Plagiarism Checker Will Be Added To Microsoft Word

Word Plagiarism

Microsoft Word users have been relying on third-party plugins and services to check their work for similarity issues. However, the tech giant recently announced that plans are underway to include an in-built plagiarism checker in its Word program. How will this improve your writing experience?

The internet has provided a broad range of reference material to the present-day content creator, from students to career writers. In the same breath, we cannot fail to acknowledge that identifying contents that need attribution and how to cite them properly has gotten more challenging.

Microsoft Editor’s Similarity checker feature not only helps you identify plagiarism issues but also suggests solutions. It is designed to recommend correct ways to attribute contents to their sources. The fact that it does all these during the writing process enables you to write more confidently. You can now concentrate more on the quality of your work as the Editor does the rest.

Word Plagiarism

How Does The In-built Microsoft Word’s Plagiarism Checker Work?

Bing Search powers the Editor’s Similarity checker in Microsoft Word. It helps writers achieve originality in two simple steps:

  • Scanning Word documents for similarity to other content on the internet.
  • Where the tool identifies plagiarism, Bing Search suggests appropriate insertions of relevant citations.

This is a departure from traditional similarity checkers that are more punitive than corrective. The in-built Word’s plagiarism-checking software does not function to ‘punish’ you for getting your content elsewhere. It seeks to help writers find their voices by building on similar works done before, leveraging appropriate attributions and citations. So, your focus shifts from the mechanics of writing to the quality of the content.

Getting Started With Microsoft Editor’s Similarity Checker

The tool was officially announced on March 30, 2020. Since then, Microsoft has launched it in phases, with the initial beneficiaries being users of premium Microsoft 365 Education. Soon, the feature will also be available to Microsoft 365 Home and Business subscribers. Currently, it is only usable for English language texts. Given that it’s a megaproject, covering millions of Word users globally, it may take some time before it finally reaches your account.

Having a plagiarism checker that works alongside MS Word improves the usability and user experience. To enable the feature:

  1. Choose Editor on Microsoft Word’s Home tab.
  2. Select Similarity on the Editor pane, then tap/click Check for similarity to online sources. The tool automatically begins an in-depth plagiarism check. Once done, it shows you the percentage of your text similar to other content on the internet. The search results also indicate the number of individual passages in your document that should be reviewed.
  3. To amend the passages, click on Similarities reviewed. The tool takes you from one passage to the next, suggesting where it would be appropriate to insert a citation. It also includes links to the online texts for you to decide whether attribution is necessary or not. In some cases, you may choose to Ignore.

After a paragraph has been edited, it is underlined in green. You can always revisit it, re-read the online sources, look at the citation suggestions, and even add attributions to texts you previously chose to ignore.

How Do You Insert Citations?

You can use either APA, Chicago, or MLA citation style based on your preference or the type of content you’re working on. When you switch from one style to the other, the Editor won’t automatically change citations already in the document. You can update an existing citation by deleting it and starting the attribution process afresh.

All you have to do is to instruct the software to place a citation just after the passage. At times, the Editor’s AI systems will automatically add quotation marks to a passage. Again, you have the discretion to retain or delete them.

In case you decide to add a citation to a passage of more than 40+ words, the tool formats it into a block-quote. Here, you have the volition to add an introductory statement or an ending commentary of your own words to the passage.

Are you creating a bibliography to cite all the works done? Well, you can make use of Copy full citation. This feature allows you to copy and paste links to all attributed works at once.

Microsoft Editor’s Similarity checker works just like other conventional tools, and better. If well implemented, it will sure give the likes of Grammarly a run for their money.

What’s New Apple MacOS 11 “Big Sur”

Apple Big Sur Update

A Look at the New Apple macOS 11 Big Sur Update

The newest macOS update, officially number 11 and called Big Sur, was announced in late June 2020 at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Big Sur is such a large and significant update that Apple skipped from version 10.15 straight to 11. For the past nearly 20 years – since March 2001 – the company has assigned each new OS version number 10.X. For example, the current version, Catalina, is 10.15 and the previous one, Mojave, was 10.14.

There is a beta version of Big Sur currently available to the public, and the full rollout will launch later this fall. It’s notable that this is the first macOS version to be released under Apple’s new hardware platform, where they shifted away from Intel-based Macs and are transitioning to custom ARM processors, which already power iOS devices.

The radical macOS overhaul intends to give users both freshness and consistency. To that end, Apple redesigned every element possible, from rounding corners of windows and changing the interface colors to making menus more intuitive and adding entirely new control symbols.

Apple Big Sur Update

Safari gets a makeover

Some of the most noteworthy changes in Big Sur are in Safari. The web browser got major upgrades in both speed and security, and it’s substantially more battery-efficient. Users have an all-new customizable start page and redesigned tabs, plus the ability to translate entire web pages with a single click. Safari extensions are now easier to find in the App Store, and users can designate specific websites to use – or not use – extensions. Another new feature allows users to easily import their extensions from Chrome and Firefox. Finally, a new Privacy Report clearly shows which trackers and malware Safari are blocking.

Interface design changes

Big Sur brings several dozen changes, some minor and some major, to the macOS interface. Visually, Big Sur brings a lighter overall aesthetic to macOS with more translucent windows, a cooler color palette, and rounded icons. Users will notice it looks remarkably similar to iOS, and that’s not accidental – Apple aims to give users a more cohesive experience across all devices.

Apple also sought to make macOS more intuitive with Big Sur, and some of the most noticeable ways they’ve done that are the changes to menus and control bars. They’ve been completely redesigned to be less prominent and therefore less obtrusive, plus they pop up when necessary and disappear when they aren’t. The newly-customizable Control Center now appears at the top right-hand side of the screen, along with the Notification Center, which has also been redesigned. Users will notice many similarities between the Control Center and iOS, such as the widgets for quickly turning Airplane Mode or wi-fi on and off.

Other notable Big Sur updates

  • System updates will automatically start in the background and finish more quickly.
  • Messages are now almost identical to the iOS version and have @mention and Memoji functionality.
  • Maps have been updated to include macOS support for Look Around, Guides, and shared ETA updates.
  • Apple Music got additional features, including personalized playlists and artist interviews.
  • Photos gained a new machine learning-powered Retouch tool.

If you’re interested in testing out Big Sur beta, be aware that – like all OS beta versions – it has some bugs. Some apps are noticeably sluggish and some features aren’t complete, but remember the whole point of companies releasing beta versions is to work those kinks out. Feel free to download Big Sur beta, but consider doing it on a secondary computer, particularly if you use your primary one for work or school. Look for the official Big Sur release in late fall 2020.

Top 10 Reasons Why Your Business Should Consider Switching to VoIP

Business VoIP Services

The modern-day workplace has evolved thanks to advances in hardware and software solutions. Virtual applications backed by cloud environments enable employees to work from anywhere. Therefore, companies need communication tools to coordinate activities happening in various locations.

However, landlines and other conventional telephony solutions are too stationary and cumbersome to keep up with such a demand. So, what are your best options? Well, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) can help your company improve your business’ approach to communicating over the phone.

VoIP solutions are easy to implement, and they come at a more affordable price point. Your organization can also layer VoIP over legacy hardware to enhance the quality of your business telephone solutions and to add some mobility.

The benefits keep rolling in when you consider the advantages of VoIP. Let’s look at the top 10 reasons why you should consider switching to VoIP to experience this world of convenience.

Business VoIP

Business Convenience

VoIP solutions embed over cloud-based digital signals. This means you can make phone calls on any device that connects to the internet.

This means that any mobile phone, PC, or devices can act as an extension of your business line, provided you can install the companion VoIP application. This means you don’t have to worry about your clients reaching out to you on your non-business number.

Mobility

With VoIP solutions, you’re free to leave the office to look for prospects without worrying about missing important phone calls and other pieces of communication.

Sure, you can forward calls from landlines to your cell phone for the same effect. But, that’s always such a hustle. VoIP apps eliminate such an inconvenience by turning your cell phone into an extension of your business number.

Scalability

You can adjust the number of users to meet the changing scale of your business with relative ease. VoIP solutions can also enable you to adjust your phone services to meet the rising or falling demand from your customers.

Lower Maintenance Costs

VoIP lines plug into routers and servers though standard RJ-45 jacks. Therefore, you don’t need to uproot existing connections to embed VoIP capacities on to your current networking system.

This means you can have VoIP services up and running within a short time. It also reduces related maintenance costs. Your in-house IT staff also won’t need additional tools to manage and monitor the VoIP network.

A Wider Array of Business Telephone Services

VoIP solutions providers care more about your business telephone needs aside from voice quality. They offer services that improve your approach to business. These services include:

  1. Custom-made voicemail
  2. Call forwarding and waiting
  3. Chat capabilities
  4. Syncing online schedules and calendars
  5. Video call capacities
  6. And, many more!

Such tools make it easier to speak to clients, chasing potential lead while enhancing intra-company communication. You can get such services at a more reasonable price point than compared to landlines.

Enhanced Security

Many companies are unwilling to trust in IoT technologies due to the prevalence of cyber-attacks. However, it would be a mistake to lump VoIP solutions with such technologies.

VoIP solutions feature encryption that makes them even more secure than conventional business telephony technologies.

Effective Backups And Constant Access

Since VoIP is a cloud-based service, you no longer have to worry about losing voicemail messages texts and other achieved communications in the event your phone or laptop crashes.

Tour business number will also be available to customers on a 24/7 basis unless you choose to switch it off. This ensures that you can remain engaged in providing the services or insights your clients need even when you’re on the move.

Autonomy Over Call Settings

Changing call forwarding, voicemail, and other settings on landlines and other conventional phone setups can be extremely frustrating. To add to the misery, you have to make such changes from your office, as there’s no practical way of doing so while on the move.

VoIP solutions add a lot of flexibility and autonomy over how you can address such tasks. Best of all, you can do so while on the move provided you have a mobile device that has a companion app.

Conference Call Capabilities (Built-In)

Businesses with diverse and remote branches need highly effective voice and video conference calling capabilities. VoIP enables your company to set up such functionalities rapidly and more effectively than you could with landlines.

You can make a conference call with any devices that has a camera and a built-in speaker. Such services also allow you to synchronize your contact lists, schedules, and calendars.

More Affordable Than Conventional Telephones

A conservative cost-benefit analysis is the best way to determine if a new piece of technology is worth the price you need to pay. And you may have noticed how upgrades to IT appliances and software can come at a high price point.

Fortunately, a majority of VoIP solutions won’t break your bank!

While pricing models vary with your choice of a service provider, you could still pay 40 to 80 percent less when compared to conventional business telephone solutions.

In Summary

Your business stands to gain a lot from adapting to the latest trends in IT. As you can see, VoIP solutions can bring the same benefits to your voice communication. It’s not only a matter of making clearer telephone calls but also expanding the possibilities of your communication arrays.

VoIP solutions are an affordable way to ensure your company stays in touch with clients and employees regardless of their location. Such technologies are reshaping the office as a concept. Who knows? Maybe in the next few years, your company won’t even need an office and those stuffy landlines. So, it would be best if you got VoIP solutions today to stay ahead of this coming wave.

Vital Considerations to Make When Hiring an IT Consultant

IT Consultant

When the going gets tough in business, it’s those who can adapt through drastic changes thrive. You may have made some strategic decisions through a triage of measures that helped you to leverage the resources you have to climb up the success ladder.

There comes a time when you need to upgrade your technology to climb further up the ladder. In such cases, hiring a capable IT director or CIO could be your best option. But, as we know, finding, let alone paying someone to play such a critical role can be costly and tricky.

Does this mean you should forgo such a strategic goal? Well, you could hire an IT consultant to guide your In-house team to the next step. And, the good news such a consultant doesn’t even need to come on board on a full-time basis.

It sounds challenging, but you can do it more effectively if you take the time to make the following considerations:

IT Consultant

Is It the Right Time To Bring an IT Consultant On-Board?

IDC’s latest report projects a 25 % rise in annually ICT spending over the next 5-10 years in various industries. Most of this spending will go into updates to traditional systems, and most businesses will be augmenting the latest advances in technology.

So, you’ll need an IT consultant to give your company such changes. It’s not a straight forward process, and what works for a particular enterprise may not be as effective for yours.

Here are a few questions to ensure you settle on the right candidate:

Is Their Experience Relevant to Your Industry?

Your potential candidate should have experience in dealing with corporations that function on the same scale as yours. It’s also wise to choose one whose industrial exposure is relevant to your field of business.

Let’s presume you’re a county-wide chain of mom and pop diners. An IT consultant that usually deals with fortune 500 banking institutions wouldn’t be a good fit for your company. Please take your time to vet their credentials to avoid any unforeseen disappointments.

Do They Have a Portfolio to Back Their Claims?

You can look at your candidate’s portfolio to get an impression of what they can deliver. If you’re pleased with what you see, take the time to ask them what methods they used to attain such impressive outcomes in previous engagements. This is the best way to find out if they can walk their talk.

Is Your Preferred Consultant a Team Player?

A good IT consultant should have the ability to articulate their ideas as clearly and precisely as possible. It also helps if they know their way around complex business processes and are passionate about the value they add when collaborating with others. They should also have confidence in their tech and business insights.

Can They Quantify Their Results?

Your preferred IT consultant needs to have the tools to measure and keep track of their results. This can help you gauge the efficacy of your new tech initiatives. This could include installing new applications, performing upgrades to systems, and data networks. It would also help if you can agree on the observable metrics for monitoring such results.

Summation

Hiring a competent IT consultant is more cost-effective and expedient than bring a full-time expert on-board. They can train the rest of your in-house IT staff and provide supervision to ensure everything goes without a hitch.

A great place to start from the recommendations of people that have taken such a step before. Take your time to look at their portfolio, reviews, and term sheets. This will ensure you get the right IT consultant for your company.

How To Combine Multiple PDF Files

Working With PDF Files

In many cases, you might want to combine multiple PDF files to create a single document. Disseminating information is often easier when you share one file instead of many. If you have Adobe PDF Pro, it’s easy enough to combine more than one document. You can also make several documents out of one large document. This is often common when you need to upload a file, but it’s too large.

Working With PDF Files

Combining Two or More PDF Files

  • STEP 1: Open Adobe PDF Pro.
  • STEP 2: Open the first document you want to combine.
  • STEP 3: Click “Document,” then “Insert Pages.”
  • STEP 4: Choose “From File.” The dialog box will open. Choose the file you want to append to the first file by double-clicking it. A new dialog box will open. You can also choose “From Clipboard” if you copied something and need to paste it into the current file.
  • STEP 5: Choose the location from the drop-down box. Your choices are “Before” and “After.”
  • STEP 6: Choose “First,” “Last,” or “Page.” If you choose “Page,” you will need to enter a page number. Thus, you can insert a new file at the very beginning by choosing “Before” and “First.” you can insert a file at the very end of the first document by choosing “After” and “Last.” Or, you can insert a file in the middle of a document by choosing ‘before’ or ‘after’ and entering a page number.
  • STEP 7: Scroll through the document to ensure the second file is where you expected it to be.
  • STEP 8: Save the file with a new filename.

Removing Pages

  • STEP 1: Open the PDF document you need to break down.
  • STEP 2: Click “Document,” then “Extract Pages.” A dialog box will open.
  • STEP 3: Enter the pages you want to extract. For example, if you want to extract pages 2 and 3, you would enter ‘2’ in the first box and ‘3’ in the second.
  • STEP 4: Choose one of the boxes: “Delete Pages After Extracting” or “Extract Pages as Separate Files.” If you choose to delete the pages, the system will remove the pages from the document and then delete them. If you choose to extract pages as separate files, the system will open the pages in a new PDF document.
  • STEP 5: Choose “Yes” or “No” when the “Are You Sure?” dialog box pops up.
  • STEP 6: Save the newly edited document. If you chose to save the extracted pages as another document, be sure you save that document.

Additional Functions

You can also replace pages, delete pages, and split a file. One of the most useful functions is to split the file. Often, when you need to upload a PDF that is too big, instead of guessing how many pages make a certain file size, you can tell Adobe PDF Pro what size to split the file into. This is extremely helpful for law offices who upload PDF files to the clerk – county and federal clerks often put a file size restriction on files and pleadings often exceed that file size, especially when you have several attachments.

  • STEP 1: Open the file you want to split.
  • STEP 2: Choose “Document,” then “Split Document.”
  • STEP 3: If you know the number of pages you want in each file, choose the radio button for ‘Max Pages’ and enter the number in the box. If you want to divide the file into several files that are a specific file size, choose the ‘File Size’ radio button and enter the file size in megabytes in the box. You also have a third choice to split the file by top-level bookmarks.
  • STEP 4: Click “OK.” Adobe will split the file. A new dialog box will pop up telling you how many documents the system created. Click “OK.” You can find your files in the folder where the original document is located. They will have the same file name and ‘Part X’ appended to the file name.

Adobe Pro makes it easy to create files from files and to manipulate the files if you need to break them down, or if you need to add another file in the middle of your original file.

Managed IT Services vs. IT Outsourcing (Comparison)

IT Managed Services

IT Managed Services vs. IT Outsourcing: What’s the Difference?

While there are some similarities between IT outsourcing and partnering with an IT managed service, there are also important differences that could spell the difference between a highly successful business and one struggling to move ahead and reach core goals. Read on to discover which IT management model is the best option for your business.

IT Managed Services

What are the Advantages of IT Outsourcing?

Outsourcing means trusting a third-party service provider to handle one or more IT jobs with minimal supervision on your end. The most commonly outsourced tasks are software application, software application maintenance, and running a data center. These specialized jobs often require skills that are in short supply, leaving a business with no choice but to find a company or individual in another city, state, or even country that can provide needed technical services.

Gaining access to specialized expertise is one of the biggest advantages of IT outsourcing. However, it’s not the only one. Many companies have found that it’s far cheaper to outsource certain IT functions than it is to hire full-time experts to hire these tasks in-house. The average annual salary for an IT technician in the United States is well over $74,500, and this sum does not include expected benefits such as help with repaying student loans, relocation assistance, professional development assistance, and parental leave. Given this fact, it’s not surprising that many companies turn to outsourced IT services and even overseas IT professionals to get expert help at a reasonable cost.

Two other important advantages of working with an outsourced IT service is flexible and scalable service options. You can avail yourself of IT expertise in a particular field when you need it, without having to hire a full-time employee for a set period of time. If you need additional help at certain times of the year, your outsourced IT company can bring in extra technicians to help you out for a limited time period.

What are the Disadvantages of IT Outsourcing?

At the same time, outsourcing some or all your IT services has its downsides. One big problem with many IT outsourcing companies is that they don’t conduct preventative maintenance or regularly assess your IT set-up to improve your services. Rather, they are simply on call in case something breaks down or goes wrong. Relying on a company with a “break it/fix it” service model will limit downtime and keep your IT department running reasonably well but won’t help you use technology to its full potential or empower you to get ahead of the competition. Furthermore, outsourcing IT services to a company located in a distant city, state, or even country can be problematic if misunderstandings arise and/or you need in-person assistance.

What are the Advantages of Partnering with an IT Managed Service Provider?

IT managed services are outsourcing companies that partner with you to provide a range of IT tools and services, including cybersecurity services, business continuity planning, IT consulting, cloud storage and support, software development, IT training for employees, and IT monitoring and support. IT managed services can either handle all your IT needs or partner with your in-house IT technician or department to offer specialized services as needed.

IT managed services, unlike outsourced IT services, specializing in providing proactive IT assistance to improve your overall IT set-up. IT managed service providers routinely monitor your whole network to ensure that there are no cybersecurity vulnerabilities or potential problems that could lead to data breaches or downtime. They offer advice on IT upgrades to help you save time and money, improve customer services and overall operations, and get to know new technologies that could help you take your business to the next level. What’s more, many IT managed services specialize in certain industries, making it possible for you to get IT support from someone who is familiar with your business needs and industry requirements.

IT managed service providers offer scalable, flexible services to suit your needs and budget. In fact, many of these companies offer complimentary IT system assessments to help you better understand your IT set-up and how to improve it to meet your current and future needs. IT managed services are essentially an extension of your business. You don’t have to put the IT technicians on your payroll but you can count on them to provide both virtual and in-house support. They work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. They’re there for you no matter what.

What are the Disadvantages of Partnering with an IT Managed Service Provider?

Sadly, some IT managed service providers offer sub-par service or are simply unable to keep up with the demands of your growing business. In such instances, it can be difficult to switch over to a new IT managed service as your current service will have full access and control over your IT set-up. It’s important to select an IT managed service with care and caution to ensure it’s the best fit for your business now and in the future.

It’s also worth noting that IT managed services may not be able to provide specialized forms of assistance that can only be obtained by outsourcing or hiring an in-house technician. Thankfully, IT managed service providers offer the flexibility you need to partner with any expert who can help you grow your business. Your IT managed service can even work directly with your outsourced IT company, freeing you to focus on business growth rather than IT development, repair, and maintenance.

Do you need a specific, specialized IT job done for your business? If so, IT outsourcing could be your best bet. However, if your goal is to keep your IT department running smoothly and securely at all times, partnering with an IT managed service is the way to go. Getting professional outside help and support for your IT set-up will not only enable you to focus on other important aspects of your business but also provide you with expert advice and support to improve operations and use technology to reach your business goals faster than would have otherwise been possible.

Are You Still Using 123456 as Your Password?

Password 123456

Using 123456 as Your Password?

Is your company’s cybersecurity repeatedly swept under the rug? While reinforcing passwords and setting up firewalls can seem daunting, you may not realize the severe risk of neglecting these and other routine security practices. Unfortunately, as the Internet evolves to meet our needs and desires, the same can be said of malicious hackers and programs. Ill-intentioned parties are constantly becoming more adept at accessing private information and what is meant to remain secure data.

Despite this growing threat, many of today’s Internet users and company employees have not reacted accordingly to increasingly well-equipped hackers. In fact, a 2019 Forbes article cites that ‘123456’ remains the most commonly used Internet password in the US and the UK. By maintaining such basic passwords, cyber-intruders are granted easy access to personal or professional information, and quickly cash in your data for billions per year. It’s officially time to protect your business’ sensitive information and data. This article will detail the importance of ramping up your company’s cybersecurity measures as well as a few simple ways to get started. Discover the following achievable strategies to significantly decrease your company’s risk of hacking and intrusion.

Password 123456

Eliminate the “Not Much to Steal” Mentality

An extremely common line of reasoning within mid-size companies is that cyber hackers probably won’t bother taking advantage of them because “there’s not much to steal.” This statement could not be further from the truth and it tends to lure employees and leadership alike into a false sense of security. The fact remains that 43% of all cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses. Hackers can just as easily sell a smaller company’s information as they can a larger corporation’s. However, the major difference is that larger businesses tend to allocate funds to cybersecurity, whereas smaller or mid-size companies might not prioritize this cost. Many professionals hesitate over the cost of cybersecurity but may not consider the potentially catastrophic costs of not having it.

To remain vigilant, employees should keep an eye out for attachments from unknown accounts. These documents could be in the form of a Microsoft Office attachment that initially appears legitimate. As a rule of thumb, do not open emails or messages from accounts you’re not familiar with. Because it takes a company 6 months on average to discover a security breach, it is well worth your time to evaluate your company’s current cybersecurity situation and consider where there might be room for improvement.

Prioritize Employee Education

One of the easiest ways to head off potential security threats in your mid-size company is to thoroughly educate team members on cybersecurity practices and procedures. If there currently aren’t any, create and enforce protocols that can be communicated through online training, checklists, and seminars. Make sure to discuss the specificities of your company as it applies to Internet safety and data protection. Without this crucial step of employee education, your company will waste time and resources trying to rectify security issues that could have been resolved through open communication.

Keep in mind that cybersecurity is frequently evolving. Therefore, employees should be updated regularly on the best ways to protect company information. An easy measure to increase employee cooperation is to ask them to sign a document attesting that they have understood and will abide by your business’ security practices. The document can also mention that should the cybersecurity measures be disregarded, there could be repercussions for the employee involved. All in all, if leadership takes the time to discuss cybersecurity, making it relevant and applicable for all employees, your company is much better equipped against a potential security threat.

Invest in Cybersecurity Measures

If your mid-size company has yet to invest in cybersecurity measures, there’s no better time than the present to start protecting your valuable information and data. It’s not difficult to get started — begin by setting up a firewall that serves as a barrier between your sensitive information and potential hackers or intruders. In a time when remote workers are becoming more common, your company’s “work from home” staff should also implement a firewall within their personal networks. After all, they regularly access the same important information and data as your in-office employees. Consider providing remote workers with a complementary firewall to eliminate any potential hacking risks.

It’s worth noting that many businesses now allow employees to BYOD (“bring your own device”) to work. In this regard, BYOD calls for the same security measures as a remote worker, since your employees likely transport their laptop, tablet, or other electronics to and from the office each day. On top of that, those who bring their own computer to work are probably using it for personal tasks after hours, which increases the chances of a possible breach. Most importantly, employees should respect the cardinal rule of cybersecurity: do not use the same password for multiple sites, especially as a universal password between personal and professional sites. Urge company leadership to enforce automatic security updates on employees’ devices and inform all staff about your password policy.

Consider Using a Password Manager

An effective solution to your company’s password creation and storage problems is a password manager. A password manager helps your business manage your team’s passwords within a centralized digital “vault.” The primary advantage of a password manager is that your business’ IT team can create intricate, long and random passwords for various sites or accounts that employees gain access to just by logging into the password manager. By streamlining password storage, you can make massive amounts of information secure and basically eliminate the need for staff to create their own passwords. This quickly limits the possibility of a cyber attack and keeps company leadership in control of who can access what information.

Ultimately, password managers dramatically improve cybersecurity in businesses. Research shows that employees often keep their sensitive passwords written down on a Post-It note that could easily be accessed by any passing visitor or coworker alike. Reduce the risks of cyber threats both from internal and external sources by implementing a system that keeps track of who logs into company sites and when. Without this kind of accountability, it can be much more difficult to pinpoint the source of a security breach. Gone are the days of the ‘123456’ passwords — reach out to a local IT managed services provider to implement any of the previously mentioned tactics to strengthen your company’s cybersecurity.

What Is Social Engineering? (Insights/Information)

Social Engineering

Social Engineering: A Threat to Your Cybersecurity

Social engineering is the use of psychological manipulation to gather confidential information. Criminals are always looking to exploit you for valuable data: personal logins, bank accounts, and even remote access to your computer. Whenever you log on, they could be trying to steal your information through malware-filled links or fraudulent websites.

Social Engineering

Why a Great IT Department Is Not Enough

You interact with certain, trusted companies on a daily basis. You may glance at an email from your office supplier, click their link, and log in to confirm this week’s order for manila folders, only to find that it was a fraudulent website stealing your password.

The growing sophistication of cybersecurity has made it very difficult to breach your software from the outside. With a dependable firewall and anti-malware suite, your computer is rock-solid. But that is only the first half of the equation. You are the second half.

Criminals know that manipulating your trust is easier than hacking their way past your IT department, so you play an important role in maintaining your business’s safety.

What Can I Do?

The best solution is to always double-check anything asking for your confidential information. If you’re clicking a hyperlink, make sure you know exactly where it’s directing you before you click it; if you’re logging into a website, make sure it’s secure and verified. All it takes is for one user to log in to a fraudulent website for a criminal to have the key that lets them walk right past all of your IT department’s efforts.

However, sometimes it’s hard to follow-up with this due diligence when we’re busy. That is why it’s important to recognize the telltale signs of social engineering at-a-glance, especially in the one communication you take part in every day.

Double-Check Your Emails

Fraudulent (or “phishing”) emails are responsible for the majority of cybersecurity breaches, some of which have targeted truly massive companies—from international banks to social media conglomerates.

Always be on the lookout for the key components of a phishing email:

“From:” Address

  • The sender is an unrecognized person that is not affiliated with your business.
  • Names of trusted senders are included in an otherwise unusual address (ex. “staplescustomersupport134789@gmail.com”).

“To:” Address

  • The email is addressed to an unusual group of recipients (ex. People in unrelated departments or even every employee).
  • The email is addressed to recipients uninvolved with the supposed subject of the message.

Date

  • The email is sent outside of business hours or at an irregular time.

Subject

  • The subject line consists of random characters or completely unrelated information.
  • The subject line references you despite you not recognizing the sender.

Links and Attachments

  • The email includes unusual hyperlinks or attachments, especially when placed in odd locations throughout the email.
  • The email includes hyperlinks that have titles unrelated to their locations (ex. A “Login to your Staples account” link directing you to an unknown website).

Message

  • The email’s message wants you to urgently take an unusual action, such as clicking a link before your account is deleted.
  • The email’s message contains grammar or spelling errors where it normally would not.

Be Patient

All of these examples pressure you into making a bad decision you wouldn’t normally make. That pressure keeps you from acting on your suspicions by keeping you on a fake time crunch.

So take your time to analyze anything unusual. If something seems suspicious, it probably is. Let your IT managed services company know so they can verify whether it’s a real threat or just a false alarm.

Watch out for social engineering and keep your business safe and secure.

What Is The Modern Workplace?

Modern Workplace

The Secret Workplace Every Single Employee Dreams About Whenever They Clock In

Employee retention is always a challenge. Because it takes so long to find, recruit, and train your best employees, it’s very important to focus on how you can keep them.

And the best way to improve employee retention is to understand what employees want. As it turns out, you can use Microsoft Modern Workplace to provide the work environment that your employees dream of

What does that Microsoft Modern Workplace actually look like, though? Here’s a breakdown of what your employees really want.

Easier Technology

There is a stereotype that older employees are more resistant to change. And these changes may include anything from new procedures to new technology.

The truth is that all workers, young and old, can get overwhelmed by too much technology. Simply put, they don’t like to master dozens of different programs from dozens of different companies just to make it through each day.

With the Microsoft Modern Workplace, you get an “all-in-one” solution for communication and collaboration. And it’s nice and intuitive. If your employees can work with Office 365, they can easily work with the entire Microsoft Modern Workplace suite of software.

More Free Time

What do employees want but they’re too afraid to ask for? A little more downtime, of course!

Many of your best employees are bogged down each day with boring, routine tasks. If they didn’t have to focus so much on those mundane activities, they’d have time to focus more on genuinely innovative new ideas.

One of the best things about the Microsoft Modern Workplace is that it allows users to automate several different tasks. And when most of those mundane tasks have been automated, your employees will be free to focus on the “big picture” ideas your company needs to stand out!

Easier Collaboration

Managers and executives understand how important group projects are. Such projects help your employees bring different skills and perspectives to the table. And once you put everyone together, you get a group that is much greater than the sum of its parts.

However, employees usually aren’t thrilled by group projects. Even if they get along with the entire team, it can be difficult to communicate with everyone and send files back and forth. The final result is an overflowing inbox and a lot of frustration.

The good news is that the Microsoft Modern Workplace was designed from the ground up to help employees collaborate. Microsoft Teams and Sharepoint makes it easy and intuitive to work together without blowing up each other’s inboxes.

When collaboration is this easy, your employees may learn to love group projects as much as you do!

Faster Problem-Solving

One reason that Microsoft Modern Workplace is so popular among small businesses is that it is an all-in-one solution. With this software in place, your business doesn’t have to rely on a dedicated IT team to manage so much of your technological needs.

One side effect of this for employees is that any problems they discover will be solved that much more quickly. Previously, their only course of action may have been to submit a ticket to IT, hope someone notices it, and hope it gets fixed before the week is out.

The automation of the Microsoft Modern Workplace helps to avoid many potential technological problems. And the intuitive software and collaborative tools will help your team solve any other issues, all without spending countless unproductive hours waiting on IT!

Remote Work Opportunities

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work opportunities were what many employees wanted most. And working during quarantine has helped even more employees develop a taste for working from home.

And it’s easier than ever for you to provide such opportunities. With the Microsoft Modern Workplace, you can use software such as Microsoft Teams to coordinate and collaborate with your remote workers.

Surprisingly, remote employees are just as productive as office employees. In some cases, they may be more productive. And while you can’t necessarily let everyone work from home, offering select remote work opportunities can serve as a powerful incentive to keep some of your best employees around. Furthermore, having a Microsoft-powered remote work infrastructure in place will prepare you for future crises.

With the Microsoft Modern Workplace, your office can be ready for anything.

Modern Workplace

Is Your Organization Prepared for Top 2020 Cybersecurity Threats?

Cybersecurity Threats

Top 2020 Cybersecurity Threats

Managed IT cybersecurity professionals have been challenged to the hilt through the first half of 2020. Phishing attacks increased by upwards of 600 percent during the height of the pandemic as industry leaders made haste to move to the Cloud or increase their remote workforce infrastructure. Industry leaders have been so busy dealing with the very next issue they haven’t had a moment to prepare for emerging cybersecurity threats.

Cybersecurity Threats

As Gartner analyst Peter Firstbrook explains, the resulting changes implemented to deal with the pandemic “accelerated digitalization of business processes.” Putting operational success on a wireless fast track may have left organizations increasingly vulnerable to wide-ranging threats. According to antivirus software giant Norton, these are top cybersecurity threats organizations may not be prepared to handle.

  • Deepfakes: This trick uses artificial intelligence to combine words and create phony images and messaging.
  • Synthetic Identities: This new method to perpetrate fraud blends real and fabricated personal identity information to build a representation of a real person.
  • AI-Powered Digital Attacks: Cybercriminals can now create programs that even replicate human behaviors to fool people into providing sensitive financial information.
  • 5G Challenges: The rollout of 5G is expected to increase cybersecurity risks on the Internet of Things (IoT) logistics networks.
  • Auto Hacks: Increased reliance on technology in cars, SUVs, and other vehicles, has cracked the door for a new type of automobile hack.
  • Cloud Jacking: This type of cyber-attack leverages weaknesses in programs and systems to penetrate Cloud-based networks and use them to mine cryptocurrency.
  • Ransomware Attacks: According to Security Magazine, more than 151 million ransomware attacks were carried out during the first three-quarters of 2019 alone. They show no sign of slowing down.

Decision-makers who are finally getting their feet under them would like nothing better than to focus exclusively on profit-driving endeavors. But sustaining a debilitating data breach or costly ransomware attack would only bring your efforts to a screeching halt. The question industry leaders may want to be asking, right now, is if you are prepared to deal with critical threats. These are strategies cybersecurity consultants believe are determined solutions going forward.

Extended Detection & Response Proves Meaningful

Extended detection and response (XDR) strategies employ automation to collects and assess data and run this information through a variety of cybersecurity innovations. The process improves early threat detection, deterrence, and response times.

Cybersecurity Automation Comes of Age

Hackers continue to utilize as many technological tools as they can get their keyboards on, and AI has been a boon for digital thieves. But for every move an online criminal makes, cybersecurity experts have a counter. Automating cybersecurity tools through AI and machine learning drive computer-centric systems in the direction of real-time defense. The strategy also streamlines systems by eliminating redundancies that can slow response solutions.

New Breed of CSOs Emerges

Given the emergence of non-traditional threats that evolved during 2019, organizations are looking for enterprise-level chief security officers (CSOs) to deliver on the promise of increased investment. Managed IT professionals rallied around the banner of “enterprise-level cybersecurity” for years. But perhaps the missing piece of the puzzle was decision-makers who understand the underlying infrastructure and salient details.

As ransomware attacks, GPS spoofing, and the next scheme rears its ugly head, having a security professional who can assess, secure, defend, and pivot with agility could make a significant difference. Either CSOs will need to catch up to the wave of next-generation threats or make way for a new breed of enterprise-level executives.

Are Privacy Professionals Needed?

Complying with government data privacy and protection regulations appears to be growing into a discipline of its own. New York, California, and even the EU have pushed through regulations that have national and global implications. And although these laws are stringent, they don’t even scratch the surface of industry-specific data protection and privacy oversight.

Industry leaders find themselves at a crossroads in 2020, deciding whether to create a full-time management position to provide regulatory oversight or outsource. Many are opting to work with a high-level cybersecurity firm to harden their defenses and ensure best practices that always meet or exceed compliance regulations.

Growth in Zero-Trust Networks

In some cybersecurity circles, consultants advocate for an increase in zero-trust networks that shield applications and data from the view of prying eyes. Although virtual private networks (VPN) were considered high-level protection for remote workers, zero-trust appears to be proving even more beneficial. The underlying premise is that a VPN might be difficult to uncover, but a hacker can wreak havoc once breached. Zero-trust networks, by contrast, limit access by the user. Even if a digital scammer swipes someone’s login information, they gain only limited and managed access.

The advanced schemes trolled out by digital thieves gives industry leaders and cybersecurity specialists a headache every year. Although hackers in 2020 leverage cutting-edge technologies, these bad actors can still be contained.

If your organization, like many others, could be vulnerable to these or other next-generation cybersecurity threats, it’s time to harden your defenses. A third-party cybersecurity firm can conduct a full review of your network, evaluate best practices, compliance, and provide a report. With this objective information in hand, your organization can be prepared, come what may.