Cybercrime & Your Employees

cybersecurity, cybercrime, employee breaches

Your employees are the # 1 cause of data breaches, just ask us. It’s true. Don’t let negligence ruin your business.

Cybercrimes are on the rise, yet most companies do not enforce or even provide employee Cyber Security training programs regarding how to protect themselves from being victims. In addition to the lack of training, most businesses have not allocated additional funding in their budgets to help with combatting cybercriminal attacks.

“More than 90 percent of security breaches can be traced back to employee errors.”  Art Gross, CEO, Secure Now! 

Of the many ways of being victimized by cybercriminals; the most common breaches are phishing attacks and spam emails, employees accidentally emailing sensitive information to someone outside the company, and unauthorized personnel stealing your data. We see the above mentioned scenarios happening more frequently and offer training programs for businesses and groups.  We educate you on the evolution of crime, the thriving dark web, breaches and what they cost you, identity theft, anti-virus strategies, and all the dangers social engineering.

In addition to training, we provide actionable intelligence to help protect against potential data breaches.  We will help to identify compromised credentials that can be used to exploit your business and employees.  An initial dark web scan helps to obtain lists of stolen or compromised personally identifiable data.  Once detected, we can proactively monitor for breaches linking back to your organization and receive real-time alerts when data is discovered on the dark web.  We offer the latest, most comprehensive, protective services available.

If you would like to join forces to take on the fight of cybercrime, contact Char Ferguson, and chat with her about how she can help your business or group become cyber-awareness experts.

black friday

Technology to Survive Black Friday

If you are fighting, taking down people in the aisle, or sleeping outside, you need a little help with your Black Friday shopping. Remember: it is the season for giving and humanity, not attacks in the toy aisle and the middle finger near the tablets. Relax. We are a virtual world, and virtualization can help you avoid a Black Friday circus. We take a look at how technology can help you survive black Friday, unscathed and without an arrest record.

 

  1. Collaborate with the cloud

Every Black Friday strategy needs a game plan, and every strategy needs a team. Don’t tackle Black Friday alone. You need to establish a team that is quick, organized, and tech-savvy. Get the troops ready a couple days before and pour over the ads. Sit down or collaborate via with cloud with a strategy for shopping. Determine what you need, find out where the deals are, and assign each person a task. It is best, if you can to take more than one person to a store if you have a large shopping list for that retailer.

  1. Tablets for deals

Get on your tablet and start researching the products. Read reviews, find the deals, or simply wait until Cyber Monday to make the purchase online. Sometimes spending just a few dollars more is worth it when your sanity is on the line. It is also a good idea to find the original price for the product. Is it really a deal? While you are in line, you can be doing online shopping as well, because the lines are just as brutal.

  1. ParkMe for a quick exit

If you need to make a quick exit, park so your car is facing out of the space. This will help you avoid accidents, and you can see better when leaving the space. You can just get in and go. Before you head out, download a parking app that allows you to locate your car quickly. ParkMe is one of the most popular parking reminder apps.

  1. Apps for price comparisons

Download a price comparison app, such as the ShopSavvy Barcode. The app sends you sales alerts, provides you with price changes and reviews, and it allows you to scan barcodes, QR Codes or Data Matrix to find the best deal online or at another retailer.

  1. Apple Pay or Google Wallet for purchase protection

Use your credit cards when you are shopping, but don’t lose sight of your budget. Input your credit cards into your virtual wallet on your cell phone, and scan for easy purchases. Using your credit card provides you with the best protection for all your purchases, from returns to warranties and defects, your credit cards provide you with protection your debit cards or cash cannot. You may also earn cash back if you have a rewards card. Remember: Use the money you planned to spend on Black Friday to pay off the credit card, and lock your phone while you are out.

 

One last tip: The Starbucks app now allows you to order your coffee ahead of time. While you are out, order your coffee and swing by to pick it up so you can avoid the lines and you can make a clean getaway.

backup and business continuity

Backup is Not Enough: You Need a Business Continuity Plan

Most companies are greatly improving how well they backup their critical data. Whether it is by using the cloud, encrypting USB drives or off-site storage, it is important to have your data backed up in a secure way. Unfortunately, since you cannot 100% guarantee cyber- attacks won’t affect your business, and we can’t control the weather, having backup is not enough. Would your employees know what to do if there was a flood due to a hurricane, a fire, or an online breach that reaches sensitive data? Would you be able to access your backed up information from another location? If your company does not have a business continuity plan in place, you run the risk of losing millions, and even a complete shutdown of your organization. Below we discuss further the importance of a business continuity plan and tips for putting one into place.

Why a Business Continuity Plan is Important

Recent studies have revealed that more than 70% of the American workforce surveyed does not feel well prepared for a disaster. If a disaster strikes, even your best employees cannot be expected to know what to do. This leaves each worker to respond in his or her own way, adding confusion to an already chaotic event. When you have a well-documented business continuity plan in place, your employees can be trained on how to follow it and practice it, ensuring a timely and safe recovery.

Key Components to a Good Business Continuity Plan

There are several parts involved in an effective business continuity plan:

  • Business Impact Analysis: Identify the consequences, effects and fallout of disasters on critical business operations and assets.
  • Identify Critical Operations: Reveal which functions are the most crucial and make a plan to keep them running in the event of a disaster.
  • Organize a Recovery Team: Designate a team who understands their duties during a disaster to help avoid confusion and give directions to others.
  • Practice: Routinely practice your business continuity plan so you will know if it is good at protecting company assets.

Data Recovery as Part of your Business Continuity Plan

One of the biggest and most important parts of your business continuity plan is data recovery planning. This plan gives your company the ability to run enterprise software and office productivity, so you do not lose customers and can continue seamlessly. No longer can you protect your mainframe from a fire by shutting it down before the sprinklers come on. Today’s enterprise systems are too large and complex to simply dry out their circuit boards with a hairdryer. Companies need a way to protect and access their data after a natural disaster.

Offsite archiving will keep your data safe if your main office is hit, but you need to be able to access it quickly when the data is suddenly required. This is why more and more businesses are moving to cloud service providers to backup their important data. With paperless storage and frequent backups to the cloud, your information is safe, even if your physical building is inaccessible. You are also able to get to your information from any location that has Internet access via the cloud, with your customers not even knowing you suffered any damages.

Contact us today if you have any questions about setting up a business continuity plan to access your data. Our team members are knowledgeable and here to help you!

slow cooker recipes

Two Delicious Southern Slow Cooker Recipes

There is nothing more comforting then some authentic southern cooking. Slow cookers are a great way to make a delicious southern meal and having it waiting for you when you return from work or Sunday outings. We’ve got two slow cooker recipes that will have your mouth watering. First a great fried chicken recipe that can be made right in the slow cooker, and second, a delicious sausage and bean stew that can be a side to your chicken or a meal in itself.

Slow Cooked Fried Chicken

You will need:

  • a large slow cooker
  • as many chicken drumsticks that will comfortably fit in one snug layer in the slow cooker (approximately 12)
  • ¼ C butter
  • ¼ C flour
  • 2 tsp seasoning salt
  • 1 TBSP Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp pepper

Method:
Combine all spices and flour in a deep baking dish or gallon size plastic bag, drop chicken in a couple pieces at a time and coat well, place into slow cooker until full, pour ¼ C butter over chicken, cover, cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8 – 10 hours.

When chicken is done the juices should run clear. Serve with traditional biscuits and gravy and some mashed potatoes, or try alongside the sausage and bean stew!

Sausage and Bean Stew

You will need:

  • large slow cooker
  • small blender
  • 1 lb smoked sausage
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 48 oz chicken broth
  • 3 C dried northern beans
  • 2 C chopped onion
  • ¾ C chopped carrot
  • ½ C chopped celery
  • 10 cloves of sliced garlic
  • 1 TBSP fresh sage
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 Parmesan cheese rind
  • 1 fresh rosemary spring
  • 3 C water

 

Method:
Saute diced sausage in olive oil until brown and put in the slow cooker, add 1 C broth to a pan and scrape all sausage bits from the pan boiling for 1 minute. Combine the remainder of the broth and all beans and seasonings (except rosemary) plus 3 cups of water and cheese rind in slow cooker, cook on high for 7 hours. Remove cheese rind and discard, stir spring of rosemary into the stew for 1 minute, remove and discard. Scoop out 1 cup of beans and puree in a blender, add back to stew for thickness – puree more beans as needed to thicken the stew.

Once done, serve immediately with a side of cornbread for a delicious lunch. Serve alongside the slow cooked fried chicken for a hearty meal.

Both of these fabulous southern slow cooker recipes are delicious and easy to prepare – a treat for your entire family at the end of a long day, or on a relaxing weekend afternoon!

technology to keep employees happy

Technology to Keep Your Employees Happy

As we are starting to see a shift in the job market, it is more important than ever for companies to keep good employees. Tried and true ways of pleasing your staff and increasing productivity have been to offer bonuses, show that you trust them and do not micro manage. How about taking it a step further and offering new gadgets and technology to keep a smile on the faces of your workers? Below we discuss technology to keep employees happy, which will lead to an increase in productivity and more respect for you as a business owner.

Beam

With Beam, we are getting closer and closer to Star Trek-like science as this technology is becoming increasingly popular in the workplace. Not only is it fun, it saves money for the company. Beam is a Segway-type robot that has a spot for an iPad to be mounted on top of it. An employee’s face can be seen on the tablet’s screen via controls from their remote location, and it will move around the room and interact as if they were actually there. This is a real money saver because it cuts down on travel expenses for employees that would need to fly or drive in from far away on the company’s dime for a meeting. This is a technology to keep your employees happy since they can stay right where they are and not waste valuable time in airports and away from their families.

The Loop

How many times have we had to sit through a dry, PowerPoint presentation that a colleague or employee has tried their hardest to make interesting but to no avail? With The Loop, you can change all that. The Loop is a surface-free, wireless mouse that lets employees interact with the audience during a presentation as opposed to being stuck behind their laptops. This in-air mouse mimic’s the hand gestures of the user to direct the cursor around the screen. There is even a scroll wheel and right and left-click controls for pointing and clicking. Users can dial The Loop in to their individual hand gestures and movements so the cursor doesn’t fly all over the screen during a presentation.

Just-So Soda

Since coffee and break times are coveted during the work day, Just-So Soda is truly a technology to keep employees happy. This innovation will allow your workers to avoid the break room refrigerator that often becomes overrun with spills, mold and whatever else the irresponsible workers leave behind. Just-So Soda is a gadget that connects to a USB port on a computer or wall plug to keep drinks cool at 46 degrees. Now your workers can have a personal and accessible spot for their sodas, Red Bull, iced coffee or small snacks without having to worry about if it will become stolen or contaminated in the company fridge. Not only will it cool the items inside, Just-So Soda can heat up coffee, hot water and tea to 150 degrees. Your employees will have their own personal cooler and microwave all in one, making you the boss of the year!

Invest in any of these technologies to keep employees happy and see your productivity skyrocket!!

BBQ Technology

Technology to Make you a BBQ Expert

People pride themselves on their grill skills and love to impress when they have a barbecue. Anyone can take meat and throw it over the coals, but if you really want to “wow” at your next gathering, you need to go a step beyond and display your grilling gadgets. Below we have comprised a list of the latest BBQ technology that will make you a BBQ expert and the envy of the whole neighborhood!

 

  1. SolSource Cooker

 

For those who want to show off how energy conscious they are, consider the SolSource for your next BBQ. This shiny, round disc uses heat from the sun to boil water, cooking anything you would put on an ordinary grill. The metallic surface of the disc gets pointed at the sun, then the heat is reflected back to the grilling surface, making it hot enough to cook. Fry, bake and boil in the same amount of time it would take on a propane or charcoal grill!

 

  1. iGrill Mini

 

The most challenging part of grilling is knowing precisely when a piece of meat is ready. You can check for the temperature, but sometimes it’s a few minutes late and your meat is ruined. Don’t let your guests give you a bad review and use the iGrill Mini instead. This device uses a wired probe that measures the temperature of meat while it cooks. You can mingle around and make sure your guests are comfortable because iGrill Mini connects to an app via iOS devices, and it alerts you to when the meat is at the correct temperature from up to 150 feet away!

 

  1. Man-Law LED BBQ Grill Light

 

Entertain after dark with the Man-Law LED BBQ Light. This grill light is illuminated with 12 LED super-bright bulbs so you can see the whole cooking area. So that you can keep your hands on the tongs, the Man-Law Light will mount to most surfaces via a built-in screw clamp or strong magnets on the base. The 23-inch flexible arm moves easily if you need to relocate the light. Its aluminum construction makes it durable and able to withstand tough weather conditions.

 

  1. Grillbot

 

Once you’re done serving up your BBQ masterpieces you must not forget to clean the grill. The Grillbot is not only functional but it is entertaining, especially if you and your guests have indulged in a few brews! This little “robot” fits on your grill and scrubs away the grease with the single touch of a button. Choose a deep or light clean, with a built-in alarm and LCD screen that tells you when the scrubbing is complete. Conveniently store Grillbot in its hanging storage case.

 

Be the master of your back yard with these amazing high-tech BBQ gadgets!

cell phone for voip

Can You Use Your Cell Phone for VoIP?

Can you use your cell phone for VoIP? Absolutely. In fact, your smartphone is an excellent companion for your VoIP services. One of the biggest draws to VoIP is its mobility, and your cell phone is your daily companion. You actually spend more time with your cell phone than with anything or anyone else. Use your cell phone to maximize your VoIP reach with a few popular apps.

What do You Need for a VoIP Call on Your Device?

All you need to make a free VoIP call on your cell phone is a secure WiFi connection, an app and a smartphone. VoIP allows you to make calls on your cell phone when you are roaming, it allows you to receive office calls directly on your cell phone, it allows you to make phone calls from your phone with the company phone number, and it allows you to save serious cash on your phone bill if you pay for minutes.

How do you know it is a VoIP call versus a regular incoming call to your cell phone? Many of the apps to which we will introduce you have special screens and dial pads that give you a visual cue. From the VoIP apps you can make calls, forward calls, hold a video call, and transfer from the mobile carrier to a Wi-Fi connection without an interruption in the call. Before you download an app, make sure you read the reviews, features, and ratings.

What are the Best VoIP Apps?

Now that we have established that you can use your smartphone, which app is the best? Should you pay for a VoIP app or can you safely rely on a free download? We looked at apps for Android and iOS to discover with apps are the best, which ones consumers love, and which ones carry a price tag.

The top VoIP smartphone apps are:

  • Google Hangouts

Many users claim the Google Hangouts app is their top app for video calls, group messaging and voice calls. The app is free and it allows for up to 100 people on a group chat.

  • magicApp

The magicApp calling and messaging app allows users to turn devices into mobile phones. It is important to note that services are $1.99 a month or $14.99 a year for domestic calls.

  • Vonage Mobile

When we think about calling over the internet, many of us think about Vonage. It was one of the first household names for VoIP before we even knew what VoIP was. It is fitting that Vonage would create a mobile app that permits users to use their cell phones. Vonage is available for Apple and Android devices. Users can use up to five devices.

  • Viber

The app is available for both Android and Apple devices. The average rating is 4.5 stars out of five. Favorite features include group messaging, video calls, and Wi-Fi or 3G talk.

  • CSip Simple

The app is an Android product. It has fewer than 15,000 reviews and a 4.3-star rating. A few notable features include easy configuration, voice audio detection, calling options and video messaging.

high tech kitchen gadgets

High-Tech Kitchen Gadgets for Your Favorite Chef

When you’re looking for a gift for the cook who has everything, it can be hard to find something that will impress them. Fortunately, technology is evolving in all aspects of our life, including the kitchen. Whether they are an IT geek or a seasoned culinary master, we’ve got a list of gizmos that will revolutionize the way your favorite chef whips up a meal. Here are a few of our favorite high-tech kitchen gadgets:

  1. Egg Minder

With the Egg Minder you will never have to wonder if you’re eggs are still good or not. This device keeps track of how old your eggs are, and will monitor how many you have left. Egg Minder syncs up with a free app that sends you push notifications when its time to buy more eggs.

  1. Digital Nutrition Kitchen Scale

For the cook who does a little too much sampling while preparing, a digital nutrition scale is perfect. The scale will report all the important nutritional data about the food you place on it. By typing in a designated code for the food, the item’s weight is calculated to report nutritional values that have been approved by the USDA. Health-conscious people will love being able to measure solids and liquids and find out their carbohydrate, cholesterol, calorie, fat, fiber and sodium information.

  1. simplehuman Sensor Can

When you’re cooking a meal, it’s not too sanitary to touch a garbage can right in the middle of your prep. simplehuman has a trash can that opens with a wave of your hand, so you don’t have to come into contact with extra germs. Not only is it functional, the simplehuman trash can smells good and is nice to look at.

  1. Digital Measuring Cup and Scale

Any chef will tell you, extra utensils can clutter up a kitchen and need to be disposed of. With a digital measuring cup and scale, it combines two pieces of equipment into one, to increase your storage space and efficiency. The cup and scale will convert five pre-set ingredients—oil, water, flour, milk and sugar—from weight to volume and digitally display the conversion on the handle. This item is ideal for the perfectionist baker.

  1. The Smoking Gun

How many of us love smoked food, but don’t eat it very often because of the lengthy and process it requires? The Smoking Gun, as seen on Top Chef All-Stars, is a handheld smoker that infuses your food with the flavor of applewood or hickory. It is much safer and less time consuming than igniting an outdoor smoker and waiting around for hours for the flavor to work through. The extra bonus with The Smoking Gun is that flavor can be added to any food you want, even desserts or a pickle!

Any of these gadgets are sure to bring a smile to your favorite chef’s face. If not, buy them as a treat for yourself!

Customer Communication

4 Ways to Improve Customer Communication

Strong and effective customer communication is key to running a successful business. When customers feel that they can reach you and you can reach out to them easily and in a variety of ways, it is going to give you an edge over the competition. Technology must be embraced for customer communication if you are going to stay on top in this digital era, and it simply needs to be a priority for your company.  Here we discuss 4 ways to improve customer communication for your business.

  1. Text Messages

Text messaging is an excellent way to get word out to customers and keep them informed about current happenings in your business.  One example is if they have an appointment with you that needs to be cancelled due to an unforeseen circumstance.  The customer will get the message quickly via text, and can get back to you to reschedule in a timely manner. It is also a great way to keep them updated if you have a power outage or something that affects them or their business.

  1. Switch to VoIP

Voice over Internet Protocol is a technology that delivers your voice communications over the Internet.  It comes with many advantages and features that will improve customer communication. Your calls will be perceived locally, even if you are answering them remotely from halfway across the country. Calls can be routed based on hours of operation so that you offer round-the-clock service.

VoIP allows you to return customer phone calls that have reached voicemail quite easily, with functions like voicemail-to-email that alert you to calls immediately. Automatic call forwarding can direct a customer to an employee that is best suited to take the call, and it will reach their smartphone, desktop, laptop or tablet so they get the call the first time.

  1. Use Social Media

Most people are using some form of social media today, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or all of the above and more. Use these sites to serve your customer base. You can get out the word about new products and sales, but don’t limit it to promotions. Social media is a great way to put out information, images and related links that your followers may be interested in. Be sure to keep up on your sites because when a customer sees a Facebook page that has not been used for quite some time, it gives the impression that you don’t care enough to communicate with your customers.

  1. Make Communication a Priority

Before you can get started with any of these suggestions, you have to commit to quality customer communication within your business.  Take the time to make sure that you and your employees are all on the same page. The first step can be to create communication guidelines for your company, such as, all emails and calls must be returned within 24 hours, and that you regularly follow-up with customers to make sure they are satisfied.  It is important that you involve your staff in creating these guidelines, because they will be more likely to put in the effort to help your customers on a daily basis if involved in the process.

recipe apps

5 Best Recipe Apps to Organize Your Kitchen

If you are looking for a way to organize your kitchen’s recipe collection, going digital is the way to go. Handwriting out recipes and owning stacks of cookbooks is a thing of the past. Depending on your particular needs there are numerous options to choose from when looking for recipe apps to organize your kitchen.

5 of the Top Recipe Apps to Consider

1. Big Oven

Big Oven has both a free and paid version app. The free version allows you to search and save recipes. You can then create grocery lists right from the recipes you choose. The paid version offers additional benefits including unlimited recipe storage, a place to add notes to each recipe and an option to scan in your own recipes and store them. The paid version is $1.99 per month or $19.99 for the year. Big Oven is available for the iPhone, iPad, on Android devices and the Kindle Fire.

2. Paprika

Paprika costs $4.99 and is a recipe organizer and meal planner. The app allows you to organize your recipes, meal plan and create grocery lists that are automatically organized by category like dairy or produce. The app synchs between all your devices so you can take it with you on your phone and then use your tablet for easier reading in the kitchen. Paprika is available for the iPhone, iPad, Android devices, the Kindle Fire and the Nook Color.

3. Basil

Find, organize and get cooking tools for your iPad with the Basil app. Basil allows you to quickly and easily save recipes from all over the web and you can also upload your own. This recipe app automatically categorizes recipes for you and there is a note taking section next to each entry. Tools like a unit conversion calculator and an auto timer are helpful in the kitchen. The cost for the Basil app is $2.99.

4. Pepper Plate

Pepper plate is a free app that allows you to upload and store recipes. With one click you can also save recipes from anywhere on the web. Shopping lists are created automatically and you can easily unclick items that you already have on hand. Other features include a cook mode so your screen won’t turn off in the middle of cooking, multiple cooking timers and a scaling tool that will alter your recipe for more or less servings. You can also share recipes with your friends. Pepper Plate is available for all your devices including iPhone, iPad, Nooks and Kindles.

5. Eat Your Books

Eat Your Books is a great solution if you have stacks of cook books laying around that you would like to have access to digitally. Eat Your Books allows you to find and add your cook books to your account. You can then upload your own recipes as well and tag your favorites. You can create shopping lists from your recipes, add personal notes and swap cooking tips and advice with other Eat Your Books Members. The basic version is free but offers limited storage. The paid version is available for $3.00 per month or $30.00 per year. Eat Your Books is currently only available in website form.