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August 31st, 2015

Security_Aug31_CRegardless of what you think about the Ashley Madison hack, it is big news when it comes to data security. While your company may not be as big or deal with such a sensitive topic like Ashley Madison, you can still be at risk. This scandal can serve as a springboard to improving security throughout your company. Here are three lessons from the Ashley Madison hack your business should pay attention to.

1. Make sure your company’s security data is actually secure

You probably tell clients their information is secure, but just about every company makes that claim. One of the biggest mistakes made by Ashley Madison was the failure to know if its data was truly secure. The company publically lauded its security, but it now seems like those claims were rather hollow. In fact, it appears as if no one at Ashley Madison knew a whole lot about its security practices until it was too late.

Don’t simply pass off your business’s security to the IT department. Being involved will allow you to see how it works. You don’t need to be a tech expert to understand how your data is being secured. Your security provider, whether it be in-house or via a managed services provider, should be able to explain security practices in layman’s terms. This will allow you to ask questions and be proactive because chances are if you see a weakness, others will notice it as well.

2. Beware of your employees and their email and Internet activities

Another takeaway from this scandal was the fact many employees, both from private companies and government offices, were using business email accounts to sign-up for Ashley Madison and office Internet connections to access the site. Putting the ethical questions aside for a moment, public sentiment is undoubtedly negative and companies with employees who used Ashley Madison at work have been exposed to the scandal’s backlash.

By placing the appropriate email and Internet security solutions in place at your business, you can reduce the amount of risk your company is exposed to by employees. No one really wants to put restrictions on their employees’ Internet and email access, but it is important to be smart. Being connected to scandals like this can bring unwanted publicity to your business. Worst of all, your employees might not even realize they are putting your company in harm’s way when they access this type of content at work.

3. Be prepared for data loss

As the Ashley Madison case has shown us, massive data theft or loss can be the end of your business. When clients trust your business with their data, they are confident in your ability to protect it. Of course, things do happen and if your data does go missing, it’s important to have a plan of action ready. While it’s unlikely your company’s data breach is unlikely to garner the attention of Ashley Madison, it means a whole lot more to you, your company and your employees. Just because your company isn’t big doesn’t mean it’s invincible.

A disaster recovery plan can help your company ensure it has backups and even backups of your backups. If you believe your data has been stolen by hackers, it is important to act immediately. You’ll need to quickly assess what information has been stolen and inform the appropriate parties so they can take the necessary steps to protect themselves. From there, you will want to re-secure your company closing any security loopholes that have been found. Finally, access your backups and make sure your business continues to operate as close to normal during the crisis.

Worried about your security? We can show you how to protect yourself. Contact us today for more information on how to keep your company safe.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
August 26th, 2015

Windows_Aug26_BHey Cortana! Saying this phrase to your Windows 10-installed laptop or PC will bring up your very own digital voice assistant. While you might not think much of it, utilizing Cortana can help you save valuable time and energy. Whether you’re looking for a specific file or wanting to send an e-mail, Cortana can assist you. Don’t know where to start? Here’s a quick guide to help get you going.

If you are using Windows 10, it’s likely you have come across Cortana at least once or twice. While you might fear that the effort involved in setting up the feature isn’t worth the time you will save once Cortana is up and running, you would be mistaken. Configuring her is quite simple and she is more helpful than you might realize.

Setup

For starters, you will want to have your microphone turned on if you plan on using voice commands, and all the privacy and locations settings enabled. Cortana will not work if these have not been activated. From there, she will give you a brief overview of her capabilities and ask you a few questions to get to know you better.

Once that is completed, you are going to want to spend a few minutes testing her out and seeing what she can do for you. This awkward, getting-to-know-you stage might seem like a waste of time but, once you have a good feel for Cortana, you’ll be more inclined to use her in the future.

Maximize Cortana

Now that Cortana is ready to assist you, it’s important to utilize her as a personal assistant. Here are a few areas she can really come in handy:

Find that document - Ever saved a document somewhere to later forget where it was stored? Simply ask Cortana to look for it by saying, “Hey Cortana, find (file name),” and she will bring it up for you. Let’s say you are looking for Word documents located in multiple folders on your computer; all you have to say is, “Hey Cortana, find my Word documents,” to have her pull up all your Word files.

Easily start tasks - Football season is nearly upon us and that means fantasy football season is here. Utilizing Cortana could give you the extra edge needed to win your league this year. If you want to check on Tony Romo’s status, say, “search for Tony Romo injury,” and the search results will pop up for you. Want to make a sneaky trade offer to John before your rivals? Say “email John Fantasy Football,” and a window with his e-mail address will pop-up. Of course, these features are universal and you don’t have to like or even know what fantasy football is to use them.

Answer your questions - One of the coolest features about Cortana is the fact that when you ask her a question she will not only show you the answer, but speak it as well. Want to know what the weather is like in Denver? Just say, “Hey Cortana, what’s the weather in Denver,” and she’ll give you the lowdown on it. Need to know when your next meeting is taking place? Ask Cortana and she’ll reply with the answer. This is especially nice when you’re in your office but away from the computer.

Talking to Cortana is nice, but speaking with a person about your IT is better. Contact us today for all your technology needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 26th, 2015

BusinessIntelligence_Aug25_CA dashboard is a single display that provides all the information you need to make important business decisions and facilitate the management of your company. While all dashboards are effective, you need to choose the one that works best for your company’s objectives and goals. With that said, here are three types of business dashboards for you to consider.

Strategic dashboards

Ideal for senior managers and executives, strategic dashboards are designed to help identify potential opportunities for business expansion and improvement. This type of dashboard doesn’t provide information in-depth enough to make complex decisions, and is typically is updated once a month or quarter.

Benefits of strategic dashboards As the name suggests, strategic dashboards are designed to provide strategic guidance. The dashboards give a bird’s-eye view of your business. They can contain anything from overall sales numbers to sales and revenue comparisons, or inventory levels, making it easy for executives to understand the overall health of the organization.

Analytical dashboards

This type of dashboard provides users with insights from a volume of data collected over time, enabling you to understand why certain things are happening, and what changes should be made in the future in order to accommodate them. The data presented in analytical dashboards tends to be complex, and usually requires advanced training to use. That’s why they are generally used by business analysts, instead of being widely deployed to other employees and across all departments.

Benefits of analytical dashboards When it comes to creating and implementing strong business strategies, understanding the trends and events in your data is crucial. Analytical dashboards provide detailed information that allows you to compare current against historic data. Implementing analytical dashboards allows you to enjoy in-depth analysis, identify patterns and opportunities in your data, and determine why processes are working in certain departments.

Operational dashboards

Operational dashboards are used to monitor the real-time operations of employees, allowing them to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of their work performance. This type of dashboard is commonly found in departments where it’s essential to respond to critical information quickly, such as those working in sales and marketing.

Benefits of operational dashboards Business owners rely on operational dashboards to track their employees’ progress, and to be notified of issues as they come up in order to respond quickly. What’s more, the dashboards provide up-to-date information, all bundled in one place, making it easy for employees to make quick decisions without having to dig through large amounts of data.

Dashboards concentrate all data, metrics, and parameters in one place, bringing a totally new dimension to business intelligence. Your company can significantly benefit from the right dashboard. If you’re looking to implement dashboards for the first time, or to enhance the functionality of your current dashboard, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 21st, 2015

As technology continues to evolve in the healthcare industry, new developments are being made to improve the quality of delivering patient care. Breakthroughs in treatments, communication systems, and information gathering have provided healthcare practitioners with new tools to better serve patients. With that said, here are some of the biggest impacts technology has made in healthcare.

Enhanced information access

There’s no doubt that more and more people are using the Internet to research their medical issues. The introduction of Internet has allowed countless people to look up symptoms, exploring treatments and medicines on the web. Now that’s not to say that paying a visit to a doctor is a bad idea. But browsing for information online has enabled patients to understand what kind of symptoms they’re having, and allowed them to make better decisions about what to do next.

Better treatments and less suffering

Technology has also brought about new and innovative machines, medicines, and treatments that have the potential to save lives and improve the chance of recovery for billions. Not only can sophisticated technologies help patients heal and recover directly, they have also assisted researchers to make healthcare even more effective.

Take surgery for example. The invention of new medical tools and treatments, such as anesthetics, has enabled doctors to perform operations that were not possible before. They can undertake surgeries slowly and carefully, without worrying that their patients might feel pain or have their body give up altogether.

Improved patient care and staff efficiency

Electronic medical records have made patient care safer and more reliable than ever before. Physicians and nurses use portable devices to store patients’ medical records and check that they are administering the correct treatment. What’s more, results of lab tests, medicine orders, and patient information are all electronically stored in the main database, allowing for future reference.

Healthcare staff also benefit from technology - they have instant access to thousands of case studies, medical textbooks, and detailed patient history. Technology has also created telemedicine, a practice that enables doctors to consult with professionals from all over the world to diagnose, treat, and research conditions more effectively.

Medical trends prediction

Major search engines are now capable of predicting medical trends such as epidemics and flu outbreaks, based on the health information that users search for. Although not everyone who searches for “flu” is actually sick, these search queries tend to be popular when flu season is happening. The queries are added together to estimate how much flu is circulating in countries around the world. Medical experts are able to apply this information to take preventative measures and respond to outbreaks quickly.

Technology is paving the way for patients to live healthier lives. If you’re looking for efficient technology solutions to propel your healthcare business forward, don’t hesitate to contact our experts today - we have the perfect tools for all your needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 14th, 2015

As the healthcare industry continues to embrace significant technological changes, healthcare providers need to keep up with the latest trends to deliver better patient care. That’s why more and more healthcare organizations are turning to managed services providers to lower costs and improve productivity. While this concept is on the rise, the services and level of support offered by managed services providers remain all over the place. However, there are certain managed services providers that work specifically within the healthcare verticals.

Here are some things to look for in a managed services provider before you consider partnering with one.

They guarantee response times

When it comes to providing healthcare services, talking about fast response times is not the only thing that matters. You should always make sure that your provider guarantees response times, and that you’re able to contact them 24/7. Consider this: in a scenario where something breaks or you come across technical issues in the dead of the night, your best bet would be to contact your service provider, not to try fixing things on your own. Therefore you need a provider who is able to provide assistance whenever you need it most.

They support a business continuity plan

You risk putting your organization in jeopardy if your managed services provider can’t assist in your recovery from major outages or natural disasters. A business continuity plan is an absolute necessity in your healthcare organization - you simply can’t afford to lose all your valuable medical data in the event of a disaster. You need all the help you can get from your managed services provider to maintain redundant systems, as well as help manage automatic failovers.

They provide proactive security

In the world of healthcare data security, aligning your practice with HIPAA compliance mandates is essential. Failing to meet regulations may result in huge fines, serious penalties, and even the withdrawal of your license to operate. The ideal managed services provider should offer core security services that include identity-based security and encryption, authorized privileges and access control, and data accountability and integrity.

They offer staffing services

Healthcare staffing shouldn’t be a hassle but, thanks to the changing dynamics of healthcare IT requiring a sophisticated workforce, that’s exactly what it can become. You need a managed services provider that assumes full responsibility for your clinical labor while providing you with a single point of contact for all your staffing operations, including account management, customer support, order placement, and more.

Choosing the right managed services provider can be a time-consuming task but, when you do make the switch, they can streamline your operations, reduce operational costs, and enhance workforce transparency.

If you want to learn how great technology and support can benefit your healthcare practice, get in touch with us today - we provide the perfect set of IT solutions and outstanding support to drive your organization forward.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 10th, 2015

BusinessContinuity_Aug10_CBusiness continuity planning (BCP) is critical to all companies regardless of size. If disaster were to strike, an effective BCP would protect your valuable data and prevent your company from falling on its knees. Yet the implementation of a BCP presents challenges in itself. You need to address the following issues to ensure that your organization is on the right track to build and maintain a successful business continuity plan.

Challenge #1: Prohibitive costs

Business continuity planning has become exponentially expensive as availability requirements increase. Many solutions require substantial investments on the installation and maintenance of additional hardware, software, and data center infrastructure. These requirements drive up the cost of business continuity, and many company owners are reluctant to invest in protective measures.

The solution Instead of relying on costly physical servers to accommodate your backups, consider using efficient and affordable cloud computing solutions. You can transfer your important business files to the cloud and eliminate the expense of having to install and manage hardware infrastructure and software licenses.

Challenge #2: High complexity

Traditional business continuity planning is complex to implement, manage and execute. From managing the recovery infrastructure to updating disaster recovery documentation and testing the BCP to find and close potential loopholes, the prospect of embarking on a BCP project can be daunting, and the whole experience can prove time consuming. Combine with the pressure of your ordinary day-to-day duties, it can seem almost impossible to focus your attention on initiating a BCP.

The solution With all this in mind, it makes more sense to hire a professional IT service provider to plan, implement, and execute your business continuity plan. This way you can leverage their experience and expertise to ensure that, in the event of a disaster, your company will be able to get back on its feet and resume business operations as quickly as possible.

Challenge #3: Lack of staff involvement

There are so many requirements to be considered in a business continuity plan. And the more employees your organization has, the more difficult it is to relay the essence of the plan for everyone to understand. Staff involvement isn’t an option - it’s an absolute necessity if you wish for a successful BCP implementation!

The solution Depending on the size of your organization, you can either hold a company meeting to announce the essentials of your BCP, or schedule a meeting with key staff members who take an active role in the planning process. To create a long-lasting BCP program, you need to get everyone on the same page by emphasizing the importance of the plan in an easy-to-understand way.

Business continuity planning is one of the most important things you need to have in place. You never know when, or in what form, a disaster will strike - all the more reason to take a preventative approach to securing your company and all you’ve worked for.

Need a reliable partner to take care of all your business continuity planning needs? Get in touch with us today - we have exactly what you need to prepare and protect your company.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 10th, 2015

BusinessContinuity_Aug10_CBusiness continuity planning (BCP) is critical to all companies regardless of size. If disaster were to strike, an effective BCP would protect your valuable data and prevent your company from falling on its knees. Yet the implementation of a BCP presents challenges in itself. You need to address the following issues to ensure that your organization is on the right track to build and maintain a successful business continuity plan.

Challenge #1: Prohibitive costs

Business continuity planning has become exponentially expensive as availability requirements increase. Many solutions require substantial investments on the installation and maintenance of additional hardware, software, and data center infrastructure. These requirements drive up the cost of business continuity, and many company owners are reluctant to invest in protective measures.

The solution
Instead of relying on costly physical servers to accommodate your backups, consider using efficient and affordable cloud computing solutions. You can transfer your important business files to the cloud and eliminate the expense of having to install and manage hardware infrastructure and software licenses.

Challenge #2: High complexity

Traditional business continuity planning is complex to implement, manage and execute. From managing the recovery infrastructure to updating disaster recovery documentation and testing the BCP to find and close potential loopholes, the prospect of embarking on a BCP project can be daunting, and the whole experience can prove time consuming. Combine with the pressure of your ordinary day-to-day duties, it can seem almost impossible to focus your attention on initiating a BCP.

The solution
With all this in mind, it makes more sense to hire a professional IT service provider to plan, implement, and execute your business continuity plan. This way you can leverage their experience and expertise to ensure that, in the event of a disaster, your company will be able to get back on its feet and resume business operations as quickly as possible.

Challenge #3: Lack of staff involvement

There are so many requirements to be considered in a business continuity plan. And the more employees your organization has, the more difficult it is to relay the essence of the plan for everyone to understand. Staff involvement isn’t an option – it’s an absolute necessity if you wish for a successful BCP implementation!

The solution
Depending on the size of your organization, you can either hold a company meeting to announce the essentials of your BCP, or schedule a meeting with key staff members who take an active role in the planning process. To create a long-lasting BCP program, you need to get everyone on the same page by emphasizing the importance of the plan in an easy-to-understand way.

Business continuity planning is one of the most important things you need to have in place. You never know when, or in what form, a disaster will strike – all the more reason to take a preventative approach to securing your company and all you’ve worked for.

Need a reliable partner to take care of all your business continuity planning needs? Get in touch with us today – we have exactly what you need to prepare and protect your company.

August 6th, 2015

MobileGeneral_Aug04_CAlmost behind us are the days when you had to adapt your language to suit the limited capabilities of your computer - like searching online for “current time Dubai” and not simply “what time is it now in Dubai?” But developments in this area haven’t come to a stop yet; if anything, the pace is picking up. The use of Natural Language Processing (NLP), just one element of artificial intelligence, is becoming ever more widespread. Here are the facts.

There’s more to Natural Language Processing than voice recognition

Voice recognition might be among the most well-known practical uses of NLP in the technology we encounter in everyday life - but that likely has more to do with the popularity of the services that employ it, like Siri, Google Now and Cortana, than the merits of voice recognition in comparison to other NLP functions that tend to stay out of the limelight.

Truth be told, there’s a whole lot more to artificial intelligence than NLP. In fact, NLP is more effective in analyzing text data than it is sounds, which is precisely why digital assistant apps first use voice recognition to turn your commands into text data, and then use other NLP capabilities to search online for related information.

Natural Language Processing has already moved beyond its infancy

It’s tempting to believe that elements of artificial intelligence like NLP are still in the realm of the sci-fi movies, and that they are a long way from being useful to the technology we use in our everyday personal and business lives. It’s tempting, but further from reality than you might realize. That said, it’s true that to date there has been no commercial use of NLP that has truly exploited its full capabilities; even its deployment in a recently launched project to automate customer service only really scratches the surface.

What is clear is the shape that future uses of NLP will need to take. We already know that NLP alone doesn’t always judge context well, since it needs to learn about its environment first - without turning to other sources, for example, one app employing NLP would struggle to differentiate between providing traffic information and diagnosing a health complaint. The key, at least for now, is to restrict the scope in which NLP operates - by limiting its use to a travel app, for instance, NLP could learn about the various travel arrangements you make and then devise itineraries for you.

It works with more than just large-scale data

While it’s undeniable that NLP can be put to great use in analyzing vast swathes of aggregated information, for example taking masses of social media data and being able to assess the feelings of users towards the subject in question, that’s not the limit of its capabilities. Contrary to popular belief, NLP can also be used to interpret much smaller-scale data in real time. This is where its true value comes into play in terms of being able to take natural-language user input, in an app setting for example, and make decisions that add value to our mobile experience.

Whether for automated customer service or comprehensive sales applications, it’s clear that Natural Language Processing - and other aspects of artificial intelligence - hold the potential to be of value-adding benefit to the business world in the near future. It’s an area that’s very much still in development - and so even more exciting, and important to watch - but now is the time to discover how best to implement NLP technologies into your company. By getting ahead now, you can offer a customer experience that truly sets you apart from the competition. To find out how we can help you achieve just that, and at the same time maximize the value you drive from mobile technologies more generally, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 5th, 2015

164_HW_CProtecting your information online is becoming increasingly difficult, and having a single password to secure it all is becoming less effective. That’s the big reason behind the invention of two-factor authentication. Yet anyone who’s used two-factor authentication knows how much of a hassle it can be. Well, it doesn’t have to be any longer. A new hardware device called Yubikey plans to change that.

What is two-factor authentication?

Even if you have no idea what two-factor authentication is, you’ve likely been using it already for well over a decade. Two-factor authentication is a security measure that is essentially what it sounds like: you use two different types of identification to verify who you are.

Two common accounts where you’ve likely already used two-factor authentication are email and online banking. Ordinarily when you normally logon to either of these services, you only use a single password - your first method of authentication. However, if you are logging on from a different computer than your usual one, you’re likely asked to go through an additional step to check that you are who you say you are. This happens when you’re prompted for a one-time password - sent to you via text message, email or via some other method. That is your second method of verification, which adds up to two-factor authentication.

Oh, and how have you been using this process for over a decade? Well, another common means of two-factor authentication that’s been in widespread use for over a half century is the ATM. Your physical ATM card is the first form of authentication and your PIN is the second.

Introducing Yubikey - the easy solution for two-factor authentication

Yubikey is a small hardware device that looks similar to a USB drive and is designed to make two-factor authentication on the web easy. In addition to your normal username and password for a given website, it acts as your second form of authentication. Once you’ve registered it, you can use this device with a variety of websites or services that support two-factor authentication. Additionally, you can use Yubikey as a second method of authentication for your computer login, disk encryption for a hard drive, or password manager.

How does it work?

Once you’ve registered your Yubikey with a website or service that supports two-factor authentication, you simply insert the key into the computer, and then tap or touch it to provide your second method of authentication. Bear in mind that the Yubikey is not a biometric device. Similar to an ATM card, its identity protection power lies in the fact that is a physical hardware token. This prevents phishing, malware and other attacks that would need your physical key (in addition to your password) to breach your account.

However, since the Yubikey is a physical piece of hardware, some may wonder, “won’t it be easy to lose?” Well, when was the last time you permanently lost your keys? if the answer is never, then you’re in luck. Yubikey simply attaches to your keychain.

Curious to learn more about the latest hardware developments? Need a new hardware solution for your business? Call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
August 3rd, 2015

Young Asian woman  using smartphone in garden, looking on screen.While there have been rumours circling online about Microsoft’s plan to kill the Windows Phone altogether, the tech giant’s latest release for the Windows Insider Program - where users can sign up for an early build of the Windows OS - proves otherwise. Here we’ll take a look at the new build 10149 OS, a preview to Windows 10, and see if it’s worth installing or if you’re better off waiting.

Microsoft Edge

The first thing you’ll notice in this build is a brand new browser, Microsoft Edge. Microsoft Edge is set to replace Internet Explorer as the default web browser on Windows 10 PCs, smartphones and tablets. It is integrated with Cortana and OneDrive, and also includes annotation tools, reading mode, and the option to browse websites in either mobile or desktop view. Do note that Microsoft Edge has a new app ID, meaning favorites, cookies, history and reading-list items that you saved in the Project Spartan app will be lost after upgrading.

General UX improvements

Among the many refinements in this build is the clear and crisp Start screen. Visuals and icons such as volume controls are updated and are more responsive to use, and the navigation bar can now be hidden. Microsoft has also fixed issues like text notifications not appearing for incoming messages, as well as apps that couldn’t be installed or updated.

Cortana refinements

The build 10149 sees Cortana’s Notebook in its final stage, with combined Profile and Settings experience. You can now send an email by saying everything at once - such as who you want to email (you can give the names of multiple recipients), the subject of the email, and what you want your message to say. And with an Internet connection, you can also make corrections with your voice - though this only works for US English right now.

Flash to flashlight

One of the most popular requests of Microsoft from its users was to add a Flashlight “quick action” to allow you to turn your phone’s camera flash into a flashlight, and that’s exactly what they’ve added. To enable this feature, simply open Action Center and expand Quick Actions.

Improved Photos app

The update to the Photos app includes new capabilities such as support for animated GIFs (which works with phones with at least 16GB of RAM). Links to your saved photos, screenshots, and camera roll are also available on the Albums page.

Overall, the build 10149 looks to be an important turning point for Windows 10 Mobile. It is faster and more stable, and comes with plenty of improvements that enhance practicality for everyday use. To try it out, make sure you’re part of the Windows Insider Program by signing up here. Looking to learn more about the benefits of Windows Phone? Contact us today; we’re sure we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.