Are your employees Facebook addicts?

January 25, 2011

If you have over 500 friends, continue to change your profile picture over and over again, check your profile 2-3 times per hour and you update your status while your driving then you have a problem. This is becoming a major issue for employers and we have had some of our clients go as far as firing employees for their online social media abuse. Facebook isn’t the only culprit it just seems to be the biggest one.

What can we do to prevent this from killing productivity?

There are filters that can be added to control your the content that your users can access. This will not only increase productivity but it will increase the security of your information as many malicious infections are installed on your systems when your users are excepting a virtual drink from their Facebook friends. In addition to filtering your web traffic you could talk to your employees and let them know about the dangers to your data and to their job!

Maybe passing this video around your office might make your users aware of how silly their addiction is and encourage them to stop wasting company time.


Productivity tools for the office

January 21, 2011

I have made several posts about Cloud services and the dangers involved with them. There are several services that are worth knowing about and how to use them that don’t incur significant or any risk. Here is a quick list of a few that I use with a description of what they do and how I leverage them to be more productive and effective both professionally and personally.

WordPress – This is the service that I use to create my blog posts. I tried another, blogger, which is a google tool but switched and like this one better. It is a great tool to use to get information to others. If you are a CPA you can let people know about tax issues. If you are in lawn care you can give tips to have a better lawn. You can become the subject matter expert and it keeps you top of mind when someone is looking for an expert in your field. I highly recommend blogging!

Linkedin – This is just like Facebook but designed for business professionals. I have used this tool to find sales professionals for our business, create connections with other business leaders and as a medium to let others know about my blog, charity work and alike. I am part of their open network where anyone can connect to me. Just click on my profile on the right side of the screen and link in to me.

Mozy – This is an online backup service. I have used it to backup my home system for a couple of years. Another similar service is carbonite… I have never used it but I understand it is good too. There is a corporate offering, Mozy Pro, that we offer as a “managed” service offering where we monitor and manage the operation. It isn’t recommended that this be the only backup process for your company and we have seen many make this mistake and pay for it later.

Snapfish – I store my digital pictures with this service and occasionally pay for prints. I have made photo books and calendars which make really great gifts and really not that expensive. It has a great interface that is easy to use even if you aren’t creatively gifted like myself. I have also seen corporations use this to show off pictures of them recieving awards and other news worthing events (i.e. company picnics, customer events, etc.) – this is the service that I purchase all of my digial stock images from for my blog, website and other marketing material. – This service is for filtering websites. I set it up on my home network for $10 per year and keeps my nephew from showing my son where to find naked pictures of girls. It also helps cut down on infections getting onto our computers. We offer the corporate offering as a “managed” service offering at a price point that is less than you could get on your own. It has proven worth the investment.

Google Calendar – I have used the free google online to keep schedules with different groups of people. It is pretty neat in that it is compatible with my new Droid phone so I can add these calendars and choose to view the events in different colors. The biggest problem is getting everyone to get on board with using it but if they do it really comes in handy.

Twitter – This is a tool that seems to me is more like an information overload but can be useful. It has helped with search engine awareness and could be used to quickly contact people kind of like a mass email. I have used it to direct traffic to my blog with some success. I could also see where our company could use it to alert customers of outages and other important information if our email system were to fail. If I could get everyone to “follow me” on twitter this could be possible. You can easily do this by clicking on the little bird on the right side of the screen.

If you have a productivity tool that you have used or still use and like let me know about it. I’m always looking for ways to get things done smarter, better and faster.

9 myths of safe web browsing

January 20, 2011

Myth #1: The web is safe because I have never been infected before.
You may not even know you’re infected. Many web malicious software (aka malware) attacks are designed to steal personal information and passwords or use your machine for distributing spam, malware or inappropriate content without your knowledge

Myth #2: My users aren’t wasting company time surfing the web
The fact is that more than 40% of corporate internet use is inappropriate and going unchecked—an average of 1 to 2 hours per day per user. To make matters worse, the potential for employees being exposed to inappropriate content can have serious legal ramifications to any organization. The internet is full of studies related to internet use in the work place, from gambling and pornography to less nefarious activity such as social networking and travel planning. Furthermore, incidents of internet addiction disorder are increasing, with current estimates suggesting up to 5% to 10% of internet surfers have some form of web dependency.

Myth #3: We control web usage and our users can’t get around our policy
Anonymizing proxies make it easy for employees to circumvent your web filtering policy and visit any site they like. Anonymizing proxies are readily available and regularly exploited by school kids and employees alike. Hundreds of new anonymizing proxies are published daily. If you don’t think this is an issue, you can simply Google “bypass web filter” to see there are over 1.8 million ways to do this.

Myth #4: Only porn, gambling, and other “dodgy” sites are dangerous
Hijacked trusted sites represent more than 83% of malware hosting sites. That’s correct. The majority of infected sites are websites that you trust and visit daily—they’ve just been hacked to distribute malware. Why? Because these sites are popular, high-traffic venues that silently distribute malware to unsuspecting visitors. Download the infected sites list to see just a small sampling of these kinds of sites.

Myth #5: Only naive users get infected with malware and viruses
Malware from drive-by downloads happens automatically without any user action, other than visiting the site. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what level of computer expertise you have. The fact is, if you are visiting sites on the internet, you are at risk.

Myth #6: You can only get infected if you download files.
Most malware infections now occur through a “drive-by” download. Hackers inject the malicious code into the actual web page content, then it downloads and executes automatically within the browser as a by-product of simply viewing the web page.

Myth #7: Firefox is more secure than Internet Explorer
All browsers are equally at risk because all browsers are essentially an execution environment for JavaScript, which is the programming language of the web and therefore used by all malware authors to initiate an attack. In addition, many exploits leverage plug-ins such as Adobe Acrobat reader software, which runs across all browsers. Although the more popular browsers may get more publicity about unpatched exploits, it’s the unpublicized exploits you should be most concerned about. The fact is, there is no safe browser.

Myth #8: When the lock icon appears in the browser, it’s secure.
The lock icon indicates there is an SSL encrypted connection between the browser and the server to protect the interception of personal sensitive information. It does not provide any security from malware. In fact, it’s the opposite because most web security products are completely blind to encrypted connections: it’s the perfect vehicle for malware to infiltrate a machine.

Myth #9: Web security requires a trade-off between security and freedom
While the internet has become a mission critical tool for many job functions, whether it’s Facebook for HR or Twitter for PR, it’s completely unnecessary to create a trade-off between access and security. A suitable web security solution provides the freedom to grant access to sites that your users need while keeping your organization secure.

source: Sophos

Apple Ipad – Is it for your business?

January 18, 2011

Several of our clients, primarily business leaders, have purchased an Apple Ipad and then called to have it installed on their network. BEWARE! Almost all networks aren’t 100% compatible with the Ipad operating system and you might be dissapointed with the financial investment you just made. For instance, Microsoft’s email server system (Microsoft Exchange) will probably need to be updated before your email will work. If you have a fairly new server or have a hosted or cloud offering then this might not be a problem. Also your Ipad doesn’t connect to your network the same way your Microsoft Windows systems do so accessing networked shared resources (Mapped Drives, Printers, etc) might be cumbersome, problematic or won’t work. Finally many of today’s business applications aren’t compatible with the MAC operating system so you might find that your Accounting program, industry specific custom application or some other favorite application just won’t run.

There are competing Windows based Ipad copy cat’s coming out everyday and at this years CES (largest geek event of the year) in Las Vegas was dominated with manufactures showing off their tablets or Ipad look alikes.

In closing… I love the concept and Apple has got the right concept but research first then buy your Ipad that way you aren’t dissapointed with your original intent for the purchase. I suggest waiting before buying this technology for your business, where there is demand there is money and Apple will work to meet the need or another manufacture will do it for them.

Will my employees be productive if they work from home?

January 12, 2011

Yes! Our employee, Chad Andrus, works from home and on average he gets more tickets (service requests) completed than all of the other techs. He says he still feels part of the team and loves the fact that he didn’t have to forfeit his job when his wife’s company transferred them to the tidewater area. He doesn’t mind at all that he gets to spend more time with his family either versus looking at his windshield and I’m certain he has saved on his wardrobe because when he skype’s in for meetings he is usually sporting his Detroit sports t shirts.

Since signing up for the Telework program all of our employees, including myself, have only benefited from working from home. The reality is you don’t need to come to work to get work done and like in Chad’s case you will typically get more work done.

What is the true cost of downtime?

January 5, 2011

When your systems are unavailable and the applications that your users are not accessible most business leaders suffer from a cold sweat and sick feeling in their stomach. HOW MUCH LONGER ARE WE GOING TO BE DOWN! Do you know how long you would be down if your systems failed? What is impacted? What would it cost your business?

This is a tough question to answer and certainly could vary from industry to industry and specific seasons of certain types of industries. For instance the cost of downtime for a Tax or CPA firm during the first quarter of the year will be drastically higher than the cost during the third quarter (in most cases). There are other costs that are hard to see… for instance if your clients are delayed in getting back their tax returns or if you can’t service them because your systems are down for several days that client is very likely to search out a different provider.

There is also the cost of poor image, this is the worst in most cases. For instance with a security breach some users of your system or service will seek out another provider out of fear that your system isn’t secure. This is more likely with your high profile clients, the top 10 clients in most cases. What would happen if you lost your top 10%-20% of your clients because of a result of a security breach or system outage for a prolonged period of time?

Then there is the cost of employees sitting idle waiting for the system to come online, loss of billing hours, the cost of possible overtime hours to enter in the data from the back log that accumulated during the outage, etc. You are also likely to incur some negative moral… I know how I would feel if I were required to work longer than expected hours because the firm I worked for didn’t make investments to prevent outages or have a plan to survive an outage.

Don’t roll the dice… hoping and praying only goes so far. Know what your downtime will be and make necessary investments to prevent them. Protect your image and your business and get proactive.

How much time are your employees wasting online?

January 3, 2011

It is almost everyday that I get a call from a client asking how to filter the content that their users are able to access online. In a recent post regarding this issue and more specifically on holiday shopping I illustrated the costs and risks of not filtering the content that your users are accessing from their systems. I had one client state that he had heard there was a free way to do this without additional costs, so I did some investigating. You can accomplish this within most browsers (i.e. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, etc.) but I’m sure any novice user can just get around the blocked sites by installing another browser or other simple work around. Besides that fact is who has time to go from computer to computer typing in web site addresses and then password protecting the settings to prevent the user from accessing unauthorized sites?

I have heard a business leader say they will use the iron fist approach and we all know that won’t work. You are more likely to just kill moral than to stop the problem. I recall when I was an employee that the iron fist approach would always make me feel like I was being punished because the other slackers wouldn’t stay focused on what mattered.

I believe filtering content is a must in today’s hi tech world. There are too many time wasters and compromised web sites that can cause all of your systems to become violated.

March madness is just around the corner… this is one of the worst time wasters available online.

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