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.

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Cloud Data Storage Gillware

Does your company have a data backup strategy? Cloud backups are a vary important part of any network. Without them, you are at risk of losing your data should a disaster strike. That being said, many questions remain. How should I set up my backup system? How many copies of my data do I need? Why is redundancy important? How do I know that my data is really being backed up? In order to make sure that all of these questions are answered, you need a strategy.
The first line of defense starts with a server. Backing up your workstations to a server will collect all of your data to one point. From there it is important to backup your data to a Network Attacked Storage device or NAS. This is a hard drive that is attached to your server that makes a copy of your data in case your server dies. A NAS device is also helpful for restoring files to the server quickly. With a NAS, you do not have to rely on your internet connection to restore files when data accidentally gets deleted.
When considering a cloud data backup solution, or any cloud solutions, it is important to think about the amount of internet bandwidth you have. Uploading and downloading data to and from the cloud can take a lot of time if your internet connection is slow. In the event of an emergency, it can cause challenges to get data downloaded from the cloud in a timely manner.
Once you have your data on a server that is connected to a NAS and you have a good internet connection, you will want to back your data up to the cloud. There are many cloud data backup solutions to choose from. For this instance we are using a service called Gillware to back up files to the cloud. Using this simple method and having three full copies of your data will insure that your data is safe not matter what emergency may arise.

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Use Windows Defender in Windows 10 to Keep Your Computer Safe

Windows Defender is Microsoft’s security and threat detection software that is built into Windows 10. Windows Defender is a great tool that is rarely utilized and is completely free with the Windows 10 operating system. To use this tool you will need to go into your settings and make sure that Windows Defender is on and up to date.
Begin by navigating to the start menu on your desktop screen. Click on the settings button on the start menu and select “Update and Security” from the list of options under Windows Settings. Here you will find Windows Defender. Open Windows Defender and you will be able to see the status of your computer, your security history and you will be able to scan your computer for any infections. You will need to make sure that Windows Defender is turned on and all of the definitions are up to date. Once that is done, simply select “Full Scan” form the list of options and press the “Scan Now” button. This scan could take some time to finish so make sure that you start this scan when you do not need your computer for anything important.
Once this scan is done you will see a list of all malware that is hidden on your computer and you can make sure to delete it. If you find that you are having a problem with malware and Windows Defender is not able to resolve the issue then give eTop Technology a call! We’re here to help!

Technology Training

Microsoft Excel 2016 Introduction to Worksheets

Microsoft Excel 2016 is an extremely useful tool that can make sense of almost any data you put into it once you learn how to use it. There are a few updates to the functionality and user interface in Excel 2016 that we will be reviewing so that you will be up to speed with all the latest features. In this video we will explore a few of the basic features such as how to open and use a workbook. First we will show you how to open multiple sheets inside of a workbook. Once you have the basics of the cells, columns and rows down, we will show you how to add, subtract, multiply and divide the numbers by their columns or rows.

Like any great peace of software, Excel 2016 has many shortcuts to make your life easier. Once you have learned how to add, subtract, multiply and divide your columns and rows, you will want to learn how to multiply your efforts by using the drag features. This will duplicate the chosen functions for each column or row so that you can see values for each row or column. If you are trying to add up numbers for a set of rows, all you will need to do is set the SUM function for one row. Once Excel understands the function you are trying to accomplish for that row, you will be able to drag and select all of the subsequent boxes to find the SUM values for the remaining rows without having to repeat the SUM process for each row.

Stay tuned for more great Microsoft Excel 2016 videos!


Make Good IT Investments

It might seem early to be thinking about the end of the financial year, but by starting to plan your end of year strategy now, you can ensure that you are left in the best possible position for when tax season comes around.

Equipment prints dollars. Isolated on white background
One of the most common strategies for small businesses looking to decrease their taxes is to decrease the amount of revenue they report for the year. Since small businesses are usually taxed based on the profit that they earn during the year, decreasing the overall profit results in a small tax payment.
Most small businesses decrease their revenue by increasing the amount that they spend on qualified business expenses – anything you spend money on that will facilitate you earning additional business income.

Many people choose to decrease their revenue by spending money on business expenses such as office supplies, new equipment relevant to their field, or by paying bills for the next year in advance.

While all of these choices are great options for decreasing taxable income, another area of spending worth considering for your business is your technology setup. Technology is constantly changing, and investing some of your available profits into upgrading your computers, strengthening your security measures, or purchasing new and improved software may be one of the best steps that you can take for your business.

If you want to get the most value for your money, your best bet is to begin planning these investments with your IT professional in the near future. This will allow them to assess your current computer set-up and to work with you to develop an improvement plan that will best fit your needs and budget.

Improving your existing technology set-up can help to ensure that your business has an up-to-date security strategy and keep your information safe from recent threats. You may also find that new equipment helps you to complete your work more efficiently, or that re-thinking other aspects of your current IT setup helps your business to run more smoothly overall.

Your IT professional will be able to ensure that any investments you make in your technology are ones that are worthwhile and that are tailored exactly to your business’ needs. You will also want to ensure that you communicate with your accountant before making an investment like this – while the principle of spending more to decrease taxes seems simple enough, your accountant is your best resource when it comes to ensuring that your financial choices work out in your business’ best interest.

By partnering with both your accountant and your IT professional, you should be able to come up with a strategy that allows you to invest in your technology – an investment that will definitely pay for itself over time, while also helping to cut down on the taxes that you’ll need to pay this financial year.

Technology Training

Remote Access Computer Support

In the world of information technology you need to be able to help customers globally and in real time so that you can resolve issues on the fly. Remote access support makes that possible. With remote support capabilities, it is as if we were sitting in front of your computer fixing the issue. In reality, you could be half way around the world on a business trip and our tools would allow us to help you anywhere, any time.
In this video we debut a remote connection between Redlands California and Bangkok Thailand by helping a customer with their email signature issues. When an eTop Technology client needs support, they email the support email address with their issue. They receive a remote access code that allows them to begin a remote access session. Once the code is entered into our online portal, our technicians can log in within seconds and resolve any issues.
This tools allows us to be more responsive to our customers needs. By not needing to be at your physical location, we are able to solve more issues in less time, keeping our clients happy and productive. If you are in need of IT support and want to be sure that no matter where you are, you can have access to the help you need. Give eTop Technology a call, we’re here to help!

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