Cyber Criminals Are Actively Exploiting a WordPress Plugin Zero-Day

Wordpress Security

Cyber Criminals Are Actively Exploiting a WordPress Plugin Zero-Day

The Fancy Product Designer plugin — commonly used to configure visual products on WordPress, Shopify, and WooCommerce — has been compromised. Cybercriminals are actively looking for sites that use this plugin so as to exploit a recently-discovered vulnerability.

Wordpress Security

What Is a Zero-Day Exploit?

The term zero-day exploit, or just “zero-day” or “0-day”, refers to a type of vulnerability in computer software that the software vendor is aware of but that doesn’t yet have a patch or fix. During the space of time between when the exploit becomes known and when there is a patch or fix for it, the flaw makes the affected software extremely vulnerable to sinister activity.

Naturally, zero-day vulnerabilities are never intended. They are usually found where the software company least expected to find a problem. At the same time, it is up to the software company to alert affected users and to find a patch for the flaw as soon as possible. Keeping the public and/or private software users in the loop is the best thing a software company can do to help stave off complications such as leaked or corrupted data or other compromised resources.

What Is Fancy Product Designer?

Fancy Product Designer is a plugin. In other words, it’s a type of software that complements an already-existing software program with a unique feature.

In the case of Fancy Product Designer, the website explains that the plugin enables “you and your customers to design and customize any kind of product. Limited only by your imagination it gives you absolute freedom in deciding which products and which parts of the product can be customized.” As of early June, Fancy Product Designer had been installed on over 17,000 websites worldwide. These sites include WordPress sites, Shopify sites, and WooCommerce sites.

What Are Hackers Doing With the Exploit?

The bug in the Fancy Product Designer has made it possible for hackers to take advantage of Fancy Product Designer websites by deploying executable PHP files. This, in turn, allows them to entirely take over a website in any way they please.

As the majority of websites being exploited are selling something online — either a good or a service or both — most hackers will use this newfound power to obtain order information. The affected e-commerce sites will, of course, possess information such as personal names and addresses, credit card information, and in some cases, social security numbers and other personal data.

Zero-day exploits should be announced to the affected parties as soon as possible so that actions can be taken on the company level to deter hackers and possibly disable the vulnerable plugin entirely. Security preventions vary from company to company, so some affected businesses will already have security measures in place. However, others will not.

As for the Fancy Product Designer zero-day, the product designers announced that active exploitation had been going on since January 30th, 2021. A new, patched version of the plugin has been available since June 2nd, 2021, but it must be manually downloaded.

How Can I Avoid Running Into a Zero-Day Exploit That Affects My Company?

If you are a business owner or manager, chances are, you use at least one type of software to operate your company. Unfortunately, this means you’re at risk of being exploited by zero-day vulnerabilities.

These vulnerabilities crop up from time to time and are becoming relatively normal. As software and technology, in general, becomes an increasingly large part of daily life and business affairs, and as threat actors disappointingly become more adept at their craft, zero-day vulnerabilities will continue to be a problem.

The best way to combat these vulnerabilities is to start with prevention. Choose to work only with software vendors who prioritize cybersecurity. When software is as airtight as possible, zero-days are far less likely to be a problem.

Still, they do happen. To handle them well when they occur, choose your own top team of managed service providers. Again, you want professionals who prioritize cybersecurity and those who stay abreast of zero-days that may affect your company. Cutting off connections with infected software right away can prevent major problems down the line.

If you don’t currently have a reliable managed service provider you’re working with, start speaking with companies in your area today. The sooner you ensure your business’s cybersecurity, the sooner you can rest easy when it comes to zero-day vulnerabilities.

Could A Colonial Pipeline-Style Cyberattack Disrupt Your Business?

Could A Colonial Pipeline-Style Cyberattack Disrupt Your Business?

The Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack garnered national headlines after hackers caused widespread gasoline shortages along the Eastern U.S. seaboard. Among the hardest hit, North Carolina saw more than two-thirds of local pumps closed, and 80 percent of fueling stations in the nation’s capital ran dry.

Images of long gas lines and the reported $4.4 million ransom paid to the criminal organization known as DarkSide highlight the fact determined cybersecurity has never been more essential to corporate survival. The question business leaders may want to consider right now is whether sophisticated cybercriminals could penetrate your defenses and disrupt operations.

Colonial Pipeline Ransomware

How Devastating Are Ransomware Attacks on Businesses?

The internet provides digital thieves a global reach, and penetrating outfits such as Colonial Pipeline represent just the tip of the spear. DarkSide reportedly forced 47 business decision-makers to hand over upwards of $90 million in Bitcoin payments on the dark web alone, according to reports. If that figure raises concern that your organization could be hit in the near future, cybercrime statistics offer no solace.

A recorded 304 million ransomware attacks were orchestrated in 2020, representing a 62 percent increase from the previous year. The average ransomware demand topped $233,000, with hackers routinely negotiating higher payoffs from more lucrative corporations. Approximately 1 out of every 5 small businesses are the focus of an attack and 80 percent of mid-sized outfits are targeted by cybercriminals in this fashion. While hacks that create widespread disruption such as the Colonial Pipeline make national news, companies often close for two weeks even if they pay the ransom. It’s also not unusual for digital business hijackers to take the cryptocurrency money and not provide the decryption code necessary to restore operations.

Although media outlets reported that DarkSide was shuttering its underworld activities after accumulating substantial wealth, business professionals have every reason to be even more afraid of what comes next. What non-cyber security experts may not be aware of is that DarkSide does not typically lead to ransomware attacks. Its group of online miscreants operates what technology experts call “ransomware as a service.”

That means they craft malicious software for others inclined to target an organization. If your business has international rivals or appears like low-hanging fruit to anyone online, they could task DarkSide or another digital mafia outfit with creating a ransomware file to upend your company.

How To Protect Your Company From Cyberattack Disruption

The Colonial Pipeline hack illustrates the fact that companies with substantial resources can fall prey to a nefarious individual if they let their guard down for a second. Ransomware attacks, like other incursions, typically stem from some type of human error. In many cases, cybercriminals target wide-reaching organizations by sending out thousands of emails laced with malware. Sophisticated hackers such as DarkSide may employ social engineering to gain the trust of someone with access to the network. Once an employee falls for the trickery, they may divulge network access information and a hack ensues. The critical point is that people too often make innocent mistakes and that’s why the following measures remain mission-critical.

  • Require employees to use strong passwords.
  • Mandate password updates on a regular basis.
  • Have a cybersecurity firm integrate multi-factor authentication technology.
  • Ensure all devices possess commercial-grade firewalls and antivirus software.
  • Implement “zero trust” network policies that limit employee access.
  • Deploy virtual private networks for remote workers.
  • Provide ongoing cybersecurity awareness training to all personnel.
  • Create a system of cyber-threat alerts for imminent dangers.
  • Back-up all digital assets to the Cloud and redundant hard drives out of hackers’ reach.
  • Conduct cybersecurity audits that include penetration testing.

Despite the splashy Colonial Pipeline headlines, many industry leaders continue to lag in cybersecurity vigilance. According to research, only 57 percent of decision-makers had a cybersecurity risk assessment conducted in 2020. That may be why nearly 80 percent reportedly lack confidence their operation could withstand a cyber assault.

Business leaders have a rare opportunity to learn from the Colonial Pipeline and avoid disruption. By enlisting the support of an experienced cybersecurity firm, the necessary defenses and employee awareness training can be implemented promptly. In a world in which an Eastern Bloc hacker can attack any company on the planet, hardened cybersecurity defenses are job one.

How to Reinstall macOS on Your Computer

reinstall MacOS

How to Reinstall macOS on Your Computer

If your Mac has been having problems or behaving erratically as of late, it might be time for a fresh install of macOS using Recovery mode and Disk Utility. A new install may also be useful if you have plans to give away or sell your Mac. In this case, you’ll want to remove your personal data and conduct a factory reset before your Mac leaves your possession.

Here’s how to go about reinstalling macOS on your computer using Recovery mode and macOS Utilities.

reinstall MacOS

How Do I Reinstall macOS?

Important: Should You Back Up Your Data Before Reinstalling macOS?

Even if you’ll be keeping your computer in your possession and won’t be wiping data, it’s always a good idea to back up your Mac before reinstalling macOS. That way, in the event of an error, you can be sure your private documents, pictures, and more will remain safe. Backups can be performed using either a separate hard drive or the cloud.

Before Your Begin: Which macOS Version Do You Want Reinstalled?

The following instructions will help you reinstall the latest macOS version that’s been installed on your Mac. Please note that if you prefer to install the latest compatible version of macOS or alternatively, the first version of macOS that originally came with your Mac, you should search for those specific instructions.

Follow These Steps

Step 1: Start by entering Recovery mode on your Mac. To do this, navigate to the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen, and click “Restart…”. This will shut down your computer and immediately start it back up again. As soon as you hear your computer start to come back on, press and hold down one of the following key combinations:

  • On Intel Macs: Command + R
  • On M1 Macs: Power button*

*Hold the power button until you see a startup window appear with options available, and click “Options” and then “Continue”.

Step 2: You’ll see the macOS Utilities window open. For those wiping their disk, navigate to “Disk Utility” and then click “Continue”. If you do not plan to wipe your disk, pause here and move on to Step 8.

Step 3: Erase the desired volume. For Macs with any operating system older than Catalina, simply delete the volume titled Macintosh HD. For Macs that have Catalina or any operating system that came after Catalina, you’ll be required to delete the following two volumes:

  • Macintosh HD
  • Macintosh HD-Data

First, delete Macintosh HD-Data. Next, delete Macintosh HD.

Step 4: If your current macOS version is Catalina, Mojave, Big Sur, or (in most cases) High Sierra, select the format APFS. If your current macOS version is older than these, select the macOS Extended (Journaled) format.

Step 5: For the Scheme, choose GUID Partition Table. Keep in mind that if you only have the volume selected, the Scheme won’t be something you have to worry choose.

Step 6: Select “Erase and wait”.

Step 7: Press Command + Q to quit. Alternatively, select “Disk Utility” and then click “Quit Disk Utility”.

Step 8: Looking at the Utilities window before you (note: if you’ve just wiped your computer following the above steps 2-7, the Utilities window will be appearing for the second time). In either case, select “Reinstall macOS” and wait until the process has completed.

Use the steps above to reinstall macOS on any Mac. Keep in mind that this process should be completed during a time in which you can devote your full attention to it. While you won’t have to stare at your screen throughout the actual reinstallation process, you should be nearby in the event that any troubleshooting is needed.

Understanding the Role of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)

NFT non fungible token

Understanding the Role of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)

Non-fungible tokens or NFTs are rising in popularity as more people discover their importance. These tokens come with unique metadata and identification codes, making it easier to distinguish individual tokens. Unlike digital currencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, you cannot trade or exchange NFTs. They are cryptographic assets representing the value of physical items, such as artwork and real estate, on a blockchain platform.

Another significant difference between non-fungible tokens with cryptocurrencies is that the latter are identical and can be replicated. These characteristics are useful for trading and exchanging currencies. On the other hand, NFTs help enhance trading efficiency for tangible assets like artwork. By adopting tokens, blockchain platforms mitigate fraud risk.

It is possible to use non-fungible tokens to represent property rights, people’s identities, and other items. The characteristics of each token expands the possible use cases. With NFTs, users can conveniently eliminate intermediaries, and it becomes easier to connect the target audience with tangible assets.

An added benefit of using non-fungible tokens is simplifying transactions and introducing new markets.

NFT non fungible token

NFT mania

The Covid-19 health crisis played a significant role in boosting the popularity of non-fungible tokens. However, many experts attribute NFT mania to the need for asset diversification and experimentation. Artists have embraced the tokens, thanks to the ability to trace ownership and authenticity of tangible assets like artwork. Likewise, artists can boost income by monetizing their artwork.

Musicians and other digital products can combat duplication and piracy of their new releases using NFTs. They will find it more practical to achieve this objective by authenticating ownership. The empowerment of artists is essential to revolutionizing the digital art market. It is no surprise that a recent Christie’s online auction featured several NFT art pieces. This high-profile NFT auction helped propel the tokens into the limelight.

Other notable NFT transactions include The Kings Leon’s famous offer to fans. They offered vinyl records and tickets to future tours. Meanwhile, project NBA TopShots sold a wide selection of digital collectibles in a highly publicized non-fungible token transaction.

Characteristics of NFTs

The digital representation of tangible assets comes in the form of a digital footprint known as a hash. Depending on size, the representation can consist of the digital asset itself. Alternatively, it can appear as metadata, which describes the object stored in a physical location (off-chain).

Experts are exploring ways to develop technical standards that enable the interoperability of tokens across various blockchain platforms. Many non-fungible tokens use the ERC721 standard associated with the Ethereum blockchain. On the other hand, the ERC20 standard is common among Ethereum-based NFTs.

The non-fungibility of NFTs makes them non-divisible and distinguishable. They also have a characteristic uniqueness that prevents replication and interchanging or selling the tokens.

NFTs cannot serve their intended purpose outside of a blockchain system. They require this environment for transactions to take place securely. When you create or mint a non-fungible token, the blockchain system records the event. Once created, you can transact with the token via digital marketplaces and auction houses.

The records of subsequent transactions for a particular NFT appear on the same blockchain or distributed ledger. These records help link the token to an owner. Payments for the transactions come in the form of an Ethereum-based unit known as gas.

Individual platforms (digital marketplaces and auction houses) select the currency used to pay for NFT transactions. Some platforms allow payments in fiat money, stable coins, and digital currencies. Transactions using cryptos necessitate the involvement of exchanges, such as Coinbase.

Network congestion and computational power required to handle the transaction determine the amount of gas paid by users. Thus, you can expect to pay higher fees if the network is busy or the computational power requirements are higher.

Summary

Since non-fungible tokens have no clear regulatory or legal framework guiding their use, a lot depends on individual NFTs’ characteristics. Some tokens fall under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID). NFTs falling outside of this regulatory framework may still have links to other frameworks.

The tokens are capable of reinvesting modern finance ecosystems by representing physical assets in the digital space. Blockchain plays an integral role in boosting the importance of NFTs in today’s world. Smart contracts’ tamper resistance is vital to the integrity of NFT transactions.

Key Insights From Cybersecurity Trends and Stats for 2021

Cybersecurity Trends 2021

Key Insights From Cybersecurity Trends and Stats for 2021

Cybercrime is a hot topic that makes news headlines and attracts the corporate world and individuals’ attention. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), there was a 75 percent increase in breaches since the Covid-19 health crisis started through June 2020.

On the other hand, Google reported more than 19 million phishing attempts daily. It blocked these email attacks during the onset of the coronavirus outbreak. Cybercriminals targeted businesses and individuals by impersonating prominent organizations, such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO).

These trends show a persistent rise in cybercrime activities globally in recent years. Bad actors are increasing their activities in tandem with the growing number of businesses establishing an online presence.

Hence, decision-makers need to analyze critical 2021 cybersecurity statistics. Doing so makes it easier to understand the evolution of the threats and implement robust countermeasures.

Tech experts urge companies to focus on three cybersecurity trends in 2021:

  • Ransomware
  • Cyberattack surface (internet of things (IoT) supply chain and remote work systems)
  • Threats to IT infrastructure

Cybersecurity Trends 2021

A Closer Look at Cybersecurity Stats

Here is an overview of stats by type of attack and industry to give you a clearer picture of cybersecurity trends.

Malware and Ransomware Statistics

Criminals are continuing to increase the number of malware and ransomware attacks on businesses of varying sizes. If you fail to protect your business from these attack vectors, the financial cost and reputational damage can be significant. According to recent reports, organizations lost approximately $20 billion in 2020 alone.

Social Engineering Attacks

This attack vector is another problematic area with many breaches reported in 2020. Bad actors employ various techniques, including tailgating, baiting, and phishing.

Hacking Attacks

When it comes to hacking, cybercriminals were more active in 2020 than in the previous year. During the first quarter of 2020, Microsoft detected breaches of over 250 million sensitive records. Meanwhile, a Twitter account breach resulted in the loss of $130 million.

Industry-Specific Cybersecurity Statistics

Bad actors target companies in various sectors, with small businesses bearing a significant portion of the brunt. Up to 43 percent of small enterprises lack cyber defense measures to prevent attacks. Ignorance contributes to high levels of complacence by small business owners.

According to Comparitech, public companies that become victims of breaches lose approximately 8.6 percent of their value.

Healthcare

A healthcare data breach report published in the HIPAA Journal revealed that cybercriminals stole more than 9 million medical records in September 2020 alone. This figure represents a 300 percent increase when considering the monthly average in the healthcare sector.

Education Sector

A significant portion of attacks in this sector involves social engineering and ransomware. The Verizon cybersecurity report revealed that educational institutions suffered up to 228 breaches in 2020. Many employees in the sector failed phishing tests owing to the lack of cybersecurity awareness training.

Financial Services

The majority of attacks (71 percent) have a financial impact on the targeted institutions. Criminal activities result in losses of more than $18 million annually. Some attacks occur despite the presence of specialized threat detection teams. On the other hand, roughly 31 percent of employees in the financial sector failed a phishing test.

Threat Prevention

The ever-increasing variety of cyber threats require a holistic response to maximize threat prevention. Investing in advanced intrusion detection tools is vital to ensure network security. Also, consider deploying advanced malware protection measures and supplemental endpoint security to safeguard your systems.

Unlike in the past, over-reliance on perimeter security no longer provides maximum protection. For this reason, opt for advanced solutions that replace traditional antivirus programs and firewalls. Examples of advanced measures include:

  • Next-generation intrusion prevention system (NGIPS)
  • URL filtering
  • Next-generation firewalls (NGFWs)
  • Application visibility and control (AVC)
  • Advanced malware protection (AMP)

These solutions play a critical role in securing the perimeter, providing robust protection against common threats. Leverage threat intelligence to enhance your cybersecurity technologies’ capabilities. A combination of visibility and protection measures makes it easier to thwart threats.

Threat intelligence helps your IT team determine whether unknown files are malicious or not. In the end, you increase the number of unknown threats that your system understands.

An additional way to improve cybersecurity measures and prevent hackers from compromising your systems is partnering with external IT service providers. Outsourcing bolsters your internal capabilities and contributes specialized technologies that enhance overall protection.

Here Is Why Windows Virtual Desktop Is Better Than Traditional Virtualization Solutions

Windows Virtual Desktop

Here Is Why Windows Virtual Desktop Is Better Than Traditional Virtualization Solutions

Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) allows your business to leverage either a multi- or single-user Windows 7 or 10 experience. The service also incorporates Office 365 ProPlus. You can count on WVD to help centralize monitoring and management functions. On the other hand, your organization’s system admins can use Azure Cloud to deploy and manage your company’s Windows servers, desktops, and apps.

WVD leverages Microsoft’s enterprise security solutions to maximize data protection. In turn, your organization scales virtualization requirements without worrying about security. The service provides a cost-effective solution, thanks to the subscription pricing model. Additionally, your team enjoys a richer virtualization experience than the Remote Desktop Services (RDS) platform.

Windows Virtual Desktop

Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) Benefits

When it comes to traditional virtualization tools versus Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), the latter provides several advantages over traditional solutions.

Here are the key benefits of switching to Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD).

Reduces Costs

Migrating your organization’s apps and desktops to Azure using the Windows Virtual Desktop service is a viable way to reduce costs. The service enables savings by improving the utilization of critical, cost-intensive resources. Session-based desktops operating on Azure Virtual Machines are more cost-effective.

Microsoft simplifies licensing by eliminating the need for an additional client access license to use Windows 10 via WVD. Server operating systems typically require additional licenses.

Enhanced Compatibility With Office 365

By switching to Azure via Windows Virtual Desktop, your organization benefits from a comprehensive array of cloud-based applications and resources. The best part is that WVD ensures improved integration with wide-ranging Office 365 products. Enhanced compatibility helps improve overall performance in virtual desktop environments.

The boost in performance also applies to additional apps that need reduced latency. Graphics processing capability allows graphics-intensive apps to function optimally in the virtual desktop environment.

Improved Flexibility

Cloud-based solutions like Windows Virtual Desktop simplifies various tasks for end-users and IT staff. Teams benefit from improved flexibility by conveniently accessing the business apps and desktops from any device, browser, or location. Office 365 applications integrate seamlessly with the service, enriching the user experience.

On the other hand, migrating to the cloud reduces IT staff’s workload as they no longer spend increased time managing local networks and physical machines. WVD also makes desktop applications easier to manage, thanks to Windows 7 and 10. Thus, Tech experts create personal and persistent desktops using desktop images.

WVD enhances scalability and flexibility by storing apps and user profiles in different containers.

Persistent and Non-Persistent Desktop Virtualization

With Windows Virtual Desktop, you can take advantage of support for persistent and non-persistent states. The service also supports multi-session and dedicated modes. In addition, users enjoy application and full desktop virtualization experiences.

Stateful VDI or persistent virtual desktop infrastructure allows individual users to operate a dedicated virtual desktop with personalized settings. This state benefits users due to the consistency of custom settings and desktop functionality. In turn, your team members adapt to the virtual desktop environment faster.

However, persistent VDIs are storage-intensive due to the extensive customization and sophisticated desktop image management. It simplifies image management using a centralized portal.

When it comes to non-persistent virtual desktop infrastructure, the system deletes user settings and data at the end of each session. As such, all new sessions deploy a new desktop image. This state minimizes the storage requirements and simplifies image management. You can opt for the non-persistent VDI if you need advanced security and want to reduce storage requirements.

Both persistent and non-persistent VDIs provide a more user-friendly experience. Non-persistent systems rely on FSLogix technology to mimic the user-friendliness of persistent VDIs. Additionally, you can count on non-persistent VDIs to link user profiles to specific computing environments. It attaches the profiles dynamically.

Windows Virtual Desktop Use Cases

With WVD, you find it easier to comply with regulatory requirements and standardize operations. Furthermore, the service allows you to boost workforce flexibility and handle specialized workloads more efficiently. A wide selection of businesses rely on Azure WVD to enhance their remote and office-based teams’ operations.

Windows Virtual Desktop provides a unified solution capable of serving the needs of call center staff, organizations with BYOD policies, and remote staff. The service ensures flexibility by allowing the workforce to use different types of devices. It also helps companies in highly regulated sectors, such as finance and healthcare, meet specific compliance requirements.

Transfer or Backup Google Authenticator in Few Easy Steps

Two-factor authentication (2FA) and face identification

Transfer or Backup Google Authenticator in Few Easy Steps

Two-factor authentication (2FA) plays a critical role in mitigating cybersecurity risks posed by bad actors. This method bolsters access controls by requiring a two-step identity verification when signing into applications. Google Authenticator simplifies this process by enabling users to verify their identity using a smartphone.

When switching to a new phone, you need to transfer the keys. The app maximizes security by ensuring that keys are specific to one device. On the other hand, it does not come with a backup function. By doing so, Google mitigates the risk of cybercriminals gaining unauthorized access to the codes.

However, the lack of a backup function can create significant issues when your smartphone gets broken or lost. With the Google Authenticator app empty, you cannot access specific websites or apps using the two-factor authentication.

Two-factor authentication (2FA) and face identification

Backup Options

Thankfully, you can still take advantage of alternative backup options. Here are viable ways to backup Google Authenticator codes.

Write Down the Code

One practical way to backup the code without compromising security is by writing it on a piece of paper. This method eliminates the need for a printer or another mobile device. On the downside, this approach is nonviable on websites that only show the QR code.

Take a Screenshot

Taking a screenshot is another backup option that allows you to store the code on a separate device. This approach makes it easier to re-enter or rescan the code when visiting specific websites that require two-factor authentication.

This method’s advantage is that it is quick and easy, but hackers may still find and compromise the file on your computer. To store the Google Authenticator code securely, consider moving the file to a USB stick.

Backup Code Using a Separate Device

If you have an extra phone, use it to store the code by either scanning or manually entering the QR code. The additional mobile device can be your old phone, your partner’s smartphone, or a work device. This option allows you to backup the codes easily. However, if you backup using a device that you regularly carry while on the go, it is possible to lose both phones resulting in a problem.

Transferring Google Authenticator to a New Phone

To transfer Google Authenticator easily and conveniently, take advantage of the app’s transfer tool. For this process to work seamlessly, ensure that the source and target devices have the latest Authenticator version.

Start the process by tapping the menu icon on the source smartphone before selecting Export accounts and entering the PIN code. Once you verified your identity with the PIN code, select the accounts you intend to transfer and tap Next.

On your target device, open Google Authenticator and tap Get Started before selecting Import existing accounts. You can find this section at the bottom of the screen.

Proceed to the next step by selecting Scan QR code. If the source device has multiple codes that require scanning, simply follow the prompts to complete the transfer process. The system confirms all successful transfers.

If you transfer Google Authenticator from an iPhone, you need to complete additional steps to move the codes successfully.

Transferring Codes Without the Google Authenticator Transfer Tool

In the event that the transfer tool fails to move the accounts, you can resort to the traditional method. This approach entails transferring Authenticator manually by moving accounts one by one.

For this process to work, you should install the application on your new device. Sign in to your Google account via the multi-factor authentication website. You must visit the site using a desktop device. Once you have logged into the account, grab both your mobile phones to begin the transfer process.

In the Authenticator app section, select the Change phone option before entering the type of mobile phone. After that, follow the prompts. Once you complete this stage, scan the code on Google’s authentication website via the application. Verify that the transfer worked correctly by entering the six-digit code. If everything goes well, the codes on the source mobile device become invalid.

You should repeat the same process with all accounts that use Google Authenticator, such as Amazon, Apple, and Facebook. Avoid removing the app from the source smartphone until you have transferred all accounts to the new device. Deleting the Authenticator application before completing all transfers can result in getting locked out of the remaining accounts.

How to Onboard Remote Employees More Efficiently

Remote Staff Onboarding

How to Onboard Remote Employees More Efficiently

As more companies switch to remote work, employers need to embrace the best onboarding practices to enhance new hires’ experience. Alignment involves updating various tools and processes to ensure seamless onboarding. Additionally, organizations are working tirelessly to leverage productivity hacks for remote teams.

Onboarding new employees remotely change the entire experience for both sides. Hence, the company’s approach to onboarding new hires makes a significant difference. A recent Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) survey in the US revealed that more than 30 percent of managers found coaching and onboarding new employees more challenging since that pandemic started.

This reality compels companies to adopt viable policies and approaches to resolve remote onboarding challenges. Resolving these issues is critical, given that the remote work trend will continue into the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, streamlining the remote onboarding process comes with significant benefits. These advantages include reducing training or coaching time and increased retention rates. New hires are more likely to stay on the job if the onboarding process helps them understand roles and responsibilities. Well-planned remote onboarding enables new team members to build a connection with colleagues.

Remote Staff Onboarding

Remote Onboarding Best Practices

Onboarding remote employees involve a relatively different process than the traditional procedure. When handled appropriately, the virtual process helps new employees feel a sense of belonging. Thus, schedule several virtual meetings to ensure effective communication. Interactive seminars and training courses help familiarize themselves with organizational processes.

Here are the best practices to onboard remote workers more effectively.

Invest in the Right Technology

The first step to ensuring a smooth onboarding process is to invest in the right technologies, such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. These tools provide a reliable and secure connection when conducting training and interactive seminars. They provide chat and video meeting functionality to suit your organization’s needs. However, you should ensure that the new hires know how to use these communication tools.

Set Onboarding Goals

Unlike in-person onboarding processes, virtual introductions require more than just a warm welcome. You need to create a comprehensive list of objectives and procedures to enhance the new employee’s experience. Onboarding virtually may make some individuals feel uncomfortable asking questions. Thus, share the onboarding plan before the scheduled video call. In doing so, you ensure that the new team member knows what to expect.

One of the best ways to prepare for the sessions is to compile a detailed checklist of tasks and objectives. For instance, you can plan to complete human resources paperwork, set up Microsoft Teams accounts, and liaise with relevant stakeholders by the end of day one. You can also target to conduct security training and help the new employee get a feel of various tools by the end of the first week.

Host Virtual Introductions

Hosting a meeting between new hires and the rest of the team helps new members feel welcome and break feelings of isolation. Scheduling the video calls allows you to explain the team structure and generate enthusiasm. In the end, the entire team gets a sense of shared goals.

Help the new staff members remember people’s names easily by providing resources to refresh their memory. One way is to present them with a document listing the team members’ names (including photos), contact details, and position in the company. The document can also outline the organizational structure. Update the resource regularly to ensure accuracy.

Meeting people via video call makes it difficult to remember the names of team members. The process can be overwhelming.

Integrate Company Traditions Into the Onboarding Process

If your company has longstanding traditions that enrich the onboarding process, find ways to integrate them into interactive seminars and virtual training sessions. For instance, you can give new hires gift cards to local eateries if your company provides complimentary lunches on specific days. Likewise, you can host happy hours via video conferencing platforms like Microsoft Teams.

Assess Employees’ Feedback

Once the new hires complete the onboarding process, ask them for feedback. You can achieve this objective by asking the new team members to complete a short survey. In the survey, they can highlight likes and dislikes about various aspects of the onboarding procedures. In addition, encourage the employees to share ideas on how to improve remote onboarding.

Schedule Ongoing Check-Ins

Regularly checking in with the new staff members allows you to identify any issues and resolve them. Doing so ensures that the new hires feel connected to the onboarding process. Also, pair new team members with carefully selected mentors. This approach allows the new remote staff to avoid feeling isolated.

How To Have a Successful Zoom Call

Successful Zoom Calls

How To Have a Successful Zoom Call

When the world went into lockdown, it effectively shut down business for a little while. In the legal world, however, you can’t just stop. This led to law firms and courts using Zoom to conduct hearings and trials. Naturally, this caused some issues. If you are not comfortable with Zoom, you run the risk of making a fool of yourself unintentionally. Follow this guide to ensure your Zoom meeting goes off without a hitch.

Successful Zoom Calls

Familiarize Yourself

The more you know about a product, the easier it is to use. This is true with Zoom. If you know you will have to do Zoom calls, you need to understand how to use the program. You DO NOT want to wait until the last minute and try to figure everything out. Zoom offers free, unlimited 45-minute sessions, so it is easy to go in to explore the options.

Audio and Video

When you are participating in a Zoom call, it is essential that you know how to turn your microphone on and off. When you turn on Zoom, it will prompt you to turn your volume on. You can turn it off by clicking on mute in the lower left-hand corner.

You will want to be muted whenever you are not talking, so any background noises you have are not disturbing the meeting. You will also want to make sure that you remember to unmute yourself every time you go to talk. A trick is to hold the spacebar down if you will only be speaking for a brief period.

You also want to be aware of how to turn the video on and off. When you enter the meeting, you will want your video to be on, and generally, it will stay on the entire time. However, if something comes up, and you don’t want your background showing for whatever reason, you can turn off your video by clicking stop video.

Background

Zoom has a background feature, and you can set virtually any image as your background. You can choose something as simple as a colored background, select an image on your device, or download premade zoom backgrounds and upload them.

You can set your background ahead of time by going into your zoom settings and selecting virtual background. You can also do it when you are in the meeting. If you click on the video arrow, you can choose the background and select an image there.

Sharing Screen

Depending on the settings of the person hosting the Zoom, you may have the ability to share your screen. You will want to try this out because you have to have the window you are trying to share actively open in order to share it. Otherwise, when you click on Screen Share, you won’t have access to that tab.

Screen share also has a whiteboard function. So you can essentially share a whiteboard and either write or type information on it. It will then display on everyone else’s screens who are in the Zoom.

Finally, you can also share multiple screens at the same time via the screen share option.

Waiting Room

If you are hosting a zoom, you will want to enable a waiting room. This means that anyone who enters your zoom link will be placed in a virtual waiting room and cannot enter until you allow them to. This is helpful because it allows you to control who does and does not enter the Zoom. It is common for people to try to “Zoom Bomb” meetings and do inappropriate things. With the waiting room, you can only let in people you know are supposed to be there.

Personal Meeting Room

If you will be hosting a lot of Zoom calls, you should set up a Personal Meeting Room. This is your own private zoom, and you can call it whatever you want. It starts with https://zoom.us/my/, and then you fill in how you want it to end. You will want to keep it simple, so people can easily remember it. Whenever you need to host a meeting, you open up your Zoom application and click start, and it will begin the Zoom. You can then let in anyone trying to access the Zoom.

Touch-Up

If you look exhausted or have poor lighting, you can use the touch-up feature to provide a soft-focus on your screen. This helps you look professional and polished in very little time. To access this feature, go to Zoom settings and then click video, and finally select touch-up my appearance.

Filters

Zoom does have a variety of filters you can use during your video call. To access them while in Zoom, click on the arrow next to the video icon and select filters. You can select any filter that is listed there. To turn the filter off, go back into the same area and click on none under filters.

Practice

Once you have played around with Zoom’s different features, set up a practice Zoom call with someone. It really does not matter who. Go through the different Zoom features while you are on the call, and make sure you know how to turn everything on AND off.

Zoom Master

It’s also a good idea to have someone in the company be a Zoom Master. This means they know Zoom inside and out, and if you are having any issues, you can call them to save the day. Make sure this person is always available during any Zoom calls, so you aren’t frantically trying to find someone to fix your issue.

If someone in your company isn’t willing to do this, reach out to your IT department and have them explain everything to you to make sure you have a thorough understanding of how everything works. If your IT department doesn’t do this for you, reach out to us, and we will be happy to help.

We want to help you with your technology needs. Contact us today to see how we can help.

Inclusive Work Environment Is Vital for Digital Transformation

Inclusive Work Environment Is Vital for Digital Transformation

As an ever-increasing number of companies implement a digital transformation, decision-makers need to adopt viable ways to transition successfully. Creating an inclusive work environment is undoubtedly one of the best ways to achieve this objective. Many organizations find it easier to create the workplace of the future by embracing diversity.

In doing so, they create a people-centric, inclusive work environment that leverages digital solutions to supercharge efficiency and productivity. The best part is that such an environment is more likely to attract the best talent in various fields.

IT experts recommend keeping things simple and implementing changes incrementally. Critical aspects like employee well-being and mental health also play an integral role in bolstering inclusivity. This aspect is vital for remote work because many workers often feel stressed and grapple with concentration and motivation challenges.

Thus, managers and executives need to foster a workplace rooted in flexibility and empathy. Successful transitions require executives to adopt bold measures capable of driving meaningful change.

Digital Transformation

Inclusion as a Top Business Priority

Although many companies stepped up diversity and inclusion efforts, there is still considerable room for improvement. According to a recent diversity report, approximately three percent of Fortune 500 companies release diversity information. This figure shows that many organizations express interest in boosting inclusion and diversity, but progress is sluggish.

To implement meaningful changes, organizations should put in considerable effort. A diverse workforce enables companies to solve problems more effectively and enhance innovation.

Your organization should reinvent its talent pool by examining future staffing requirements from a digital transformation perspective. The future requires a more diverse workforce capable of handling challenges more dynamically. Pick a team that is ready to handle the current and future digital trends. Team members should bring considerable digital competencies.

Long-term success depends on strategies that enable your company to attract the right talent steeped in digital transformation. The new talent can help existing staff embrace digital transformation while transferring critical skills. Agile talent plays an essential role in preparing your organization for the future.

The Role of CIOs and HR Managers

Chief information officers and human resources managers play a pivotal role in implementing diversity and digital transformation plans. This dynamic duo needs to work closely to ensure that employee engagement, culture, and the work environment leverage technology.

Diversity and inclusion strategies share similarities with gamification, which empowers businesses to attract and retain highly skilled professionals. Human resources departments play a vital role in implementing gamification by embracing technology. This approach is also critical when it comes to digital transformation and diversity.

Hiring digitally inclined, diverse team members is more important than just following a trend. It represents a cultural shift capable of propelling your business to long-term success. Many business leaders, including CIOs and HR managers, boost their reputation by implementing successful diversity and digital transformation policies. The cultural revolution leads to improved operating efficiency, increased productivity, and higher profits.

To achieve overall success, you need to formulate viable plans. Furthermore, it is vital to outline timelines and milestones to help your team gauge the plan’s effectiveness.

Business Cases vs. Cultural Revolution

Many organizations grapple with the idea of justifying digital transformation and diversity initiatives based on specific business cases. In the end, some businesses struggle to make progress while trying to identify business cases. Thus, the process becomes a waste of time. Experts recommend skipping the business case and focus on the cultural evolution.

Understanding the role of diversity and inclusion in overall business success helps decision-makers concentrate on the ultimate prize. Digital transformation and an inclusive work environment represent the future of work. Your team does not need to make a business case since complex organizational structures and communication systems drive today’s corporate ecosystem.

Companies gain useful insights by tapping into analytics powered by augmented reality and artificial intelligence. Companies should focus on embracing this reality without making a business case. Digital transformation encompasses various aspects of customers’ and the workforce’s activities. On the other hand, transformation requires the support of a diverse workforce capable of making meaningful contributions.

Once you consider these two aspects, your team has proven a business case. Thus, eliminating the need to spend time deliberating the topic. Experts recommend getting on board or risk missing out on a significant opportunity for your company. Additionally, assess the downsides of diversity parity and the benefits of a digitally connected work environment.

Also, consider how the entire workforce and customers benefit from the initiative. The right decision does not depend on information in spreadsheets and presentations. Focus on the human aspects.