Can you outsmart a Phishing scam?

September 28, 2016

You might be asking yourself what is a Phishing scam? A Phishing scam (and that is spelled right) is an attempt by scammers to trick you into giving out personal information such as your passwords, bank account information, birthday, social security numbers and more.
Here we have a short but quite educational quiz that will help you better spot these types of scam attempts and avoid them. Do you think you have what it takes to avoid a phishing attack? Click hereto take our 5 minute quiz and find out!

How much data can you afford to lose?

September 28, 2016

The challenges that small businesses deal with never end and for the small number of employees who have to take on these tasks, it can quickly get overwhelming. No wonder many small businesses have all but ignored the important task of developing a disaster recovery plan, which involves understanding the risks of the disasters that small businesses face, figuring out how to mitigate the risk, and implementing a business continuity solution to minimize downtime.
Importantly, the disasters that cause small organizations the most damage are the ones that many business owners may not consider to be all that common, such as hardware failure and power outages. Here we will address common disasters that small businesses face, so that business owners have a sense of perspective when considering a disaster recovery strategy.
1. Hardware failure

One of the most disruptive disasters that can strike a small business at any time is hardware failure. Whether it is a clicking hard drive in an email server or a fried motherboard inside a server, any kind of hardware failure can result in the inability to access critical data. Possibly the worst aspect of hardware failure is that it is inevitable, yet completely unpredictable.

2. Software corruption
 Permanent corruption of server data, such as corruption of the server’s operating system or damage to business critical applications that run on the server, could lead to significant downtime. Even the most sophisticated storage apparatuses are not immune to software corruption. A study by CERN, the world’s largest particle physics lab, revealed software corruption in 1 out of every 1,500 files. Software corruption could severely disrupt small businesses that do not have a backup or disaster recovery solution in place.
3. Cyber-attacks

Viruses, worms, Trojans – any and all forms of malware can wreak serious havoc on small businesses. According to the National Small Business Association’s Year-End 2014 report, 1 out of every 2 small businesses reported being the victim of a cyber-attack, with the average cost of each cyber-attack exceeding $20,000. The consequences stemming from cyber-attacks – such as data theft, data corruption, and permanent data deletion – can seriously affect businesses and their customers. Though using a firewall and security software is an important first step, having a continuity strategy in place in case cyber-attacks get through to a company’s systems is crucial.

4. Power outages

Blackouts, power shortages, and other power-related issues are not as uncommon as you may think. In fact, a 2014 survey by power management firm Eaton Electrical revealed that 37% of IT professionals had dealt with “unplanned downtime due to power-related issues in the last 24 months,” with 32% of outages lasting longer than four hours. Even more concerning are the high costs of downtime. According to a May 2013 survey by research firm Aberdeen Group, the average cost of downtime for small companies was a whopping $8,581 per hour. Electrical issues are real – and they are costly.

5. Natural or site-wide disasters
Natural disasters, including tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes, can cripple small businesses. Even more threatening are fires, floods, and other common catastrophes that can occur regardless of a particular geographic location’s propensity toward certain natural disasters. Since these disasters almost always lead to site-wide damage, small businesses with only one or two locations are especially vulnerable. No amount of money spent can prevent site-wide and natural disasters from occurring. The only recourse for businesses affected by these calamities is to get back up and running as soon as possible after they happen.
We at Emerson Tech know how devastating downtime can be for your business. A business continuity strategy gives your business fast and complete recovery options in the event of an outage or disaster so that your business can stay productive.
As your trusted IT service provider, we promise to work with you to minimize the risks and costs of downtime. Call us to learn how we can improve your backup and disaster recovery strategy. contact us at 651-454-7729 or email help@emersontech.net

Emerson Tech’s Business Grade File Sync

June 30, 2016

As some may know, just because something is good for personal use or for one employee does not mean it is good for your business as a whole.
If employees are using consumer-grade sync services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive, your business is at risk of data theft, data loss, corrupted data, lawsuits, compliance violations, loss of accountability, and loss of file access.
Emerson Sync provides an easy way for your business to share and sync important data across multiple platforms, while keeping security a top priority.
  1. Access files from anywhere
    Keep all of your files with you wherever you go. Emerson Sync updates and protects your work. Users can access their files from their laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
  2. Collaborate with ease
    Emerson Sync empowers users to collaborate on files using Team Shares. Anytime a file changes on a Team Share, everyone will have access to the most up-to-date version.
  3. Share files securely
    With one click of the mouse, users can share files, set  expiration dates, track downloads, receive notifications, and  send messages.
  4. Control your data
    Emerson Sync tracks all user activity, including additions,  deletions, and changes, making it easy to download and  restore any deleted files and previous versions.
  5. Eliminate FTP and VPN 
    Emerson Sync allows business to cloud-enable their file  server, minimizing dependence on FTP and VPN. No more  cumbersome technologies.
As your trusted IT service provider, we promise to work with you to minimize these risks and support your file access needs: Emerson Sync is the only cloud file sync service that we stand behind and guarantee. Discover how file access can be easy, safe, and secure.
Sign up for a free 21 day trial of Emerson Sync
To discuss your network integrity contact Emerson Technologies at 651-454-7729 or email help@emersontech.net

Go Paperless More

May 19, 2016

We’ve all been using electronic calendars and contacts for quite some time.  But there are many other areas in your business where you could operate more efficiently by using electronic media instead of traditional paper.  Here are a few examples.
  • Timecards.  Instead of the traditional punched time card, electronic time cards don’t need to be punched.  And when someone forgets to punch out, they don’t need to call back to the shop – they can pull up their time card on their home computer or smart phone.  Electronic time cards can hold much more information – not just times in and out, but times that can be billed to a specific client or activity.  From an administrator’s perspective, electronic time cards can feed directly into your billing system, making it easier to generate invoices.  There are a number of excellent programs for electronic time cards.  Contact Emerson Technologies to find out which is right for your organization.
  • Documentation.  Twenty years ago offices had rows of thick manuals. Ten years ago people were using PDF files for documentation. Now imagine your own wiki or knowledge base, much like those you draw from when you do an Internet search. This runs as a web site – something you can access from any computer, tablet or smartphone on the Internet. When one person makes a change, everyone else sees it right away. This works well for internal processes, client specific processes, or anything that is to be referenced more than once. And access can be tailored for each individual. Let us chat so we can find the best solution for your use.
  • Notes. Do you still walk into meetings with writing utensils and paper? We’ve all had the problem of loosing the scrap of paper we wrote a note on. When taking notes electronically they can be accessible on all your devices – work laptop, home computer, tablet and smartphone. Copying and pasting your notes to give to someone else is trivial. Depending on the program you use to take notes you can even share a notebook with someone, such as people in your department, to ensure everyone is on the same page.
This is just a few examples of the benefits to taking the next step into a paperless mode. There are certainly many others and more are coming all the time!

Beware of Ransom-ware!

May 19, 2016

This past winter, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in California was hit with malicious software encrypting patient files for roughly $17,000. After speaking with tech professionals they decided it was in their best interest to PAY the ransom.
On Friday, March 4th, ransom-ware known as “KeRanger” had found its way onto Mac OS X. The breach was detected within a matter of a few hours. Over the weekend about 6,500 users downloaded the infected version of this software. This is the first successful known “ransom-ware” attack on Mac OS X.
Business’ across the world are being hit by Ransomware – malicious software that encrypts files and demands payment to restore them. They target large and small business without bias and have for years. The worst part? It’s growing!  These attacks are so successful because they are taking advantage of known vulnerabilities and utilizing one of our best security features against us: encryption.
Encryption is the process of encoding information in such a way that only those with authorization (the code) can read it. Encryption is used to protect vital information from physical theft, making the data incredibly difficult to obtain, often overwriting the data upon failure to present the proper code within the number of tries provided.
How can you defend yourself against ransomware?
  • It is paramount to have anti-virus software, keep it up to date, and have it report to a central repository to ensure issues get noticed.
  • Maintenance for your computer, updates from Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, Java and more, plug known security holes and other vulnerabilities.
  • Solid offsite backups ensure your data is safe and secure, even if something gets lose on your network.

Many organizations have not implemented these simple, quick, and effective security measures to protect themselves.  To discuss your network integrity contact Emerson Technologies at 651-454-7729 or email help@emersontech.net

Inbox from Google

July 22, 2015

Google has released a new email program called Inbox.  The goal behind this program is to make the most important information within each email come to the forefront for the user.  As a result, Inbox automatically highlights relevant information. If the message is about tracking a package, the link to track the package is highlighted; if the main part of the message is an attachment, Inbox will highlight that.

Another feature is the ability to easily create a reminder/task from within an email, so you won’t forget to take action.

This new interface is available for Gmail and Google for Work users including business accounts that use Google.  The new interface is available in a web browser on your computer as well as an app for IOS and Android.

To find out how use it for your organization, contact Emerson Technologies.

Maintenance and Alerting

July 22, 2015

We are all used to maintenance with cars.  However computers need maintenance more often to help you get can the most out of your investment.

For many years people just purchased and ran anti-virus software.  It’s important to check this to make sure it stays up to date – this should be getting updated throughout the day.

Software updates are released all the time.  The most familiar come from Microsoft but there are also many from Adobe, Java, Apple and more.  Not only are these updates important for your computer’s stability, but it also ensures the best security – keeping hackers at arm’s length.

The alternative is to leave your computers and network vulnerable to attack and possibly wind up on the news due to compromised company data.  Just this week a significant security hole was discovered in Microsoft Windows, a hole big enough for an attacker to take complete control of your computer remotely.

At Emerson Technologies we have a program to keep your system updated and reliable.  Not only does our maintenance software install software updates, but it also alerts us for various problems – such as a failing hard drive.

Want to discuss your options?  Contact Emerson Technologies.

Windows 10 – Out July 2015

July 22, 2015

The next version of Windows will be available this month, free of charge to current users of Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

Windows 10 returns a menu available in the bottom left-hand area of the screen, heavily used before Windows 8 but removed from Windows 8.

Windows 10 uses Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-based virtual assistant.  It will be able to do more that search and provide a response.  It can also be used to navigate Windows and work within applications.

Microsoft has discontinued Internet Explorer, the web browser it has had since the 90s.  Instead Windows 10 has a new browser called Microsoft Edge.  It is designed to be more secure.  And there are hopes it will be more compatible with web sites that previously only worked on Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

What benefits will there be for your organization?  Contact Emerson Technologies and we can help you make an evaluation.

Data Backups versus a Copy

October 23, 2014

In the old days of corporate computing, all data was backed up.  This was usually done using tapes that were physically connected to servers.  In the last five years, backups commonly have become cloud based.  Instead of a tape drive, servers backup their data to an Internet based server designed to handle many copies of the same files.  Backups are more than just a copy of data; backups can be restored to a specific day because backup servers keep multiple instances of all files.

On the other hand, some users copy their data to an external hard drive.  This is different than a backup because this is just one copy of all files.  Keeping a single copy of files is certainly cheaper – it takes up less space.  But the disadvantage is users have considerably fewer options.

Another advantage of backing up to an online Internet site is that it is offsite.  Should something happen to your building such as fire, flood, or tornado, your data is still readily available.

Want to discuss your options?  Contact Emerson Technologies.

Multi-factor Authentication

October 23, 2014

You log into your computer with a user name and a password.  Both of those are in your head; they are things you know.  That is different from getting cash from a cash machine, where you use your PIN, something in your head, WITH your card, something you HAVE.  Two-factor authentication uses two different types of verification, such as at a cash machine.  The possibilities are:

  • Something you know (such as a password)
  • Something you have (such as a card, cell phone or fob)
  • Something you are (a fingerprint or facial recognition)

Increasingly businesses are using a combination of two of the above options.  This approach significantly increases security.  The most commonly used method involves using a mobile phone or other physical device to generate a one-time use code that changes every minute or so, in addition to a password.  When an employee logs in, they enter their username and password, as usual.  They are then prompted for the current code on their phone.  That seemingly simple change makes attackers’ jobs very difficult.  No longer is a password sufficient to gain access to corporate resources.

In the past, these two-factor authentication systems have been prohibitively expensive for small businesses but they have now become very cost effective.  As hackers become more sophisticated we need to counter their cleverness.

Want to look at how multi-factor authentication can be setup to strengthen the security on your network?  Give Emerson Technologies a call.  We will be happy to explore economical possibilities with you!

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