These Technologies Can Help You Run Your Small Business Better

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Small businesses face many challenges, but technology can offer solutions. Digital tools can help small business owners simplify operations, increase efficiency, and enhance productivity.

There are many tools available, from innovative software to cutting-edge hardware. The right technology can give small business owners a competitive edge.

However, finding the best options can be daunting. Buying apps just because someone recommended them may not work for you. You need to identify your needs and optimize your solutions.

What are the main obstacles that SMBs encounter with cloud use? According to the 2023 State of the Cloud Report, they are cost management and security. The report also revealed that 47% of SMBs lacked resources and expertise.

We can assist you in selecting the best tech for growth and ROI. Let’s start by looking at some game-changing technologies. These tools can transform the way you run your small business.

Revolutionary Tech Tools for Small Business Owners

Searching for ways to streamline processes, improve communication, or elevate customer satisfaction? Look right here for a range of technology tools designed specifically for SMBs. These solutions possess the power to revolutionize your business’s triumph.

How Cloud Computing Enables Scalability and Flexibility

Microsoft Azure Flexibility And Scalability

Cloud computing enables businesses to store, access, and manage their data more efficiently. Small businesses can benefit from apps like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace, which offer enterprise-class features that were previously exclusive to large companies.

Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are examples of other cloud-based solutions. They offer scalable and flexible computing power to small business owners, who do not need to invest in expensive on-premises infrastructure.

Some of the advantages of cloud computing are:

  • Enhanced collaboration
  • Smooth data backup and recovery
  • Increased accessibility

These features allow you and your team to work from any location and at any time. You can use the cloud to run your entire office, including your phone system, document storage, accounting, customer management, and more. The cloud offers cost-efficient solutions for small businesses of all kinds.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software

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CRM software is essential for delivering outstanding customer service in today’s competitive market. CRM platforms such as Salesforce and HubSpot help you centralize customer data and track interactions more effectively. You can also manage customer relationships better with CRM software.

Spreadsheets have their limitations. They require a lot of manual work and are prone to errors. They also lack collaboration features and can cause miscommunication or missed opportunities.

CRM software can enhance your sales process, marketing campaigns and customer support. You can learn more about your customers’ needs and preferences and customize your offerings accordingly. This will boost customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Tools for Smooth and Effective Teamwork

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Small businesses need efficient collaboration, especially when their employees work in different locations or remotely. Collaboration tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Workspace enable this. They offer real-time communication, file sharing, and project management solutions.

These platforms unite teams and allow for smooth collaboration, effective task assignment, and streamlined workflows. The apps have features like chat, video conferencing, and document collaboration. These tools keep your team connected and productive, no matter where they are.

E-commerce Platforms for Online Sales

Small businesses can benefit from the growth of e-commerce. They can access more customers and generate more income. They can use platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce to build and run their online stores.

These platforms have everything a small business needs to succeed online. They have flexible designs, safe payment options, and easy inventory control. These features help small businesses create a strong online brand. They can offer products or services to customers anywhere.

Using Data Analytics to Make Better Decisions

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Data analytics tools are valuable for any business. They can provide insights that inform decision-making. Small business owners can use platforms like Google Analytics and Microsoft Power BI to collect, analyze, and visualize data from various sources.

With data analytics, you can track website traffic, customer behavior, and sales trends. You can also identify opportunities, optimize marketing strategies, and make data-driven decisions. Data insights can help you grow your business.

Data analytics gives small business owners the power to understand their target audience. It also helps them spot areas for improvement quickly. They can then make smarter business choices.

Ask Us About Our Cloud Support to Boost Your Bottom Line

Technology can transform your small business by making your processes faster, your customers happier, and your efficiency higher. But it can be hard to figure out how to use it effectively. You don’t have to do it by yourself.

Let us help.

Give us a call today to schedule a chat about optimizing your cloud efficiency and costs.


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These 5 Small Business Tech Trends Can Fuel Your Growth

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In today’s ever-evolving digital landscape, small businesses have more opportunities than ever. Many of these call for leveraging technology to their advantage. Embracing the right tech trends can help businesses compete. It enables them to streamline operations, enhance customer experiences, and fuel growth.

But it can be confusing knowing which routes to take. Most small businesses need to choose the route that is going to bring the biggest return.

Below, we’ll explore five small business tech trends. These trends have the potential to drive success. As well as propel your business forward in an increasingly competitive market.

1. Cloud Computing: Expanding Possibilities

Cloud computing has emerged as a game-changer for businesses of all sizes. And some believe small businesses are among the most benefitted. 82% of small to medium businesses report reduced costs after adopting cloud tools.

The cloud offers many benefits. It’s a cost-effective and scalable solution for data storage, software access, and collaboration. By migrating to the cloud, small businesses can save. They cut the need for on-premises infrastructure. This reduces maintenance costs and gives enhanced flexibility.

Also, cloud-based tools and platforms enable teams to work remotely. This can promote collaboration and improve productivity. Working in the cloud offers access to real-time data and apps from any location. This enables small businesses to make informed decisions faster. They can also respond to market changes with agility.

2. Artificial Intelligence: Automating Efficiency

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has revolutionized the way businesses operate. This year alone, ChatGPT has completely transformed many business apps. We cannot overstate AI’s potential benefits for small businesses.

AI-powered tools and algorithms can automate routine tasks. Such as data entry, customer service, and inventory management. This frees up valuable time for employees to focus on higher-value activities.

Chatbots, for instance, enable small businesses to provide 24/7 customer support. All without the need for more staff or paying overtime hours.

AI also empowers businesses to gain actionable insights from vast amounts of data. This helps them optimize processes, personalize marketing strategies, and enhance customer experiences.

Embracing AI technologies can give small businesses a competitive edge. It does this by boosting efficiency, reducing costs, and improving decision-making.

3. E-commerce and Mobile Commerce: Expanding Reach

The rise of e-commerce and mobile commerce has opened up new avenues for small businesses. They can now easily reach a global audience. Using websites and apps, companies can sell anywhere at any time.

It’s easier than ever to put up a secure payment gateway and take payments online. These “plug-and-play” e-commerce sites and apps can create a seamless user experience. This allows small businesses to build trust and encourage repeat purchases.

Businesses can easily understand customer preferences by leveraging data analytics. They can also optimize inventory management and personalize marketing campaigns.

By embracing e-commerce and mobile commerce, small businesses can grow quickly. They can extend their reach beyond geographical boundaries. As well as tap into new markets, thereby fueling growth opportunities.

4. Data Security: Safeguarding Trust

As businesses increasingly rely on digital technologies, data security becomes paramount. Small businesses are just as vulnerable to cyber threats as larger enterprises. This makes it essential to prioritize data security measures.

46% of all data breaches impact businesses with less than 1,000 employees.

It’s important to put robust cybersecurity practices in place. This includes things like:

  • Encryption
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Regular data backups
  • Endpoint protection
  • Identity and access management
  • Advanced threat protection

Additionally, two more tactics to proactively manage risks include:

  • Staying informed about emerging threats
  • Investing in employee training

Customers value businesses that focus on their data security. A strong security posture can instill trust and confidence. This leads to long-term customer loyalty and positive brand reputation.

5. Automation and Workflow Integration: Streamlining Operations

Automating business processes can significantly streamline operations. When small businesses integrate workflows they save time and money. Workflow automation eliminates repetitive manual tasks. It also reduces human error and enhances efficiency.

Think about integrating various systems and applications. Such as customer relationship management (CRM), project management, and accounting software. Integration can end silos and ensure seamless information flow across different departments.

Other benefits include:

  • Enabling better coordination
  • Fostering collaboration
  • Optimizing resource allocation
  • Improving productivity
  • Enhancing customer satisfaction

Small businesses that leverage automation and workflow integration gain a competitive advantage. They operate more efficiently and deliver superior experiences to their customers.

Take an Important Step Toward Digital Growth

In today’s digital era, small businesses have a ton of tech tools and trends at their disposal. But it takes guidance to know what to do and how to do it.

While embracing cloud computing, AI, e-commerce, data security, and automation can help. To stay competitive small businesses need a clear and affordable path. One that makes sense for their business goals.

We can be your digital transformation guide.

Give us a call today to schedule a chat about tech solutions to fuel your growth.


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

Have You Tried Microsoft Universal Print? (Learn What It Can Do for You)

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In today’s digital workplace, printing remains an essential function. This is true for just about all businesses. But keeping up with your print infrastructure can be a time-consuming task. One printer down can mean work comes to a standstill.

Another issue is keeping up with all those printer drivers. If firmware updates aren’t done, vulnerabilities exist. One unprotected printer can cause an entire network malware infection.

Microsoft has come up with an answer to streamline print management. This solution is called Microsoft Universal Print. It offers a modern answer to age-old print problems.

Looking to improve how you handle document printing? Do you wish you could avoid printer problems? Below, we’ll explore the benefits and features of Microsoft Universal Print. We’ll also help you discover how it can enhance your printing environment.

What Can Microsoft Universal Print Do for You?

Microsoft Universal Print leverages the power of Microsoft 365 and Azure. It eliminates the need for complex on-premises print infrastructure. Here are some of the ways that it can improve your document handling.

Simplifying Print Management

Microsoft Universal Print eliminates the need for on-premises print servers. Print management becomes more simplified and all in one place. Organizations can centrally manage their printing needs from the cloud.

This ease of use removes the need for complex print server configurations. As well as driver installations and print queue management. This results in significant time and cost savings.

Seamless Integration with Microsoft 365

A key advantage of Universal Print is its seamless integration with Microsoft 365. It works in tandem with Azure Active Directory. This ensures a secure and authenticated printing experience for users.

This integration allows users to print from any device, whether it’s a Windows PC, Mac, or mobile device. There’s no need for complex setup or driver installations. It simplifies the printing process. It also enhances productivity for employees working across different platforms.

Flexibility and Scalability

With Microsoft Universal Print, organizations gain flexibility and scalability in their print activities. It supports both modern and legacy printers. This allows businesses to leverage their existing printer fleet.

Universal Print enables easy connectivity. This is true whether it’s a local printer or a network printer. As well as management through the cloud. Additionally, it offers centralized control and monitoring of printers. This makes it effortless to scale up or down based on business needs.

Streamlined Printer Deployment

Deploying printers across an organization can be a time-consuming task. Microsoft Universal Print simplifies this process. It does this by providing a centralized portal for printer management.

Administrators can easily add and configure printers. They can assign them to specific users or groups. As well as manage printer settings from a single interface. This eliminates the need for manual configuration on individual devices. Which can be very time-consuming and fraught with issues. It also ensures a consistent printing experience across the organization.

Enhanced Security and Compliance

A big benefit of using Microsoft Universal Print is its security capabilities. Print security is a critical concern for businesses, especially in today’s threat landscape. Microsoft Universal Print enhances security by leveraging Azure Active Directory. It’s used for authentication and access control.

It also supports secure print release. This means that sensitive documents are only printed under certain circumstances. Namely, when the authorized user is physically present at the printer.

Moreover, Universal Print integrates with Microsoft Endpoint Manager. This gives organizations even more capabilities. They can enforce security policies and manage print-related settings from a centralized location.

Insights and Analytics

Understanding print usage and optimizing print infrastructure is essential for efficient cost management. Microsoft Universal Print provides insights and analytics that help organizations gain visibility. They’re able to see print usage patterns. As well as track printing costs and identify opportunities for optimization.

With detailed reporting and analytics, businesses can make informed decisions. Reporting enables better print resource allocation. As well as the implementation of strategies to reduce printing costs.

Is Microsoft Universal Print for You?

Microsoft Universal Print offers a modern and efficient approach to print management. It streamlines the printing experience for organizations. It also eliminates the need for complex on-premises print infrastructure. There are also important benefits from the boost in security.

But is it for you?

We can help you understand the full capabilities of Microsoft Universal Print. Including the costs versus the benefits. Whether the solution is for you will depend on your printing needs. Extra factors to consider will be how often you print and your number of endpoints.

Get Cost-Efficient Technology Answers

It’s not easy to make software decisions on your own. That’s why we’re here to help! We can sit down with you to discuss your current infrastructure. We’ll help you evaluate solutions, like Microsoft Universal Print. Then, we’ll tell you straight up what makes the most sense for you.

Give us a call today to chat about your technology needs.


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

Do You Still Believe in These Common Tech Myths?

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In today’s digital age, technology plays a significant role in our lives. But along with the rapid advancements and innovations, several myths have persisted.

Is it okay to leave your smartphone charging overnight? Do Macs get viruses? And what about those 5G towers? What’s going on with those?

Common tech myths can often lead to misunderstandings. They can even hinder your ability to fully use various tools and devices. In this blog post, we will debunk some of the most common tech myths that continue to circulate. We’ll also explore the truth behind them.

Myth 1: Leaving your device plugged in overnight damages the battery.

First is one of the most persistent tech myths. Leaving your device plugged in overnight will harm the battery life. But this myth is largely outdated.

Modern smartphones, laptops, and other devices have advanced battery management systems. These systems prevent overcharging.

Once your device reaches its maximum charge capacity, it automatically stops charging. This is true even if it remains connected to the power source. In fact, it is often recommended to keep your device plugged in overnight to ensure a full charge by morning.

So, feel free to charge your gadgets overnight without worrying about battery damage.

Myth 2: Incognito mode ensures complete anonymity.

Many users believe that using incognito mode in web browsers guarantees complete anonymity. They feel completely secure while surfing the internet using this mode. But this is not entirely accurate. While incognito mode does provide some privacy benefits, they’re limited.

For example, it mainly prevents your device from saving the following items:

  • Browsing history
  • Cookies
  • Temporary files

However, it does not hide your activities from your internet service provider (ISP). Nor from the websites you visit. ISPs and websites can still track your IP address. They can also still watch your online behavior and collect data.

Do you truly want to remain anonymous online? Then consider using a virtual private network (VPN). Or other specialized tools that provide enhanced privacy protection.

Myth 3: Macs are immune to viruses.

Another prevalent myth is that Mac computers are impervious to viruses and malware. It is true that Macs have historically been less prone to such threats compared to Windows PCs. This does not make them immune.

Some people that tout this myth point to malware statistics. For example, in 2022, 54% of all malware infections happened in Windows systems. Just 6.2% of them happened in macOS.

But you also need to factor in operating system (OS) market share. As of January 2023, Windows had about 74% of the desktop OS share. Mac’s OS had just 15%.

When you consider this, it turns out the systems aren’t that different when it comes to virus and malware risk. The infection rate per user on Macs is 0.075. This is slightly higher than on Windows, at 0.074. So, both systems have a pretty even risk of infection. This is the case even though Macs have a significantly lower infection count.

As the popularity of Macs has grown, so has the interest of hackers in targeting these devices. Malicious software specifically designed for Macs does exist. Users should take proper precautions, no matter the operating system in use.

You need to install reliable antivirus software. As well as keeping the operating system and applications up to date. Exercise caution when downloading files or clicking on suspicious links. Being aware of potential security risks and practicing safe browsing habits is crucial. This is true for Mac users, just as it is for any other platform.

Myth 4: More megapixels mean better image quality.

When it comes to smartphone cameras, savvy marketing sometimes leads to myths. Many people believe that more megapixels equal better image quality. This is a common misconception.

Megapixels are an essential factor in determining the resolution of an image. But they are not the sole indicator of image quality. Other factors play a significant role. Such as:

  • The size of individual pixels
  • Lens quality
  • Image processing algorithms
  • Low-light performance

A camera with a higher megapixel count may produce larger images. But it does not guarantee superior clarity, color accuracy, or dynamic range.

Manufacturers often strike a balance between pixel count and other image processing technologies. They do this to achieve optimal results. When choosing a smartphone or any camera, consider the complete camera system. Don’t only focus on the megapixel count.

Separate Fact from Fiction

In a world where technology is an integral part of our lives, you must separate fact from fiction. Debunking common tech myths can empower you to make informed decisions. It can also maximize the potential of your digital experiences. An understanding of the truth behind these myths helps you use technology more effectively. It can also help you better protect your privacy.

Get the Technology Facts from a Trusted Pro

Whether you need help with an infected PC or setting up a corporate network, we’re here for you. We cut through the tech myths to bring you reliable and efficient service.

Give us a call today to chat about your technology goals and challenges.


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Learn How Microsoft 365 Copilot Is Going to Transform M365 Apps

Advanced AI is a new buzzword in cloud computing. The launch of tools like ChatGPT and Bard have made big waves. Developers are now racing to introduce the next level of features to apps. Features that do part of your work for you. Such as writing emails or making follow-up checklists based on contact data.

These AI-based applications do much more than automate processes. People are using them to write business correspondence, create websites, and write scripts. AI is also quickly transforming the everyday office workflow.

Microsoft is one of the biggest players in the office application field. It’s at the forefront of introducing transformative technology. The company is about to transform Microsoft 365 in a huge way with its new Copilot tool.

Microsoft 365 Copilot is a new tool designed to help users get the most out of their Microsoft 365 apps. This revolutionary tool is an intelligent, personalized assistant. It’s designed to help users navigate and use M365 more efficiently.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Microsoft 365 Copilot. And tell you the key ways it’s going to improve M365 apps and your business workflows.

What is Microsoft 365 Copilot?

Microsoft 365 Copilot is an AI-powered assistant. It helps users with their day-to-day tasks in M365 apps. It’s like having a personal assistant right in your Office apps. Users can ask questions, get help with tasks, and receive personalized recommendations. Copilot responds leveraging the context of their usage patterns.

Microsoft 365 Copilot works across all M365 apps. This includes:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Outlook
  • Teams
  • and more

Whether you’re doing any number of tasks, Microsoft 365 Copilot is there to assist you. This includes working on a document, meeting scheduling, or collaborating with a team.

How Does Microsoft 365 Copilot Work?

Microsoft 365 Copilot uses AI and machine learning to understand users’ needs. It provides personalized help. It uses data from users’ interactions with M365 apps. It learns a user’s usage patterns and offers recommendations based on their preferences.

For example, say you frequently use certain features in Excel. Microsoft 365 Copilot will learn this. It will offer suggestions when it detects that you’re working on a similar task.

Say that you’re working on a presentation in PowerPoint and struggling with design. Microsoft 365 Copilot can offer design suggestions based on your company’s brand guidelines.

Microsoft 365 Copilot can also help users with common tasks. Tasks such as, scheduling meetings and managing emails. Users can simply ask Copilot for help. They can ask it to schedule a meeting or find an email from a specific person, and Copilot will take care of the rest.

Why is Microsoft Copilot Important?

Copilot is important because it can help users be more productive and efficient. By providing personalized support, the tool can save users time and reduce frustration.

Imagine you’re working on a report in Word and you’re struggling to format a table. Instead of spending time searching for a solution online. Or trying to figure it out on your own, you can simply ask Microsoft 365 Copilot for help. Copilot can offer suggestions. It can even walk you through the process, saving you time and reducing frustration.

Microsoft 365 Copilot is also important because it can help users get more out of their M365 apps. Many users may not be aware of all the features and capabilities of their M365 apps. But with Copilot, they can discover new ways to work more efficiently and effectively.

The capabilities of Copilot go even further. Say that you need to give your team an update on a marketing strategy. You won’t need to dig out emails, chat threads, or meeting notes. Instead, you can ask Copilot to “tell my team how we updated the marketing strategy.” The app will then search all those places for you and craft an update for your team.

Need a first draft of a meeting agenda or presentation? Just ask Copilot. It can access existing M365 documents and content and craft an initial draft for you.

Benefits of Using Microsoft 365 Copilot

Personalized Help

Microsoft 365 Copilot provides personalized help based on users’ usage patterns and preferences. This means that users get the help they need when they need it, without having to search for solutions on their own.

Time-Saving

Microsoft 365 Copilot can help users save time on common tasks. Such as scheduling meetings and formatting documents. It can take on many information gathering tasks, like summarizing meeting notes. This saves users considerable time. Especially for manual tasks such as searching for information.

Knowledge workers spend an average of 2.5 hours per day searching for information.

Reduced Frustration

Microsoft 365 Copilot can help reduce frustration. It provides solutions when users are stuck on a task. The tool can also help users struggling with an Excel chart or table. Instead of having to figure out how to generate it, they can simply give a command to Copilot to do it for them.

Improved Productivity

Microsoft Copilot handles tasks that go beyond what business apps have historically done. For example, you can use it in PowerPoint to create a presentation for you. Use a command such as, “Create a six-slide presentation based on (this) document.” You can also tell it to find appropriate Microsoft stock photos and insert them.

The sky is the limit right now for how much this tool is going to impact office productivity.

When Will Microsoft 365 Copilot Be Available?

At the writing of this article, Microsoft hasn’t announced a release date yet. It is currently testing Copilot with a limited number of users. You will most likely see it coming out sometime soon.

Improve Your Microsoft 365 Value & Security

Need help with security or setup in Microsoft 365? Give us a call today to talk to one of our cloud app experts.


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Business Email Compromise Jumped 81% Last Year! Learn How to Fight It

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In recent years, electronic mail (email for short) has become an essential part of our daily lives. Many people use it for various purposes, including business transactions. With the increasing dependence on digital technology, cybercrime has grown. A significant cyber threat facing businesses today is Business Email Compromise (BEC).

Why is it important to pay particular attention to BEC attacks? Because they’ve been on the rise. BEC attacks jumped 81% in 2022, and as many as 98% of employees fail to report the threat.

What is Business Email Compromise (BEC)?

Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a type of scam in which criminals use email fraud to target victims. These victims include both businesses and individuals. They especially target those who perform wire transfer payments.

The scammer pretends to be a high-level executive or business partner. Scammers send emails to employees, customers, or vendors. These emails request them to make payments or transfer funds in some form.

According to the FBI, BEC scams cost businesses around $1.8 billion in 2020. That figure increased to $2.4 billion in 2021. These scams can cause severe financial damage to businesses and individuals. They can also harm their reputations.

How Does BEC Work?

BEC attacks are usually well-crafted and sophisticated, making it difficult to identify them. The attacker first researches the target organization and its employees. They gain knowledge about the company’s operations, suppliers, customers, and business partners.

Much of this information is freely available online. Scammers can find it on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and organizations’ websites. Once the attacker has enough information, they can craft a convincing email. It’s designed to appear to come from a high-level executive or a business partner.

The email will request the recipient to make a payment or transfer funds. It usually emphasizes the request being for an urgent and confidential matter. For example, a new business opportunity, a vendor payment, or a foreign tax payment.

The email will often contain a sense of urgency, compelling the recipient to act quickly. The attacker may also use social engineering tactics. Such as posing as a trusted contact or creating a fake website that mimics the company’s site. These tactics make the email seem more legitimate.

If the recipient falls for the scam and makes the payment, the attacker will make off with the funds. In their wake, they leave the victim with financial losses.

How to Fight Business Email Compromise

BEC scams can be challenging to prevent. But there are measures businesses and individuals can take to cut the risk of falling victim to them.

Educate Employees

Organizations should educate their employees about the risks of BEC. This includes providing training on how to identify and avoid these scams. Employees should be aware of the tactics used by scammers. For example, urgent requests, social engineering, and fake websites.

Training should also include email account security, including:

  • Checking their sent folder regularly for any strange messages
  • Using a strong email password with at least 12 characters
  • Changing their email password regularly
  • Storing their email password in a secure manner
  • Notifying an IT contact if they suspect a phishing email

Enable Email Authentication

Organizations should implement email authentication protocols.

This includes:

  • Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC)
  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
  • DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)

These protocols help verify the authenticity of the sender’s email address. They also reduce the risk of email spoofing. Another benefit is to keep your emails from ending up in junk mail folders.

Deploy a Payment Verification Processes

Organizations should deploy payment verification processes, such as two-factor authentication. Another protocol is confirmation from multiple parties. This ensures that all wire transfer requests are legitimate. It’s always better to have more than one person verify a financial payment request.

Check Financial Transactions

Organizations should check all financial transactions. Look for irregularities, such as unexpected wire transfers or changes in payment instructions.

If you don’t perform these according to a schedule, it is easy for them to get forgotten. Set up a calendar item for the review of financial transactions. Use a schedule that makes sense for your business and transaction volume.

Establish a Response Plan

Organizations should establish a response plan for BEC incidents. This includes procedures for reporting the incident. As well as freezing the transfer and notifying law enforcement.

Use Anti-phishing Software

Businesses and individuals can use anti-phishing software to detect and block fraudulent emails. As AI and machine learning gain widespread use, these tools become more effective.

The use of AI in phishing technology continues to increase. Businesses must be vigilant and take steps to protect themselves.

Need Help with Email Security Solutions?

It only takes a moment for money to leave your account and be unrecoverable. Don’t leave your business emails unprotected. Give us a call today to discuss our email security solutions.


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What Is Push-Bombing & How Can You Prevent It?

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Cloud account takeover has become a major problem for organizations. Think about how much work your company does that requires a username and password. Employees end up having to log into many different systems or cloud apps.

Hackers use various methods to get those login credentials. The goal is to gain access to business data as a user. As well as launch sophisticated attacks, and send insider phishing emails.

How bad has the problem of account breaches become? Between 2019 and 2021, account takeover (ATO) rose by 307%.

Doesn’t Multi-Factor Authentication Stop Credential Breaches?

Many organizations and individuals use multi-factor authentication (MFA). It’s a way to stop attackers that have gained access to their usernames and passwords. MFA is very effective at protecting cloud accounts and has been for many years.

But it’s that effectiveness that has spurred workarounds by hackers. One of these nefarious ways to get around MFA is push-bombing.

How Does Push-Bombing Work?

When a user enables MFA on an account, they typically receive a code or authorization prompt of some type. The user enters their login credentials. Then the system sends an authorization request to the user to complete their login.

The MFA code or approval request will usually come through some type of “push” message. Users can receive it in a few ways:

  • SMS/text
  • A device popup
  • An app notification

Receiving that notification is a normal part of the multi-factor authentication login. It’s something the user would be familiar with.

With push-bombing, hackers start with the user’s credentials. They may get them through phishing or from a large data breach password dump.

They take advantage of that push notification process. Hackers attempt to log in many times. This sends the legitimate user several push notifications, one after the other.

Many people question the receipt of an unexpected code that they didn’t request. But when someone is bombarded with these, it can be easy to mistakenly click to approve access.

Push-bombing is a form of social engineering attack designed to:

  • Confuse the user
  • Wear the user down
  • Trick the user into approving the MFA request to give the hacker access

Ways to Combat Push-Bombing at Your Organization

Educate Employees

Knowledge is power. When a user experiences a push-bombing attack it can be disruptive and confusing. If employees have education beforehand, they’ll be better prepared to defend themselves.

Let employees know what push-bombing is and how it works. Provide them with training on what to do if they receive MFA notifications they didn’t request.

You should also give your staff a way to report these attacks. This enables your IT security team to alert other users. They can then also take steps to secure everyone’s login credentials.

Reduce Business App “Sprawl”

On average, employees use 36 different cloud-based services per day. That’s a lot of logins to keep up with. The more logins someone has to use, the greater the risk of a stolen password.

Take a look at how many applications your company uses. Look for ways to reduce app “sprawl” by consolidating. Platforms like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace offer many tools behind one login. Streamlining your cloud environment improves security and productivity.

Adopt Phishing-Resistant MFA Solutions

You can thwart push-bombing attacks altogether by moving to a different form of MFA. Phishing-resistant MFA uses a device passkey or physical security key for authentication.

There is no push notification to approve with this type of authentication. This solution is more complex to set up, but it’s also more secure than text or app-based MFA.

Enforce Strong Password Policies

For hackers to send several push-notifications, they need to have the user’s login. Enforcing strong password policies reduces the chance that a password will get breached.

Standard practices for strong password policies include:

  • Using at least one upper and one lower-case letter
  • Using a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols
  • Not using personal information to create a password
  • Storing passwords securely
  • Not reusing passwords across several accounts

Put in Place an Advanced Identity Management Solution

Advanced identity management solutions can also help you prevent push-bombing attacks. They will typically combine all logins through a single sign-on solution. Users, then have just one login and MFA prompt to manage, rather than several.

Additionally, businesses can use identity management solutions to install contextual login policies. These enable a higher level of security by adding access enforcement flexibility. The system could automatically block login attempts outside a desired geographic area. It could also block logins during certain times or when other contextual factors aren’t met.

Do You Need Help Improving Your Identity & Access Security?

Multi-factor authentication alone isn’t enough. Companies need several layers of protection to reduce their risk of a cloud breach.

Are you looking for some help to reinforce your access security? Give us a call today to schedule a chat.


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

How to Create Insightful Dashboards in Microsoft Power BI

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Data visualization is a powerful tool for communicating complex data. It presents it in a simple, easily understandable format. But it is not enough to simply create a graph or chart and call it a day. To truly make use of information, it is important to create insightful reports. Reports that effectively communicate the story behind the data.

Insightful reports help decision-makers understand key trends and patterns. As well as identify areas of opportunity and make informed decisions. If analytics graphs and bar charts are only telling part of the story, it can lead people to wrong decisions.

Creating holistic and insightful reports requires the use of several data points. One tool that enables this is Microsoft Power BI.

What Is Microsoft Power BI?

Microsoft Power BI is a business intelligence tool. It allows you to connect many data sources to one dashboard. Using Power BI, you can easily model and visualize data holistically.

The platform has over 500 different data connectors. These connectors can tap into sources such as Salesforce, Excel, Azure, and more. Users can leverage pre-built report templates to save time in creating data-rich reporting. Teams can also collaborate and share dashboards virtually.

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Tips for Designing Great Data Visualization Reports

Getting started in Microsoft Power BI entails:

  • Signing up for the software
  • Connecting your data sources
  • Using its tools to create report visualizations

But creating great reports goes beyond that. Below, we’ll go through several tips and best practices for getting the most out of your Power BI output.

Consider Your Audience

You should design reporting dashboards with the end user in mind. What is it that this audience wants to see? Are they looking for bottom-line sales numbers? Or do they want to cover insights that can help target productivity gaps?

The use of clear and concise language and effective visualizations are important. These help to highlight the key takeaways from the data. Customize reports to the audience’s level of technical expertise and business goals.

Don’t Overcomplicate Things

Many times, less is more. If you find that your dashboard looks crowded, you may be adding too many reports. The more you add, the more difficult it is to read the takeaways from the data.

Remove all but the most essential reports. Look for ways to include different data sets in a single report, such as using stacked bar charts. Dashboards should show important data at a glance, so do your best to avoid the need to scroll.

Try Out Different Chart Types

Experiment with presenting your data in different ways. Flip between bar, pie, and other types of charts to find the one that tells the story the best. When building a new dashboard for your organization, get some input. Ask those who will review the reports which chart type works best for them.

Get to Know Power Query

Power Query is a data preparation engine. It can save you a lot of time in developing insightful reports. This engine is used in Microsoft tools like Power BI and Excel.

Take time to learn how to leverage this tool for help with:

  • Connecting a wide range of data sources to the dashboard
  • Previewing data queries
  • Building intuitive queries over many data sources
  • Defining data size, variety, and velocity

Build Maps with Hints to Bing

Bing and Power BI integrate, allowing you to leverage default map coordinates. Use best practices to leverage the mapping power of Bing to improve your geo-coding.

For example, if you want to plot cities on a map, name your columns after the geographic designation. This helps Bing identify exactly what you’re looking for.

Tell People What They Are Looking At

A typical comment heard often when presenting executives with a new report is, “What am I looking at?” Tell your audience what the data means by using features like tooltips and text boxes to add context.

Just one or two sentences can save someone 5-10 minutes of trying to figure out why you gave them this report. That context can get them to a decision faster. It also helps avoid any confusion or misunderstandings about the data.

Use Emphasis Tricks

People usually read left to right and from top to bottom. So put your most important chart at the top, left corner. Follow, with the next most important reports.

If you have specific numbers that need to stand out, increase the font size or bold the text. This ensures that your audience understands the key takeaways.

Use can also use colors to emphasize things like a “High, Mid, Low.” For example, a low level of accidents could be green, a mid-level in yellow, and a high colored red. This provides more visual context to the data.

Need Help with Power Bi or Other Microsoft Products?

We can help you get started or improve your use of Microsoft 365, Power BI, and more. Give us a call today to schedule a chat about leveraging this powerful platform.


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

7 Smart Ways to Secure Your Wireless Printer & Keep Your Home Network Safe

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Many people worry about someone hacking their computer. But they’re not really thinking about their wireless printer getting breached. It’s a tool that most individuals use sporadically. For example, when you want to print out tax forms or mailing labels.

Printers tend to be out of sight, out of mind. That is until you need to print something and run out of ink. Well, they’re not out of the mind of hackers. In fact, unsecured printers are a classic way for criminals to gain access to a home network.

To illustrate this point, Cybernews purposely hacked printers. It hijacked nearly 28,000 unsecured printers globally. The success rate was 56%. What did it do once it gained access? Ironically, it made the printers print out a guide on printer security.

Are you wondering how exposed your network is from your printer? We’ve got some security tips below to help. These tips can enable you to better secure your network, which keeps data on all devices more secure.

1. Change the Default Login Credentials

When you buy a new printer, it will likely have included default information. Manufacturers give you a way to connect and set up your device. This usually involves default login information.

Immediately change that information during set up. Hackers use a master list of all these defaults. They plug it into an automated script and just keep trying them all until they get a hit. Change these, and make sure you create a strong password.

2. Keep Printer Firmware Updated

Keeping firmware updated is vital to keeping your printer secure. Hardware needs updating just like computers, software, and apps do. Those updates often contain important security patches.

Firmware updates aren’t usually as visible as software updates. Software and OS updates usually give you a popup notification. But updates to the drivers and firmware that run printers, aren’t so visible.

Some of the places you can check for firmware updates are:

  • The PC manufacturer’s utility app on a connected device
  • The printer’s information panel
  • The printer manufacturer’s app installed on a PC

3. Use a Network Firewall

A network firewall is important to ensure the monitoring of traffic. Firewalls can block suspicious activity to keep hackers out of your network. You should configure the firewall to watch incoming and outgoing printer traffic.

4. Put Your Printer on a Guest Network

Most of today’s home routers allow you to set up a guest network. This is a separate Wi-Fi that runs from the same router you use for your main network. It’s harder for hackers to get from one network to another.

Keeping a less secure device separated from computers and phones improves security. You can still print to your printer from devices on another network. You just need to have things configured correctly. If you need help with that, just let us know.

5. Disable Unused Ports or Services

IoT devices, like printers, often have many ways to connect. You may not need all the ports or services that come with your printer. These ports are risk areas where hackers could find a way in.

It’s best to disable any ports and sharing features that you don’t need. This reduces the risk of a breach.

6. Unplug It When Not in Use

Most home printers aren’t used as much as work printers. People may only use them once a month or a few times a year. If you’re not using your printer constantly, unplug it when not in use.

One surefire way to cut off a hacker’s access is to unplug the device. When it’s shut down, no access is available at all.

7. Teach Your Family Cybersecurity Best Practices

Your printer is one device on your network. Most families connect several devices to their home Wi-Fi. In 2022, the average number of connected devices per U.S. household was 22.

Families need to know and adopt good cyber habits. This keeps everyone’s data more secure. It also helps you avoid costly identity theft breaches. Or the takeover of things like baby monitors.

Some standard best practices to follow for good cyber hygiene are:

  • Always use strong passwords. (at least 10-12 characters & include a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols)
  • Keep software & firmware on devices updated
  • Use multi-factor authentication wherever possible
  • Enable device firewalls & other protections
  • All devices that should have a good antivirus installed
  • Never login to an account from a link you receive via email or text
  • Learn how to identify phishing & get a second opinion before clicking
  • Get a security checkup from a pro at least every year or two

Get Some Help Keeping Your Family’s Data Secure

IT pros don’t only work with businesses. We also help families ensure their data is safe & devices are running smoothly. Give us a call today to schedule a home security checkup.


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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.