Categories
Technology

Automate using Automate.io and Microsoft Flow

Business today gets done through the technology that connects us. The problem is that no matter what, there will never be one master program that does everything we specifically need. We’re forced into optimizing our work lives through no less than a dozen applications that we ourselves string together. While this is still faster than reverting back to pen and paper, you may still find yourself having to do a task in one program only to do it again in another.automate.io For example, right now I have my newsletter program, email platform, YouTube, CRM, LinkedIn, several other social media programs, my internal chat app and our company website all running at the same time in order to get work done.

Let’s say I meet someone who I want to do business with: I have to find them on LinkedIn, send them a follow-up email, add them to my contacts list, and add them to my mailing list.
Flow
This takes time, and if you are going through a large list of new potential clients after a trade show, you could find yourself losing a day just doing data entry. Happily, there is a solution to this problem, and it’s called automation.

Most major programs today have open API’s that other third party apps can create integrations for. Instead of having to repeat yourself for every application, you can use programs like Automate.io or Microsoft Flow to bridge the gap between programs.

In this typical sales situation, you can now add your new contact to your CRM. Your automated processes will take that information and send that contact a LinkedIn invite, add them to your newsletter mailing list, and also send them an email thanking them for their time. Now you have taken three steps and turned them into one.

There are countless ways that these automation programs can be used, and more applications are jumping on board with this system every day. If you are finding yourself doing repetitive tasks in multiple application then take the time to find an integration that will ensure that you are only doing your most important work.

Categories
Technology

Stop Ransomware In It’s Tracks

Today we are going to review a brilliant tool that stops ransomware and other spam in its tracks. It’s called Sendio Opt-Inbox, and it’s more than just antivirus and spam filtering; it’s all of that combined with two-factor authentication, meaning that if anyone sends you an email, a human has to verify that they sent that email to you.

Sendio
Sendio Anti Ransomware Protection

This nifty tool is different because it completely filters out mass email attacks. Ransomware is a numbers game; large scale attacks use automated systems to send out thousands of emails, knowing that some portion of those emails will inevitably succeed. However, hackers and their automated systems do not account for any kind of authentication process.

When you sign up for Sendio, you are opting to re-route your mail through their system. This allows them to run a series of scans on the email and check the IP address to see if the email is coming from a trusted source. Before Sendio hands off the email to you, the sender will go through the “Sender Address Verification SAV” process or their email won’t be delivered. This means that someone actually has to tell Sendio “It’s okay, I’m a real person and I want to have a conversation with the addressee.” Sendio makes sure that you are only having meaningful conversations with people who you want to talk to.

What about automated emails, like newsletters, that you voluntarily subscribe to? Sendio takes this one step further: you can not only choose to trust certain newsletters, but also choose when these emails get sent to your inbox.

Is this new fancy widget expensive, or even worth the extra cost? The starting price is $34 per month, and the pricing changes depending on whether you have Sendio host the application for you, or if you host it on your own network. You can run a quick cost-benefit analysis to see if an application like Sendio would be cost effective for you and your organization. Go to the store and get a cheap stop watch, and click the stopwatch every time you sort through junk mail. Do this for a month, and you will see how much time you could save sorting through junk mail alone. Multiply this estimate by the number of employees in your company, and you can see that a product like Sendio is easily worth the price. Beyond the amount of sheer time saved, you can assume increased productivity, and thus an additional capacity to increase revenue. Furthermore, a product like Sendio could save you countless amounts of time, money, and data loss by preventing ransomware attacks.

It sounds great, but are there any downsides to this magical tool? Unfortunately, no tools on the market are 100% foolproof. Potentially, if you are subject to a highly targeted attack, the attacker could manually go through the verification process, assuming that Sendio hasn’t already flagged their domain or IP address for fraudulent behavior. However, with the high volume of fraudulent emails sent out by hackers every day, it seems improbable for hackers to find an effective way around this new gateway.

Ransomware has caused too many executives and management sleepless nights and it is time for a system that can help you take back your peace of mind. Talk to your IT partner about implementing Sendio across your network. Get you time back, become more efficient, and most importantly, get a few more hours of sleep!

Categories
Technology

Use Technology To Avoid Pesky Salesmen

Technology has driven a wedge into the profession of sales in a way that industry wasn’t prepared to deal with. On the one hand, you rely on it to keep you connected, but on the other hand, you also want it to protect you and keep your life private as well. Salesmen look to utilize every bit of accessible information to help them drive revenue. In the meantime, they create a lot of noise in your inbox that for the most part, you couldn’t care less about.

We have a unique perspective on sales because we are the purveyors of technology for our clients, and like every other business, also need to sell in order to grow as a company. This allows us to see how businesses are set up and how the technology can be taken advantage of in order to drive more sales. What we have learned is that there are a few ways to hide in plain sight so that you can only be reached by people you care about while remaining invisible to the rest of the world.

Stressed businesswoman is frustrated and overworked at her desk and computer isolated on white background

Problem #1: Email

Let’s start with email, the most important means of communication for businesses today. Except for when everyone knows your email address; then it becomes a time sink to delete thousands of emails just to get to the handful that are important. How does this happen? It starts when you set up your email address for your company. You choose your domain along with a format so that everyone in the company has basically the same email. This looks professional but the downside is that it is very predictable. For example, john.doe@domain.com might be the owner while sally.jane@domain.com might be the receptionist. Meanwhile, you can find the names of all of the key decision makers in your company on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook or Google search. Companies will happily give away contact information to lower level employees while not realizing that they are actually giving away every contact in the company.

Answer

You are playing with smoke and mirrors. If a salesman doesn’t know your email address, he or she is going to guess and they will likely figure it out by sending an email to the most common variations of email addresses that businesses use until they don’t receive a kickback email. The best bet is to have more than one email address. Have one that you use to get your work done and another that serves as a filter to catch all of the unwanted emails. Make your filter email predictable and easy to guess and use an uncommon variation as your important email. Additionally, you can also purchase another domain and use that for your important email separate from your web address domain. If a salesman is relying on guess work to get your email, it will be very difficult to put this together.

Problem #2: Phone/Voicemail

The second biggest issue is the dial by name directory and your personal extension. You may have hired the toughest gate keeper in the world but if a sales person knows your name and can use a dial by name directory, they might as well have your direct line. Even if you forgo the dial by name directory altogether, it is important to remember not to start your voicemail with “Hi, this is John Doe at extension 222” which accomplishes the same thing as far as any sales person is concerned. More often than this small human error, is the error built into your auto attendant that says “Hello, you have reached John Doe at extension 222. Please leave a message at the tone”.

Answer

If you are going to opt into the dial by name directory, you should make an effort to hide your name on all of your social profiles, especially LinkedIn, by setting your profile to private. Be sure that you are not giving away information for free by putting your email address and extension in your voicemail. Lastly, think carefully the next time you purchase a phone system and look at each feature to see how it may be used by a salesman to contact you. Many of these features can be customized, however, most of them are set to default which gives away the most information.

Problem #3: Social Media

Social media is making it very difficult to hide from people who don’t know who you are. It makes you look good to have a striking LinkedIn profile with lots of connections, but while you are advertising yourself, remember that that information is accessible to everyone. If a salesman stops by a company to leave some information and the gate keeper won’t give them the contact information for the decision maker, there is no need to lose sleep over it. It is more than likely that all the information they need will be right at their finger tips as soon as they log into their computer.

Answer

If you are going to have a LinkedIn profile, be sure to keep your profile private. In most cases, all a salesman needs is a correct name to get your email and to start flooding your voicemail inbox. The goal is to be easily accessible by those who already know who you are and by the people who you want to contact you, not by those who are looking to sell you something. It is also important to remember that companies like LinkedIn are playing both sides. While you can set your profile information to private, you can also pay for a Sales Navigator account to remove those privacy settings. The ultimate truth is that if you are going to put your information on the internet, it will be used by people who want to get in contact with you, even if you don’t want to hear from them.

It has gotten to the point where it is almost astonishing to not be able to find contact information for prospective clients online. Combine this with the human tendency to be predictable, and there are no barriers keeping your inbox from getting flooded. This can be troubling and can cause many distractions in your work life if you do not develop a strategy to keep your privacy under control. One way you can benefit from working with an IT partner is by setting up the systems that connect you so that they also protect your privacy.

Categories
Technology

The Technical Logistics Of Moving A Company

Are you seeing a move in your company’s future? Even if you’re not actively planning one at this moment, eventually, you may have to move to a new location. As you’re probably well aware, this can be a logistical nightmare.

As an IT partner, we work closely with our clients every time they have to move. We want to share some of the unique IT lessons that we have learned along the way. When the time comes for you to move again, hopefully, you can avoid some of these common problems that we have helped companies work through.

#1: Internet Access
Starting from the outside of the network and working our way in, we need to address internet access first. When you are looking for a new location, it is very important to know what kind of internet is available. There is a chance that you could be moving to an area where the fastest internet is a 1.5 meg T1 line or worse. On the other hand, you may sign a lease on a new building and find that the internet isn’t built out yet. In this case, the internet service provider may require that you pay thousands of dollars to have the internet connected to your building. In either case, make sure your internet is ready to go on the date that you move in, or productivity will likely suffer.

#2: Cabling Infrastructure
Now that we are inside the building, it is time to think about the infrastructure that is going to connect everyone together. Here we find that there are two common pit falls. If you are moving into an old building you may find problems with the low voltage cabling, especially in warehouses. Old cabling can cause nightmares with internal network connectivity, speed, and reliability. Make sure that you are working with a low voltage contractor to inspect the existing cabling before you sign a lease on a building.

#3: New Buildings
The second issue we find is when companies are looking for a new warehouse. While a brand new building certainly has its benefits, you will want to consider that the building may just be a shell that the developer is expecting the new tenant to build out accordingly. Aside from having to install new cabling to collaborate with your floor plan, you will need to consider that the warehousing spaces likely do not come pre-built with infrastructures like an IDF or intermediate distribution frame. You will likely need to make a significant investment into the building just to have things like reliable WiFi, scan guns, and local connectivity.

These are some of the most common issues that we see business overlooking when they move to a new location. Of course, if we were to make a list of all the possible problems, we would have to write you a novel. To put it simply, if you are looking to move to a new location, be sure to set up a time to meet with your IT partner before you sign a lease on a new building. There are unique logistical problems within IT that most people do not consider when changing locations, and a quick overview with your trusted partner can save you a lot of time and money.

Categories
Technology Training

Use Date and Time Functions in Microsoft Excel 2016

In today’s video, we are going to show you how to work with dates and times in Microsoft Excel 2016. First, we will show you the logic that Excel uses to calculate dates, and then we will show you how you can work with this logic.

It is useful to understand that Excel sees dates as numbers, adding one number for every day after the first of January 1900. The hours, minutes and seconds are stored as decimal values. Knowing this will help you be able to work with the date and time functions more easily.

The next step in working with dates and times is to know the “Today” function, which will bring up the current date in any cell, and the “Now” function, which will bring up the current date and time. If you need to reference a date in your spreadsheet, it is easier to type in the equal sign followed by “Today” and Excel will automatically populate the date for you.

Another common function is knowing how to calculate someone’s age using their date of birth in a formula. To do this you will need to know how to use either the “INT” or Integer function or the “YEARFRAC” function. Both will calculate the difference between a recorded date and the current date simply by using them in an equation.

Working with dates and times in Excel is very straight forward once you know how they are being processed. Knowing how to use functions to manipulate dates and times will help make you more accurate and efficient when working in Excel.

Categories
Technology

PCI Compliance Audits

Have you ever been audited for PCI compliance? If not, it is most likely that at some point you will be. In order to maintain the ability to process payments electronically, this will be a fact of life. The more transactions you process in a year, the more often you will be getting a visit from your friendly neighborhood qualified security assessor (QSA).


In short, a PCI compliance audit should not be something to fear as long as you are willing to rectify any issues that your QSA finds. This is a matter of determining liability on the part of your electronic payment processor. If you are not PCI compliant and you have a security breach, then your payment processor will not cover damages.

In most cases, you will receive a notice that you are being audited by your payment processor for PCI compliance. The audit will be performed and you will receive a report stating whether or not you are PCI compliant and if not, what you need to resolve in order to get there. At this point, it is up to you to work with a partner to help resolve any issues found by the QSA.

When you receive your PCI report, it can be confusing knowing how to implement the requirement without a partner that is experienced in compliance audits. Working with a company like eTop Technology can help you plan and implement solutions to ensure that you pass your PCI compliance audit both now and in the future. If you find your company in this position, please reach out to us and we will help you build a secure future.

Categories
Technology

How to prepare for ransomware

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about ransomware: a type of computer virus that encrypts your files and holds them for ransom. Worse yet, there is no guarantee that your data will be released if you pay the ransom fee. In light of the most recent ransomware attack called “WannaCry” that infected a substantial number of businesses in Europe, it is important that you are taking measures to ensure that your business is safe.

Antivirus and firewall concept with businessman protected with umbrella

If you are not familiar with the statistics, ransomware was a billion dollar industry in 2016, and every cyber criminal knows it. There is exceptional financial motivation for these scams to be produced indefinitely, and they become increasingly sophisticated every day. As a business owner, ransomware is a constant threat that cannot be ignored.

Playing defense in the ransomware game is a layered approach, with several security methods to prevent ransomware from getting to your network. The first line of defense includes anti-virus, a good firewall, and effective spam filtering. The next important step in any security plan is user training. Ransomware is generally not a problem until someone within your network clicks on the wrong email or web link. The final layer of defense are things like an insurance policy or data backups.

Preferably, investing in each one of these layers is best practice. However, if you have to choose one component over another, backups are the most important investment that you can make. With a good backup system, you may lose some time and a nominal amount of data after an attack, but you will be able to restore your data without the ransomware affecting your business.

In addition to having the data backups in place, it is also essential to ensure that your backups are up-to-date and running properly. Backups have a tendency to face errors that can disrupt a backup schedule. With proper backup monitoring, you may find that your backups were not operating as expected, thus leaving your data vulnerable.

Talk to your IT professional to ensure that you have both preventative security measures and contingencies in place to protect your data in the event of a ransomware attack.

Categories
Technology Training

Set up and switch between user accounts in Windows 10

If you have more than one user account on your computer you will soon realize the frustration of trying to log into your account only to find that your password doesn’t work. Usually, this is caused by the user unknowingly trying to log into the wrong account. This is a simple but common mistake that we see frequently. To help save you time, money and frustration, make sure to check the user account that you are trying to log into before calling for support.

In this video, we will show you how to create a new user account in Windows 10. We will also show you how to log out of your account and switch users if you need to sign into another account.

Categories
Technology

Scam Email and Phishing Attempts

As an IT support company, we are always telling our friends and clients to be cautious with what they click on or whom they give personal information to. Most people know to avoid giving money to a Nigerian price, but scams and phishing attempts are becoming more advanced every day. Many scam emails disguise themselves as people or companies we already know and trust. You must always be diligent to avoid falling for the latest tricks. Today, we came across a good example within our own company that illustrates why being cautious is so important.

Even IT Companies Get “Phishy” Emails!

Capture

What is wrong with this picture? First of all, Sara was not expecting to make any immediate transfers. Secondly, there is no reference to what is being purchased or the reason for a transfer of funds.

Once your alarm bells begin to go off, you will start to notice additional red flags. For example, what is wrong with williampote@etoptechnollogy.com? Notice that the domain etoptechnology.com only has one “L”, as seen in Sara’s email address. However, if you examine at William’s email address, you can see that it contains the wrong domain. If you did not closely examine the sender’s email address, this detail could easily be missed.

In addition to the wrong domain name, there is another tip-off that this email is a scam. The sender signed the email with the nickname “Bill,” but William does not go by Bill.

Had Sara missed these red flags and fallen for the phishing email, she may have replied to confirm that she is ready to make a transfer. She would likely have received a reply email with a link to a wire transfer site that would take her money, never to be seen again. Although this seems like a crude method to steal money, it has led to businesses losing millions in a single transaction.

What Can I Do?

No matter how good your firewalls, antivirus, and other security measures are, there will always be threats like these that slip through. Though the potential for phishing may be intimidating, you can generally protect yourself by following these tips:

1. Keep your guard up and be cautious

2. If you receive an email or any correspondence that you were not expecting, especially relating to requests for money or personal information, verify with the sender through an alternate source like a phone call. Wherever possible, attempt to find the sender’s contact information through Google or some other means, rather than contacting them through the information they supplied.

3. Always closely examine the domain in your senders’ emails and any subsequent websites you get directed to.

4. If you think you have received a phishing attempt, or you already fell for one and think your email or network has been breached, contact your IT provider immediately. Better to be safe than sorry!

Categories
Technology Training

Microsoft Outlook 2016 – How to create an email signature

Everyone needs an automatic signature in their email. Setting one up is a simple process if you follow the steps in this how-to video. Generally, an email signature is made up of your name, job title, company name, phone number(s), extension, website, and reply email address.

The important thing to consider is how much information you should give out. Do you need to give away all of your information? If so, will everyone receive the same signature from you? You may want some people to receive all of your contact information, but you may want others to receive only your name.

For this reason, you may want to set up multiple email signatures. For example, if you are reaching out to a potential client and you want them to have all of your contact information, you can have a signature for that purpose. On the other hand, if you are replying to a sales person that is offering something that you don’t want, you can reply with a signature that just includes your name. There is no reason to offer your cell phone number to someone who is going to try to contact you to offer something that you don’t need.

This is an easy thing to overlook. In a business environment where you are already busy, you don’t need to sort through additional emails and phone calls. Take these steps now so that you can limit the amount of noise in your life and become more productive.