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Cover Your Assets By Properly Disposing Of Your Old Computers

Dispose of your IT equipment properlyIt can be difficult to think about replacing expensive hardware like desktops and servers without breaking your budget, much less having to deal with your old data. Thankfully, there are certain steps that you can take to make the transition to a new PC or server much easier, and it all starts with properly getting rid of your old technology.

Before we get started, though, we want to emphasize the importance of taking preventative measures. These keep you from getting into a situation where you don’t have the technology you need. In other words, if your desktop is outdated, then you shouldn’t wait until it completely breaks down before you replace it. This makes it imperative that you identify warning signs for your ailing technology before it suddenly stops working.

Warning Signs
To get started thinking about what to do when your computer breaks down, look for the following warning signs.

  • General PC slowdown
  • Freezing or even operating system crashes
  • Corrupted files or data loss
  • Random shutdowns
  • Startup errors

Keep in mind that these symptoms could be signs of other PC issues as well.

Understand When You Need to Replace Technology
Nothing your business utilizes can last forever, including technology like workstations and servers. If you suspect that your PC is reaching its limit, it’s crucial that you implement a strategy to properly replace it and dispose of the old one. If there’s no such policy to adhere to, you could be putting your business at risk of a data breach, and putting yourself at odds when the investigators look into whether it was your fault for failing to follow best practices. Gartner explains, “Best-practice PC disposal processes provide an audit trail documenting the serial-numbered inventory of disposed PCs, certification that proprietary and personal data has been removed and made unrecoverable, and transfer/reuse of software licenses, where applicable.”

Does your business have old technology that’s holding you back from moving forward? If so, contact Excalibur Technology right away. Our technicians can help your business completely wipe the data off of your old technology’s hard drives, or transfer it to your new, more recent hardware. Plus, we can make recommendations on who to call to recycle your business’s old devices so they won’t cause harm to the environment.

Our goal is to help your business make a smooth transition to new hardware solutions without putting your sensitive data at risk. To learn more about what we can do for your organization, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

A Few Security Lessons Your Business Can Learn From Game Of Thrones

Game of Thrones Security LessonsSecurity is a major concern for anything successful, and television programming is no different. Game of Thrones, the BBC’s epic production based on George R.R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire, has always been concerned with their security–and with the television series overtaking the book series, that concern has only grown as the production has brand new secrets to keep safe. As a result, the production has seen a steady increase in security.

Last season, scripts were handed out much more sparingly, and code words were assigned to characters and scenes. The network has also stopped the tradition of distributing advance copies of the program to members of the press, which is normally done so that reviews may be written.

With the action in the show finally overtaking the action in the books this season, the concern for the show’s security has leapt to new heights.

This year, two-factor authentication had to be set up on every cast member’s email account, where they would receive their copy of the script. According to Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays the role of Missandei on the show, these copies were not to be printed out. Even the notes that the cast members received during rehearsal were not to leave the set, and had to be turned in before the actors could leave.

This dedication to secrecy only makes sense. Game of Thrones is a bona fide cultural phenomenon, and more importantly has generated an astonishing amount of revenue. This is mainly because subscribers to HBO’s content repeatedly tune in every week to find out who is next on the chopping block–the show’s version of critical data. If that data was to get out ahead of schedule, subscribers would have less of an incentive to subscribe and would quickly transfer their focus (and capital) elsewhere.

Your business’ data needs to be secured for similar reasons–just substitute ‘subscribers’ for ‘clients’ in the situation above, and you see the importance of keeping your data secured.

Taking a page from Game of Thrones’ production can help you here. Two-factor authentication is a method of ensuring data security by requiring a secondary form of authentication to access an account, for example, a unique code sent to a mobile device. If the password were to somehow be guessed by some other party, they wouldn’t be able to access the account without the secondary code. There are many businesses that are already using this method, both as a means of compliance with various regulations and to reinforce their security.

So, tell us: are you looking forward to the rest of this season of Game of Thrones? Tell us in the comments, but please don’t spoil anything!

Microsoft “Slims” Down Windows 10 With New Operating System

Have you ever tried using a Google Chromebook for work purposes? While it might offer the ability to browse the web on a budget, the device is limited by the operating system’s lack of functionality. Microsoft has created a similar operating system in the form of Windows 10 S, which uses less processing power than the full version of their latest operating system.

Windows 10 S runs on less resources than laptops running Windows 10 Pro, which gives it a better loading speed. In fact, a laptop that’s running Windows 10 S can load a user profile up to 15 seconds faster. This is mostly thanks to there being fewer processes and applications running in the background.

The first audience Microsoft is targeting with this new operating system is educational institutions, like schools and college campuses. Unfortunately, Windows 10 S likely won’t be a good fit for an organization outside of education. While it might be helpful if you’re on a budget, it faces the same limits and inconsistencies as the Chrome OS. You get a passable experience, but what you can do will be limited.

It stands to reason that Windows 10 S will be found mostly on inexpensive laptops. Businesses that want to keep costs down have an option if they don’t want or need the extra power. Big names such as Dell, HP, and Acer have all chosen to produce laptops with Windows 10 S pre-packaged on them. This might be a great way to acquire a low-cost device for traveling or for meetings.

Most notable about this new operating system is that Microsoft is using this opportunity to upsell users on their Windows 10 Pro OS. Windows 10 S will be free, primarily because it’s already installed on the devices that will be using it. However, users can easily upgrade to the full version of Windows 10 Pro. While students can receive the full version of Windows 10 Pro for free, non-students must pay $49. This effectively gives businesses the opportunity to “test-drive” Windows 10 before going all-in.

Windows 10 S is now available. However, you still need to consider the repercussions of trying to save money by going with a cheaper device and lightweight OS. If you consult a professional IT technician, you’ll be able to iron out all of the details and understand exactly what you want and need before making a commitment, like purchasing a new device.  Our advice for our clients – avoid Windows 10 S completely and buy devices that only have the full version of Windows 10 installed.

To learn more about how Excalibur Technology can help your business with its technology needs, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

3 Time-Saving Benefits To Outsourced Email Management

Outsourced E-mailYou don’t have time to worry about managing your email solution, but it’s still a vital aspect of your business’s operations. You never know when someone will fall for a spam message, and you certainly can’t look over the shoulders of each employee to make sure they don’t. What’s the busy business owner to do? How can you get quality email management without it eating up too much time and effort on your part?

The answer, like many technological pain points of SMBs, is to outsource the responsibility to a managed IT provider. Managed IT is great for businesses that want to focus on their operations rather than spending time managing technology. We’ll discuss three of the ways that email management helps your organization stay on task and ahead of the game.

Strengthen Security with Spam Blocking
Spam is the favored vehicle for major online threats, including phishing and ransomware schemes, specifically because it allows hackers to spread their work in a way which allows them to target as many people as possible without devoting much individual work. Users can accidentally download attachments or click on links to malicious websites. Enterprise-level spam blocking solutions allow your organization to keep threatening or suspicious messages out of your inbox indefinitely, significantly reducing the risk of finding such messages in your email solution.

Hosting and Management
If you’re the one who has to constantly add new users or check to see that your email servers are working properly, you’ll find that you have less time to spend doing your actual work. Of course, nothing is more important than making sure operations proceed as intended. Excalibur Technology can manage your technology and free up incredible amounts of time to focus on building your company’s profitability. We can ensure maximum uptime and optimal mail flow so that you don’t have to.

Archive Messages for Future Viewing
Email archiving is a great way to ensure that your business retains a record of any incoming and outgoing messages for your business. This helps you keep a better track of who shares information with who, and more importantly, why information might be shared with those outside of your business. Furthermore, if an employee has recently left your business, but you weren’t privy to their reasons, you might find some clues in your email system that could strengthen retention and prevent turnover in the future.

If you want your business to flourish, managing email effectively is a great place to start. In the hands of professionals like those at Excalibur Technology, you can focus on operations without worrying about keeping mail flow from working as intended. For more information about email management, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

Follow These Steps To Prevent Telemarketers From Calling You

Block Unwanted Calls on Cell PhoneHere’s a common scenario: you’re relaxing at home with friends or family and all of a sudden, your cell phone starts ringing. You don’t recognize the number; in fact, your phone lists it as an out-of-state caller, so you don’t pick up. The call eventually ends and you’re back to relaxing. But then, your phone starts ringing again and it’s that same pesky solicitor trying to sell you on the virtues of auto loan refinancing or a free Caribbean vacation. Caller ID and voicemail have helped to curb the suffering over unwanted phone calls in the past, but what if you could just block a caller entirely?

Regardless of the phone you have, for this week’s tip, we can show you how to block telemarketers, scammers, and stalkers from ever contacting you again. Telemarketing is completely legal, so it won’t be going away anytime soon. Blocking callers is the quickest and easiest way to deal with this issue. If they call you once, you won’t ever have to deal with them again, after you’ve followed these steps:

Android Users
For Nougat and Marshmallow:

  • Go to the Phone app.
  • Navigate to All Calls.
  • Select Call from Undesired Contact.
  • Tap Block/Report Spam.
  • Then you will be asked if you would like to report the call as spam. Check the box, if you do wish to report it.

For Lollipop (Samsung Galaxy S4, S5, S6, Note 4 users):

  • Go to the Phone app and tap the Call Log.
  • Select the phone number you would like to block, then tap More.
  • Next, tap Add to Auto reject list and you’re all set!

iPhone Users
To block a number on your iPhone, first select the Phone app. Next:

  • Select Recents (at the bottom of the screen).
  • Find the number of the caller you wish to block and tap the i icon on the right-hand-side of the screen.
  • Here you will see the caller’s information, as well as different options for creating a new contact, etc. Scroll to the very bottom of this page and you’ll see the words, ‘Block This Caller.’
  • Once you’ve selected that, a message will pop up, asking you to confirm this decision. Tap Block Contact to make it official.

If you’re receiving unwanted text messages from a stranger, iOS 10 requires that you add this person or bot to your Contacts list first. To create a new contact from your Messages app, click on the phone number at the top of the screen and select Create New Contact. Then simply follow the steps listed above. If you haven’t upgraded to iOS 10 yet, look for the i icon in the upper-right corner of your text conversation and select it. Then tap Block This Caller > Block Contact.

There, now you’re ready to block like some of the best centers in NBA history. But also remember that, with great power comes great responsibility; while telemarketers won’t know if they’re on your block list, “friends” and family members you find annoying might eventually catch on. For more technology tips and tricks, reach out to Excalibur Technology at (877) NET – KING.

Managed IT Can Help SMBs Tackle These 3 Common Challenges

Managed IT ServicesIt’s only natural that new and improved technologies will be challenging for employees to embrace and become accustomed to using. These challenges tend to shape how businesses will make their decisions as time passes. A few industry research firms have released their projections as to what challenges businesses will face in the coming months of 2017.

While their reports were far from identical, there were a few consistencies in the findings that each firm came across. These consistencies can help the average small and medium-sized business adjust their approach in the coming months to optimize their ability to grow.

Both research firms found that, in varying order, the top three challenges that SMBs will face have to do with maintaining their current solutions, organizing restricted budgets and necessary costs, and increasing their security. However, one of the firms found that the concern over security was more focused on their mobile devices. Despite this minor difference, there is still a pattern to the priorities that SMBs will have throughout 2017 that enables us to establish what solutions will be in high demand.

Most notably, the companies who were examined as a part of this research were highly concerned about their finances–specifically, how to optimize their spending in order to receive the highest return on investment as possible for the least amount of capital expended. This considerable task becomes much simpler once a managed service provider is introduced into the equation.

The way things used to be, a company would (for the sake of their budget) assume that they wouldn’t encounter any issues and devote limited funds to resolving them, but when an issue was encountered, the company would end up spending their entire budget and then some, leaving them at a deficit the next time a problem surfaced. An MSP, on the other hand, will provide its services for a regular (and therefore predictable) cost, allowing your business to properly budget for its IT maintenance.

The studies also showed that many businesses were concerned about a few other factors that an MSP can help resolve. An MSP will take proactive steps to make sure that a company’s solutions don’t encounter issues that could throw its productivity into jeopardy. This can be accomplished by proactively monitoring the technology a company has in place. An MSP will also make sure your security solutions are maintained so that threats are less likely to make it onto your network in the first place.

An MSP can help to serve your business beyond these top three concerns throughout 2017 and beyond. For more information into what an MSP can offer, give Excalibur Technology a call at (877) NET – KING.

Petya 2.0 Attacks. Excalibur Technology MSP Clients Safe!

Creeping Virus Infecting a PCLast month Wannacry unleashed havoc across the world.  This month, Petya is making the rounds.  Next month will be a new threat.  Computers and servers are being encrypted and data is being held hostage until a hefty ransom is paid.  What is a business owner to do?  Ensure that you are taking a proactive approach to managing your data security and putting all of the security measures in place that you can to keep viruses, spyware, ransomware and hackers out.

We are happy to report that all Excalibur Technology managed services clients were fully protected against these recent attacks and were not affected whatsoever.  An ounce of prevention paid off in a major way considering a single breached machine can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars in ransom.

The frustrating thing about these recent ransom situations is that the fix to prevent the infection was available long before the attack. Systems that were left unpatched were compromised and those that were well maintained were much more safe.  The infuriating thing about Petya is that it used the same attack method and vulnerability as the Wannacry.  Users and IT departments had plenty of time to update their systems, but unfortunately chose not to.  Don’t be a victim!  Call us today for professional outsourced IT support and allow us to protect your organization from the new threats to come.

What else should you do to protect your company?  Here are a few quick tips:

  1. Have a business class firewall in place and ensure that it is updated and that the security logs are regularly reviewed.
  2. Use strong passwords on all devices, accounts, admin accounts, servers, workstations, etc.  And change them regularly!
  3. Have updated and business class anti-virus and anti-spyware software running on every device.  Make sure it is updated and receives new definitions constantly.
  4. Lock down PC’s to prevent unwanted software from running.
  5. Ban social media, personal e-mail and web surfing in your office.  This is the greatest network threat there is and the toughest to control.
  6. Install DNS filtering to prevent accessing of infected websites.
  7. Install web filtering to manage what sites are allowed or denied in your organization.
  8. Have a great backup system installed, send a copy to a reliable and secure cloud provider.
  9. Provide training for your staff to educate them about threats such as phishing, bad links and surfing habits.  Review this regularly with them.

Following these tips and having a professional network engineer maintain your infrastructure is the best way to ensure that your business is not infected by ransomware or other threats.  For additional information, tips or to get started with one of the best IT firms in the industry, call us today at 877-NET-KING!

Excalibur Technology Newsletter – June 2017

June 2017 Newsletter CoverExcalibur Technology June 2017 Newsletter

We invite you to read the latest edition of our newsletter, by CLICKING HERE.

Be sure to check it out!

Highlights in the June 2017 Edition Include:

– Managed IT Makes Your Business More Resilient And Efficient

– 6 Data Backup Best Pratices Your Business Continuity Plan Needs

– Webinars Take The Excuses Out Of Missing Meetings

– Study Finds Employees To Be Sloppy About Network Security

– Is Cloud Waste Eating Away At Your Company’s Bottom Line?

– Study Finds Social Media Phishing Scams To Be The Most Dangerous

Study Finds Social Media Phishing Scams To Be The Most Dangerous

Social Media Phishing ScamsOrdinary fishing, where you hope for a simple-minded fish to latch onto your hook, relies on using a proper lure. The same can be said for the virtual method of phishing, where a hacker will use a similar type of “lure” to convince the target to bite. These phishing scams are especially useful for hackers who want to take advantage of social media to find new targets. A recent study has shown that this is a surprisingly effective method of phishing.

A report from phishd by MWR InfoSecurity orchestrated a simulated phishing attack that attempted to target a million users. ITProPortal told of their findings: “Almost a quarter of users clicked a link to be taken to a fake login screen. Out of that number, more than half (54 percent) provided user credentials, and 80 percent downloaded a file.”

This means that about 10 percent of users fell victim to the first two stages of the simulation and gave up their account credentials. Now, compare this rate to how often a normal scam, like spam, accomplishes its goal. While the typical spam message will only have a fraction of a percentage point rate of success, social media provides a substantially larger chance of success to hackers.

James Moore, the Managing Director of phishd by MWR InfoSecurity, states: “More concerning is that out of those targeted with a social media request or a promotional offer, more than 10 percent downloaded a potentially malicious file via their corporate email accounts.” This is especially a problem, as there are so many people who connect their social media accounts to their work accounts–risky business for any organization that wants to avoid a critical data breach.

If anything, this study shows why your business needs to keep data safe. This includes being capable of identifying phishing scams and responding to them properly, but also the implementation of security tools like antivirus, spam blocking, and content filtering. If you’re very concerned about social media phishing, you can go so far as to block social media websites completely on your network. Additional measures such as comprehensive training can help your users identify phishing attacks both in and out of the office, on a variety of platforms. Often times, the lures used by hackers can be so tantalizing that they’re able to bypass your security, so the only thing standing between you and a data breach is the knowledge you’ve imparted to your users.

You can’t trust anyone on the Internet, be it a new friend on social media, a new entry into your address book, or a seemingly-legitimate website. You have to be ready for anything, but this can be a daunting task. Thankfully, you don’t have to endure it alone. With Excalibur Technology by your side, you’ll be prepared to handle any cyber threat. To learn more about what we can offer your business, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

Webinars Take the Excuses Out Of Missing Meetings

Webinars Better Than MeetingsFor today’s businesses, displaying your organizational authority is crucial to success. Whether it’s McDonald’s with fast food burgers, Chevrolet with cars and trucks, or Walmart for everything else, the message you put out there is seemingly as important as the services you provide. For small businesses, this becomes even more crucial. For example, if you run a hardware store, you likely can’t compete with the prices of the big box stores, but you can bring to the table something of greater value to the consumer: your knowledge.

In the past, companies would have seminars to introduce new concepts to anyone that had a vested interest, or to present their consumer base a new set of practices. These seminars were great marketing tools for companies to show the consumer that they, in fact, know about the products or services they were selling. As a result, they were great ways to build organic traffic into their stores. This is a classic example of how word of mouth is the best form of marketing.

Cut to today, people are busy, and with social media being what it is, it was inevitable that companies would have to start coming to the consumer, rather than having the consumer come to them. Nowadays, the webinar (obviously taken from the root words web and seminar) has allowed the modern business to interact with would-be customers over the Internet. The webinar is set up much like the seminar with a presentation or course followed by a full question and answers section.

A webinar can be an hour or two, it can be a half-hour, it can be five. There really isn’t any set amount of time, but you have to remember that even if you are constantly at the computer, some of the people you are trying to reach aren’t. Also, no matter how valuable you think the information you have packed into your five-hour webinar is, it doesn’t take much for people, interested or not, to be distracted away from what you are saying. In fact, that brings up one of the main benefits of the webinar, the ability for the user to listen at their leisure. So while you may hold an event at 7 PM on a Wednesday, you can distribute the webinar for anyone to download or stream for as long as you’d like. It’s best practice to keep it between one and two hours, and don’t waste your listener’s time with fluff. If someone gets bored with one of your webinars, the chances decrease substantially that they will ever go to another.

Along with their platform for distributing your company’s knowledge and authority in your industry, webinars have shown to be one of the best ways to close new customers. In fact, Buzzsumo has stated that nearly one-fifth of their webinar attendees turn into paying customers.

The technology used to conduct a webinar is readily available. There are literally dozens of free and paid applications designed to let you conduct webinars. Some of these include GoToWebinar, AnyMeeting, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft’s Skype platform. If you are curious about what it takes for you to educate potential and current customers with a webinar, contact Excalibur Technology’s professional IT staff at (877) NET – KING.

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