What Is Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) and Why Does it Matter?

What Is Two Factor Authentication_

What Is Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) and Why Does it Matter?

What is two-factor authentication (2FA) and why does it matter? If you are unfamiliar with this extra layer of protection for all of your logins, keep reading. 

It’s no secret that we live in a time where access to laptops and smartphones is so prevalent. Almost everything we do in our daily lives has some sort of connection to these devices, leaving us vulnerable to hackers and scammers who want access to our personal information.

Thankfully, there is a way to help protect yourself. Two-factor authentication (2FA) provides an extra layer of security over what a traditional password offer. Here is what you need to know about two-factor authentication and why it matters to businesses.

What Is Two Factor Authentication_

Why is Digital Security as a Whole So Important?

Before we can discuss 2FA, we really need to talk about a few of the basics as to why digital security is so important. As individuals, the main reason to practice good digital security habits is to protect your personal information. But for businesses, the benefits of taking extra steps to ensure information is secure is two-fold. Not only does this keep private information of your employees and companies safe, taking additional security steps to protect your customer’s digital data builds trust. That’s why it is important to take measures like implementing 2FA.

What is Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)?

That said, let’s discuss what two-factor authentication (2FA) actually is. This is an extra layer of protection that requires users to prove that they are who they say they are by providing a second set of identification credentials.

How it works is that the user puts in their basic login and password. Then they are immediately required to provide an additional piece of information. This information generally falls into one of three categories:

  • Something you know, such as a PIN or a second code;
  • Something you have in your possession, like a credit card you can type in a number to or a smartphone that you can receive a text message on;
  • Something you are, which includes a fingerprint or use of a biometric device.

In most cases, using 2FA on your website or internal desktop will require just the something you know category. Only in extreme cases with especially sensitive data needing protection will companies often utilize the other two options.

What Are the Different Types of 2FA?

Now that we’ve talked about the basics of 2FA, it is a good idea to talk about the types. There are literally hundreds of options for how you can implement this type of security measure, but some are a bit more common than others. The most used types include:

Hardware Tokens: This is usually a small fob or device that produces a code when a user tries to login. The user must then input that number on their screen. This is usually the least preferred option as the fobs are cost prohibitive and easily lost by users.

SMS-Based and Voice-Based: This is where a user receives either a one-time token via a text message or a phone call. With SMS, the user must input the keycode onto the screen to gain access. For voice, the user must verbally say the passcode when prompted during the call. Both methods are extremely common and many companies are opting for their use.

Software Tokens: The most popular 2FA method is a software token. This is where the user must install a special application on their phone and use it to gain access when attempting to login.

Push Notifications: Alternately, you can also opt to use a push notification as part of 2FA. When the user provides their login information on the screen, a special notification is sent to their smartphone. The user must then approve the popup on the phone to continue.

In short, it is always a good idea to take extra precautions to protect systems and data. Two-factor authentication (2FA) ensures information is much more secure than traditional passwords by adding a layer of security. For most businesses, this is a good idea that protects both sensitive data and builds trust with customers.

Hackers Target Zoom Meetings for Cyberattacks

Zoom Security Issues

Zoom Scrambles to Address Cybersecurity Issues in Meeting Platform

As the usage of Zoom has skyrocketed during the coronavirus outbreak, the company has had to respond quickly to security flaws and potential phishing attacks  

As Zoom usage skyrockets around the world, so too do the opportunities to exploit users unfamiliar with the tool.

The Zoom platform has increasingly has been the target of hackers exploiting the vast numbers of users working from home. For context, the company noted that as of December 2019, the most significant amount of daily users was 10 million. In March, that number ballooned to 200 million.

How Are Hackers Exploiting the Zoom Platform?

For many exploits, it starts with a website.

According to Check Point, more than 1,700 domains had been registered using the word zoom in the first three months of 2020. Many of those domains point to an email server, which can indicate the site is part of a phishing scheme.

Remote workers may receive seemingly official meeting notices using the Zoom platform. Hackers ask recipients to head to a login page and enter their corporate credentials.

It’s a perfect storm that’s playing into the hands of hackers. It also means companies need to be vigilant in helping users understand how to access and use the platform and other tools used in this paradigm shift of how work is done.

“Zoom users should be aware that links to our platform will only ever have a zoom.us or zoom.com domain name,” a spokesman noted. “Prior to clicking on a link, they should carefully review the URL, being mindful of lookalike domain names and spelling errors.”

What Is Zoom Doing to Protect Users?

Zoom has had to take several steps recently to address security concerns related to its dramatic usage growth. The company has increased its training sessions and reduced customer service wait times. Here are several of the other issues that Zoom has addressed:

  • Zoombombing. Multiple incidents of zoombombing have arisen in recent weeks. Uninvited visitors to online sessions have gained access and harassed participants by playing music loudly, displaying pornography and disrupted sessions. That’s led to more explanations of passwords, muting controls and sharing settings
  • Windows 10. The company has addressed an issue that affected those using Zoom’s Windows 10 client group chat tool. If chatters used the tool to share links, the Windows network credentials of anyone who clicks on a link were exposed
  • Facebook Interface for Apple Devices. Zoom removed Facebook’s software developer kit from its iOS client to prevent it from collecting users’ device information
  • Privacy Issues. The company removed features, including the LinkedIn Sales Navigator app and attendee attention tracker, to address privacy concerns. It also issued updates to its privacy policy

The company announced it was freezing all feature enhancements to redeploy software engineers to focus on what it calls “our biggest trust, safety, and privacy issues.”

How Can You Protect Zoom Users from Cyberattacks?

Here are some tips to ensure that Zoom users are protected:

  • Use password features to require meeting attendees to log in before being allowed access
  • Update the software. Users should be alerted that upon finishing a meeting, the software will check to see if an update is necessary
  • Encourage managers to use the Manage Participants section features, which can control the use of users’ microphones and cameras. Sharing restrictions are also a good practice
  • Be careful about recording meetings. The recording sits in a file, either online or the host’s computer and could be stolen

Cybersecurity is a sad reality in these turbulent times. However, a focus on prevention and detection are important deterrents to cybercriminals and can reduce the risks to your business.

Coronavirus Forcing Your Workers to Stay Home? Quickly Shift to an At-Home Team in the Midst of Crisis

Coronavirus Work From Home

How to Create a Work-From-Home Team Quickly As Your Business Deals With the Coronavirus

Stay productive and secure your tech network as you deal with the coronavirus. Get support for at-home employees. Learn how to switch from an in-office to a remote team.  

Coronavirus Work From Home

In the midst of the coronavirus, business owners are facing a host of new challenges. To slow the spread of the virus, you may have been asked to suspend services or allow your employees to work from home. At the same time, however, you also need to continue to bring in revenue, stay productive, and focus on growth as much as possible.

Making the shift from an in-office to a remote team quickly, especially at a time when everyone is dealing with untold stresses, can be difficult, and the right approach is essential. Check out these tips.

1. Decide What You Need to Stay Productive

Creating a remote team isn’t as easy as handing your workers a laptop and telling them to check in once in a while. If you don’t have a current work-at-home policy, you need to create one from scratch, and you may need to adjust workflows, find new tools, and create new security policies. As you try to facilitate this shift, keep these types of questions in mind:

  • What can my employees accomplish from home?
  • Can they handle core business activities from home?
  • Even if my business is deemed essential, can I send some employees home?
  • What types of projects do I want to prioritize during this time?
  • What applications do I need to facilitate workflows and keep everyone connected?
  • How can my employees work from home without compromising the security of our network?
  • What can I do to make this new arrangement as productive and comfortable as possible for myself and my team?

2. Consider Providing Employee With Devices

Don’t necessarily encourage your employees to use their own devices when working from home. Their home computers and tablets have all kinds of music, videos, images, and other downloads that may be infected with malware, and their devices are usually not equipped with the same level of antivirus or malware software you use in your office.

To reduce the threat of cyberattacks, consider providing your team with company-approved and secured devices. However, if you already have a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy for your office, you may want to continue having employees use their own devices because in this situation, you’ve already taken steps to secure those devices.

3. Help Your Workers Secure Their WiFi Access Points

As a general rule of thumb, your employees home WiFi networks are probably less secure than the WiFi you use in your office. To secure these access points, instruct your team to do the following:

  • Use stronger encryption
  • Create more complex passwords
  • Hide your network names
  • Use firewalls

To help your employees with these steps, you may want to create detailed tutorials or contact an IT managed services provider to help you.

4. Route Traffic Through a Two-Factor Authentication VPN

To secure your tech environment as much as possible, consider having your employees access your network through a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN encrypts all the information passing from your employees’ computers to your network. Even if a hacker gets onto your employee’s WiFi network, they cannot see keystrokes or any of the data being transmitted.

If you don’t already have a VPN, look into services such as GoToMyPC or Zoho. Also, try to choose a VPN that supports dual-factor authentication. Then, your employees have to enter a username and a password, but they also have to use a second authenticator such as a code texted to their phone number or email address. This layer of security provides extra defense against cyber criminals.

5. Consult With an IT Managed Services Provider

Returning to business as normal may not be possible for a while, and a managed IT services provider can help identify the tools and processes you need to support your new working environment, while also taking steps to ensure your network is as secure as possible.

In difficult times, you want your business to survive, but if possible, you should try to thrive. Our managed IT services can help you adapt to this quickly changing environment. We can help you choose the tools, the processes, and the resources you need to stay as productive as possible.

Remote Workforces Deliver Business & Employee Benefits

Remote Working Coronavirus

When considering the employee and employer benefits of working remotely, businesses are wise to change. The alternative could make your outfit less competitive.  

If you would like to gain a little perspective on how radically our culture has changed, try this exercise. Pick up a pencil and a piece of paper and write out a half-days’ worth of emails rather than send them electronically. You will probably discover the first one looks more like scribble than cursive writing. And, your productivity will completely tank.

Remote Working Coronavirus

At first blush, the exercise demonstrates our reliance on electronic devices and real-time communication. But on another level, it shows that thought leaders are wise to embrace technological advancements as they emerge. Remote workforces rank among the more innovative trends of the business landscape today.

“To remain competitive in today’s work-from-anywhere environment, companies will need to invest in responsive technology infrastructure and enhanced virtual collaboration tools, as well as training and tailored performance management and incentive strategies for remote workers,” director of HR at the Gartner research group Emily Rose McRae reportedly said.

This shift away from in-house staff to people working from home or on the road once earned mixed reactions from industry leaders. But the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted businesses across the globe to find a way to have valued employees work from home until health crisis passes. Employers and employees alike are discovering this advancement tend to be mutually beneficial when utilizing platforms such as Microsoft Teams.

Mutual Benefits of Remote Workforces

The health crisis has motivated businesses to shift to Cloud-based systems and Microsoft Teams strategies as a short-term measure. But HR departments may want to take the opportunity to scan the workforce landscape because work-from-home expectations are expected to surge and impact hiring.

“By 2030, the demand for remote work will increase by 30 percent due to Gen Z fully entering the workforce. Gartner’s most recent ReimagineHR Employee Survey found that only 56 percent of managers permit their employees to work remotely. Organizations without a progressive remote-work policy will be at a competitive disadvantage for attracting and retaining talent,” according to Gartner.

That being said, these are the reasons why the global trend to remote productivity is well-received by management and staff.

  • Commute & Stress Reduction: No one can dispute the fact that commuting to the office adds unpaid work hours. Sitting in traffic or being packed into commuter rails tends to be an unpleasant way to begin and end each day. Employees and employers share this stressful routine. Remote work platforms such as the Cloud and Microsoft Teams allow all parties to sit down with a morning beverage and log on from anywhere. No hustle, no bustle, no extra hours, and no commuter expenses.
  • Talent Without Borders: Before the massive cellphone footprint, people used landlines with rotary dialing, and long-distance was expensive. In those days, it was common to pay a premium just to call someone in the next state over. But just as your cellphone can connect you to people far outside your region without added expense, so can the Cloud. When projects are conducted in Microsoft Teams via a Cloud-based network, your remote talent pool expands exponentially. A skilled person 1,000 miles away can secure a job they are qualified for, and employers gain access to talent otherwise unavailable.
  • Reduced Infrastructure: An increasing number of organizations that do not necessarily require a brick-and-mortar footprint. These outfits can eliminate that cost in some cases. Other operations can reduce office space expenditures. With remote workforces, less can be more.
  • Live-Work Lifestyles: Millennials and the Gen Z crowd tend to see work and life more closely aligned in their lifestyle than previous generations. The Cloud has been a boon and securing offsite positions allows employees a preferred professional lifestyle. Raising children no longer comes attached to childcare expenses or limited “parent hours” jobs.

Microsoft Teams Supports Remote Workforce Culture

With dispersed workforces increasing, Microsoft Teams ranks among the most business supportive products on the market. It seamlessly works with Cloud-based networks and delivers real-time communication. The platform offers chat, video conferencing, managed channels, shared calendar options, and project space that can provide supervisors with top-tier oversight. In these troubling times, Microsoft Teams use has surged by tens of millions. But industry leaders may also want to consider the long-term benefits of embracing remote workforces into the future.

Coronavirus Spreads Computer Viruses as Hackers Target Businesses

Coronavirus Hackers

Hackers Target Businesses Concerned Over COVID-19

Hackers are capitalizing on fear and concern related to coronavirus to launch ransomware and malware attacks. Here’s how to protect your business and employees.

As the COVID-19 spreads worldwide, hackers are taking advantage of an already stressed and strained healthcare system to attack vulnerable companies. Phishing attacks are on the rise worldwide, capitalizing on fear and a desire for information.

In many cases, hackers are sending emails purportedly from the World Health Organization or local hospitals. However, these emails contain ransomware and keystroke-logging malware.

Here’s the latest on coronavirus-themed attacks.

Coronavirus Hackers

What Is the Emotet Trojan Virus?

IBM recently warned of a spam issue targeting Japan. The messages contain Microsoft Word files that are full of macros. When opened, the macros infect uses with the Emotet Trojan. Once launched, the trojan can insert itself into email conversations. As the trojan propagates, the malware lets hackers steal information and embed malware onto users’ machines.

Japan is particularly vulnerable, not only due to the coronavirus but also the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, which are under threat of cancelation. One message translation warns of the coronavirus’ spread to areas of Japan, urging readers to open the attached notice.

A similar campaign has targeted Italian companies with a phishing campaign. It purports to be a notice from the World Health Organization with precautions to take to prevent the virus from spreading.

It contains a malicious Word document asking users to click on an “Enable Editing” button then an “Enable Content” button to see all the information. Users doing so, however, download the Ostap Trojan-Downloader. It contains the Trickbot downloader that is a customizable, frequently updated tool popular with hackers.

How Are Hackers Exploiting the Coronavirus?

As the number of news sites covering the coronavirus has grown, so too have the number of registered domain names related to the virus. According to one analysis, since January 2020, more than 4,000 domains have been registered globally related to the coronavirus. Three percent are considered malicious and another 5 percent deemed malicious, making coronavirus-themed domains 50 percent more likely to be dangerous than others registered in the same timeframe.

The World Health Organization has issued a warning about the daily reports it’s receiving about phishing attempts. However, hackers are smartly creating emails that look as though they’re coming from official sources, leading more users to open the emails and download files. Hackers can scrape information from official websites to create email templates that seem legit.

“National emergencies and/or disasters add a fear factor that acts as one more hook for hackers to get what they need,” said Ron Culler, ADT Cybersecurity’s senior director of technology and solutions, in a recent Vox article. “When fear is added to any targeted campaign — be it a legitimate or scam campaign — the effectiveness of that campaign is increased.”

How Can We Prevent Phishing Attacks?

Businesses can take several steps to educate employees and protect against these attacks. A layered approach to cybersecurity is a prudent way to reduce the risk of attacks from various vectors. Here are some tips:

  • Educate users about the prevalence of coronavirus-related phishing schemes, advise them to be cautious and show them how to detect suspect emails (look for spelling and grammar errors, check the sender’s email address)
  • Ensure that hardware and software are patched and updated promptly, ideally with automated update tools
  • Use and update endpoint anti-virus, anti-phishing, anti-spam and anti-malware tools
  • Have an incident response plan in place to ensure teams can respond quickly in the event of a ransomware or malware attack
  • Update endpoint detection tools such as firewalls and other system monitoring and alert solutions
  • Consider segregating networks to reduce the impact of self-propagating malware
  • Use email security tools that inspect attachments and disable the running of macros on attachments
  • Update blacklists of malicious IP addresses and compromised websites
  • Use content filters to block access to inappropriate and dangerous websites
  • Review access restrictions to limit the spread of malware throughout systems

Businesses must now address coronavirus-related issues both from an employee safety standpoint and a cybersecurity perspective. For assistance in protecting your business from coronavirus cyberattacks, contact your managed services provider today.

Top Tips for Improving Data Analysis with the IF Function in Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel Training

Improving Data Analysis with the IF Function in Microsoft Excel

Have you ever wondered what the IF Function in Microsoft Excel actually does?  Here we explore a few top tips for making it save you time while evaluating data. 

 

There’s no doubt that Microsoft Excel is a robust program. Companies all over the globe utilize this application to analyze, track, and otherwise organize data in an easy-to-read format. But how much do you know about it and the various features that are available? And are you taking the right steps to ensure you’re looking at your spreadsheets in the most efficient manner possible? Here are a few of our tips and techniques to help you save time and improve your data analysis by using the IF Function in Microsoft Excel.

Tip #1: Understand What the IF Function Actually Does to Help Your Workflow

The first real step in making sure you’re using Microsoft Excel’s IF Function appropriately is to understand what it actually does. The IF Function tests whether a condition is true or false, and then performs an action. These actions can be calculations, data entry, or something closely related. The function is incredibly useful if you have large data sets or need to make significant changes, as it is a great way to save time in your workflow.

Tip #2: Creating the IF Function is Incredibly Easy

Creating the IF Function effectively starts with knowing the three parts: the logical test and then a value if true and a value if false. From there, all you have to do to make it work with your spreadsheet is to choose the data sets that you want to evaluate and determine what you want the true and false results to be. To do this, use the IF Function on the Insert a Function menu. Click okay and enter the conditions as you are prompted to do so on the screen.

Tip #3: Knowing How to Nest Functions

It is possible to use multiple IF Function formulas at the same time. In some cases, you might have multiple different possibilities or different levels of data that you want to compare. That’s when knowing how to nest multiple IF Functions becomes important. Nesting functions adds the ability to build more comparisons within your formulas instead of having to complete them separately.

Tip #4: Adding AND and OR to Your Functions

You can also add AND and OR to your IF Functions to make the results much more specific. While this is technically part of understanding how to nest functions, knowing how to do this is an effective way of utilizing the IF Function in a more efficient manner. An example of this is comparing two columns of data: one showing the amount of sales and one determining if an employee has completed training. By adding AND or OR to your IF Function, you can show a specific result, such as those employees that hit a specific sales goal and finished the training program you provided. As you can see, this can be a really easy way to get the information you need without having to spend a ton of time scouring through your entire spreadsheet.

Tip #5: Using Range Names to Make Data Easier to Sort

Range names are essentially a stored label that allows you to identify a range of one or more cells. They are incredibly useful for navigation, formulas, and even printing off specific parts of your spreadsheets. For use with the IF Function, you can utilize data ranges to save time when you’re working on a specific block of values as it allows you to use that range name instead of specific cell names. Range names can have letters, numbers, or an underscore, but cannot have spaces. And they are not case-sensitive, but title case is recommended for ease of viewing.

Tip #6: Remembering to Use Quotations with Text Strings in Your IF Function

Using the IF Function is an incredibly easy way to add text to a specific cell when certain criteria are present. However, you do need to remember to use quotations around your text strings in your IF Function formula. Failure to do this can really mess up your data set and make the formula not work correctly. Should you have a problem getting the IF Function to work for you, this is one of the first things you need to check.

Tip #7: Changing Text with Conditional Formatting Based on Your Result

Not only can you add text or insert a formula with the IF Function, but you can also change text visually with conditional formatting based on your result. It can be done automatically and setup within Excel under the Home tab. Examples of this option in use include turning a specific number bold and red if it does not meet the criteria of your IF Function, or highlighting it in yellow if it does meet certain requirements.

Conclusion
Microsoft Excel is a great way to analyze and interpret datasets. The IF Function allows you to do this in an easy-to-read and simple manner while saving you tons of time in the long run. These quick tips are a great way to skip complicated formulas and really make your spreadsheets work for you.

Microsoft Excel Training

Does Your Cybersecurity Plan Include Incident Response Measures?

Incident Response Planning

Has Your Business Fallen Behind In Its Incident Response Strategy?

Incident Response plans are proving to be a key element in data breach recovery. That’s why proactive industry leaders are adding and updating these strategies.  

Incident Response Planning

Entrepreneurs and other decision-makers are acutely aware that doing business in the digital age requires robust cybersecurity. Most companies employ standard anti-virus scans, firewalls, and other commonplace measures to protect valuable data. But we are all just as keenly aware that the number of debilitating data breaches suffered continues to uptick despite business leaders’ best efforts.

From 2017 to 2018, the number of exposed records increased from 197 million to more than 446 million, according to reports. Cybercriminals will ultimately continue their efforts to come up with increasingly deceptive ways to penetrate business networks and leverage personal identity files, financial records, and other information that can be ransomed or sold on the dark web. How your organization responds to a breach could have lasting implications about business sustainability. That’s why companies now need an Incident Response plan embedded into their cybersecurity strategy.

What Does An Incident Response Plan Entail?

Proactive business leaders are enlisting the help of cybersecurity experts to create a viable response to an otherwise debilitating breach. These plans are crafted with input from key stakeholders to be ready to identify, contain, mitigate, and make a full recovery from a cyber-attack.

What many industry professionals may not realize — until it’s too late — is that recovery from data and financial loss could be the least of your problems. When employees, shareholders, and other businesses are impacted due to a hack of your network, you could be facing civil litigation. With that goes the industry reputation you worked so hard to develop. To truly recover from a systems hack, industry leaders are pulling together their resources to implement a six-phase Incident Response plan.

How To Develop A 6-Phase Incident Response Plan

It’s imperative that decision-makers understand that a robust Incident Response plan is not a set-it-and-forget-it endeavor. As part of your overarching cybersecurity strategy, it will need to be revisited regularly. That’s mostly because digital bandits are ceaselessly finding innovative ways to penetrate business defenses. Regardless of their criminal activity, a deftly implemented Incident Response plan delivers results. These are the six necessary phases.

  • Preparedness: This phase calls for your valued team members to be trained to manage their clearly outlined responsibilities in the event of a cyber-attack. Common strategies for readiness include running mock breaches and ongoing education.
  • Threat Identification: A hacker can attempt to breach your system in a variety of ways. Targeting endpoint devices and convincing an unsuspecting employee to log in or click on a malicious link is among the most prevalent. Having the ability to identify threats and breach entry points promptly reduces response time.
  • Damage Containment: From the moment a breach or cybersecurity incident occurs, your ability to deter the spread of malicious software or the removal of data ranks among the most crucial ways to control the damage. Hackers may decide to destroy files after their theft to erase digital fingerprints. It’s in your best interest to have methods in place to swiftly regain control.
  • Eliminate Threat: Once you have secured control over your data, eliminating the threat must be decisive. The cause may be malicious software or login and password penetration. Whatever allowed the cybercriminal into your business system, it must be stamped out immediately.
  • Begin Recovery: Once you are satisfied that the threat has been eliminated, the team members tasked with restoring systems and data can do their job. Having an actionable Incident Response plan likely helped save essential data and shortened the time your operation was offline. If you believe other parties could be impacted, notify them promptly.
  • Post-Mortem Analysis: In the aftermath of a cyber-attack, specific team members should be designated to gather information and create a report to share with key stakeholders. There are valuable lessons to be learned that can make your organization better prepared the next time.

Although every business wants to be ready to defend against a cyberthreatThe Third Annual Study on the Cyber Resilient Organization indicates that upwards of 77 percent do not have a clearly articulated Incident Response plan in place. If your organization has not implemented an Incident Response strategy, we would like input about enhancing an existing one. It may be in your best interest to enlist a third-party cybersecurity consultant.

Downtime Is Extremely Expensive – Can You Actually Afford It?

Computer Network Downtime

Downtime is bad for business.

Whether you agree or not, it’s a fact – just a couple years ago, small businesses with up to 50 million in annual revenue reported that just a single hour of downtime cost them $8,600.

Computer Network Downtime

Why Does Downtime Cost So Much?

The main cost of downtime is not the fix itself, it’s the halt in your business’ productivity. If an IT-related or natural disaster occurs and takes critical systems offline, employees will be unable to complete their tasks, yet your normal business expenses will carry on.

During that time, you incur all the expenses of running a business without the revenue you would usually generate. Even if downtime does not grind everything to a halt, some of your staff will have to divert themselves from their normal work to mitigate the problem – again reducing productivity. Furthermore, while your systems are down, you can’t deliver services or sell products to current and potential new clients.

Not all of the costs associated with downtime have a tangible price tag. The trust of your clients and the reputation of your company are invaluable assets that can erode with prolonged or frequent downtime issues. A diminished reputation can negatively affect your future business opportunities.

Some downtime is inevitable, but much of it can be prevented and mitigated.

What Are The Primary Causes Of Downtime?

  • Power Outage: If your power source fails, that can lead to a long list of complications like servers going down and lost, unsaved data.
  • Cybercrime: Cybercrime has increased in recent years and is still on the rise. All it takes is one employee opening a malicious attachment and your business data could be held hostage.
  • Human Error: Accidentally unplugging key equipment, overloading the system, and improper installations can all cause downtime, but maintaining certain policies and procedures can cut down on human error.
  • Natural Disasters: Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes happen. Having a plan for getting back to business if the unthinkable happens is the fastest way to recover.

What’s The Best Way To Prevent Downtime?

…by stopping it in the first place.

The best way to approach downtime prevention is proactively – you need to keep an eye out for system issues that can spiral into total stoppages. You need to implement backup technologies and best practices to prevent outages. You need to enhance your cybersecurity to protect against cybercrime.

Unfortunately, that’s a lot for you to handle on your own, especially when have other work to see to. That’s why a managed IT services company can be so helpful. They’ll provide 24/7 active monitoring of your systems, business continuity best practices and cybersecurity services that will keep costly downtime at a minimum.

 

Quickly Unlock Useful iTunes Store Applications that Are Blocked in Your Country

Unblocking App Store

Unblock Geo-Restricted App Store or iTunes Content in a Few Clicks

Discover how to quickly gain access to geoblocked apps via the App Store or iTunes with a few simple clicks whether you’re on on an iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC.

Unblocking App Store

Apple’s App Store and iTunes apps give you access to thousands of great games, utilities and social connections. But there are thousands more you can never access due to geographic restrictions.

Why Are Certain Apps Blocked?

Location-based restrictions, known as geoblocking, are actions taken by companies or government regulators. They restrict access to content, including App Store apps, based on your location. You can experience these issues on sites such as YouTube or platforms such as Netflix, where certain content is unavailable to certain users, often due to licensing issues or other legal issues.

Geoblocking is usually done by tracking the unique identifiers known as Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Any request you make to a site or app includes your IP address so the pinged computer knows where to send the requested content. IP addresses are allocated to internet service providers (ISPs) to distribute to their customers and reflect the geographic location of the computer, smartphone or another connected device.

Why Unblock Geoblocked Content?

There are many valid reasons for wanting to access geoblocked content. You may be visiting or living in another country and want to connect with content and functionality unique to your country. Maybe you need to access content that is only available via an app that is restricted at your current location. You might want to compare content presented on different versions of an app.

No matter what the reason, geoblocking can cause frustration for those wanting to access something they can’t connect to. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to unlock this content.

How Do I Unlock Geoblocked Content?

Here’s a step-by-step guide to unlocking iTunes and App Store content in another country. No matter which method you use, be sure to cancel any subscriptions to Apple Music, iTunes Match and other apps associated with your Apple ID.

  • On an iPhone or iPad
    • Open Settings > [Your Username]
    • Click on iTunes & App Store
    • Tap on your Apple ID. Authenticate if asked
    • Click on View Apple ID
    • Select Country/Region
    • Select Change Country/Region
    • Choose a new country, click on Next
    • Accept the Terms and Conditions
    • Enter your payment method
  • On a Mac or PC
    • Open iTunes
    • Click on Account > View My Account
    • Sign in using your Apple ID
    • Press Enter or click on View Account
    • On the Account Information page, click on Change Country or Region
    • Click Agree to the terms and conditions
    • Enter a new payment method
    • Click Continue
  • From your Apple ID profile
    • Log on to your Apple ID account profile
    • Scroll to Account
    • Tap on Country/Region
    • Choose your new country or region. Click Continue when asked to confirm your new selection

Does Unblocking Content Allow Access to All Apps?

The method described above only works for free apps available for iOS devices. If you want to access paid apps, you’ll need to enter a payment method — and billing address – for the country

Switching from one country identity to another on iTunes or the App Store is complex, but can be done, by following these steps:

  • Open App Store > Apple ID
  • Click on Sign Out
  • Open Settings/General
  • Click on Language & Region
  • Select Region
  • Select a new country or region and create a new account by finding an app you want to download in the new country
    • Tap on the app. If a screen pops up that the item is not available, click on Change Store
    • Go to the app listing and tap Get > Install
    • Click Create New Apple ID
    • Select the new country or region and complete the Apple ID creation steps
    • Select None under Billing
  • Switching between stores is now possible by signing out of one iTunes or App Store account and signing back in via another

Accessing content in other countries can be critical for many users. With a few taps, you can open up a world of opportunities.

Are you ready for the New IOS? Here’s How to find out.

IOS 13

Are you excited about all the new iOS 13 features like Swipe to Type and Improved Dark Mode? Before you install, make sure your device is ready for iOS 13.  

So maybe you’re not ready to pounce on a $1,099 iPhone Pro Max. But you do want the new iOS 13 features. It’s time for a major iOS update. But before you hit “update now”, make sure you’re ready for iOS 13 to ensure a smooth update process. Preparing for iOS 13 isn’t complicated. Just follow these simple steps. But first, what’s new in iOS 13?

What’s New in iOS 13?

Haven’t updated to iOS 13 yet? You have some great new iOS 13 features to look forward to like:

  • Dark Mode – With all the discussion about blue light and the sleep-cycle-impact of viewing a device too close to bedtime, Apple recently released dark mode that eliminates the harsh white light on your screen, replacing it with a dark backlight. In addition, many will find reading on a dark background easier and you’ll experience less eye strain in general.
  • Swipe to Type – Apple is finally catching up on this one. This has been a feature on Android for 10 years. But we all know Apple is never one to follow. This feature may take some time to learn but can save time. It allows you to swipe rather than “press” letters to type. But don’t worry, you’ll have options until you’re ready to relearn typing.
  • Updated Apps – You’ll also see some great smaller updates to apps like Reminders, Maps, Photos and more
  • New Voice for Siri – Apple chose Siri’s original voice after extensive testing. People found in calming and reassuring. But it’s time for a change. Now, instead of a computer-generated voice, “Siri” will respond with actual audio from voice actors. Because the voice is now “Human”, you’re less likely to encounter those funny pronunciations that become tell-tale signs that we’re not hearing a human talking. As AI technology advances, we can certainly expect computer-generated voices to get the nuances of human language right. But for now, it seems, human is the way to go.
  • Privacy and Security – Privacy and security continue to be a top concern for Apple. So you’ll see several behind-the-scenes and in the foreground features that make you safer.
  • iPad iOS – For the first time, Apple’s also releasing an iOS specifically for iPad to enhance use. One of the long-awaited features is “slide and split” that will improve your ability to view and work in two web pages or apps with both viewable on the screen at once. Most of us in business who use iPads know how important this feature is and how frustrating and productivity-killing it can be with split screen is either unavailable or doesn’t work well on a device. So this is great news. In addition, they’re adding a full page markup for iPad and more.

Now, on to preparing for iOS 13.

1. Ask: Is My Device Eligible for the iOS 13

The first step to getting ready for iOS 13 is to check to see if your apple device is compatible. And if it isn’t, these new iOS 13 features, in addition to many of the newer capabilities on iPhone X series or the newly released iPhone 11, may finally convince you that it’s time to upgrade to a new model.

In order to enjoy these new updates you’ll need:

  • iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, or later
  • iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini, or later

These came out around 2015. If you have a 6S, etc, this gives us a good idea about which devices will be compatible with future major updates and you may want to consider upgrading in the next year so that you’re ready for the next iOS. Technology changes fast and often you don’t know what you’re missing out on.

2. Delete Apps You Don’t Use

Updating your iOS is a great time to cut the fat. So delete apps you rarely use.

Remember, they’re still yours. And you can download them for free again if you need them later.

Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of junk on your device? Follow the steps to find out what you’re not using.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Click iPhone storage.
  3. See when you used each application last.
  4. Click on the oldest ones and delete.

3. Make Sure iCloud Backup Is On

Finally, don’t make the mistake of not backing up your phone before an update. You could lose everything, including spreadsheets, files, photos and more.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Click your name at the top.
  3. Visit iCloud.
  4. Scroll down and make sure it’s “on”.

If it was off, wait several hours to install the update. Ideally, wait 24 hours to be sure. This gives the Cloud an opportunity to backup your device so that when you upgrade everything is there.

IOS 13