibility features
  • Updated productivity tools (like snap layouts in Windows 11)

What Happens If I Don’t Upgrade?

Security & Compliance Issues

Your data security is at risk if you stay on Windows 8.1. Without any security updates, any vulnerabilities will stay unpatched. This leaves your system highly vulnerable to a breach. One hacked system on a network can also cause the breach or malware infection to spread to newer devices.

If you have to comply with a data privacy regulation, like HIPAA, you’ll also run into issues. Data privacy rules dictate making reasonable efforts to protect data. Using a device with an outdated OS jeopardizes meeting compliance.

Slowed Productivity

The older systems get, the slower they get. Staff that must work on outdated software often complain that it hurts productivity. 77% of surveyed employees were frustrated with outdated tech. Employees dealing with outmoded systems may also quit. They are 450% more likely to want to leave and work elsewhere.

An outdated operating system can hold your staff back. They miss out on modern time-saving features. They can also run into problems with bugs that will no longer get fixed.

Incompatibility With Newer Tools

Software and hardware developers aren’t looking back. Once Microsoft retires an OS, they aren’t prioritizing its compatibility. In fact, some may not want their product to be compatible with it because of the liability.

When you have issues using modern software and hardware it hurts your business. You become less competitive and begin to fall behind. Staying on an outmoded OS keeps you stuck in the past.

Get Help With Your Windows Upgrades

We can help you upgrade smoothly from an older Windows OS to a new one. If you need a new system, we can point you in the right direction for the best value. Give us a call today to schedule a chat about upgrades and where your security stands.


Featured Image Credit

This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.