How to protect your Office 365 data

How to protect your Office 365 data

Office 365 is a complete cloud solution that allows you to store thousands of files and collaborate on them, too. In addition to its productivity features, the service comes with security and compliance solutions that will help businesses avoid the crushing financial and legal repercussions of data loss. However, even with its comprehensive security tools, the service has some data security risks that need to be addressed. The following tips will keep your business data private and secure.

Take advantage of policy alerts
Establishing policy notifications in Office 365’s Compliance Center can help you meet your company’s data security obligations. For instance, policy tips can warn employees about sending confidential information anytime they’re about to send messages to contacts who aren’t listed in the company network. These preemptive warnings can prevent data leaks and also educate users on safer data sharing practices.

Secure mobile devices
Since personal smartphones and tablets are often used to access work email, calendar, contacts, and documents, securing them should be a critical part of protecting your organization’s data. Installing mobile device management features for Office 365 enables you to manage security policies and access permissions/restrictions, and remotely wipe sensitive data from mobile devices if they’re lost or stolen.

Use multi-factor authentication
Don’t rely on a single password to safeguard your Office 365 accounts. To reduce the risk of account hijacking, you must enable multi-factor authentication. This feature makes it difficult for hackers to access your account since they not only have to guess user passwords, but also provide a second authentication factor like a temporary SMS code.

Apply session timeouts
Many employees usually forget to log out of their Office 365 accounts and keep their computers or mobile devices unlocked. This could give unauthorized users unfettered access to company accounts, allowing them to steal sensitive data. By applying session timeouts to Office 365, email accounts, and internal networks, the system will automatically log users out after 10 minutes, preventing hackers from opening company workstations and accessing private information.

Avoid public calendar sharing
Office 365’s calendar sharing features allow employees to share and sync their schedules with their colleagues. However, publicly sharing this information is a bad idea because it helps attackers understand how your company works, determine who’s away, and identify vulnerable users. For instance, if security administrators are publicly listed as “Away on vacation,” an attacker may see this as an opportunity to unleash malware on unattended computers.

Employ role-based access controls
Another Office 365 feature that will limit the flow of sensitive data across your company is access management. This lets you determine which user (or users) have access to specific files in your company. For example, front-of-house staff won’t be able to read or edit executive-level documents, minimizing data leaks.

Encrypt emails
Encrypting classified information is your last line of defense to secure your data. If hackers intercept your emails, encryption tools will make files unreadable to unauthorized recipients. This is a must-have for Office 365, where files and emails are shared on a regular basis.

While Office 365 offers users the ability to share data and collaborate, you must be aware of potential data security risks at all times. When you work with us, we will make sure your business keeps up with ever-changing data security and compliance obligations. If you need help securing Office 365, we can assist you, too! Contact us today for details.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

The post How to protect your Office 365 data appeared first on Parallel Edge, Inc.


Source: Pronto

The lowdown on cloud security

The lowdown on cloud security

If you’re thinking of transitioning your business to the cloud, consider the security of the platform. While providers would like us to believe that the friendly, fluffy cloud image used to market the service means it is automatically secure, the reality is far different. Just ask one of the nearly seven million Dropbox users who had their accounts hacked. This is not meant to scare you, but to make you aware that cloud security needs to be taken seriously especially if you’re a business owner. To help you make a smooth and safe transition, we’ve put together a list of precautionary measures you can take to ensure cloud security.

Ask your IT provider what cloud security policies they have in place

This is probably the single most important security measure you can take. Find a trusted IT provider and have a candid conversation with them about their cloud security policies.

Ask where the physical cloud servers are located

When you have “the conversation,” don’t forget to ask about this. Believe it or not, some cloud servers may not even be located in your own country. Wherever they are, it’s wise to make sure they’re located in a safe data center with proper security afforded to them.

Create unique usernames and passwords

Your login credentials represent one of the cloud’s main security vulnerabilities. Think of a better password than “12345” or “football.”

Use industry standard encryption and authentication protocols

IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) is a reliable technology choice.

Encrypt data before it’s uploaded to the cloud

Encryption is a must, and can be done by you or your cloud service provider. Should hackers manage to access your data, they’ll find it useless because they can’t make heads or tails of it.

When it comes to trusting the security protocol of a cloud service provider, transparency is key. They should take security seriously, be able to explain their security policies clearly, and be willing to answer any questions. If they can’t do one of these, that’s a red flag telling you to find another vendor.

Are you ready to talk cloud security and transition your business into the cloud? Call us today. We’re happy to answer all your questions.

 

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

The post The lowdown on cloud security appeared first on Parallel Edge, Inc.


Source: Pronto

The right social media platform for your SMB

The right social media platform for your SMB

Facebook leads all social media platforms in terms of daily active users, audience reach, and cultural impact, but is it the best fit for your business? Every business has a unique audience, so what works for one business may not work for another. With all the available social media platforms to choose from, small- and medium-sized businesses should examine their options before they decide which is the best match for them.

Facebook

Research shows that 77% of consumers in the US have social media profiles and that Facebook is the most utilized social media platform by users younger than 50 years old. With over two billion users, Facebook offers the biggest audience and is the perfect place for companies that are looking to increase their brand awareness.

Apart from the huge user base, Facebook also increases customers’ trust by lending otherwise stiff businesses a human touch. Although you don’t have to invest heavily in this platform, you should at least create a basic page. Setting up your company’s page takes only a few minutes and not having one could affect your reputation.

YouTube

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world with over 1.9 billion registered users. When properly utilized, it can bring in new customers and help you retain old ones. To increase your brand visibility and help viewers to get to know your company better, create a channel with videos about the products or services that you’re offering.

You can also encourage viewers to subscribe to your channel so they’ll be in the loop every time you upload a new video. Another huge advantage of using YouTube is that Google owns it, and videos from the site are more likely to appear on the first page of search results than other organic content.

Instagram

Launched in 2010, Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms today. It boasts one billion registered users, mostly on the younger end of the scale (18-24 years old). Instagram is primarily for sharing photos and short videos, but it recently launched IGTV, an in-app tool for users and businesses to upload long-form videos.

Keep in mind that most users prefer to use Instagram for fun and creative content. The platform is known for beautiful photos, so choose aesthetic content over standoffish or corporate content.

To hit two birds with one stone, integrate your Instagram account with your Facebook page so every new picture or video on your profile will automatically post to your Facebook page.

Snapchat

Another trendy social media platform is Snapchat, which allows its 300+ million monthly users to share photos and videos that disappear within 24 hours. Businesses can use this platform to reach younger audiences through Snap ads, sponsored geofilters, and sponsored lenses.

Snap ads are 10-second full-screen videos with embedded links and calls to action that will appear on the timelines of targeted viewers. Sponsored geofilters and sponsored lenses, meanwhile, are custom filters that may contain elements relating to one’s brand. All these marketing options are available through AdManager, the app’s advertising platform.

Twitter

Twitter has 328 million active daily users. This number may be small compared to the other social media platforms on this list, but that’s precisely its charm: it gives users the feeling of security and coziness that comes from chatting with businesses directly and publicly. In fact, a whopping 85% of SMBs have Twitter accounts that they use to engage with current and potential customers. And because Twitter only allows up to 280 characters per tweet (excluding links), conversations between parties are straight to the point and results-oriented.

If you have more questions about social media platforms and how to use them strategically, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

The post The right social media platform for your SMB appeared first on Parallel Edge, Inc.


Source: Pronto

Outdated firmware: An overlooked threat

Outdated firmware: An overlooked threat

If most of your company’s computers are obsolete, they double or even triple your chances of experiencing a data breach. This emphasizes how dangerous it is to have outdated applications, operating systems, and even web browsers. Failing to update your firmware could expose your business to major security threats.

What is firmware?

Firmware is a basic type of software that is embedded into every piece of hardware. It cannot be uninstalled or removed, and is only compatible with the make and model of the hardware it is installed on. Think of it like a translator between your stiff and unchanging hardware and your fluid and evolving software.

For example, Windows can be installed on almost any computer, and it helps users surf the internet and watch YouTube videos. But how does Windows know how to communicate and connect with your hardware router to do all that? Firmware on your router allows you to update and modify settings so other, higher-level pieces of software can interact with it.

Why is firmware security important?

Firmware installed on a router is a great example of why addressing this issue is so critical. When you buy a router and plug it in, it should be able to connect devices to your wireless network with almost zero input from you. However, leaving default settings such as the username and password for web browser access will leave you woefully exposed.

And the username and password example is just one of hundreds. More experienced hackers can exploit holes that even experienced users have no way of fixing. The only way to secure these hardware security gaps is with firmware updates from the device’s manufacturer.

How do I protect myself?

Firmware exploits are not rare occurrences. Not too long ago, a cybersecurity professional discovered that sending a 33-character text message to a router generated an SMS response that included the administrator username and password.

Unfortunately, every manufacturer has different procedures for checking and updating firmware. The best place to start is Googling “[manufacturer name] router firmware update.” For instance, if you have a DLink of Netgear router, typing “192.168.0.1” into a web browser will allow you to access its firmware and update process, assuming you have the username and password.

Remember that routers are just one example of how firmware affects your cybersecurity posture. Hard drives, motherboards, and even mice and keyboards need to be checked. Routinely checking all your devices for firmware updates should be combined with the same process you use to check for software updates.

It can be a tedious process, and we highly recommend hiring an IT provider to take care of it for you. If you’re curious about what else we can do to help, give us a call today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

The post Outdated firmware: An overlooked threat appeared first on Parallel Edge, Inc.


Source: Pronto

3 ways to browse the net safely at work

3 ways to browse the net safely at work

Amidst the current climate of malware, hacks, and phishing scams, the internet really isn’t safe for any company that doesn’t take precautions. Without safeguards, browsers that you or your employees use are vulnerable to cyber attacks that may cripple productivity and profit. There are wise steps that every company should take to browse the net safely.

Data stored on desktops, servers and in the cloud, doesn’t make it safe. If anything, it makes it available to anyone who has the desire and capabilities to hack into your system and cause mayhem for your business operations.

One thing you should be doing to protect your data – and your company – is to make use of privacy-protecting browser extensions. Depending on the nature of your business, both you and your employees are likely to be online at least some, if not all, of the working day. What are some of the browser extensions that can make the experience more secure?

Prevent browser tracking

If you don’t like the idea of a third party (reputable or otherwise) being able to track your browsing habits, try installing a tool for private browsing. These programs offer protection against tracking by blocking third-party cookies as well as malware. Some extensions also boast secure Wi-Fi and bandwidth optimization and can guard against tracking and data collection from social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

Blocking adverts

While online ads may seem harmless, the truth is they can contain scripts and widgets that send your data back to a third party. A decent ad blocking program will block banner, rollover and pop-up ads, and also prevent you from inadvertently visiting a site that may contain malware.
Many blockers contain additional features such as the ability to disable cookies and scripts used by third-parties on a site, the option to block specific items, and even options to ‘clean up’ Facebook, and hide YouTube comments. The major blockers work with Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox and you’ll be able to find everything from user-friendly solutions to more advanced tools that are customizable down to the tiniest degree.

Consider installing a VPN

Unfortunately, browser tracking, malware, and adware are not the only internet nasties that you need to be concerned about. but the good news is that there a number of other extensions that you can download to really get a grip on your online safety. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is something else to consider. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic, effectively shutting out anyone who may be trying to see what you’re doing.

Commonly used in countries where the internet is heavily censored by the powers that be, a VPN allows for private browsing as well as enabling users to access blocked sites – in China’s case that’s anything from blogs criticizing the government to Facebook and Instagram. There are hundreds of VPNs on the market so do a little research and find one that suits you best.

Finally, it goes without saying that having anti-virus and anti-malware software installed on your PC, tablet, and even your smartphone is crucial if you want to ensure your online safety.

Is browsing at your workplace secure? Would you like a more comprehensive security system for your business? We can tell you all about it and help your business protect itself from online threats. Get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

The post 3 ways to browse the net safely at work appeared first on Parallel Edge, Inc.


Source: Pronto

The benefits of technology business reviews

The benefits of technology business reviews

Small- and medium-sized businesses don’t have the time to maintain IT infrastructure, let alone assess whether it’s still driving value for the company. However, if you want to ensure everything runs smoothly, it’s important to be proactive and conduct technology business reviews when you can.

What is a technology business review?
A technology business review reveals the strengths and weaknesses of your company’s IT framework. It’s often performed by a third-party IT consultant who will give an objective assessment of your technology and provide recommendations to help meet your goals. If done properly, technology business reviews allow you to:

Save money
Every review starts with a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether a solution you’ve implemented is worth the continued investment. If there are technologies costing you a fortune in management and maintenance fees, consultants will advise you to cut them from your budget. The best ones will even recommend cost-effective alternatives so you can do more with less.

Increase productivity
System-wide reviews of your IT infrastructure show you what processes are hindering operations and propose solutions that let you work faster and smarter. For example, if employees are mainly sharing files via email, consultants might suggest cloud collaboration platforms like Office 365 or G Suite that store data in a centralized location for seamless file sharing.

Enhance security and compliance
Technology business reviewers also uncover security risks within your business. Consultants scan for missed patches, poorly configured networks, and other software vulnerabilities that make it easy for cybercriminals to hack your systems.

They’ll then compile their findings to create a more robust defense strategy, usually one that involves implementing advanced solutions like intrusion prevention systems, file access restrictions, and patch management software.

If you operate a business that’s subjected to data regulations like HIPAA or PCI-DSS, consultants will also pinpoint IT practices and solutions that are noncompliant and customize a strategy that ensures the privacy, integrity, and availability of your data.

Implement technologies that fit
Considering that new technologies are released at a breakneck pace, it’s important you pick the ones that make sense for your operation, its goals, and the bottom line. Technology business reviews keep you up to date on the latest technology trends and gauge the impact of implementing them, so you can make informed decisions.

Whether your goal is to increase profits, productivity, security, or all of the above, technology business reviews can put you on the right track. Our seasoned IT consultants can conduct these reviews for you and develop a strategy that gives you an edge over the competition. Just give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

The post The benefits of technology business reviews appeared first on Parallel Edge, Inc.


Source: Pronto

Office 365 beefs up anti-phishing measures

Office 365 beefs up anti-phishing measures

There are plenty of things to love about Office 365. For a small monthly fee, it gives you the latest cloud-based version of Microsoft Office apps and robust communication tools that improve collaboration and productivity. But it’s also an extremely secure platform that can defend against the most cunning phishing attacks.

Effective anti-phishing solutions must be able to recognize the key elements of a phishing attack, which includes spoofed (or forged) emails, compromised accounts, unsafe links, and harmful attachments. In April 2018, Microsoft upgraded Office 365’s Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) features so it can better detect these elements and prevent a wide variety of phishing scams. These enhancements include:

  • Anti-impersonation measures – ATP will now look for potential phishing indicators in an email, including the sender’s address, name, and links, to identify whether the user is being impersonated. You can specify high-profile targets within your organization, such as managers and C-level executives, so Office 365 can protect these users from email impersonation. Office 365 also utilizes machine learning to analyze a user’s email patterns and flag suspicious contacts that have had no prior correspondence with your company.
  • Anti-spoofing technology – This feature reviews and blocks senders that disguise their true email address. You can even enable safety tips that flag certain email domains that have strange characters. For instance, if your real domain is Acme.com, a spoofed domain could be Acḿe.com.
  • Email link scanning – Office 365 launched Safe Links, which scans emails for fraudulent links and redirects users to a safe page in case it does contain harmful materials. This feature also applies to email attachments, ensuring you’re protected against all types of phishing scams.

Due to these improvements, Office 365 had the lowest phish rate among other well-known email services between May 1 and September 16, 2018. The company has stopped over five billion phishing attempts and protected users against seven billion potentially malicious links. If you’re looking for a secure email platform, Office 365 is the best option for your business.

That said, it’s not a substitute for good security awareness. No matter how secure Office 365 is, employees still need to be adequately trained to recognize a phishing email when they see one. Hackers are constantly changing their tactics to evade Office 365’s detection systems, so it’s important that everyone is alert at all times.

If you need a well-fortified email service, we can implement and manage Office 365 for you. We even offer practical security advice to make sure your business, employees, and assets are safe and sound. Contact us now.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

The post Office 365 beefs up anti-phishing measures appeared first on Parallel Edge, Inc.


Source: Pronto

Is your IT security proactive?

Is your IT security proactive?

Do you spend hours obsessing about the inner workings of DNS-layer security, intrusion prevention systems, and data encryption? If you’re not a managed IT services provider (MSP), you probably don’t. Instead, you’re probably looking for a business partner to manage those nitty-gritty details for you. However, there’s one thing you really ought to know: What exactly are “proactive cybersecurity” measures?

Understand the threats you’re facing

Before any small- or medium-sized business (SMB) can work toward preventing cyberattacks, everyone involved needs to know exactly what they’re up against. Whether you’re working with in-house IT staff or an MSP, you should review what types of attacks are most common in your industry. Ideally, your team would do this a few times a year.

Reevaluate what it is you’re protecting

Now that you have a list of the biggest threats to your organization, you need to take stock of how each one threatens the various cogs of your network. Map out every company device that connects to the internet, what services are currently protecting those devices, and what type of data they have access to (regulated, mission-critical, low-importance, etc.).

Create a baseline of protection

By reviewing current trends in the cybersecurity field and auditing your current technology framework, you can begin to get a clearer picture of how you want to prioritize your preventative measures versus your reactive measures.

Before you can start improving your cybersecurity approach, you need to know where your baseline is. Devise a handful of real-life scenarios and simulate them on your network. Network penetration testing from trustworthy IT professionals will help pinpoint weak spots in your current framework.

Finalize a plan

All these pieces will complete the puzzle of what your new strategy needs to be. With an experienced technology consultant on board for the entire process, you can easily synthesize the results of your simulation into a multi-pronged approach to proactive security:

  • Security awareness seminars that coach all internal stakeholders – train everyone from the receptionist to the CEO about effective security practices such as password management, proper mobile device usage, and spam awareness
  • Front-line defenses like intrusion prevention systems and hardware firewalls – scrutinize everything trying to sneak its way in through the borders of your network
  • Routine checkups for software updates, licenses, and patches – minimize the chance of leaving a backdoor to your network open
  • Web-filtering services – blacklist dangerous and inappropriate sites for anyone on your network
  • Updated antivirus software – protect your data and systems against the latest and most menacing malware

As soon as you focus on preventing downtime events instead of reacting to them, your IT infrastructure will increase your productivity and efficiency to levels you’ve never dreamed of. Start enhancing your cybersecurity by giving us a call for a demonstration.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

The post Is your IT security proactive? appeared first on Parallel Edge, Inc.


Source: Pronto

Secure your Mac computer in 6 easy ways

Secure your Mac computer in 6 easy ways

If you’re a Mac user, data privacy and security should be your #1 priority. Without the right security measures, you’re inviting cybercriminals to steal your critical data. Are you willing to take the risk? Secure your computer and fortify your defenses with these six tips. 

The basics
First, let’s start with the basics and head over to the Security & Privacy pane in System Preferences. Here, you’ll find the General, FileVault, Firewall, and Privacy tabs, which control various aspects of security. To change your security settings, click on the padlock icon on the bottom of the screen and type in your username and password.

Firewall
Enabling the firewall will block unwanted incoming network connections. All you need to do is click Firewall in the System Preferences > Security & Privacy pane, click the padlock icon on the bottom left, enter your username and password, and click Turn On Firewall. Don’t forget to enable Stealth Mode by clicking Firewall Options then clicking Enable Stealth Mode in the dialog box — this makes your computer invisible on public networks.

Passwords
Make sure to set strong passwords for your user accounts if haven’t already. To do this, go back to the General section of the Security & Privacy settings. In this section, you should also consider setting the Require Password field to “immediately.” This will require you to re-enter your login credentials to unlock your Mac when it goes to sleep mode or when a screensaver is on.

Automatic login
It’s best to disable this function, especially if you are using a mobile Mac. If your Mac gets stolen, you don’t want to give thieves a free pass to your private data.

Applications
At the bottom of the General Settings tab, there are three options that authorize which apps can run on your Mac. The safest option is to allow only apps from the App Store to run, and the least secure option is to allow apps downloaded from unauthorized stores. Get the best of both worlds by choosing the option of running apps from the App Store and from developers known to Apple.

FileVault
The FileVault tab enables you to encrypt all the files in your account. To decrypt them, you must enter either your account password or the recovery key you created when you switched FileVault on. It might be tedious to type in a password every time to access a file, but it helps keep your vital data under lock and key.

In this digital age, ensuring the protection of all your devices is crucial to your business’s success. Feel free to give us a call and we’ll help prepare your business for choppy waters.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

The post Secure your Mac computer in 6 easy ways appeared first on Parallel Edge, Inc.


Source: Pronto

Ways IoT will change the business world

Ways IoT will change the business world

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of vehicles, appliances, and devices embedded with actuators, connectivity, software, electronics, and sensors that allow users to connect and swap data. The business world is steadily changing with the implementation of IoT in the following methods.

Improved logistics
With IoT sensors, supply chain management and order fulfillment processes improve markedly to meet customer demand. For example, sensors on delivery containers and trucks in transit give managers real-time status updates, allowing them to track their items and ensure they reach the right location at the right time.

Streamlined inventory
IoT also presents automation opportunities for businesses that need to manage and replenish their stock. When data recorded from IoT devices are tied to your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, you can accurately monitor your inventory, analyze purchase and consumption rates of a particular product, and automatically reorder items when IoT sensors detect that supply is running low. This minimizes out-of-stock incidents and prevents excess stock build-up.

Fast payment
Given how most payments are done electronically via point-of-sale systems or the internet, IoT has the potential to revolutionize the way businesses process transactions. For example, ApplePay not only allows users to purchase goods and services using the usual smartphone applications, but through state-of-the-art wearable technology as well.

Soon, IoT devices might even allow restaurants and retailers to register or charge their customers the moment they walk through the door.

Market insight
Businesses that can make sense of IoT-collected data will gain a competitive edge. Marketers, for example, can gather valuable insight into how their products are used and which demographic is utilizing them the most. This information can then inform future marketing efforts and give businesses more focused direction on how to improve their products and services for their customers.

Although businesses will certainly face many challenges in implementing the Internet of Things, those who overcome them will reap all the benefits of this burgeoning technology.

Want to know if an IoT deployment is right for your business? Contact our certified IT consultants today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

The post Ways IoT will change the business world appeared first on Parallel Edge, Inc.


Source: Pronto