Technology enables businesses to work remotely, collaborate more efficiently, and manage their time more effectively. But to achieve these benefits, you need to implement technologies that align with your business’s needs. Here are some things to consider.

Change office communication

To increase efficiency, set up instant messaging software such as Slack or Microsoft Teams. This allows employees to communicate anytime, anywhere instead of having to get up from their desks to see whether the person is available.

Of course, if you need to discuss big projects or issues, face-to-face communication is likely the best choice. But you can simply send a quick message for more trivial conversations, saving precious minutes and allowing you to get more work done.

Install video conferencing

Traveling to offsite meetings and training sessions takes time. Rather than commuting for hours outside your office, opt for a networked phone solution that offers video calls and conferencing. This way, you can hold a video conference to discuss business matters from the comfort and convenience of your office. You can also take things up a notch and equip the conference room with tools to pull up documents and have them displayed on a big screen so that everyone in the meeting can follow the conversation with ease.

Upgrade workstations

Outdated technologies and workstations limit your business’s progress and are a hindrance to developing clued-up, efficient employees. Aging systems and slow networks can frustrate your team and bring productivity to a standstill. That’s why it’s important to take the time to assess your current workstations, applications, hardware, and tools. This doesn’t mean that you have to buy a set of entirely new workstations. But you should replace obsolete equipment with more up-to-date machines. In addition, make sure all software and applications are up-to-date to ensure maximum efficiency and employee satisfaction.

Implement ERP software

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a business process management software that allows organizations to automate processes and centralize data in order for employees to collaborate more efficiently. ERP software provides employees with up-to-date business information that they can easily access and use. What’s more, ERP also eliminates redundant data entry and reduces the number of spreadsheets that are used to record critical business data, by storing information in a centralized database.

To get the maximum return on your technology investment, it’s also important to partner with a knowledgeable and reliable service provider. Get in touch with our tech experts today to find out how we can implement technology to help your employees become more efficient and productive.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

 

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

 

 

 

Businesses need technology to be profitable and productive. But not all technologies are capable of delivering on their perceived benefits. To make sure your investments are still worth keeping, you need to perform technology business reviews.

What is a technology business review?
A technology business review reveals the strengths and weaknesses of your company’s IT framework. It’s often performed by a third-party IT consultant who will give an objective assessment of your technology and provide recommendations to help meet your goals. If done properly, technology business reviews allow you to:

 

Save money
Every review starts with a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether a solution you’ve implemented is worth the continued investment. If there are technologies costing you a fortune in management and maintenance fees, consultants will advise you to cut them from your budget. The best ones will even recommend cost-effective alternatives so you can do more with less.

 

Increase productivity
System-wide reviews of your IT infrastructure show you what processes are hindering operations and propose solutions that let you work faster and smarter. For example, if employees are mainly sharing files via email, consultants might suggest cloud collaboration platforms like Office 365 or G Suite that store data in a centralized location for seamless file sharing.

 

Enhance security and compliance
Technology business reviewers also uncover security risks within your business. Consultants scan for missed patches, poorly configured networks, and other software vulnerabilities that make it easy for cybercriminals to hack your systems.

 

They’ll then compile their findings to create a more robust defense strategy, usually one that involves implementing advanced solutions like intrusion prevention systems, file access restrictions, and patch management software.

If you operate a business that’s subjected to data regulations like HIPAA or PCI-DSS, consultants will also pinpoint IT practices and solutions that are noncompliant and customize a strategy that ensures the privacy, integrity, and availability of your data.

Implement technologies that fit
Considering that new technologies are released at a breakneck pace, it’s important you pick the ones that make sense for your operation, its goals, and the bottom line. Technology business reviews keep you up to date on the latest technology trends and gauge the impact of implementing them, so you can make informed decisions.

 

Whether your goal is to increase profits, productivity, security, or all of the above, technology business reviews can put you on the right track. Our seasoned IT consultants can conduct these reviews for you and develop a strategy that gives you an edge over the competition. Just give us a call.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Blockchain is the rage. It’s on the lips and lexicon of every tech pundit, journalist and tech executive. What is blockchain? You can read all about it yourself here but in short, it’s a database of databases, a record keeping system that is shared by all, updated by all and secure.

Here’s why it’s not relevant for your small business today.

I was at an event recently, and the owner of a karate studio asked one of the expert panelists, how he could use blockchain in his business.

The “expert” said, well if you had a community of karate enthusiasts, you could use Blockchain for the community database. Something like this, the expert explained.

WRONG.

For a small businesses, such as this owner of a karate studio, he doesn’t need blockchain, all he needs is a simple database to keep track of members, hold discussions or etc. SQL or any number of other databases that have been around for years.

Companies such as Salesforce, Netsuite, Zoho, Infusionsoft, Hubspot, SAP, Intuit and Microsoft make all the tools you need to run a great business. With all the other supporting services such as Asana, Monday, and others, you have a full suite of tools and services to help you manage a growing business.

Indeed VERY big companies who want to enhance security, or sound cool, might consider blockchain – banks, Amazon, Walmart, GE and very BIG companies with massive datasets. But for the rest of us, we small business owners we don’t need to think twice about blockchain.

  • Focus on making a great product.
  • Focus on serving your customers.
  • Focus on generating awareness for the problem you solve.
  • Focus on better marketing and advertising.
  • Focus on treating your employees/staff/team well.
  • Focus on making a difference in other peoples lives.

Blockchain is nice, it’s cute, it’s the new buzzword, but you don’t need to worry about it for your small business.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

 

Published with consideration from SmallBizTechnology SOURCE

If you’re a small business looking to invest in web-based advertising, Google AdWords is the best place to start. Some campaigns can be set up in as little as five minutes.

However, for competitive industries with high value sales such as IT consulting, we typically recommend a minimum starting budget of $1,000/month. Yes, this is not for the faint of heart. This does require that you’re a financially sound business in stage four or five of the small business success model and that you can earn sufficient ROI from one sale or lifetime value of bringing on a new customer on board.

Or if you’re a fitness club selling CrossFit classes in a major US metro area, you may still face significant AdWords competition, but at a much lower starting rate — perhaps a $500-$750/month budget would be enough. (To learn more about how to budget for Google Adwords, here’s a great post about it by one of the vendors we use.)

Considering just how powerful this tool can be for your lead generation efforts, and how much traffic it can generate for your website — that’s not something you can ignore. When properly optimized and matched to your target audience, AdWords creates a steady stream of new leads and potential customers, but it can also be a black hole for your marketing budget when managed improperly.

Google makes it easy to spend money, but to do it successfully, regular time must be spent managing your campaigns. That means daily checks of keyword performance for the first couple of weeks and weekly or bi-weekly checks after this to ensure your campaigns are performing as expected.

When checking your keyword list, there are several factors you should evaluate:

  •  Keyword Relevance – Relevant keywords represent the specific phrases your prospects are searching for when they need what you offer. This usually means 3-5 words that mention your services, location, and possibly a specific problem you might solve. At the same time, when someone clicks a highly relevant keyword, where do they go on your website? Does your landing page contain those keywords? Is it relevant to the search they just made?
  • Match Types – With AdWords, you can set Exact Match to show only your ads when users type the phrases you’ve listed, word for word. Using this is more targeted, but at the risk of limiting visibility. Phrase Match tells Google that you want those words to appear in the exact order that you’ve listed but Google can add things before and after that. Broad Match displays your ads for the phrase you’ve listed, but can also add words onto that phrase or trigger your ad for synonyms or near variations.
  • Quality Score – Each of your keywords will be assigned a quality score. This is based on several factors, including the click-through rate of people who see your ads when searching for that term, the relevance of your landing page when they get there, and how long they stay. This can influence what you pay for each keyword, but can also send a signal that your campaign needs adjustment.
  • Cost Per Click – What are you paying for each click? It’s easy to look at high level statistics for your campaign and see a good conversion rate and ignore the fine details. But if you’re paying $3.50 per click for a keyword that converts at a rate lower than another that costs only $1.25 per click, you could be missing out on potential conversions.
  • Negative Keywords – There is a lot of irrelevant traffic out there. For anything other than exact-match campaigns, you should include negative keywords to keep your ads from being displayed in search results that don’t match your services. For example, if you have a campaign “server setup support,” you might exclude the word “videogames” if that’s not a clientbase you want to reach.

The number of options available in AdWords when you dig into the settings can be overwhelming, but if you focus on the items above and check in once a week, you can streamline your spending and optimize results over time.

With the right combination of time invested and careful addition of new keywords, you can ensure you get the best out of your AdWords campaign.

Ask yourself what your website is doing for you and whether it’s aligned with your business needs and objectives. The GCInfotech professional web design team is here to help.

Published with consideration from Pronto Marketing SOURCE

Today, Wi-Fi isn’t only crucial for your employees to get work done, it’s also a necessary amenity for your office guests. But there’s a right and a wrong way to set up guest Wi-Fi and the latter can result in a frustrating experience for users. So, how do you set up guest Wi-Fi properly?

Never give guests access to your primary Wi-Fi
While giving guests password to your company’s main Wi-Fi might be the easiest way to get them connected, you should avoid this at all costs.

Anyone with a little technical know-how can potentially access everything on your company network, including confidential data. Not to mention, guests’ devices connected to your business network increase the risk of a malware infection or cyber attack since you can never be sure that they’re safe and secure.

Ways to create secondary Wi-Fi for guests
If you router has built-in guest Wi-Fi support (you can check this feature through a quick web search) you could use it to create a separate “virtual” network. This means guests will have access to the internet without connecting to your main company network.

If your router doesn’t support multiple Wi-Fi networks, you can implement a separate wireless access point that bypasses the rest of your network and connects directly to your Internet service provider (ISP) connection.

Both options will keep your guests’ connectivity separate from your company network so you’ll never have to worry about unauthorized persons accessing your company data.

Keep in mind that guest Wi-Fi still uses your ISP connection so you should limit bandwidth usage on your guest network. The last thing you want is a guest streaming videos that slow down the Internet for your employees. With that in mind, you can even have your employees use guest Wi-Fi for their personal devices too. This minimizes the chance of employees hogging company bandwidth for personal use.

Your guest Wi-Fi should only provide outsiders with internet access, nothing more. While proper setup isn’t rocket science, it can be a tedious process. Having said that, if you need a team of experts to take care of it all for you, or simply have questions about how else to leverage your hardware for better efficiency and security, just give us a call.

Published with Considerations from TechAdvisory SOURCE

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused millions of dollars in damages. Some of that damage was unavoidable, but hundreds of businesses managed to stay open thanks to innovative virtualization solutions. If you’re not already taking advantage of this technology, it’s time to find out what you’re missing.

Virtual desktops
In most offices, employees are still dependent on desktop computers. Their workstations grant them access to everything from customer relationship software to company databases and when these computers go down, there’s no way to get work done. Virtualized desktops allow users to access their files and even computing power from across the internet.

Instead of logging on to an operating system stored on a hard drive just a few inches away from their keyboard, employees can take advantage of server hardware to store their files across a network. With barebones computers, employees can log in to these virtual desktops either in the office or from home. Floods, fires and other disasters won’t prevent your team from working because they can continue remotely.

Virtual applications
Devoting a portion of your server’s hardware and software resources to virtual desktops requires a fair amount of computing power. If the majority of your employees’ time is spent working with just one or two pieces of software, you can virtualize just those applications.

If a hurricane destroyed your office and the hardware inside it, virtualized applications can be restored in minutes. They don’t need to be installed on the machines that use them, and as long as you have backups these applications can be streamed to employee computers just like a cloud-based application.

Virtual servers
If you use virtual desktops or applications, it makes perfect sense to use virtual servers as well. With a little help from a managed services provider, your servers can be configured to automatically create virtual backups. Beyond preventing data loss, these backups also make it possible to restore server functionality with off site restorations.

Virtualized servers are incredibly useful when clients need access to a website or database that you maintain in the office. For example, if you provide background checks on tenants to rental property owners through your website, an unexpected power outage won’t cause an interruption of service. Your virtualization solution will boot up a backup server away from the power outage and your customers will be none the wiser.

The benefits of virtualization extend far beyond disaster recovery planning. Your business can also reduce IT costs and increase hardware capacity — all it takes is some help from trained experts. Call us today to learn more about what we can do for you.

Not sure where to start? Give GCInfotech a call to discuss the available solutions that would work best for your company. Together, we can make your business work smarter, faster and more efficiently.
Published with consideration from TechAdvisory SOURCE

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have already caused billions of dollars in damages, but hurricane season is far from over. Experts are predicting that there will be five more major tropical storms through October, and if they present risks to your business, it’s time to establish a watertight disaster recovery (DR) plan. Here are a few things you need to consider.

Pay attention to location
First and foremost, your backup site should be in a hurricane-free zone. Ideally, your offsite facility should be located at least 100 miles away from your main location. If this isn’t possible, make sure it is built to withstand wind speeds of 160 mph (as fast as Category 5 storms), and is supported by backup generators and uninterruptible power supplies.

You should also request an upper floor installation or, at the very least, keep critical IT equipment 18 inches off the ground to prevent water damage.

Determine recovery hierarchy
Certain parts of your IT are more mission-critical than others. Ask yourself which systems or data must be recovered in minutes, hours, or days to get your business back to running efficiently.

For example, you may find that recovering sensitive customer information and e-commerce systems take priority over recovering your email server. Whatever the case may be, prioritizing your systems ensures that the right ones are recovered quickly after a disaster.

Use image-based backups
Unlike fragile tape backups, image-based backups take “snapshots” of your systems, creating a copy of the OS, software, and data stored in it. From here, you can easily boot the virtual image on any device, allowing you to back up and restore critical business systems in seconds.

Take advantage of the cloud
The cloud allows you to host applications and store data in high-availability, geo-redundant servers. This means your backups can be accessed via the internet, allowing authorized users to access critical files from any device. Expert technicians will also watch over and secure your backups, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of enterprise-level backup facilities and IT support.

Back up your data frequently
Back up your data often, especially during disaster season. If your latest backups were created on the 15th of September and the next storm, Hurricane Jose, makes landfall on the 28th, you could lose nearly two weeks of data.

Get in the habit of replicating your files at the end of each day, which should be easy if you’ve opted for image-based backups.

Test your DR plan
After setting up your backups, check whether they are restoring your files accurately and on time. Your employees should be drilled on the recovery procedures and their responsibilities during and after disaster strikes. Your DR team should also be trained on how to failover to the backup site before the storm hits. Finally, providers, contractors, and customers need to be notified about how the hurricane will affect your operations.

As cell towers and internet connections may be affected during this time, make sure your company forums are online and have your employees register with the Red Cross Safe and Well website so you can check their statuses.

It’s nearly impossible to experience little-to-no disruptions during disasters like Harvey or Irma, but with the right support, you can minimize downtime. If you’re concerned about any natural disasters putting you out of business, call us today. We offer comprehensive business continuity services that every company must have.

Not sure where to start? Give GCInfotech a call to discuss the available solutions that would work best for your company. Together, we can make your business work smarter, faster and more efficiently.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory SOURCE

Seventy-five percent of all obsolete computing equipment is currently in storage. In other words, it’s gathering dust in that unused office, shoved under a desk somewhere, or being used as a plant stand in the corner. But good options for disposal and recycling of old computers abound.

The following are EasyTech’s top tips for safely getting rid of unused computer equipment. You’ll free up storage space while helping our environment stay clean and green.

Computer Recycling

Many of the basic components in an old computer can be reused. This includes plastic from keyboards, metal from computer housing, and glass from older monitors. At the same time, toxic substances in computers like lead and cadmium need to be kept out of landfills and groundwater. Since January 2012, Staples has recycled more than five million pounds of electronics.

Fortunately, computer recycling is now an easy option in most communities. Many towns have public drop-off stations for your unused equipment, while computer retailers such as Staples offer free recycling as well. These recyclers will ensure electronic equipment and batteries are responsibly reused.

Computer Reuse

Recycling your old computers is a great choice when they are broken and beyond repair, but equipment that still works can be sold or donated to charity. Many schools, churches, and other community organizations will be happy to take your computers when your office decides to make an upgrade. In fact, computers that are broken yet repairable are often welcomed by these kinds of institutions. (Be sure to ask before donating equipment that is not in working order.)

Another option, offered by Dell and Goodwill, is called the Dell Reconnect program. This service is a residential computer-recycling program that offers recyclers the opportunity to drop off old gear at Goodwill locations. This free service is tax deductible and not only are you recycling gear, you’re also giving the community an opportunity to use technology they might otherwise be unable to afford.

Selling your outdated computing equipment is another option. Many businesses may be surprised to know that their unwanted computers can be listed on popular classified ad sites and turned into a bit of extra cash. Just because you might not need those old computers doesn’t mean someone else might not, and if that’s the case there are effective recycling programs out there like Gazelle that actually pay you fairly well for your gear when it’s no longer wanted.

Computer Upgrades

We all like brand new things—new cars, new houses, new computers. But before you decide on junking your old computer equipment, find out whether component upgrades might be a better option. The addition of more memory or storage, or adding better graphics capability, can give an old computer new life. RAM upgrades might save you money and reduce your impact on the environment.

You might also be able to use some of the components in your old computers with your newer systems. Old hard drives can serve as data storage or backup receptacles. Your old monitor can be hooked up in tandem with a new monitor for extra viewing area (a dual monitor setup often provides small business users with a productivity boost. Want to know how? It’s a snap! Just follow these official dual-monitor setup instructions from Microsoft).

Before You Recycle

Proper computer disposal means being careful of our environment. It also means being careful with the data those old computers contain. You don’t want customer or financial information getting into the wrong hands when you dispose of your computers.

Erasing files from your computer won’t be enough to keep a determined data thief from getting at your information. Data-wiping software can make information retrieval more difficult, although even this might not stop a sophisticated crook.

If you are donating or selling old computers and they contain sensitive information, you might consider removing the hard drive first and disposing of it separately. Retailers that offer computer recycling usually ensure that data is effectively destroyed in their disposal process, so this is a good option when privacy is a concern.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from STAPLES.com SOURCE

How Highly Specialized CRM’s Are Transforming The Way that Small Businesses Work

The age of the one size fits all approach to CRM is slowly joining the ranks of the fax machine and the cash register, especially for small businesses. The rapid technological advancement of the everyday consumer has put pressure on small businesses to engage their customers in more and more sophisticated ways.

In this highly competitive environment, response times are critical, content delivery is paramount and being able to map the customer’s journey across all your touchpoints has become more important than ever. The broad based CRM’s of yesteryear weren’t conceived to address all of the specialized industry needs of every vertical. For example, while they all fall into the category of a businesses, a florist, a REALTOR, orthodontist and marijuana entrepreneur all have very different requirements for managing and scaling a successful business in their respective markets. Today’s successful small businesses are moving away from traditional CRMs in favor of highly specialized CRM’s, tailored to the needs of one industry at a time.

As Kate Leggett, Forrester principal analyst explains in her blog, “CRM purchasing is undergoing a sea change. I see that companies are no longer [purchasing] heavyweight, end-to-end CRM solutions that have had the reputation of being complex, expensive and hard to implement—even if they have great industry specific capabilities. They tend to impede user productivity with a bloated set of capabilities that many users can’t leverage.”

Companies like Microsoft and Facebook are also catching on to the fact that it’s not just enterprise organizations that benefit from CRM. It’s great to see efficiency tools being integrated into small business operations, but the recent options are just the first step in changing the way SMBs do business.

So, what would be the best next step? The way I see it, tools for small business don’t need to check all the boxes. Part of choosing the right CRM, is choosing a company that understands your niche and has built their solution with your exact challenges in mind. When you are small, there’s no room for error, and no need for extraneous features that won’t improve your everyday tasks.

Finding the Right CRM

The goal of a good CRM is to keep the customer experience front and center while providing you granular control over the life blood of your business. Start by asking yourself the following questions when selecting a CRM for your small business:

  • Are all your customer interactions and information (Web visits, content consumed, emails, and phone calls) stored in one convenient location and accessible to everyone in your company?
  • Can you verify that all leads in the sales pipeline are being followed up on in a timely manner?
  • Are you able to initiate marketing campaigns and follow up activities along with the sales team?
  • Can you create a forecast of your pipeline without your accountant?
  • Can you view all the sales activity and results by day, week, month and year?
  • Is your sales team able to access customer information and respond to customers when they are out of the office?
  • Do you know how many customer service issues each customer had and why?
  • Can you get help setting up your CRM?
  • Is there customer support via a knowledgeable representative?
  • Are there free resources and training provided to get your team up to speed?

Horizontal solutions from today’s tech giants aren’t the only option, and often aren’t the best choice for an emerging business. CRM for small business is a tricky trade, which is why it’s taken so long for targeted solutions to come to market. It’s easy to assume that the one-size-fits-all approach is a reliable choice for your business, but if you’re looking to gain a competitive advantage, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the following:

  • Specific focus. The way different companies interact with their customers will vary dramatically, depending on their vertical. Just like your small business, your CRM doesn’t need to tackle every challenge facing consumers today. Your business challenges are unique, and the most efficient use of your time and money will be finding a CRM that meets those needs, and nothing else.
  • Small Data Driven. Having access to tons of data sounds great, but won’t always be as valuable as you may think. When you have a niche target audiences, understanding the needs of that unique set of people is what’s valuable, even if this data set is only a fraction of what larger CRMs will offer.
  • Ease of Use.Tools with the highest adoption rates are ones that just make sense. They show you what you want, when you want it, with an intuitive design that fits with your everyday business operations. When your CRM platform is as easy to use as Facebook, that’s when it will get the most use, and make the biggest impact on your business.
  • On the Go. In many different industries, doing your job well means you’re not sitting at your desk. In real estate for instance, agents who are closing the most deals are the one’s out in the field, meeting with clients in and out of homes on the market. That’s where mobile CRM comes in. Being able to engage with clients and have access to customer data on the go are capabilities that’ll elevate small business to a level of efficiency rarely found in traditional industries.

We shouldn’t expect a CRM to be a one-size-fits-all solution for the local grocery store owner, the construction company founder, and the retail store manager. The way companies across industries interact with their customers is inherently different, but they all have a few things in common: the desire to reach a unique target audience and build long lasting customer relationships—all at a low cost and without the added roadblock of mastering highly complicated new software.
That’s why small business CRM should fit in the palm of your hand. It should provide support both at the desk and away from it, improve your everyday tasks and be as intuitive as Facebook or Twitter. Broad and all-encompassing CRM systems won’t always be the best fit, so it’s time we start thinking a bit smaller when it comes to CRM and give SMBs a fair shot at the digital transformation happening in enterprises around the globe.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from SmallBizTechnology.com SOURCE

You don’t have to be a big corporation to catch a cybercriminal’s attention. In this article you’ll learn about the risks that business email compromise, ransomware, and a new breed of malicious Microsoft Office files pose to your small business.

Did Your Boss Really Email That?

The next time you receive an email from your manager or from the head of the company urgently requesting sensitive information or banking details, check again.

Scammers are going beyond spear phishing and using a scheme called business email compromise (BEC) to trick employees into sending them money. And it’s not just large companies that fall for the email wire fraud scam. In April, the FBI warned that small companies and non-profits—any business where wire transfers are a normal part of conducting business—are desirable targets.
“The schemers go to great lengths to spoof company email or to use social engineering to assume the identity of the CEO, a company attorney, or a trusted vendor,” stated the FBI in its security alert. “They research employees who manage money and use language specific to the company they are targeting, then they request a wire fraud transfer using dollar amounts that lend legitimacy.”
The losses are real and potentially devastating to small businesses. BEC scams have affected companies in every state of U.S. and 79 countries, according to the FBI. In Arizona alone, the average victim loses between $25,000 and $75,000.
Law enforcement received BEC reports from more than 17,000 victims from October 2013 through February of this year, the agency said. In total, they were scammed out of more than $2.3 billion, said the FBI. One unidentified American company was hit for nearly $100 million and another, Ubiquiti Networks lost $39.1 million last year.
If you get an urgent, email-only request for a wire transfer, it’s time to raise your guard. The FBI suggests something as simple as picking up the phone and verifying that everything is on the up-and-up.

Data Held Hostage

By now, the threat of ransomware has been well publicized. This particularly wicked form of malware encrypts victims’ files, rendering them useless until they pay—you guessed it—a ransom. Even forking over the funds doesn’t guarantee that cybercriminals will uphold their end of the bargain.
According to a recent report (PDF) from Symantec, the average ransom demand—$294 at the end of 2015—has climbed to $679 today. Sure, it may a small price to pay to regain access to critical data, but the total cost can quickly climb in small office environments.
“While the home user may be faced with a $500 ransom demand for one infected computer, the ransom demand for multiple infections at an organization could quickly rack up to tens of thousands of dollars,” cautioned the report.
And the threat’s growing larger. Trend Micro observed that the number of new ransomware families out in the wild climbed to more than 20 during the first half of 2016, a 172 percent increase over all of 2015. Worse, they are getting more insidious.
“JIGSAW [a ransomeware variant] deletes encrypted files whenever victims fail to pay the ransom on the given deadline. Similarly, SURPRISE increases the ransom every time victims miss a deadline,” stated Trend Micro in a recent report. “Our findings also revealed how some ransomware families were designed to target specific business-related files. SURPRISE and POWERWARE, for example, encrypt tax return files.”

A New Twist to Malicious Microsoft Office Documents

Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files are among the most widely emailed among employees, and cybercriminals bank on that fact to spread malware and collect user credentials.
It’s not exactly news, but Sophos has noted that malware coders are switching up their tactics. If you’re expecting attackers to flood your inbox with Word documents that harbor the malicious macros of old, keep reading.
Word Intruder, a popular exploit kit, now targets an expanded set of Microsoft Office vulnerabilities and stages complex attacks that may slip through your defenses if your systems aren’t properly patched.
Sophos, a security software company, recently revealed in a blog post that the latest version of “Microsoft Word Intruder now includes the ability to deploy a decoy document, as well as new payload files that are relocated to the end of the exploit block.” The tactic, according to Sophos security researchers, enables attackers to cover their tracks while the exploit does its damage.
The best defense against this type of threat is to train employees to stop opening attachments from unsolicited emails and to keep your anti-virus software up to date.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from Small Business Computing SOURCE