End-of-Year Tech Tips

Many people are trying to wrap up their end-of-year business matters and are thinking about 2017. Personally, I like to make some time at the end of the year to do my annual tech tune-up. These are tasks that are often put on the back burner.
Here are a few tips before you get started again for next year.


Cleanup

 


Go through old documents and make sure they are properly filed on your computer or cloud storage. Clearing out the old pictures, videos and music from your mobile devices is part of the process. They’re certainly very tedious tasks, but very
rewarding once accomplished.

This is when I think I can regain control of my email. There is nothing more daunting than knowing I have 10,000 emails sitting in my inbox. Make time to manage your email folders, bulk file some of these emails, delete
most, and try using rules to help you prioritize your incoming email for next year.

 

 


Backup and disaster recovery

The end of the year is a good time to test your current backup strategies. For example, it may be necessary to adjust or come up with a process that meets new compliances. Backups are the cornerstone to all your disaster recovery plans.

The biggest questions around backups tend to focus on the time to recovery and archiving data policies. Do you have accounts that depend on you to work all the time? How long do you need to maintain these records? Updated backup plans will help your company to recover from a cyber compromise, major equipment failure, water damage or catastrophic mistake made by one of your staff members.

I can’t emphasis enough the necessity of having plans that include keeping your data securely stored many miles outside your region. Consider cloud solutions that automatically safeguard your data in offsite secure locations.

 

 

 

 


Updates for software and devices

 

 

Your office and network have more devices than you may realize. Create an inventory of those devices and run all necessary updates. There are plenty of devices you don’t regularly update that should be part of
this process. Routers, wireless access points, security cameras, printers, and copiers are often overlooked, but they should get updates along with all your regular computing devices. You should update your applications, operating systems, anti-virus
software, iPhones and tablets on a regular basis, not only for new features, but more importantly, for timely security updates.

 

 

 

 


Password changes

This year shed even more light on the cyber security issues facing many organizations. Following good password management practices is
critical. If it has been a while, now is the best time to change and update your passwords. The need to use passwords with long complex characters and that are unique to each site can’t be overstated. A good New Year’s resolution would be to
start using a password manager to help you keep up with the task, such as LastPass or 1Password.


Review how you are safeguarding client and employee data

An annual review of all company and client data is important for obvious reasons, but may have compliance implications as well. Putting safeguards in place can help to prevent fraud and identity theft, as well as enhance customer confidence and
trust. Safeguard reviews should start with an observance to HIPAA, IRS guidelines or other industry standards that may be necessary for your business. You will want to preserve the confidentiality and privacy of all data by restricting access and
disclosure. This may not be a costly effort, but one that takes awareness and often simple procedures. The recently updated Safeguarding Taxpayer Data: A Guide For Your Business from the IRS, offers many ideas on how to approach the topic, even if you are not an accounting firm. Some of these steps are non-technical too. Where are the paper files kept? Who has access?

If you are looking for ways to meet these ever-increasing compliance requirements and keep your data secure,
contact us
today. Learn how the
Ease Cloud Workspace
can help solve these issues so you can securely work anywhere and on any device.

Ease Tech Talk – January Lunch and Learn [Webinar]

Do you ever feel a little overwhelmed with some of the technology updates and issues you encounter at work? Would you like to get ahead of the game? Join us for our January Lunch and Learn Webinar where we will get you
started on the right foot in 2017.


Don’t delay and sign-up now

Join members of the Ease Technologies Help Desk and Support Team where we’ll cover the top
tech issues  businesses run into every day. We will also be opening up the webinar to answer the burning tech questions that keep you up at night! In addition, we will share ideas and demonstrations of some of the latest features from the most
important technologies you use every day.

Demonstrations and Topic Areas:
Windows 10 – common issues and new features
Office 365 – common issues and new features
iPhone – common issues and new features
Cloud – common issues and new features
What are the technology trends for 2017?
Security tips
Your Question and Answers


Don’t delay and
sign-up

now

Who should attend:
General Audience
Where:
Online Webinar
When:
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Webinar:
provided by: Ease Technologies

iOS 10.2 Update Released Today

As a major 10.x update, iOS 10.2 introduces new features and design tweaks to iOS 10. It includes a new “TV” app, which is designed to serve as an Apple-designed TV guide that aims to simplify the television-watching experience and help users
discover new TV shows and movies to watch.


Top Tech Holiday Gifts for 2016

Do you struggle with gifts for that tech-savvy friend or family member every year?  Here are a few of our picks from the Ease Tech Team this holiday season.


The Apple Watch Series 2

 

The Apple Watch Series 2 brings advanced fitness-tracking capabilities as one of its more attractive features. The GPS, bright screen, and waterproof features make it incredibly compelling for anyone who has considered
a smart watch. This device with the latest hardware and software is designed to work with the iPhone, offering the convenience of using a variety of apps like a calendar, texts, weather, notes, and reminders without needing to pull out a phone. It is
ideal for the health-conscious geek in the family. The prices start at $369, and it’s available at the

Apple Store
.


Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is a voice-activated home assistant. It is closely tied to many of Amazon’s Prime online shopping services. Echo can provide music, news, sports, weather updates, product ordering, and even get you
a pizza delivered from Dominos, all from voice controls.  What’s more, it connects to many other home devices to control lights and thermostats for $179 at Amazon.com –  
Amazon Echo – Black
 


Netflix

Netflix is the most popular online entertainment provider of movies, TV series, documentaries, and self-produced programming. A preferred media service of geeks and those wanting to cut the cable company cord, prices
start at about $9.99/month for the HDTV version. The easiest way to gift this is a gift card found at many local stores. However, you can also purchase gift cards online at

Amazon

for up to $100.




Tile

Do you know someone who’s always losing their keys, wallet or purse around the house?  A Tile is an easy way of keeping track of your things while at home or traveling.  It’s a little device that
is attached to the item you want to manage and then paired to your iPhone. Tiles work with keys, wallets, bags or even bikes. They work best when monitoring things in close range and urban areas.  They are relatively inexpensive and very easy to
set up. There is a small clip-on version for bags and keys, and another that is a flatter style design for a wallet. The prices start at $25 for one Tile and set with a Tile Mate & Slim Combo Pack can be found online.


Battery Recharging Pack

All these mobile tech gear requires additional power while on the road.  There are a wide variety of small, powerful recharging battery packs that can keep those smartphones, iPads, and digital devices functioning
and extend their battery life by many hours. They are perfect for road warriors and families that are always taking trips. The

Anker Astro E1 5200mAh 
 found online is one of the best. 

Portable Bluetooth Speaker

The iPhone is one of the most advanced pieces of portable computing devices ever created. One way to turn that smartphone into a quality music player is by pairing it with a mobile Bluetooth speaker. The best speakers
are portable, rechargeable, and waterproof, but with good-quality sound. You can take them on vacations, to the beach, and at parties. The

UE ROLL Wireless Mobile Bluetooth Speaker
 

meets all of these needs for about $69, and there are plenty of choices if you want to spend less too.


Stocking Stuffers Ideas

You can never have enough power adapters and charging cables. Great stocking stuffers are extra 
USB car chargers
,

iPhone USB cables

and

wall outlet adapters
, as they are pretty inexpensive and always needed.  An adequate supply is great for travel, keeping in the car or office, or for use when a guest shows up.  Plenty of great choices at Amazon from between $5-$20.

Acronis and US Signal Expand Distribution Agreement to Bring Backup and Disaster Recovery Solutions to Managed Service Providers

BURLINGTON, Mass., Nov. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Acronis, a leader in hybrid cloud data protection, today announced an expanded distribution agreement with US Signal, an industry-leading network and cloud-hosting
provider in the Midwest. As a result of the agreement, Acronis becomes the exclusive provider of backup and disaster recovery solutions for US Signal’s managed service provider (MSP) customers. Acronis is a fast, easy to use and the most complete
solution for on-premises, cloud and mobile workloads.

Today’s businesses face new challenges when it comes to data protection, including massive increases in data volume, man-made and natural disasters, and cyber-threats, such as ransomware. According to Enterprise
Strategy Group (ESG), data backup and recovery consistently rank among the top IT priorities for organizations of all sizes, but especially for midsized organizations. US Signal is addressing the growing demand for business continuity solutions as
MSPs now have access to complete data protection solutions offered by US Signal. The addition of new backup and disaster recovery offerings give MSPs even better control of data and margins.

As US Signal looked to expand its offerings to the MSP market, having an easy to deploy and manage, safe and complete backup and disaster recovery solution as part of its portfolio was a vital missing component. US
Signal needed a partner that would enable this product offering while using the current US Signal cloud infrastructure that was in place. The infrastructure, which includes eight data centers and one of the largest, fully deployed networks in the
Midwest, consists of both physical and virtual servers. This meant the technology needed to be flexible, highly scalable and enable MSPs to have complete control of their offering.

“US Signal has made backup and recovery in the cloud a business success at Ease Technologies. Our ability to create additional revenue is greatly enhanced by leveraging the US Signal developed service with the Acronis
technology, allowing us to offer our customers a fully managed backup and recovery product,” said Jason Shirdon, VP of Operations at Ease Technologies, Inc., an MSP based in Maryland.  “The US Signal management platform is easy to use and allows
us to efficiently control and monitor our pricing and product offerings for end users as needed.”

Acronis Backup Cloud allows US Signal MSPs to offer backup targets in the cloud in order to provide a geographically diverse, scalable, and inherently highly available storage repository. MSPs can also perform backups
from their on-premises physical or virtual environment or a US Signal cloud infrastructure and have restores done to the source or a disparate location, all while managing and monitoring all backup activities for an entire environment via a single,
centralized management console with a modern user interface. This enables a MSP to meet the specific needs of its customers, creating stickiness with additional services to reduce churn.

“Acronis intimately understands the needs of MSPs, and offers a solution that not only provides the ability for service providers to easily sell managed services on top of the US Signal platform, but the company also
ensures our MSP partners can sell recovery services using the US Signal public cloud as a recovery target,” said Amanda Regnerus, vice president of marketing and product development at US Signal. “We had very stringent requirements for our backup and
disaster recovery partner and Acronis met every need. We are very pleased with the turnkey focus of the product and service that Acronis provides, as it’s very easy for our customers to get up and running quickly.”

6 Holiday Travel Tech Tips

Holiday traveling can be a challenging experience with planes, trains and automobiles.  For many, work follows them no matter how far they try to get away.  Before setting out the airport or hitting the
highways, here are a few ideas on keeping your technology in order while on the road this holiday season.


1. Backup Before You Go
Make sure you have a good backup of all your devices.  If something were to happen to your
technology while you are traveling it would be much easier to recover that data when you return.  Cloud-based backup systems can also provide some access to files that you may have forgotten while traveling.


2. File Your Travel Documents
Keep your travel plans, hotel confirmation, the contact information of your credit card company, phone numbers and other important trip information stored in a secure cloud notes program.  I like to use Evernote because I can add PDFs,
emails, cell phone pictures and text notes, but you may already be using Apple’s Notes or Microsoft’s OneNote Online.  If your gear gets lost or stolen you’ll have access to your information online in one of these cloud-based
apps from any device.


3. Stay Protected
Some travelers are required to get vaccinations before they go overseas.  In the same way, tech-savvy travelers should get the latest virus updates installed for their systems too.  Be sure to turn on the password protection options
for your electronic devices, as this will ensure the data on your devices is much safer if they were to get lost or stolen.


4. Mark Your Stuff
Your name was written all over your gear back when you went to summer camp.  Well, your mom had it right, so be sure to label your equipment with your cell phone number.  That number on your electronic devices will be the easiest way for
that Good Samaritan to call you with your lost gear. 


5. Find Your Friends
Apple iPhones and iPads have a feature called Find your Friends or Share my Location in Messages.  Once enabled the software provides an easy way to keep track of family and friends, provided you are within cell coverage.  Knowing
the location of members of your group can be useful at the airport, amusement park or at the beach.


6. Power-up
Remember to bring all the proper power cords and an extra extension cord for your smartphone, cameras and laptops.  Being properly equipped for power during your vacation can make a big difference in getting that access you expect versus blowing
a few hours of your precious time looking for Dell power adapters at grandma’s house.  If you do lose a power cord, just ask the hotel front desk or housekeeping for a replacement.  You won’t be the first to do so, and it’s
likely that they will have a pile of cords in a box with housekeeping.

Ease Technologies provides IT support services and cloud solutions for organizations in Baltimore, Washington or Fairfax. Watch our Ease Cloud Workspace


video


and learn how our secure cloud offering can be your virtual office wherever you go. 

How To Spot A Phishing Email

The primary method used by cyber criminals to gain access to your computer is through email phishing attacks. This tactic involves hackers creating compromising malware and sending a catchy email hoping to ensnare an
unsuspecting victim to click on the attachment or links within the message.  Once the victim clicks on the attachment or link, cyber criminals look to extort victims for money, steal personal information, gain access to other business computers
and countless other cyber heists.

 

It’s likely you are already using a firewall, spam filters and virus protection software to keep yourself protected. However, this is not enough anymore. What cyber criminals are relying on is social engineering
techniques to dupe people into clicking on the attachments and links in cleverly crafted emails.  Once this is accomplished, they gain access to your compromised computer.  The most important thing for you is to recognize these phishing
emails tactics and not get tricked by one of these malicious emails.


How do you spot a phishing email?

A cleverly crafted phishing email has you act, without hesitation, on the message within the document.  The cyber criminals create content in unsolicited emails that prey on your emotions, fears and create a sense
of urgency for you to act quickly.


1. Attachments and links

Most phishing emails have an attachment of some type that includes what seems to be an ordinary PDF, ZIP, DOC and other file types.  What these attachments are is a payload of malware that infects your
computer.  Another means of deception is providing a link in the email directing you to another site you think will be useful, which once clicked on, takes you to a server that installs malicious code.  So, for example, be wary of that
credit union that sends you an unsolicited email that contains a PDF that you must fill out for credit verification.


2. Email sender is spoofed

Hackers will try and provide an email that looks like it is coming from a trusted source.  So, the email will look like it is from your bank, PayPal, Amazon, Fedex, your credit union and any number of other trusted
entities.  Because phishing is a general blast to indiscriminate users, often, these emails come from a business you don’t even use.  An example may be receiving an email with an attached voicemail message from Verizon, but you have
AT&T as your cell phone provider.


3. A message with a sense of urgency

All the emails create some reason for you to click on the attachment or the embedded links.  So, everything from the subject line to the message in the email directs you to you do something quickly.  They will
include catchy subject lines and encourage fast acting activities directing you to the attachment or link in the email.  Sometimes, these emails may come at the end of the day, when your guard is down. They will also create a message based on
the season or timely event.  Subject lines can contain things like: Your account is suspended, Login Notification, Incoming Wire Notice and Access to your has been restricted.


4. Flawed email construction

Often, the emails are poorly written, contain bad grammar, scraped from a real email and just flawed with bad information.  The emails are often hastily written with several errors that can include incorrect dates,
awkward salutations, and incomplete sender contact information.  Another flag is the use of an uncommon or Courier font in the email.


5. Bad header information

Look at the address of who is getting the message.  Is it actually to a known email you have, someone you know or just a blanket blast of people?  Often, the email is sent to “Recipient” or not even to you.

If you get an email you are uncertain about, contact the business from a known trusted phone number or open a browser to type in the url access to the account.  Do not use any of the information provided to you in the email to initiate contact.

These are just a few of the obvious flaws that show up in phishing emails.  Cyber criminals use countless different phishing methods and are very adaptive in their approach in attempting to hack into your
computer.  Since these are not the only methods, you must stay on your guard and recognize the general tactics used to help keep you protected from unwanted phishing attacks.

To learn more, watch our latest webinar on Keeping Your Business Secure on our site
here.  If you are looking for ways to keep your business better protected with our secure cloud workspace, contact us today at (301) 854-0010. 

Are You Ready For The Internet Of Things [Recorded October 2016]

 

It is estimated there are already 6.4 billion devices as a part of the Internet of Things (IoT) and there will 25 billion by 2020. Businesses, governments and home users are all quickly adopting these devices to be
shared across the Internet.  We now can monitor an aging family member, remotely feed a pet, view live traffic conditions, monitor crops, observe buying habits and countless new exciting ways to help our businesses and lives with IoT.

How does IoT work? What are the business opportunities and what should our concerns be with embracing this new class of computing devices? 


Watch our recorded webinar to get caught up!


The Democratic National Committee (DNC) and countless other organizations are cyber targets. A data breach can have a major effect on your business – loss of customers, reduced brand reputation,
significant financial impact and more. If you think your business is too small to be an attractive target for cyber criminals or you don’t have anything worth stealing, think again.

Watch our recorded webinar to get caught up!


Do You Really Need Two-Factor Authentication?

The most common security method used to access your accounts online is with an email address and a password.  You use these steps every day in some way with your computer, email, banking, social media and countless
other online locations.  Another layer of protection for authentication that is being commonly added is called Two-Factor Authentication, 2FA, Two-Step Security or Multi-Factor Authentication.

You should be activating this extra layer of authentication with you online accounts. With so much Internet fraud, two-factor authentication is a method which can help keep your online accounts and personal information better protected.

 


How does it work?

Two-factor authentication is a security process in which the user provides two means of unique information from different sources; one is something you may have memorized, like a password, and the other is something
physical, like a security code sent to you in a text message.  Sometimes, this code can be generated and sent to you as an email.

You are already using the password process, and the new piece is the security code generated in the form of text message.  Most of the time, this 2FA process is used only when accessing your account from a new web
browser or computer.  More secure online services will require 2FA at every login, but this is rare.


Which accounts should you use 2FA?

Many financial organizations are already making this mandatory.  Other online accounts, which hold valuable personal information, make it an option, and you may need to turn on: Apple, Google, Facebook, Comcast,
and bigger brands.  Very few online shopping sites have established any kind of 2FA yet.


How do you set up 2FA?

After you have logged-in to your account, you would go to your personal settings.  Next, you would have to make sure your cell phone number is established in your account information. Then, in security settings,
you would find the option to turn on login authentication from your phone or text message. Each organization is different regarding how it is handled, but once set-up, a text message is sent to your phone as a new step for your log-in process to
access your account.

To learn more about out to keep yourself better protected watch a recording of our recent webinar –
Keeping Your Business Secure Online



here.