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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Technology

Protect Your Company From “Arrive By Date” Fines

Have you ever had to face a fine for late delivery of products or services to major retailers? Recently we had the opportunity to work with a new client that had this unique issue. Due to network downtime, the company wasn’t able to make shipments on time. As a supplier of textile products to a major retailer, this caused a chain of “arrive by date” fines adding up to $10,000 within the course of two days.

Equipment prints dollars. Isolated on white background

When you work with any major retailer, such as Target or Walmart, you can expect to see a fine of 3% of the total cost of the delivery if the load is delivered before or after the “arrive by date.” If you fail to deliver 10% of the total loads on time, you are no longer allowed to deliver to that retailer, which could mean losing a major account. This is a logistical problem that most manufacturers face, and you don’t want to miss your shipping dates because your company network is down.

The technology you use is the backbone of your business. In the event of a major outage, all business operations come to a screeching halt. The effects of this can not only result in lost revenue due to employee downtime but also far more expensive side effects such as these fines. In the worst case, this could result in the loss of customer and a serious impact on your bottom line.

It is worthwhile to assess what it costs when your network goes down. Understanding this will allow you to see how important it is to make appropriate investments into technology and redundancy to ensure that these issues do not impact your business. Lastly, it is important to work with an IT partner that can ensure smooth network operation and can respond immediately when a problem arises.

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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!

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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.

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Technology Training

Import and Export Contacts in Outlook 2016

If you use Outlook for work, at some point you may need to import and export contacts from your account. Though it may seem complicated, it is actually an easy process if you use the tricks we lay out in this video.

Have you ever tried to import something into Outlook, only to have your file rejected, or your data imported incorrectly?  If you are trying to import contacts into Outlook from a file that isn’t using the same data fields that Outlook needs, you will get bogged down trying to make sure that your data is mapped correctly. If for example, your ‘first name’ data gets mapped to the ‘last name’ data field, your data will flow into Outlook incorrectly.

Before you import anything into Outlook, you will need to know what Outlook wants. Outlook considers a lot of data fields during the import process, and it can be difficult to determine which fields are necessary, or how to get them in the right format. For this reason, it is easier and more reliable to import data into Outlook using the spreadsheet it gives you.

To fix this problem, start by exporting a CSV file out of Outlook. This will give you a spreadsheet template with all of the fields that Outlook requires. Once you have exported a CSV file, you can begin entering the data you have regarding your contacts. If you carefully input your data into the correct fields, you will have a complete data set that is ready to be imported back into Outlook.

Importing is the same process as exporting. You will need to select the updated CSV file from your computer. Outlook will want to verify that the data fields match up, and this won’t be a problem since you are now using Outlook’s template. Now, you should be ready to start importing your contacts into Outlook.

If you follow these steps, you will soon be a master at importing and exporting contacts in Outlook!

To shortcut the export process, you can use this Excel Contacts Template that has all of the data fields that Outlook requires for contact import.