While we would strongly recommend that you update your passwords more than once a year, now is as good a time as any to do so. Reflecting on this, let’s go over how to fully lock down your Microsoft accounts.
Pileus Technologies Blogs
Subcategories from this category:IT Blog, Security, Cloud, Best Practices, Technology, How To, Business, Alerts, Off Topic/Fun, Uncategorized, Tip of the Week, Miscellaneous
Artificial intelligence, also referred to by the simpler term AI, has long been the holy grail of futurists, science fiction authors, and fantasists alike. Even before we established the concept of computer science, the notion of mechanized entities capable of learning, thinking, and acting on their own was a popular subject for science fiction. This is especially true of cautionary tales.
While AI stories predate this work of art, the earliest popular demonstration in the common zeitgeist is the silent film Metropolis. Released in 1927, this movie is almost 100 years old. It deeply explores the idea of intelligent technology and its impact on our society. It also explores the ethics involved in creating machinery that is capable of awareness.
We’re not here to discuss science fiction robots that can think and feel just like people. We’re not even going to discuss the menacing software displayed in the Terminator or Matrix franchises. Although, these are very interesting concepts. A discussion about the repercussions of AI does merit a conversation, but we’re not there yet. Not by any stretch of the imagination. That’s called the singularity, and it’s going to happen someday soon. What we’re here to discuss today is AI as we currently know it.
Demystifying Contemporary AI
You’re not aware of it, but you experience AI every day. Talking to your phone, Siri, and Alexa, or searching on Google or other search engines, AI tracks you. AI directs your searches based on your past search history, as well as what you're inputting. It compiles data from users and learns their interests and habits. It then uses this info for marketing and other purposes.
AI also exists in the business and consumer sectors. But AI in the sense of what people think of in science fiction movies certainly does not yet exist. So, what exactly is it that we have that we’re calling AI?
AI, or Machine Learning, is any form of software or hardware technology that is capable of learning from input and results.It then uses the ability to make intuitive predictions based on what it has learned. This includes abstractly solving problems based on past tasks. It will then adjust its approach to tasks and become more efficient and effective at making decisions. It is clever, but not conscious.
AI can be powerful.You might be wondering exactly how this business automation like this can help you. Keep reading to find out!
With AI capable of basic accounting functions, administration, and CRM, you can eliminate a lot of redundant tasks. Over time you’ll have less unnecessary staff and less overhead.
Arguably, AI isn't quite smart enough yet to handle dealing with an angry customer on the phone or in a chat, as anyone who's tried to talk to these so-called bots will attest. But they are very well-suited for simpler tasks.
AI can learn customer habits, allowing it to be a handy assistant to CRM, PR, and customer service employees. AI can recall information about customers, and instantly suggest go-to solutions that make sense. Efficiency is the name of the game.
Redundant tasks, such as appointment setting, cold calling, or pesky reoccurring jobs, can also be handled by AI. This frees up skilled employees to deal with people directly as they are trained to do.
Artificial Intelligence can be useful for business planning and logistics management. It learns from markets, business climates, and current events. It is capable of making accurate predictions and connecting relationships that analysts may not be able to notice. This makes AI programs excellent tools for business analysts, traders, and marketing experts as well.
AI Versus Outsourcing
Outsourced work is often of subpar quality, as reflected in the reduced price associated with it. AI responds instantaneously to notifications from customers and provides personal replies. It prioritizes deadlines with no emotional opposition nor fatigue associated with it.AI works 24/7 and doesn't need breaks or time off. It learns from operating and repetition. While a little bit of patience may be necessary when AI is put into place, it learns remarkably faster than people. This is not because it’s smarter than people, but because its “brain” is designed specifically for the tasks at hand.
AI doesn't need holidays, vacation pay, or anything of the sort. It never stops. It never gets bored, and it provides a far better, less emotionally charged customer experience.
This Has Potential, Where Do I Start?
If the prospect of a tireless, intuitive business automation tool like this sounds intriguing, your next step is to figure out what your business needs are. Do a little research. Read up on how Artificial Intelligence works, and compare platforms you’re interested in. Get a feel for what this technology is and where its prime applications lie. Look into where it's used now, and notice the day-to-day things that are powered by AI.You’ll be surprised by how prolific it is.
Or, if the whole thing is confusing for you, drop us a line. We specialize in business technology and are avid proponents of business automation. We can even provide you with advice on how to integrate Artificial Intelligence with your current staff. After all, we want to help you grow your business, not find ways to lose valuable employees. Contact us today to find out more.
If you haven’t taken the time to go through and update your passwords lately, particularly the one protecting your Google account, you should do so… despite it undeniably being a pain. After all, Google serves various purposes and is attached to many accounts for most. Considering the number of data breaches and other cybersecurity issues this potentially contributes to, you will want to ensure your Google account is properly locked down.
Businesses of all sizes have been able to successfully overcome operational challenges by rethinking and adapting the technology they utilize. Let’s consider a huge example and look at what The Lego Group (as in the building blocks) has done to address some of their technological challenges with improved solutions—as well as how your business can do the same.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected individuals and businesses across the globe in a manner that rings with permanence. Many businesses that were previously successful are now left baffled as to how they should adjust their business models.To work effectively in this new age of touchless business, we need to adopt to new systems and organizational methods.
How do I even begin to mobilize my business in light of current restrictions?
The top priority for businesses that haven’t done so already is to establish an online presence. And they should get online fast! Establishing an efficient online storefront is the first step to attracting customers who shifted to shopping online during this pandemic. If a website is already part of your business model, then some tech solutions may be needed to handle more sales. Make your website functional enough to be a solidified option for those at home. IT solutions, such as adding a shopping cart or transitioning a POS terminal, can help adjust your online presence.
For businesses who deem their online presence to be adequate but struggle with restricted capacity, touchless payment options may be the answer to your problems. What businesses have found to be convenient and successful is the installment of computer tablets as hubs for touchless payments. The prevalence of consumer tech solutions such as ApplePay, Samsung Pay, and Google Wallet have established a safe and easy way for customers to take advantage of digital tablets in physical business locations.
How do I maintain effortless communication between coworkers and employees?
Another struggle many businesses face in this period of touchless business is, how to effectively communicate with employees and coworkers. Scheduling business meetings in person is not exactly COVID safe. Luckily there are alternatives for maintaining a solid and reliable communication link. Platforms such as MS Teams, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, Adobe Connect, and many more have streamlined the ability to connect individuals virtually. Business meetings have, in a sense, never been easier to achieve. By cutting out the commute time for many employees, you can provide more time for scheduling important business meetings.
An additional way to streamline communication efforts is to construct a working online business network. You can do so through new platforms, like Slack, Microsoft Teams/Office, and Google Hangouts. Making sure remote employees have a designated business computer to utilize during work hours is essential.It assures the success of online performance, as programs are only as good as the diligence of the employee checking them.
Now that I have a working website, how do I continue to make sales and service my clients?
Maintaining a business during a pandemic is one thing; soliciting new business and sales are a whole other feat. Establishing a working website is not enough to ensure the success of any business or private firm. It is merely the first step in the process of creating an engaging and attractive online presence. Not all customers you want to attract are as tech-savvy as you probably are.Being prepared to help them transition to an online client is something you can do to make this process easy for them. Older clientele may want to do business with you but aren't sure how to use Zoom. Being able to assist them, or hiring someone who can, is a reliable way to bridge this gap and continue growing your business.
Making sales during such a confusing and evolving business era can be intimidating and uncertain. Small to medium businesses are currently struggling more than ever to keep their doors open.For many, it is tough making sufficient sales to sustain the company and its employees. With every business transitioning to online services, how do you make your business stand apart? The next step for facilitating sales is to engage with your customers and their concerns. You should have a dedicated customer service person with reliable tech solutions for answering emails, fulfilling online orders, and facilitating responses to customer questions promptly. Being responsive to this kind of online interaction is essential to keeping and attracting customers. If you aren't making the online process easy for the customer, the competition will.
A Summary of How to Mobilize
The touchless era is a difficult time in which to mobilize your business. But it is not impossible. Creating an easily accessible and efficient online platform for customers to enjoy and engage with, and maintaining a strong online presence is essential to moving your business into a successful space. Finding different IT tech solutions--like installing online video chat programs to continue communication--will help affirm employee accountability as well as customer satisfaction. Finally, bringing all these aspects together to create a comprehensive and well-oiled touchless business model will assure your business has the best chance of survival and success possible.
If you have questions about setting up online services or getting your employees to work remotely, please contact us at any time.
Information technology is a critical tool for many businesses today, which means \\it is crucial that your IT is compliant to a few key best practices. Let’s go over these practices so that you have a roadmap to ensure that your operations can remain secure and productive.
Your business’ software is one of its critical assets, so it really can’t also host many risks to your security and business continuity. Therefore, keeping your software up-to-date and fully patched should be a priority. Let’s go over what patch management entails and why it is so important.
GoDaddy—the domain registrar and web-hosting company once famed for its risqué advertisements—is facing some significant backlash for a much different reason. On December 14th, GoDaddy’s employees received an email that appeared to be from the company, promising a holiday bonus. However, while the email was from the company as it appeared to be, it was actually a phishing test that the hosting provider decided to run.
If last year taught us anything, it was that small to medium businesses need to adapt with the times if they want to stay open. Social distancing and crowd restrictions drove all of us to figure out ways to retain our clientele without dealing with them face-to-face. Online business transactions, telecommuting, and third-party suppliers became the norm. In this new ecosystem, how can we automate business processes and stay ahead of our competitors?
Future growth trends point to business automation in every department, contactless deliveries and transactions, and more remote employees and supply chains. To stay competitive, these are the directions we need to focus on.
The good news is that the future is here! Many large businesses are already fully automated, and their innovations are easily adaptable to your needs. Let's take a look at some of the new "Everything as a Service" trends to give your team ideas of where you can take your business.
Automate Business Processes through AI
According to Google, AI supports three critical business needs:
- Automating business processes
- Gaining insight through data analysis
- Engaging with customers and employees
Whether or not you’re aware of it, AI is tracking and compiling your data and dispersing it to companies that want to use it. Right now, it’s mostly larger companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft, because they can afford to develop it. Their innovations mean you can use the same technology for your business.
Optimize Your Sales & Marketing
Sales and Marketing tasks go hand-in-hand, so it’s only natural that they work together to maximize customer data. Automated customer-relationship management (CRM) programs gather customer information throughengagement and actions. This data helps streamline your sales process, and can also be used for marketing purposes. The compiled information helps track business trends, customer preferences, top-selling items, and a whole lot more.
Automating this process can also result in better lead generation. And the best news is that this efficient system can run at or below your current budget. Once you optimize the customer experience, you'll be able to streamline the areas that bring in the most money. And that's good for any business.
Automate Pricing & Billing
If you've been relying on one person to handle these tasks, and your business is growing, it may be time to look into an automated process. While pricing is usually an internal decision (supply and demand, shipping costs, holding costs, display and web promoting, etc.), billing has been outsourced for years, especially in the medical field.
Outsource Service & Support
If you're running a bakery or book store, chances are you're not open 24/7. On the other hand, have you ever considered that you might be missing sales when someone tries to contact you during your off-hours?
Besides businesses that require 24-hour support (Medical, Automobile Towing, IT Managed Services, to name a few), now is the time for everyone to establish a 24-hour presence. Do a little research and you'll discover that a 24/7 answering service will cost you less than a full-time employee. And that person who answers your phone is only working 40 hours a week, minus vacation, sick time, and paid holidays. It's worth it to make sure you never miss a call.
Create a Virtual Storefront
Every business has a website, but can your customers purchase your goods and services directly from your homepage? Without a strong web presence, you are limiting your business to local customers only when you can potentially have global customers. The internet never sleeps, and neither should your business.
Adding a Storefront to your current web site is not difficult at all. If you offer products or services that anyone can use, stop limiting yourself to the same group of customers. If the thought of expanding your reach makes you feel like you’re being pulled out of your comfort zone, remember that your competition has already done it. Follow the trends or you may be left behind.
Automating Business Processes Leads to Scalability
You may not be taking advantage of your workforcescalability. There has never been a better time to hire the best employees to work remotely, from just about anywhere. Here are a few of the benefits you’ll get from scaling your employees to your business needs:
- Hire staff per project
- Use the best people possible
- Set time limits on projects
- Get tasks done around the clock
- Reduce your office space
The biggest benefit you’ll see from this system is gaining control of your budget. By expanding and shrinking your employee pool you’re not wasting money in-between projects. This allows you to streamline your office staff and ramp-up as your projects require. Give it a try! It may be something simple to implement that creates great results.
It's too early to tell if this year will be as challenging as the last one, but even if it's not we still need to prepare for the worst. If you're not sure how these business trends can save money and grow your business, remember that we are here to help. As a Managed Service Provider, we can show you some of the latest business developments and solutions that just may be the answers you've been looking for. Contact us today and let's talk about your future.
The Google Play Store is the Android operating system’s primary source of applications and widgets and can do a lot more than many might first think. Let’s consider a few useful tools and tricks that are incorporated into the Play Store that you should keep in mind.
In the United States, the political atmosphere in 2020 was extremely testy and one element that we typically keep our eyes on is the net neutrality rules that seem to change every few years or so. Today, we thought we’d revisit the issue and tell you what to expect over the first few months of the new administration.
2020 has been filled to the brim with adversity and just as we’ve mercifully arrived to the end, the largest and most brazen cyberespionage attack ever has been carried out. Today, we’ll tell you what we know about the attack, what problems it caused, and what we should learn from it going forward.
Since its widespread adoption, the telephone has proved to be a hugely beneficial tool for businesses of all kinds… despite the considerable costs that it can incur. Fortunately for your business’ budget, however, there is a far more cost-effective means for you to enjoy the benefits of telephony: VoIP, short for Voice over Internet Protocol. Let’s go over some of the reasons why VoIP is just a better option for any business.
Browser extensions are nifty little programs that can be implemented into your web browser itself, adding onto its capabilities and utility… at least, that’s the concept. Unfortunately, these programs also give cybercriminals a means of secretly launching an attack. The security firm Avast recently identified 28 such third-party extensions that have been installed—according to the download numbers, at least—by about three million people on Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge combined.
While some places get to take the holiday season off to some extent, other establishments are at their busiest—and as such, don’t have time for any inefficiencies. Let’s meet an employee from such an establishment, located far up north, to learn about how any workplace might benefit operationally from managed IT services.
For most people, the term tech support is pretty self-explanatory. The terms managed services and MSP… not so much. Let’s go over what makes managed services and what we do as a managed service provider so different from the IT support you may be used to. To start, we’ll review where the idea of an MSP came from, and end with what one like us can do for you.
Apps make the modern technology world go ‘round. If it weren't for apps, smartphones and other mobile devices wouldn't be nearly as useful. Of course, there are many factors to consider before using an app. You should ask yourself, could this be a potentially dangerous app? This is especially true if you're using a device for business purposes.
Earlier this month, we asked and concluded that allowing cookies is safe in most circumstances. In this week's blog, we will be delving into using apps for business purposes and whether or not they pose a risk to your safety.
Apps for the Business Place
There is literally an app (or 50) for just about anything you can think of. However, even helpful apps can be a breeding ground for people who want to steal your information.
Generally speaking, most app makers are honest and ethical. However, because it is so easy to make an app, you may find less than trustworthy creators offering new apps. Securitymagazine.com stated that “71% of healthcare and medical apps have at least one serious vulnerability that could lead to a breach of medical data.” Of course, other general business apps often have similar vulnerabilities.
Additionally, some people create apps specifically so they can steal your personal data. When you download and install an app, it will typically ask for various permissions. It may ask for the ability to use your microphone or have access to your contacts. Some apps ask for just about every piece of information you have available. You may find yourself simply handing over all of your personal data without even realizing it. This is where apps can become very dangerous. Even if you come to this realization and delete the app, your device could already be infected with spyware.
Personal Apps Can Be Dangerous
On the other hand, even if you only use trusted apps for business or no apps at all, you need to be careful of the apps you download for personal reasons. Just like with business apps, you may find that people have created an app for a particular reason — and that reason may be to gain access to the data on thousands or millions of mobile devices.
Be honest with yourself: how many times have you downloaded an app that you've never heard of just because someone told you it was the greatest app ever? Later, when you feel uncomfortable with how the app works you immediately delete it. We've all been there at some point. The scariest part is that the damage is already done once the app is successfully installed. Any information you use for your business (such as emails and customer information) is now freely available to the app developer.
Another potential threat is using a legitimate app from a valid organization that becomes hacked and breached. As an example, this past year, the Walgreens app was victim to a major data breach. The hack allowed access to private conversations containing personal information. This breach was exposed through various apps that were designed to track COVID-19 cases. This happened to a major corporation using high-security apps. Many people wouldn't think a pharmacy app from a well-known company could be dangerous. Nonetheless, hackers breached highly sensitive information victimizing paying customers. On that note, it's important to be aware that anyone can fall victim to a data breach if security measures aren't closely examined.
Hackers have targeted major apps like Instagram, Tinder, Tik Tok, and Snapchat recently. How many of you have at least one of these apps installed on your phone or other mobile devices? While most of us know not to use Tinder on a work phone, you may have some of these apps on your devices. Even if you only use these apps on your personal time, they can lead to major consequences with your private business data. What is fun for you may compromise the security of your customers.
Create A Solution That Works
Let's say you personally avoid all these pitfalls and have never had any issues with apps on your phone or other mobile devices. If you have an organization with multiple people, there's a very good chance that somebody is going to download an app that may have damaging security implications in the future. While these people may have good intentions and never mean to do any harm, we all know that life can change in an instant in this modern world.
By creating and implementing a plan among your employees, you can help control security breaches. Increase your security measures by not allowing devices to download random, potentially dangerous apps. It's important to have security policies and other measures in place. Maintain mobile device management, effective policy, and as many security protocols available.
If you want to make sure your organization is as safe as possible from unexpected risks, contact us today. We’ll set up your organization's devices to keep them safe while still allowing your employees to do their job effectively.
One of the major shifts we’ve seen in business in 2020 is the establishment of the remote workforce. Stay-at-home orders brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary for businesses to find solutions on how to securely transfer information from what could be unprotected networks. The virtual private network is a solution to this problem. Today, we will describe what a VPN is, what its primary use is, and how secure it really is for secure file transmission.
When you see that we offer tech support, you almost certainly have an idea of what that means. However, upon hearing about our typical service delivery for the first time, many people are really surprised by how different our services—as a managed service provider—are. These differences are not an accident. Let’s go back in time a little while to explore how managed services came about, and what difference they could make for you.
Anyone with a computer is well aware of security concerns on the Internet.As time goes on, security and internet safety becomes more and more of an issue. It’s clear that hackers are becoming more advanced and will continue to find ways to steal our data. With a large part of our lives spent online, it’s just a matter of time before hackers affect you.If you own a business, the sheer amount of valuable information you are responsible for is something to be concerned about.Moving into 2021, data safety will continue to be a growing issue. In this blog, we will discuss SSL and security concerns for your company's website and the types of sites you may be visiting.
What’s an SSL?
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, also known as Transport Layer Security.This may sound like nerdy talk that doesn't matter much, but the fact is that you interact with SSLs every day. They are specific technology designed to keep your Internet connection safe, especially when secure data is involved. SSLs run a protocol of data encryption to make sure third parties can't see what either party is viewing or sending.
This includes sensitive and non-sensitive information, such as passwords, names, banking information, and more. This setup uses a handshaking procedure that both the parties involved agree to use. The data transaction creates a cipher so information can be sent from one to the other in an encrypted format. Theoretically, even if a third party were to intercept your data, it would be gibberish since they don't have the means to decipher it.
This is essential for safe Internet communication these days. You and your company likely send highly-sensitive information back and forth online all day long. What used to be something kept safein a drawer can now become public information because of a malicious hacker.This layer of safety is so standard we don’t even notice it. Sites that have an “HTTPS” in front of their address use some form of SSL or TLS.
Managing a TLS/SSL
Not only do you want to keep your company's information private, but you need to make sure that customer information stays private as well. Unfortunately, SSLs and TLSs are not a one-and-done procedure. Like any other security protocol, SSLs change over the years.Make sure that any certificate your company's website uses is up to date and effective.You can do this by installing updates as they are released.
Think of the SSL protocol like a deadbolt. Having a deadbolt on your door is much safer than a locking doorknob. Yes, there are always people who know how to compromise it, but it is still much safer. Over the years, deadbolt technology has improved and evolved as people learn to bypass obsolete technology. Sometimes, however, it takes working with an experienced locksmith to have it installed correctly.
SSLs/TLSs are certainly much better options than nothing at all. However, these protocols, particularly older versions, are still prone to many vulnerabilities. There are numerous common attacks that hackersuse to break this encryption. And some of these threats have very colorful names. For example, POODLE, BEAST, CRIME, BREACH, and HEARTBLEED are commonly used attacks, and they are highly successful.
Keep Yourself and Your Customers Safe
Having your company's private information exposed to the highest bidder can have devastating effects on your operations. Stolen customer information due to a lack of care in your communications could result in lawsuits and legal trouble. Customers have well-deserved expectations: when they share information with you, it needs to be kept confidential and secure.
This can be especially true in organizations that deal with sensitive information regularly, such as financial institutions and medical centers. In the hacking community, there is a highly lucrative market for personal information. The dark web is flooded with people selling private information databases to the highest bidder — and there is always "a highest" bidder.
If you want to avoid liability, make sure your security protocols are up to date. It is also critical that you maintain them professionally. A relatively small investment in this area of security can end up saving large amounts of money and possibly your business itself.
We regularly report on attacks that businesses like yours face daily. But we don't always mention that many of these attacks are successful because the victim has a lax security protocol. The last thing we would want is for you to be another statistic. If your SSL/TLS certificates are getting old and dusty, or (even worse) you don't have any at all, now would be the best time to contact us. As 2021 quickly approaches, these threats are only going to be more significant and more challenging to handle.
Our team of security professionals is one of the most experienced in the business. The web can be a scary place, and the last thing you want is to be caught unprepared! By making sure your SSL/TLS certificates are in perfect order, you can rest a little bit easier at night.