The global pandemic hasn’t defeated many hard-working managers and teams. They’re protecting themselves from the virus, meeting deadlines, collaborating on projects, and hitting business goals, all while working from home. In this article, we’ll go through a list of the essentials tools for the new normal that is remote working.

For both employers and employees, a remote working arrangement has attractive benefits. Organizations can tap into a potentially larger labor pool, hiring from just about anywhere and finding highly skilled talent at lower rates.

Fifty percent of remote workers reported increased job satisfaction and had 13.5 percent more calls completed. Being spared the stress of a daily commute and having a better work-life balance are factors to their happiness, and therefore, better productivity.

In the face of natural calamities, outages, and the ongoing pandemic, a distributed workforce becomes a necessary business continuity measure — a means to protect employees and keep productivity up, even as normal facilities remain unavailable.

But all of this was only possible because we have the technologies to support remote work. Barriers to remote working have been brought down by the advancement of remote working tools. With a plethora of software to choose from, we’ve selected the ones that help your remote teams thrive.

Remote desktop applications

Accessing your work computer while on the go or out of the office was once unheard of. Remote desktop apps have made it possible, allowing users to work remotely on a computer through another device and from any location.

Our picks: TeamViewer and Splashtop
Team Viewer has capabilities such as screen sharing, file transfer, wake-on-LAN, and clipboard transfer. Free for personal use, the app is easy to set up and is available for multiple operating systems such as Windows, macOS, and Android. Meanwhile, Splashtop has similar capabilities but with the added benefit of “low-latency” transfers or the transfer of a high volume of data and messages with minimal delay.

Real-time communication and collaboration software

Every successful organization needs to communicate. When communication breaks down, productivity and engagement suffer. Given the lack of face-to-face contact, regular, real-time communication is arguably more critical for remote teams and their managers. The following apps make it possible, seamless, and simple.

Our picks: SlackMattermostRocketChatMicrosoft Teams, and Join.me
Deemed the alternative to email, Slack is the leader of the pack, with its robust API that allows integration with countless applications. Its basic functionality enables remote workers to direct message (DM) or create “collaboration hubs” around departments, projects, or any topic. Mattermost and Rocket Chat are open source tools that recreate many of Slack’s capabilities.

Microsoft Teams and Join.me are well-known video chat and conferencing apps. However, as a full collaboration and communication suite, Teams offers more for Windows users. It allows VoIP, direct and group messages, and integration with all the Office 365 apps. Not only is Join.me a free video-conferencing app, but it also allows participants to use a cool brainstorming feature called “whiteboarding” for real-time interaction on a shared document.

Project management essentials

When you’re managing a team of dozens located in different parts of the globe, things can start to fall apart quickly. Time differences and distance can create significant complexity if you lack the right tools. These two apps can help you overcome the challenges and streamline project organization and collaboration.

Our picks: Basecamp and Trello
Basecamp is a web-based management tool for planning and collaboration on projects. There’s no installation needed, just your regular web browser to access its powerful core functions that include task management, messaging, collaboration, file sharing, scheduling, quick search, and reporting.

Trello’s overall shining feature is its simplicity. The web-based tool’s approach to project management is built around one concept: the bulletin board. Users can create boards that represent projects and each board can be populated with cards assigned to specific members and customized with deadlines, comments, and attachments.

With the current global crisis, remote working tools have become even more crucial to sustaining productivity, accomplishing projects, and solidifying distributed teams. It’s important your organization chooses ones that are well-suited to budget, infrastructure, and goals. Our experts can help make a proper assessment and configure the perfect remote working setup. Talk to us today.

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

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing employees to work from home, you and your staff can take advantage of Microsoft Teams to stay productive. Microsoft recently enhanced this already powerful tool’s capabilities, making it easier for more people to take advantage of its advanced features.

What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams combines workplace chat, video conferencing, and file storage and collaboration. It also has extensions that integrate with third-party apps, even those not made by Microsoft. As a unified communication and collaboration platform, Teams is like combining Slack, Google Drive, and Zoom into a single app.

How do you get Microsoft Teams?

If you have an Office 365 license, then you can readily access Microsoft Teams. But that’s not the only way to access and take advantage of the platform.

Individual users can use their work or school email address to sign up through this link. You will automatically receive a license valid until January 2021. This license lets you take advantage of chat, screen sharing and recording, video meetings with up to 250 participants, and Live Events for up to 10,000 participants.

If you have a Gmail or Outlook email address, you can sign up for the freemium version by clicking on this link. This version supports chat as well as group and one-on-one audio or video calling. It also gives you 10 GB of team file storage and 2 GB of personal file storage.

The previous freemium version used to have various limits on users, but Microsoft opted to lift these restrictions on March 10. Another notable change is the inclusion of meetings requests, which Microsoft has committed to include in the freemium version in the future.

Microsoft also offers assistance to IT professionals looking to roll out Teams for their company. Microsoft offers a free Office 365 E1 for six months. All you have to do is to contact your Microsoft partner or sales representative.

If you work in the education sector , Microsoft recommends getting Office 365 A1, a free version specially created for educational institutions. This version is available for students, teachers, and administrative staff.

How does Microsoft Teams remain at peak performance during the crisis?

The sudden increase in remote workers is sure to put a lot of pressure on many platforms, but Microsoft Teams is more than prepared to handle the load. In particular, it is designed to anticipate problems on three core aspects:

  • Systems during a sudden surge in usage
  • Location during an area-specific event, such as a hurricane
  • People during an event that affects users, such as COVID-19

To address problems in these aspects, Microsoft implements what is called an Active/Active Design. This means that the system uses multiple instances in response to user request or input. These instances run in different datacenters, which means that an event that affects one cannot affect the others. This enables the system to isolate problems and resolve them without affecting performance.

Microsoft Teams offers a great opportunity for companies to remain productive in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you want to get started or understand how you can take full advantage of its functionalities, 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

For most businesses, a reliable internet connection is no longer an option but a necessity. A fast and reliable internet connection makes for more efficient and productive operations. But what do you do when you’re faced with connectivity issues or slow speed? Below are some solutions to five of the most common Wi-Fi worries.

Range constraints
Wi-Fi works via radio waves that are broadcast from a central hub, usually from a piece of hardware known as a router. In order to avoid a weak signal in your office, make sure:

  • Your router is placed in a centralized location and not tucked away in the farthest corner of your facility.
  • Your Wi-Fi antennae are either in a fully horizontal or vertical position for optimal signal distribution.

Note that Wi-Fi range constraints can also occur from interference, so if your office is situated in a highly populated area, try changing your router’s channel.

Slow speed
Despite having high-speed or fiber optic internet, slow load times can still occur for a number of reasons. To eliminate this, try the following:

  • Make sure your router is located in the same room as your computers.
  • Have more routers to better accommodate a high number of connected devices.
  • Limit the use of bandwidth-intensive applications such as Skype, Dropbox, YouTube, and Facebook.
  • Disable your router’s power-saving mode.
  • Create a new router channel to avoid network bottlenecks.

Connection issues
It can be frustrating when the Wi-Fi network shows up on your device but you just can’t seem to connect to it. Before you give up, try these:

  • Determine whether your Wi-Fi connection is the problem or if your internet is down by plugging in your laptop directly into the router via an Ethernet cable. If you get a connection, then your Wi-Fi is the culprit.
  • Reset your router. Use a paperclip or a pen to hold down the reset button for about 30 seconds.
  • Reboot your device.

Unstable connection
Random drops in Wi-Fi connection can happen from time to time. If this has become a constant nuisance in your office, try the following quick fixes:

  • Move your router to a different spot or a different room.
  • Avoid having multiple routers in the same location as they can confuse your device.

Network not found
Glitches in the router can result in your Wi-Fi network not appearing at all. Two solutions that can resolve the problem are:

  • Disconnecting the router from the power source and waiting at least 30 seconds before reconnecting it.
  • Checking to see how old your router is; if it’s over three years old, you’re probably due for a replacement.

When you experience Wi-Fi issues, these tips will help you avoid serious downtime. But if you’d rather have a dedicated technology provider take care of your hardware needs, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

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

As cybersecurity incidents become more sophisticated, frequent, and intelligent, experts predict that the global market for cybersecurity products in 2020 will exceed that of last year. In fact, your company might be one of the thousands of businesses looking to purchase cybersecurity software. To maximize your company’s cybersecurity investment, follow these steps.

Uncover threats and vulnerabilities

Every business should run a risk assessment to evaluate its current cybersecurity infrastructure. Doing so is one of the easiest ways to identify, correct, and prevent security breaches. After discovering potential issues that cyberterrorists could exploit, rate them based on probability of occurrence and potential impacts on your business.
Keep in mind that risk assessments are specific to every business, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach for technology that will work for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Variables like your line of business and operating environment will account for differences in needs and risks. For instance, manufacturing companies and insurance groups have totally different applications to secure.
After tagging and ranking potential threats, identify which vulnerabilities need immediate attention and which ones can be addressed further down the line. For instance, a web server running an unpatched operating system will take precedence over a front desk computer that’s running a little slower than normal.

Tailor controls to risks

Instead of spending time and money evenly on all systems, focus solutions on areas with high risks. Address these areas’ issues immediately after an assessment, but also put plans in place to evaluate their risk profiles more often. This approach is particularly useful to businesses that don’t have deep IT budgets but don’t want to make security sacrifices.

Assess existing cybersecurity products

Chances are, your organization has already spent a great deal of money on purchasing and maintaining various security products. By conducting risk assessments more often, you can improve the strategies you already have in place and uncover wasteful spending. You may discover that one outdated system doesn’t really need to be upgraded, or that another legacy technology needs to be ditched. Remember that your existing products were purchased to meet specific needs, and these needs may have immensely changed or disappeared altogether. Overcoming cybersecurity obstacles becomes easier if you regularly evaluate your IT infrastructure.

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

There really is an app for almost everything — including one that cyber-criminals use to hack into businesses’ systems. Cyberattacks have become so advanced that they are now aided by an app, like this one that poses serious threats to Office 365 users. If you’re using Office 365, here’s what you need to know.

A phishing scam that harvests users’ credentials

The latest cyberattack on Microsoft Office 365 involves harvesting users’ credentials. Scammers use this previously unseen tactic by launching a phishing message to users, asking them to click on an embedded link. What makes this scam more insidious than traditional phishing scams is that the URL within the message links to a real Microsoft login page.

How does it work?

The phishing message resembles a legitimate SharePoint and OneDrive file-share that prompts users to click on it. Once they do, they are taken to an Office 365 login page where they will be asked to log in if they haven’t already.

After they’ve logged in, they’ll be prompted to grant permission to an app called “0365 Access.” Users who grant permission effectively give the app — and the hackers behind it — complete access to their Office 365 files, contacts, and inbox.

This technique can easily trick lots of users since the app that requests access is integrated with the Office 365 Add-ins feature. That means that Microsoft essentially generates the request for permission. No, Microsoft is not aiding hackers to breach systems. Rather, the scam is made possible by a feature that allows users to install apps that are not from the official Office Store.

Ways to protect your Office 365 account — and your business

Given their fairly advanced approach, these scammers could effortlessly prey on careless employees. There are ways to make sure that doesn’t happen.

  • Always check the email’s sender account before clicking on any link or granting apps access.
  • Implement a policy that prevents staff from downloading and installing apps that are not from the Office Store.
  • Regularly conduct security awareness training that covers essential cybersecurity topics. Educate employees on how to spot phishing scam red flags (e.g., unknown senders, grammatical and typographical errors, suspicious requests, and the like). Increase their knowledge about more sophisticated attacks and keep everyone informed about current and future cybersecurity risks.

Successful attacks could result in an unimaginable catastrophe to your company. For tips on how to spot this and other nefarious scams and how to plan thorough security practices, contact our experts today.

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

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 way and a wrong way to set up guest Wi-Fi, and the latter can result in a frustrating experience for you and your users. So, how do you set up your guest Wi-Fi properly?

Never give guests access to your primary Wi-Fi

Giving your guests access to your company’s main Wi-Fi connection might seem like a good idea, but 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. In addition, if any of your visitors’ mobile devices have been compromised, it’s possible that they can transmit malware to your entire network.

Ways to create secondary Wi-Fi for guests

If your router comes with built-in guest Wi-Fi support (you can check this feature through a quick web search), you can use it to create a separate “virtual” network. This means guests will have access to the internet without directly connecting to your company’s primary 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 the internet, thus preventing any outsider from accessing your company’s private data.

Keep in mind that guest Wi-Fi still uses your ISP connection, so you should limit bandwidth usage on your guest network. Visitors streaming videos can slow down your internet connection, which can affect the productivity of your employees. With that in mind, you can even have your employees use the guest Wi-Fi on their mobile devices to minimize the chance of them hogging company bandwidth for personal use.

Remember, your guest Wi-Fi should only provide outsiders with internet access, nothing more. While the 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, or if you simply have questions about how else to leverage your hardware for better efficiency and security, 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

Selecting a Wi-Fi router, much like selecting any other piece of equipment for your business, can be a complicated task. There are a variety of models available that it can be a chore to work out the best option. However, if you know what features to look for, it’s much easier to make the right decision.

Network type

Look at any router and you will quickly see that there are a number of different networks available. The four most commonly found are 802.1b, 802.1g, 802.1n, and 802.11ac. These designations indicate how fast the router can transfer wireless data, with 802.11ac being the fastest of these four. Those who want to connect multiple devices via Wi-Fi or cable may do better with 802.11ac router.

Throughput

This is closely associated with the router’s network type, and is usually one of the first things listed on router boxes and specifications. To spot the router’s throughput, look for Mbps. This indicates the speed at which the router is supposed to transmit data from your connection to users.

Keep in mind that if you have a 100Mbps internet connection, but a router that is only, say, 80 Mbps, then the total speed will be the lower figure. Therefore, it would be a good idea to get a router with a higher throughput to accommodate faster connections.

Range

This is particularly important for users who will be connecting via Wi-Fi as they will likely not be sitting right beside the router. The farther you are from your router, the slower and weaker your connection will be. Typically, 802.11ac will offer the strongest connections and greatest range.

Bands

On every single router’s box, you will see numbers like 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz. These indicate the wireless radios on the router. A dual-band router will have both 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz radios which allow devices to connect to different bands so as not to overload a connection. Those who connect to a 5Ghz band will generally have better performance, but the broadcast range will be much shorter than the 2.4Ghz radio.

Quality of service (QoS)

QoS is a newer feature that allows the router administrator to limit certain types of traffic. For example, you can use the QoS feature of a router to completely block all torrent traffic, or limit it so that other users can have equal bandwidth. Not every router has this ability, but it is a highly beneficial feature for office routers.

Beamforming

Beamforming is a recent feature that’s becoming a standard in mid- to high-end routers. It is a form of signal technology that allows for better throughput in dead areas of a business. In other words, it can help improve the connection quality with devices behind solid walls or in rooms with high amounts of interference.

By utilizing this technology, routers can see where connection is weak and act to improve it. While this is available on routers with many network types, it is really only useful with routers running 802.11ac. Those who don’t mind paying a higher price point for an increase in network performance should consider this feature.

Multiple input, multiple output (MIMO)

MIMO is the use of multiple antennas to increase performance and overall throughput. MIMO-enabled routers ensure that more devices can connect to one router with less interference.

When it comes to real-world tests, there is often a slight improvement if antennas are configured and aimed properly. However, getting a high-end router with six or more antennae may be an unnecessary cost for small businesses.

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking a router, which is why we recommend you contact us. We can evaluate your networking needs and help you find the best set up for your 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 TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Lax bring your own device (BYOD) policies are a growing concern for businesses. If not managed properly, these can pose security risks to your organization. How can you mitigate the risks associated with the BYOD trend?

Whether your employees are using smartphones, tablets, or laptops, you need a BYOD security policy. Additionally, you need to be aware of the key BYOD security risks:

  • Loss or theft of device – Employees often bring their personal devices wherever they go. This means there’s a higher chance of devices being lost or stolen, and a greater risk of the company data that’s stored or accessed on these being compromised.
  • Data loss – In the event that a device is lost, stolen, or damaged, any locally stored data may be lost permanently if it’s not backed up in real time.
  • Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks – Public Wi-Fi spots are convenient for getting some work done, but they’re also popular hunting grounds for cybercriminals who use MITM to intercept data being transmitted over public networks.
  • Jailbroken devices – Jailbreaking is the process of removing the restrictions imposed by the manufacturer of a device, typically to allow the installation of unauthorized or third-party software. This increases the risk of an employee inadvertently installing malicious software on a personal device.
  • Security vulnerabilities – Every operating system (and the software that runs on it) has its own unique set of security flaws and vulnerabilities, which means that allowing staff to use any device and operating system increases the risk of a data breach or malware infection.
  • Malware – A personal device that has been infected with malware can spread that malware to other devices connected to the company network and cause data loss and downtime.

To mitigate risks, it’s important to devise a BYOD security policy that works for the needs of your business as well as the needs of your employees. Here are some tips:

Make passwords compulsory on all BYOD devices

Prevent unauthorized access to company data by enforcing the use of passwords on all BYOD devices. Passwords should be long and unique.

Create a blacklist of prohibited applications

Blacklisting involves prohibiting the installation of certain applications on BYOD devices that are used for work purposes. This includes applications such as file sharing and social networking apps. The simplest way to blacklist applications is through a mobile device management platform that enables IT administrators to secure and enforce policies on enrolled devices.

Restrict data access

Adopt the principle of least privilege on both BYOD and company devices. This means that a user is able to access only the data and software required to do their job. This can reduce the effects of certain types of malware and limit the fallout in the event of a data breach.

Invest in reliable security solutions for devices

Protect BYOD devices with reputable antivirus software to identify and stop threats before they can make changes to the device. This is vital for protecting mission-critical data and avoiding downtime.

Backing up device data

A well-thought-out BYOD policy can go a long way toward minimizing the risk of a security breach, but if something manages to slip past your defenses, you need a process in place for restoring your data to its former state. Have a comprehensive backup strategy to ensure that any data stored locally on a BYOD device can be quickly recovered.

Educate your staff about security

The vast majority of BYOD-related security risks involve human error. Educate your employees about proper mobile safety. This includes how to spot apps that could contain malware, sharing security threat updates, and teaching them how to secure their devices by going beyond default security settings.

It’s also a great idea to work with an IT partner like us. As experts, we keep tabs on the latest trends and innovations related to BYOD and will recommend solutions that work for your company. Contact us today to see how we can help.

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

Over the past several years, the debate about cloud technology in business has moved away from “Is it a safe option?” to “How can I move more of my tools to the cloud?” There is an overwhelming number of options and many business owners don’t know where to start. If that’s the position you find yourself in, we recommend starting with six basic tools.

Email

Every business needs email. And while there are plenty of non-cloud options to choose from, they require a lot of maintenance. Opting for cloud-based email means you pay for the service without worrying about hardware requirements or software updates. These issues, among others, will be handled by the provider and backed by service level guarantees.

File storage

Storing company files in the cloud is a great way to give employees more mobility and flexibility. Everyone can access information from almost any internet-enabled device without compromising security, since providers include things like encryption and multi-factor authentication as part of the monthly service fee.

You can opt for either DIY cloud storage such as Microsoft’s OneDrive and Dropbox or a slightly more expensive managed solution that will provide customization opportunities and regulatory compliance management.

Document creation and collaboration

It’s easy to confuse apps like Office 365 and Google Docs with cloud file storage but they’re not the same. What sets them apart is whether or not you can edit documents stored on these platforms. In most cases, multiple users can alter the same document simultaneously and see mirror images on their screens even if they’re hundreds of miles apart.

Between faster document turnaround times and fewer separate versions of files, there’s no reason to keep everything offline. Business owners used to worry about security but vendors today invest 100 times more resources in protecting client info than a small operation could ever match.

Server hosting

Whether your business requires a single low-scale server or several high-powered ones, it’s becoming harder to justify maintaining those at your physical location. They’re too finicky and expensive compared to their cloud alternatives.

Server hosting enables you to accomplish via an app all that you could with in-house hardware. The costs are also spread out month to month rather than all at once during the setup phase.

Backup and recovery

The entire basis of cloud technology is that you have total access to hardware and software that’s located far from your office. That makes things like cloud file storage and server hosting perfect for recovering from a disaster. If a natural disaster or cyberattack renders your office inoperable, all you need to do is log in to your cloud platform from somewhere else.

If you are looking to move your business into the cloud, we have a broad range of products tailored to small businesses.

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