How Exposed Are You Online?

Is privacy in America dead? With all the camera phones, online tracking software and social media sites, you can pretty much bet on it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself. For starters, go to Google Maps and search on your name to see if they have a picture of your home mapped out. If so, you can request to be removed. Next, set up a Google alert for your name (and company name if you’re a business owner). Google will e-mail you any time something is posted about you with a link so you can keep an eye on reviews, photos, etc. Next, go to www.Spokeo.com and search on yourself – you might be shocked at how much information is posted about you, your home, your income and personal life. You can request to be removed from this site by going to www.spokeo.com/privacy .

What Is “Cloud Computing?”

Cloud computing refers to the “next evolution” of the Internet and how users (you and me) access, store and work with applications, files, e-mail, data and more. Instead of having all your files and applications stored on a PC or laptop, cloud computing puts this workload onto a high-speed, high security server that you access via any Internet connection or device. Why do this? Several reasons: You can connect to your files and applications from anywhere on (practically) any device. You’ll save a lot of money on IT support, maintenance and software since those responsibilities are assumed by your cloud provider. You only pay for the applications, storage and software you use. A good comparison for this system is the way you access the electricity that runs into your home or office. To use it, you just plug the appliance of choice into any outlet. Like electricity, which is metered, with cloud computing you just pay for the services you use. Most cloud solutions offer instant backup and the ability to be back up and running again fast. Since your files and applications are hosted online, a failed server or PC won’t put you out of business, and the chances of a data center going down (the place where your files and apps are stored) is very, very slim. Chances are you’re already using cloud computing without even knowing it. If you bank online, access an e-mail service like Yahoo! Mail or Gmail, or use an e-mail broadcasting service like ConstantContact, you’re using cloud-based apps (also called SaaS or “software as a service”). Many businesses are moving to cloud computing because it frees them from having to install, maintain and upgrade expensive, overblown PCs that cost a lot to maintain. It also makes adding and removing users (or employees) quick and easy since you simply pay for what you use each month and nothing more. Other advantages include unlimited storage, automatic backups, higher-level security and the ability to access your information from any device anywhere. Plus, cloud-based networks don’t require the ongoing maintenance that traditional server-workstation networks require. However, not every application or situation is suited for the cloud. While many line-of-business applications still can’t be hosted in the cloud and require a commercial-grade Internet connection with a backup such as DSL or cable, there’s no doubt that cloud computing is here to stay. Advances are being made rapidly to make it the better solution for most businesses. Of course, we’re here to help you understand your options and the pros and cons.

7 Simple Ways To Keep Your iPad Secure

Don’t leave it lying around Although this is common sense, you’ve probably violated this rule more than once. iPads are easy targets for thieves, so don’t let it out of your sight when in a public place – and don’t leave it in plain view in your car or you might end up with a broken window in addition to a stolen iPad. Use a passcode Although it’s not 100% hacker-proof, it will block unauthorized users from accessing your information. Consider enabling automatic data erasing You can configure your iPad to erase your data after 10 failed passcode attempts. Clearly this is not a good solution for anyone who constantly forgets a password or those who have kids who might try to endlessly log in to use your iPad. Sign up for MobileMe As mentioned opposite, this software will allow you to locate a lost iPad and, if it’s not recoverable, you can remotely wipe the device of your private information. Limit its capabilities You can set your iPad to restrict certain functions such as access to Safari, YouTube, installing applications and explicit media content using a passcode. In the corporate world, an IT administrator could set these restrictions for company owned devices. At home, you can use this to restrict what your children can do with your iPad. Install software updates As with all software, make sure you have the latest security updates and patches installed to protect against hackers and viruses. Only connect to trusted WiFi networks Public WiFis are open territory for hackers and identity thieves. Whenever you connect, make sure it’s a legitimate, secure connection.  

Walk To The Hospital?

When you dial 9-1-1, you expect to get help – but not so in the case of Curtis Mitchell from Pittsburg, PA. Mitchell dialed 9-1-1 and reported severe abdominal pains, but no one came. So he called again. Still, no one came. This went on for the entire weekend. He called a total of 10 times and eventually died in his home. So what happened? Apparently the paramedics could only get the ambulance within 4 blocks of his home due to heavy snowfall. But instead of walking to his home, they told him he would have to come to them. The city is facing a civil lawsuit from Mitchell’s family.

Our Tax Dollars At Work?

California welfare recipients have found that state-issued debit cards make accessing cash easy…in fact, a little too easy. These debit cards are meant to help poor families feed their families; however, an investigation conducted by the Los Angeles Times revealed that more than $12,000 in welfare funds were dispensed at strip clubs, and $1.8 million of the funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families were dispensed at casino and poker-room ATMs. Luckily, the state has put an end to this practice.

When Can You Retire?

Here are some interesting facts about Social Security and saving for retirement that we thought you would find interesting as you file your taxes this year. “By 2037, all the social security reserves will have been drained and the income flowing into the program will be only enough to pay 75% of the schedule benefits. If that sounds tolerable, consider that two-thirds of seniors rely on Social Security as their main source of income. The average annual benefit is $14,000.” – Washington Post “Nearly eight in ten small business owners prior to the recession in 2007 thought they would have enough money to live comfortably when they retire. By 2010, fewer than two in three felt this way.” – Dennis Jacobe, gallup.com “The average life expectancy was only 63 years when Social Security was first created, and there were 40 workers supporting each retiree. We now have about 3.1 workers for each retiree. And by the time I reach my mid-60s, there will be about two workers supporting me – and I don’t think they’re going to want to do that.” – Ken Dychtwald, New York Times “56% of retirees had outstanding debt when they left the workforce, and 96% refused to delay retirement because of the outstanding debt. In addition, 59% had saved less than $50,000 towards retirement.” – Survey, nonprofit CESI Debt Solutions

3 Reasons To Have A Blog (Even If Nobody Reads It)

Building a massive following online is no easy task. But before you give up on your company blog due to the disappointing number of people who read and comment on it, here are 3 reasons to reconsider: Search Engine Optimization. If for no other reason, blogging weekly about a particular topic will work wonders for your search engine optimization. Make sure your blog entries frequently include the keywords that people are likely use when searching for your services online, but avoid spamming the blog (overusing the words). There’s no scientific percentage here; just don’t repeat them so often that your writing seems unnatural to your readers. Free PR. The media is constantly surfing the web for content and for experts who can provide content and commentary. All it takes is one reporter to find you online and you could get tons of free publicity. You can bolster your chances of getting mentioned by writing about current events in the world or local news. For example, if you sell insurance and a hurricane or other natural disaster hits your town, you should blog about useful tips for people submitting claims to their insurance agents or how to determine how much insurance you should have, etc. Indirect Selling. Writing stories about projects you are working on, clients you’re serving or case studies is a great way to showcase your expertise and “indirectly” sell services. Of course, you can also use your blog for new product or service launches and get direct input from clients and prospects on new products and services they want to see. Client Spotlight: ABC Insurance [Insert story about this client and what you did for them: If you are looking for a company to take the headache out of your insurance needs and save you a bundle too, look no more! We were recently introduced to them through a mutual client, Bob Smith of XYZ Corp. They were having some problems with their network which we fixed immediately.] Would you like your company highlighted here in our “Client Spotlight?” Then give us a call today at XXX-XXX-XXXX

4 Questions About Backups That Business Owners Should Know The Answers To

The old saying, “Pack your own parachute,” comes to mind when I think of data backups or, more specifically, data RECOVERY. However, how many people actually know how to pack their proverbial data backup “parachute” and instead rely on someone else – be it an employee or vendor? If that’s you, read on. Since the absolute WORSE time to check your backups is AFTER a data disaster, all company CEOs ought to know the answers to the following questions NOW so they aren’t unpleasantly surprised later when data gets erased and they’re scrambling to get back up and running: Where EXACTLY is your data being backed up, and how do you get access to it? If it’s being hosted in a remote place, you ought to have the account information and a direct contact you can call if your vendor or employee goes missing with this information. Ideally, it should be in your network documentation that is kept in your operations manual or somewhere you can easily access it if necessary. Who’s responsible for monitoring the backups to make sure they are working? When data is lost, the finger pointing starts. It’s not uncommon to hear, “Well I thought (they/he/she) was in charge of our backups!” only to discover that this person (be it a vendor or employee) actually has no idea that they had such an important responsibility. Keep in mind that many offsite backup companies allow you to store your data there, but they won’t agree to ANY responsibility for whether or not the data is being backed up correctly, completely or in a format that can be restored. How often do you run a test restore? The only way to know if your backups are working properly is to… conduct a test restore or “fire drill” of your data. We recommend running this once a month at a minimum to verify that you can actually restore from your backups in an emergency. If your data is lost, what’s the process required to restore it? Some business owners don’t realize that their raw data backups would take a LOT longer to restore than they imagine. If you are not “imaging” your data (a process that takes a snapshot of your server as is) you will have to reload all of your software, set up the network, reconfigure your settings and THEN restore the data – a process that can take the better part of a week PROVIDED you still have your original software discs and licenses. Our Free Backup Audit will give you the answers to these critical questions. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, give us a call to schedule a FREE inspection of your backup process. At a minimum you’ll know for sure that your data is safe and in a format that can get you back up and running again FAST. Call: xxx-xxx-xxxx or email us at: yourname@yoururl.com

Social Media Policies In The Workplace

Back in November, the National Labor Relations Board issued a Complaint alleging that an employer illegally terminated an employee who posted disparaging remarks about her supervisor on her personal Facebook page. The posting referred to her supervisor as a “psychiatric patient” and used several vulgarities, which resulted in other employees chiming in (Associated Press, November 2010). While the Complaint is only an accusation and not a formal ruling from the NLRB, the repercussions of this action are critically important for employers of both unionized and non-unionized employees alike. Many employers are now reviewing their social media policies with a view to determining what they can lawfully prohibit employees from posting online. Although we cannot provide any legal advice, one of the things we can help our clients with is establishing an acceptable use policy that outlines how employees can use company resources, such as their e-mail, Internet and electronic equipment. We can also help by setting up monitoring software that can either allow management to govern employee access to certain web sites, such as gambling, porn, career sites, etc., or block employees from those sites all together. If you want to keep employees focused on being productive at work, then give us a call for a free consultation and trial of this software. Who Else Wants To Win A $25 Gift Card? “Take my monthly Trivia Challenge and you could win too!” The Grand Prize Winner of last month’s Trivia Challenge Quiz is…drum roll please… [name of winner and town]! They were the first person to correctly answer my quiz question from last month: In 1657 the first chocolate shop opened up in what city? a-London, b-Vienna, c-Amsterdam, d-All of the above The correct answer is (a) – “London.” Congratulations, [winner name], you’ve won a [$25 Gift Card]! Now, here’s this month’s trivia question. The winner will receive a gift card to [NAME OF STORE OR RESTAURANT]. According to legend, what did St. Patrick drive out of Ireland? a-Witches, b- Leprechauns, c-An SUV, d-Snakes Call me right now with your answer! XXX-XXX-XXXX