Re-secure your passwords!

Re-secure your passwords!

In 2003, a manager at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) authored a document on password best practices for businesses, federal agencies, and academic institutions. Now retired, the author admits that his document was misguided. Find out why and what great passwords are made of.

The problem

The issue isn’t necessarily that NIST advised people to create passwords that are easy to crack, but it did steer people into creating lazy passwords, using capitalization, special characters, and numbers that are easy to predict, like “P@ssW0rd1.”

This may seem secure, but in reality, these strings of characters and numbers could easily be compromised by hackers using common algorithms.

To make matters worse, NIST also recommended that people change their passwords regularly, but did not define what it actually means to “change” them. Since people thought their passwords were already secure with special characters, most only added one number or symbol.

NIST essentially forced everyone, including you and your colleagues, to use passwords that are hard for humans to remember but easy for computers to guess.

The solution

One cartoonist pointed out just how ridiculous NIST’s best practices were when he revealed that a password like “Tr0ub4dor&3” could be cracked in only three days while a password like “correcthorsebatterystaple” would take about 550 years.

Simply put, passwords should be longer and include nonsensical phrases and English words that make it almost impossible for an automated system to make sense of.

Even better, you should enforce the following security solutions within your company:  

  • Multi-factor Authentication – which only grants access after you have successfully presented several pieces of evidence
  • Single Sign-On – which allows users to securely access multiple accounts with one set of credentials
  • Account Monitoring Tools – which recognize suspicious activity and lock out hackers

When it comes to security, ignorance is the biggest threat. If you’d like to learn about what else you can do to fortify security, just give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto

Simple tricks to boost your productivity

Simple tricks to boost your productivity

When you spend more than eight hours a day staring at a computer screen, it can be easy to lose focus on important tasks. While your device gives you access to some of the most useful applications, an ever-growing number of distractions are vying for your attention. Here are a few tricks for boosting your productivity levels.

Monitor productivity levels
Start by tracking how much work you complete on an average day. Google Chrome Extensions like RescueTime record your most frequently visited sites, and track how much time you spend away from your computer. Running the app will provide you with a productivity rating and a detailed log of how you spend an average day.

If you find out you’re wasting a huge portion of your time on social networking, you’re more likely to make conscious adjustments on how you manage your time.

Get rid of clutter
Another way to increase output is by deleting old files, uninstalling unused programs, and organizing documents into appropriately labeled folders. This makes your work easier to find and improves your computer’s performance.

As for the clutter in your email inbox, Gmail and Outlook both have features that filter out unimportant messages. Simply enable Priority Inbox on Gmail or Clutter on Outlook to get a clean, spam-free inbox.

Block time-wasting sites
Visiting non-work-related websites is a surefire way to hinder productivity. A quick, five-minute break to check your Facebook feed or watch a YouTube clip may not seem like much, but a few of those per day add up to a lot of time.

If you and your employees have trouble staying away from sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, it’s a good idea to block access to them using URL filters.

Of course, if you want your employees to take occasional breaks during the day, you could use apps like StayFocusd or Strict Workflow. These allow you to set a limit on how long and how many times users can visit non-work-related sites.

Stay on track with to-do lists
To-do lists help you break down large projects into manageable, bite-sized tasks. And perhaps the most satisfying aspect is crossing things off the list, giving you and your employees a sense of accomplishment and total visibility of your progress.

There are wide variety of digital to-do lists available today like Google Tasks or Trello. These platforms allow you to set deadlines for small tasks and write clear instructions for each item on the list. What’s more, they’re incredibly easy to use and are great for keeping track of your workflow.

Use keyboard shortcuts
Last but not least, mastering keyboard shortcuts will make it easier to perform simple functions than if you’re stuck looking for them in the toolbar. There are more than a hundred useful shortcuts, but some that you should always keep in mind are:

    • Ctrl + C, Ctrl + V, Ctrl + X – to copy, paste, and cut selected items
    • Ctrl + Z – to undo changes
    • Ctrl + T – to open a new tab on your web browser
    • Alt + Tab – to switch between open windows
    • Alt + F4 – to close the program

For many more like these, take a look at Windows’ list of advanced shortcuts.

These are just some of the tips every user should know to stay productive. If you need more ideas on how to get more out of your technology, call us today. We provide enterprise-level tools and advice that will make your life a lot easier.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto

Here comes Firefox Quantum

Here comes Firefox Quantum

Google Chrome wasn’t always the browser of choice for internet users. Before 2008, people turned to Safari, Opera, and even Internet Explorer. But all of that changed with the arrival of Firefox, the reigning champ of its time. And now, we think it deserves your attention once again.

What is it?

Firefox Quantum, AKA Firefox 57, is Mozilla’s newest and fastest web browser, a culmination of years of Mozilla engineer’s hard work if you will.

What has changed?

Most of the updates in Firefox Quantum comes from Mozilla’s experimental web browser layout engine called Servo. It has been the testing platform for all of Firefox’s new features, including a new programming language called Rust that Mozilla had developed.

Rust is important because it allows Firefox Quantum to take full advantage of multiple CPU cores, a functionality that no previous versions of Firefox have. This gives the web browser a substantial speed boost. It also means that Firefox now uses 30% less RAM, possibly even less than Chrome.

Apart from speed, Firefox Quantum comes with a simple, streamlined interface that can be customized based on your preferences.

Mozilla has also made sure that the web browser’s display has clearer definitions on high-DPI screens and work better on laptops with touchscreens.

Firefox Quantum still comes with Pocket, a feature which lets you save articles, videos, pages, and other files to an easily accessible folder. It also has screenshot functionality and a reading mode that hides anything other than the page’s contents to remove any distractions.

All in all, Firefox Quantum seems to have tackled all the gripes that led many users to Chrome: speed and resource usage. The final version is scheduled to launch on November 14th, 2017.

Until then, you can test its features in the current beta or developer release. And as always, if you have any questions or would love to know more about how the web might benefit your business, just give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto

Power considerations for computers

Power considerations for computers

Considering that computers won’t be able to run without one, it’s a shame that power supply units (PSU) rarely get as much attention as RAM or graphics cards. When it’s time to install a new workstation, business owners do not fully understand all the variables that go into choosing the correct PSU, and often select a product that is inefficient and more expensive than what was expected. To avoid this, we’ve listed some power supply considerations.

Higher isn’t always better
Many users assume the higher the total wattage, the better the performance of the PSU. While enormous 1800W PSUs are useful for running multiple drives and graphics-intensive applications, they’re unnecessary and often cost you an arm and a leg.

Most computers don’t run at full capacity all the time. In fact, if your computer has mid-level graphics cards, processors, and RAM, 600W is more than enough.

To find out exactly how much you need, online PSU calculators will give you a rough estimate of your daily power consumption. Once you’ve calculated how much wattage you need, you’ll ideally want a PSU that has a slightly higher total wattage limit to provide some headroom in case you want to install additional components later.

Pay attention to efficiency ratings
Highly efficient PSUs tend to have more effective components, consume less energy, and produce less heat, which saves you from huge monthly energy and cooling bills.

The best way to determine whether your PSU is efficient is to look for ones with “80 Plus” certifications. This certification means that a unit is at least 80% efficient, and loses approximately 20% as heat.

Note that higher efficiency ratings equal higher prices, so be sure to weigh the potential energy and cooling savings against the upfront cost of the PSU.

Consider larger PSUs
Although they can be quite cumbersome, larger PSUs are more reliable than lightweight models. Large PSUs are equipped with more advanced internal components and better cooling management. Fans are larger too, which means they can move more air, make less noise, and keep your workstation cool.

Choose your cables wisely
When it comes to cabling, you have three options: hard-wired cabling, partially modular cabling, or fully modular cabling.

  • Hard-wired cables are attached directly to the PSU box. While this setup is cheaper than the other two cabling options, the number of plugs are limited and not suited for customization.
  • Fully modular cabling means all PSU cables are removable, making installation and cabling management easy. These PSU models, however, tend to be much more expensive than other types of cabling.
  • Partially modular cabling takes the best of both worlds, providing necessary cables for the PSU while giving room for other components at a moderate price.

Research the manufacturer
Ideally, your PSU should be provided by a reliable manufacturer that offers reasonable warranties and comprehensive support. Most people tend to opt for Corsair, Seasonic, and Antec PSUs, but you should still take time to research the products.

Look for customer reviews about the specific make and model of your PSU. If that’s not possible, get a hardware technician’s expert opinion.

Choosing the right hardware can be extremely difficult, especially if you don’t have the technical know how. So if you need more guidance about all things related to hardware, call us today. We’re more than happy to answer any of your questions.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto

How to create a Facebook ad that sells

How to create a Facebook ad that sells

Your products and services won’t sell, no matter how exceptional they are, if no one knows of their existence. That’s how advertising comes into play. Yet for a small business with a limited budget, an advertisement can cost big. But that’s no longer the case, thanks to the cost-effective online advertising platform hosted by Facebook.

Why advertise on Facebook?

Above all else, the cost-effectiveness of Facebook advertising sets it apart from other marketing channels. The starting cost is as low as 1$ per day, which is ideal for SMBs that want to test small campaigns before investing more.

Beyond its affordability, Facebook advertising is also extremely effective. With 2 billion monthly active users and the ability to nail down your audience to the most specific details — including their interests and online behavior — it’s no surprise that Facebook advertising had the best return on investment compared with other social media platforms according to a survey of social media marketers worldwide.

Before you get started

As with other traditional marketing campaigns, before beginning a campaign, you need to determine your marketing objectives, audience, budget, and how you want your ads to look. Once you have the answers to all those questions, you’re ready to go.

A step-by-step guide to creating a Facebook ad:

1. Choose your marketing objective

  • From your your business’s profile page, click on “Create Ads” from the dropdown menu in the top right corner.
  • Enter your campaign name and choose your “marketing objective,” which is what you want people to do when they see your ads. It could be increased brand awareness, lead generation, or store visits. You can pick only one from three categories.
  • Set up your advert account by selecting your account country, currency, and time zone.

2. Nail down your audience
You can tailor your audience based on locations, ages, genders, languages, their interests and behavior, and the kind of relationship they already have with your page, app, or website. It’s best to be as specific as possible when selecting your audience.

  1. Set up your budget and posting schedule
    Facebook allows you to set up a daily or a lifetime budget. The latter is the maximum amount you plan to spend for an entire ad campaign. Then choose the frequency or the start and end dates in which your ads will appear.

  2. Design how your ads will look
    You can choose how your ad posts will look like to your audience, such as whether they will appear as an image carousel, a single image, a video, a slideshow, or a “collection” (a new ad format designed especially for Facebook mobile). Note that your ad will consist of five parts: an image, a headline, a block of text, a link description, and a call to action button.

    Tips on designing facebook ads that grab people’s attention

    Your ads will appear in people’s newsfeeds, so make sure your content is interesting and succinct enough to grab their attention as they scroll past it. Each component of your ad — the image, headline, link description and call to action — must stand out when surrounded by vacation photos that rarely receive more than a few seconds of attention.

Creating a Facebook ad is simple, yet the beauty of it is that Facebook also allows for more advanced targeted advertising if you know how to take advantage of what the platform has to offer. Talk to our specialists today; they’ll be happy to share a few pointers on how to help you achieve optimal results from your campaigns.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto

MS redesigns Office 365 web app launcher

MS redesigns Office 365 web app launcher

Microsoft is improving the way Office 365 users access their apps and files and collaborate with colleagues. With Office 365’s redesigned web app launcher, users get quicker access to the tools they use the most and useful snapshots of their recent activities. Learn how it can make you work more efficiently.

Key changes to the Office 365 main page

The newly added “Recommended” section displays activities — comments, edits, and @ mentions — on recently opened files. This gives users an overview of changes to recent documents.

Underneath the “Recommended” section is the “Recent” document column, which shows the most recent activities, while “Places” displays the SharePoint sites you frequently visit and the OneDrive folders you’ve recently accessed.

Being able to see the edits, shares, and comments on your documents makes collaboration more transparent among users within an organization, and these new upgrades make that possible.

What’s more, you can now search among online documents, web apps, SharePoint sites, and contacts within Office.com without having to open individual apps. For example, when searching for a document whose file name you don’t know, you can type in the name of the author and the results will show you the author’s profile and other relevant files and activities.

Web app launcher enhancements

One of the biggest improvements to Office.com, however, is how apps are displayed in the app launcher.

The main window of the new web app launcher has been redesigned to highlight the most frequently used apps. It will still show all the apps within your Office 365 subscription, but you can pin your most used apps or display all items in the main bar, which makes opening and switching between apps a lot easier.

You can also return to the main page with a single click of the Office 365 button from the App Launcher — no need to minimize or close each app.

Office 365 Gallery

Users aren’t always aware of every application included in their subscription, which is what the Office 365 Gallery is for. Its main function is to provide users with personalized suggestions of applications — and their descriptions — which may be useful to their active tasks. These suggestions include links to mobile and desktop-based versions of the applications they recommend, and resources for learning more about them. To access the Gallery, click “Explore your applications” from the Office.com main page.

Each of the changes in the new and improved Office 365 are aimed at simplifying and personalizing business users’ experiences, and we recommend exploring the tools available to you. Call us to know more about Office 365’s productivity-enhancing applications and features.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto

What you can learn from Equifax’s leak

When it comes to security, it’s better to be safe than sorry. But as the Equifax leak case has taught us, once a security breach does happen, it’s best not to be sorry twice. Read on so your business doesn’t experience the same fate as the giant, bumbling credit bureau.

What happened to Equifax?

Equifax, the huge American credit agency announced in September 2017 that its database was hacked, resulting in a leak of tons of consumers’ private data, including personally identifiable information of around 143 million US citizens. It included names, social security numbers, addresses, birthdates, and credit card and driver’s license numbers.

Equifax responded by setting up a new site, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, to help its customers determine whether they had been affected and to provide more information about the incident.

Soon after, Equifax’s official Twitter account tweeted a link that directed customers to www.securityequifax2017.com, which is actually a fake site.

Fortunately for Equifax’s customers, the fake phishing site was set up by a software engineer who wanted to use it for educational purposes and to expose flaws in Equifax’s incident response practice. So, no further harm was done to the already-damaged customers, and Equifax is left with even more embarrassment.

So what did Equifax do wrong?

One of the huge mistakes Equifax made in responding to its data breach was setting up a new website to give updated information to its consumers outside of its main domain, equifax.com.

Why? You first need to know that since the invention of phishing scams, phishers have been creating fake versions of big companies’ websites. That’s why so many major corporations buy domains that are the common misspellings of their real domains.

You should also know that phishers can’t create a web page on the company’s main domain, so if Equifax’s new site was hosted there, it’d be easy for customers to tell whether the new page was legitimate and not be fooled by a fake domain name.

What’s obvious from this embarrassing misstep is that Equifax had never planned for a data leak. And this is an unforgivable oversight by a company that handles the information of over 800 million consumers and more than 88 million businesses worldwide.

Don’t repeat Equifax’s mistake

Whether your business is a small startup or as big as Equifax, it needs to prepare for a data breach. Besides having a comprehensive network defense plan, you also need to have the right incident response plan in place.

So what you should do after you’ve discovered the leak is, first of all, be upfront with your customers and notify them as soon as possible.

You also need to establish a message that includes the following information:

  • How the leak occurred
  • How the leak could affect your customers
  • How you will prevent future attacks
  • What your company will do to support affected customers

You should also create a web page to keep your customers up to date. But remember, the new web page should be under your company’s primary domain name.

As we’ve seen from Equifax, an incident response plan that’s robust is a must. Feel free to talk to our experts about how you can come up with an acute one — so you won’t have to repeat Equifax’s apologetic statement, since it doesn’t help the company redeemged reputation at all.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto

Need business management software? Try ERP

Need business management software? Try ERP

Whether you run a startup or a well-established corporation, there are always ways to improve how the business is managed. For some, introducing new corporate policies can streamline business processes, but if you want to see significant improvement, consider enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

What is ERP?
Simply put, ERP software integrates various aspects of your business — from accounting and human resources to production and sales — into one system where you can easily manage tasks and process data.

The key feature of any ERP system is a central database that gives users a complete summary of financials, sales figures, and other important metrics. In practice, this means employees in different departments can rely on the same information without your having to reenter that information into a different database.

But simplicity is only one of many benefits.

Enhanced reporting
With business information consolidated in one location, you can generate comprehensive reports and analytics at any time.

One of the most popular uses for this feature is financial reporting. General ledgers, revenue recognition, and tax reporting functionality are built into most ERP software solutions, allowing you to balance the books in seconds.

In addition to this, ERP systems come equipped with business intelligence features that provide intuitive analysis into your operations and forecast the growth of your company. This helps you and other executives find fresh business opportunities and make better-informed decisions.

Better customer service
Access to up-to-date business information also makes it easy to provide high-quality customer service. Suppose a customer inquired whether or not an item was still in stock. Rather than wasting five minutes asking your supply manager, who then checks his or her own records, representatives can access the ERP database to provide the customer with information in half the time.

Simplified compliance
Until recently, most organizations were forced to rely on impractical spreadsheets and manual processes to meet compliance requirements; but with ERP, you can easily and consistently achieve this.

ERP software generally comes with audit functionality, giving you full visibility into your processes. What’s more, it provides templates and guidance to help you meet regulations within your industry, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the International Financial Reporting Standards.

Streamlined workflow
Another key feature is automation. Repetitive tasks that eat a huge chunk of your time can be eliminated by programming automated workflows. For example, you can set your ERP to instantly reorder materials when stock levels have reached a certain threshold. This ensures that your shop never experiences out-of-stock or overstocked incidents.

You can even assign workflows that route invoices and reimbursements to the right accountant to make sure tasks are handled quickly and efficiently.

Rich integrations
The beauty of ERP software is that you can integrate it with other services to extend its capabilities. If you need to track customer information and sales figures, you can combine it with customer relationship management software or pair it with e-commerce services to streamline web-based purchases.

ERP systems can adapt to your ever-changing needs, which is incredibly valuable for your rapidly growing business. If you need more ideas or solutions that can add value to your business other than ERP, call us today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto

How SaaS can benefit your business

How SaaS can benefit your business

As technology progresses, more solutions are created to help businesses reduce costs and increase efficiency. One such solution is “Software as a Service,” aka SaaS. To know if this new solution can be of benefit to your business, you need to know first what SaaS actually is. Read on to learn more.

What is SaaS and what makes it appealing?

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a software delivery model that allows you, as a user, to access software from any device via the internet. This gives you more flexibility since you won’t have to come to the office to use the software, but will be able to work from anywhere that has an internet connection.

As opposed to a traditional on-premises setup where software is stored locally, SaaS software is hosted in the cloud, eliminating the need to buy new hardware or spend money on its maintenance. Besides, by transferring software hosting to a third party, you’re also outsourcing all the responsibilities that come with maintenance such as upgrades and troubleshooting.

Another aspect that sets SaaS apart from using on-premises software is licensing. With on-premises, you purchase a license and pay yearly support fees; while with SaaS, you pay a monthly or annual subscription fee that covers licenses, support, and other fees. This is advantageous since it allows you to spread out costs over time, instead of purchasing licenses outright.

Will my data be safe?

One of the issues that makes companies reluctant to switch to SaaS is data security. Who will own my data? Will my data be safe? What if the vendor goes out of business?

First of all, when you’re outsourcing your software to a SaaS vendor, you have to sign a service level agreement (SLA). Make sure that the SLA specifies that you own the data and that the vendor is obliged to provide access to your data even if they go bankrupt.

Secondly, it’s likely that data hosted by your SaaS vendor will be more secure than when it’s stored on your average SMB’s network. That’s because SaaS vendors have to undergo strict security audits, forcing them to invest more in security, backup technology, and maintenance than a typical SMB has to.

Should I switch to SaaS or stick to on-premises?

SaaS is an ideal solution for small- and medium-sized businesses with straightforward business models that are looking for a way to reduce upfront costs. But if your business is large or has complex business processes, a traditional on-premises solution might be a better choice since it offers more functionality and allows for full customization.

Still unsure about whether SaaS is the right answer for your organization? Want to know more about SaaS before making the transition? Call us today. Our experts are ready to answer any questions you may have about SaaS!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto

Troubleshoot your WiFi with ease

Troubleshoot your WiFi with ease

You’ve invested in WiFi routers so you can access emails, collaborate in real-time, browse Facebook, and watch YouTube videos at blistering speeds. But when your WiFi refuses to work the way it should, the frustration sets in and you begin to contemplate smashing your router into pieces. Avoid the temptation with these easy ways to troubleshoot five common WiFi problems.

Range constraints

WiFi works via radio waves which are broadcast to all possible areas from a central hub, usually a piece of hardware known as a router. In order to avoid a weak signal in your office, make sure:

  • Your router is placed in a centralized location and not tucked away in the farthest corner of your facility.
  • Your WiFi antennae are either in a fully horizontal or vertical position for optimal signal distribution.

Note that WiFi range constraints can also occur from interference, so if your office is situated in a highly populated area, try changing your router’s channel.

Slow speed

Despite having high-speed or fiber optic internet, slow load times can still occur for a number of reasons. To eliminate this, try the following:

  • Make sure your router is located in the same room as your endpoints.
  • Have more routers to better accommodate a high number of connected devices.
  • Close bandwidth-intensive applications such as Skype, Dropbox, YouTube, and Facebook.
  • Disable your router’s power-saving mode.
  • Create a new router channel to avoid network bottlenecks.

Connection issues

We understand how frustrating it can be when the WiFi network shows up on your device but you just can’t seem to get it to connect. Before you give up, these solutions might help:

  • Determine whether your WiFi connection is the problem or if your internet is down by plugging in your laptop directly into the router via an Ethernet cable. If you get a connection, then your WiFi is the culprit.
  • Reset your router with a paperclip or a pen and hold down that tiny button for about 30 seconds.
  • Try rebooting your device.

Unstable connection

Random drops in WiFi connection can happen from time to time. If this has become a constant nuisance in your office, try the following quick fixes:

  • Move your router to a different spot or even a different room.
  • Avoid having multiple routers in the same location as they can confuse your device.

Network not found

Glitches in the router can result in your WiFi network not appearing at all. Two solutions that can resolve the problem are:

  • Disconnecting the router from the power source and waiting at least 30 seconds before reconnecting it.
  • Checking to see how old your router is; if it’s over three years old, you’re probably due for a replacement.

When you  experience WiFi issues, these tips will help you avoid serious downtime.  But if you’d rather have a dedicated technology provider take care of your hardware needs, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto