Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: 11 Ways to Instill Security Awareness in Your Team

While it really would be a nice thing to have, there is no magic bullet for your business’ cybersecurity—no single tool that allows you to avoid any and all issues. However, there is one way to help make most threats far less likely to be successful: building up your company’s internal security awareness amongst your employees and team members. Let’s go over eleven ways that you can help ensure your company is properly protected, simply by encouraging your employees to take a more active role in guarding it.

11 Ways to Make Sure Your Team is On Their Guard

Gamification

In order to fully absorb the lessons that your security training is meant to impart, your team members need to be engaged in the training. One famously effective way to encourage this is to make it fun (at least to some degree).

Running simulated attacks, with incentives given out to motivate your employees to do their best in identifying and reporting them, with help to reinforce the positive behaviors you want your team to exhibit if and when they have to contend with the real McCoy. This also allows your employees to gain practical experience with a live threat, so to speak.

Incorporate Security Awareness into Onboarding Strategies

There’s a lot that has been said about the impact that a first impression can have, so it only makes sense to have one of the first impressions you place onto your newly-hired employees be the importance of cybersecurity. Instilling good security habits early on will only help your organization resist more threats in the future.

Make It Understood that Mistakes are Expected

Accidents happen, and the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Regardless of how well your team is prepared, there is almost certainly going to be a slip-up somewhere down the line. Part of your security training has to be the acknowledgment that there will be mistakes made by your employees, and the publicized acceptance of that outcome.

If your team members expect to be punished for their mistakes, they will only work harder to hide them. You need to know about these issues so that they can be resolved, and your team members educated so that these mistakes are not repeated.

Shape Training to Your Team’s Situation, Work Roles, and Age Groups

Chances are, your team members are not a monolith… in addition to the many different roles that they likely fill, they come from a variety of backgrounds, age groups, and other differentiators. As a result, a single method of teaching isn’t likely to work equally effectively amongst them all.

While it is important that everyone is trained, it is equally important to remember that not everyone will respond to a given form of training in the same way. You need to diversify your training strategy to involve a variety of methods to account for the various learning styles your team members are likely to exhibit.

Keep it Short, Sweet, and Frequent

Long, cookie-cutter training sessions are a great way to disengage your team from the lessons that your training is meant to impart. Substituting marathon-style training for shorter, more frequent “sprint” sessions will help keep your team interested, and will allow for more consistent training to take place.

Use Different Mediums

Much in the same way that your training needs to account for various learning styles, your training should come in different formats. Basically, you don’t want your training to exclusively be presented as group lectures delivered to the team (or whatever your chosen default is). By switching up the format, you help to make your training more impactful, which will help it stick better with your teammates.

Encourage Them to Share Lessons with Their Families

One of the best ways to ensure that your employees fully understand the cybersecurity principles that you’re imparting upon them is to encourage them to pass on these messages themselves to their families. Not only will this help make their home security more robust, it will reinforce the habits that you want them to uphold.

Select Company Security Leaders

Identify the people in your company who take to the security practices that you impart most effectively and empower them to take a leadership role in terms of your company’s security. Not only will this give you a more focused security infrastructure, it helps you to more completely fill your company with your message.

Keep Your Material Fresh

While it might seem like a good thing to have your team members be able to recite your training materials by heart, there’s a difference between rote memorization and really absorbing the lesson. Switching up the lessons will help to keep your team sharp, engaged, and on the alert.

Collect Feedback

If you want to know how you can make your training more effective, the best way to find out is to ask your team members. Ask them what resonates with them, what they could use more help with, and (most importantly) what they don’t know enough about yet. While it may sound funny to ask your team members what they don’t know, they’ll likely let you know what they feel less confident about (thereby giving you the opportunity to remedy it).

Emphasize Why Training is Necessary

Another reason that your team may not respond well to training is because they simply don’t appreciate why it is so important. Incorporating the why into your training, alongside the how, is sure to help your team become more accepting of the necessity of training.

Jackson Thornton Technologies is here to help your newly-security-focused team members identify and respond to threats more effectively, assisting them however we can. Reach out to us to find out more about our security services by calling 334-834-7660 today.

 

Tip of the Week: Three Steps to Better Backups

Because of the protection it can offer your organization, data backup is a necessary tool for you to have—that is, provided it has the requisite security and reliability you’ll need should you ever have to lean on it. Let’s go over a few guidelines to help you be sure that your backup is trustworthy enough to stake your business’ future on.

A Good Data Backup Means More Than One Copy

Let me put it this way: how useful is a backup that was also destroyed in some disaster, along with the original copy of your data? In short… it isn’t. There is a non-zero chance that something could make your backups unavailable to you, so you need to have a backup backup plan, stored someplace separate from your other backup or the original data.

A Good Backup Means Keeping Your Backups Safe

If you’re around any of us at Jackson Thornton Technologies for any length of time, you’ll see how seriously we take data security around here. Failing to properly secure your backups is a rookie mistake to make, as it contains exactly the same data that your default data storage does. Therefore, it is crucial that you make sure these copies are just as securely protected.

A Good Data Backup Contains More Than One Version

While cybercriminals have taken to showing their hand earlier and earlier, this isn’t always how they operate. Sometimes, they prefer to work in the background, corrupting your data—and any backups taken of it—for some time. Therefore, it is wise to keep a few copies of your data going back a ways. That way, should you need to restore your data, you are more likely to have a copy from before the infiltration occurred.

Maintaining a Backup Takes Strategy. Let Us Help.

Establishing a good data backup and implementing the processes to make it seamless will take a fair amount of time. While this would not be time wasted by any stretch, it can be hard to reconcile that with the opportunities you could miss as a result.

Jackson Thornton Technologies is the best option for the business that needs assistance with their IT in the Southeast. Hand off the responsibility of taking care of your backup to us. Focus your energies on growing your business… we’ll make sure it’ll still be there and ready. Call us at 334-834-7660 today.

 

Tip of the Week: Keeping Peeping Eyes Out of Your Webcam

With many—if not most—computers and especially laptops featuring integrated webcams at this point, it isn’t hard to imagine how disastrous it would be to be spied on through it. Let’s take a few moments and go over a few ways to be sure that your webcam isn’t being used without your consent by someone else.

Keep Your Software Up to Date

To spy on you through your webcam, a cybercriminal (which is what that person would be) needs to have access to it. This can be as simple as simply hijacking an insecure program that has already been granted this desired access.

Keeping your software up to date helps to eliminate the likelihood that the hacker will have that opportunity, from the programs and apps you have installed to the operating system itself. When working on a PC, navigating to Settings and to Update & Security will bring you to the option to schedule your Windows Update. Rather than being interrupted mid-workflow, you can Change active hours to have these updates implemented after hours.

Maintain a Firewall

When it comes to keeping unwanted guests out of your network, a firewall is one solution you certainly need to prioritize. Making sure it is up, activated, and effective is a relatively simple process.

In Settings, once again under Update & Security, you should find Firewall & network protection in the left sidebar. The menu that opens when you click it will offer Windows Defender Firewall, one rudimentary way to stave off threats. This is a good enough solution for home users, but businesses will want to deploy an enterprise-level firewall that is designed to protect every facet of their network.

Securing Your Wi-Fi

It isn’t uncommon that attackers will target your network via the router, rather than the computer that uses it to connect to the Internet. If they can access this piece of your network infrastructure, there’s a considerable list of devices they’ll then be able to access. Better securing your router equates to better securing your entire network.

The first step is to rename your wireless network to something that doesn’t tie back to your business and lock it down with a strong, complex password. You’ll need to remember it, of course, but using a passphrase with some added symbols and alphanumeric switching will help keep it memorable to you and bamboozling to cybercriminals.

Cover Up Your Webcam

If you’re really and truly worried that someone may be peeping at you through your webcam, the simplest way to prevent the possibility is to simply obscure their view. Covers are available to make it simple to “deactivate” the camera when it is not needed, and in a pinch, a sticky note will do the job just fine.

Privacy always needs to be prioritized, in the office, the home, and in the home office. For more tips, practices, and advice on keeping your data secured, make sure to check back on our blog every few days.

 

 

 

Tip of the Week: How to Share Documents in Google Drive

Collaboration is something that no modern business can do without, which helps to explain why so many current applications feature it so heavily. Let’s focus on Google Drive and its multitude of collaborative capabilities that so many businesses are now making use of.

Document Sharing

This is the foundation of any collaborative process: the capability to share a file and allow others to edit it. Google Drive provides you a few means of doing so:

● From My Drive, click one of your various documents to highlight it and click on the Share icon in the toolbar at the top-right of the page.

● Right-clicking the document and selecting Share will provide you with the option to do so.

● Google Drive’s assorted applications, like Docs, Slides, and Sheets, each feature a prominent Share button at the top of the page.

Each of these options pulls up the same window: The Share with people and groups panel. Let’s examine the options that this panel provides.

The “Share with people and groups” Panel

This panel allows you to select who can access your document, and what they can do with it afterward. As a result, it is simple to share with anyone from a single coworker to an entire department—all you need to do is type in the appropriate name or email address, add a quick message if needed, and determine the access you’re granting:

● Editor­—Someone with editor-level access privileges can make whatever changes to a document that they see fit, as well as extend permissions to others to share the document in question.

● Commenter—A commenter has much more limited capabilities, as they are not able to directly change the content of a given document or share it out, but they can leave their feedback and suggestions for an editor to review and approve or deny.

● Viewer—A viewer can read through a document but can leave no feedback or send it along to others.

You can also adjust these settings even more, taking away or adding capabilities as you need to (or even taking away permissions entirely). In the Share pane, click the field that specifies the user’s access and make the changes you need to. From there, you can set an expiration date to their access to match your needs.

The Share pane also allows you to generate a link that allows your document to be shared that way. Under Get Link, you can select the option that gives anyone with the link the appropriate privileges, whether that be edit access or the ability to comment. This access can be removed whenever you need it to be.

Determining Which Documents Have Been Shared

Finally, Google Drive also simplifies the process of establishing which documents have had their access shared. A small icon will appear next to the filename that looks like two silhouettes, so long as you aren’t working in Grid view.

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of the capabilities that Google Drive offers in terms of collaboration. There are plenty of other ways that your business’ IT can help to facilitate teamwork, too, so give us a call at 334-834-7660 to learn more today.

 

 

 

Tips to Help You Keep Your Workstation Clean

If you are like many other people, your desktop computer just sits there, day after day, allowing you to run your business. Unfortunately, like any other machine, it will fail. One way to prolong the lifespan of your computer is to keep it clean. Today, we thought we’d give you some pointers on how to do so. 

Why is a Clean Computer Better?

Think of it this way. If you have one pan and you use it to cook regularly, you’d wash it every time you cooked a new meal, right? If you didn’t it would pick up stuff from everything you’ve cooked and it would make the food you cook next taste weird. Cleaning your computer works the same way. The more you use it without cleaning it, the more dust and residue builds up in the machine and it affects the way the computer works.

How Often Should I Clean My Workstation?

Unlike a pan, you can get away with not cleaning your computer for a while. You should definitely clean it at least once a year, but it’s really a good idea to open it up and at least blow it out with some canned air every quarter (four times a year) or so. It also matters where the computer is located. For computers that are in an industrial environment, in the presence of pets, near or on carpet, or used regularly by children (or unhygienic adults) should be cleaned more often. Either way, you should plan on giving it a good cleaning at least once a year. We recommend having a professional do this for you - if your office workstations are starting to look pretty dirty, it might be a good idea to give us a call at 334-834-7660.

Cleaning Your Computer’s Components

You will need to approach cleaning each part of your workstation differently. Let’s start with some things that you absolutely shouldn’t do: 

● Do not spray any liquid directly into the computer. Spray a cloth and wipe instead.

● Do not use a vacuum, as it can create a damaging static charge. Use compressed air to blow away any debris.

● Don’t allow fans to spin freely as you are cleaning them, as it could actually damage them.

● Don’t clean your computer while it’s turned on.

Now, let’s go through how to clean the various parts of your workstation.

Your Workstation’s Case

Keeping your workstation’s case clean assists airflow. You will want to use a lint-free cloth to wipe down the exterior to help minimize dust on the outside. Working to the inside, you will want to use a can of compressed air to clean out any dust and debris. 

The Peripherals

Keeping the rest of your workspace clean is important, even your keyboard, your mouse, and your monitors. You will want to use lint-free cloths and compressed air. If you must, you can use diluted rubbing alcohol to wipe down hard surfaces.

At Jackson Thornton Technologies, we continue to provide the information that users need to properly use and look after their technology, call us at 334-834-7660 today if you have any questions or comments. 

 

 

Tip of the Week: Tips that Can Help You Be More Productive with Microsoft Word

A lot of businesses rely on Microsoft Word, the leading word processing app for companies, but the question is, are you using it to its fullest potential? Today, we thought we’d go through some of the features that can help you be more productive with Microsoft Word.

Focus Mode

Any interface that has the user interface and the number of features that Microsoft Word does can easily distract people. To combat this inevitability, Microsoft has integrated a Focus Mode into Word. 

When activating Focus Mode, the user will then get a version of their user interface that removes the feature bars at the top of the screen. This allows the user to focus on the document without all the “noise” that is there by default. 

To enact Focus Mode, go to the View menu tab, go to the Immersive section and click on Focus. Your interface will disappear leaving only the document you're working on. When in Focus Mode, you can also change the background of your document workspace to a color that better suits your needs.

To exit out of Focus Mode, simply hover your cursor near the top of the screen to call the interface back up. Selecting Focus again will return your display to normal.

Immersive Reader

Another cool feature is called the Immersive Reader. This button appears next to the Focus button and allows the reader to more easily read a document. It temporarily changes the text size and formatting to suit the needs of the reader. It is customizable for each user, as well, so everyone can have the experience they need when using Word. 

Immersive Reader also provides a Read Aloud functionality which provides users with a bunch of options to customize the voice and speed in which Word will read back the text inside a document. 

Inserting an Online Video

Word files are more versatile than ever. Now they can include multimedia from YouTube or Vimeo. Word provides an easy-to-use interface in which to embed a streaming video. Inside the Insert menu, you’ll find Online Video. Clicking this will enable you to paste in a link to insert the video clip into your document. Of course, any video you choose can be moved around and resized as you see fit and can be played within the document itself.

There are dozens more useful Word features available to users today. For more great tips, tricks, and an inside look at Microsoft Office, come back and visit our blog regularly. 

 

 

Tip of the Week: How Serious is Blue Light Exposure, Really?

Every day, it seems like there’s a new threat to be concerned about. Obviously, there’s the big one that the whole world’s been dealing with, but there’s also the smaller things that we’re supposed to be worried about… like “blue light”, for example. What is that, and what can it really do?

As it turns out, blue light is more than just a marketing gimmick, and can potentially impact your health. Let’s go over a few tips to help you filter it out, and why you may want to do so.

What is Blue Light, Exactly?

Time for a bit of a science lesson: light as we know it is much more complicated than you might expect. What we perceive as visible light is actually made up of various different rays that all combine to produce the light that we can see.

We aren’t going into much detail at all here, but one type of these rays—blue light rays—offer the highest energy levels and the shortest wavelengths. While naturally occurring in sunlight, blue light can also be sourced from various man-made fixtures found indoors—LED and fluorescent lighting, televisions, and perhaps most prominently, the screens of our computers, tablets, and other mobile devices.

Unlike some other forms of light—like ultraviolet light, for example—the human eye isn’t all that good at blocking blue light rays from reaching the cornea.

This contributes to an odd dilemma, of sorts. While blue light has been linked to improved alertness, memory, and other cognitive functionality, as well as helping to regulate the body’s wakefulness and sleep—it can also contribute to significant complications, potentially leading to eye strain or even macular degeneration.

What Our Devices Contribute Through Their Blue Light

Let’s look at this historically for a moment: For the vast majority of human history, sunlight and other natural forms of visible light were the only source that people got—really, until incandescent light was created.

As a result, the more screens and “artificial” light sources that we are surrounded with each day, the more blue light we are exposed to, ultimately throwing off the balance that the natural sources we’ve received over the years have maintained for most of human history. What’s worse, the fluorescent and LED-lit bulbs that are so popular today throw off considerably more blue light than their incandescent ancestors.

How impactful can this blue light really be? Well, a few experiments help to shed some light (so to speak) on the situation. A Harvard study once experimented with the impact of a set amount of blue light exposure to a corresponding amount of green light exposure. Six and one-half hours of blue light suppressed enough melatonin (the hormone that controls a person’s circadian rhythms) had double the impact as the green light did, leading to a three-hour shift in circadian rhythm as compared to one and one-half hours.

The effects can be even more pronounced, decreasing the amount of sleep that people get and contributing to increased risk of depression, diabetes, and cardiovascular issues.

What Can Be Done About Blue Light?

Here’s the thing—there are a few ways that you can help reduce your exposure to blue light and help minimize its effect on your sleep, including:

● Avoiding brighter screens within three hours of bedtime

● Making sure you’re getting plenty of exposure to other kinds of light to help regulate your circadian rhythms

● Using red lights over blue lights for nighttime light, helping to avoid melatonin suppression

● Investing in blue-light filtering glasses or time-controlled filtering apps.

You can also adjust these kinds of preventative measures in your device’s settings. On Windows, navigate to the Start menu and access your Settings. From there, go to System, Display, and finally, Night Light Settings. You can there adjust the Schedule, either by applying custom-scheduled times or simply to activate the Night Light to turn on and off from Sunset to Sunrise.

Macs also offer Night Shift, which can be customized via System Preferences, Displays, and Night Shift.

For more assistance with any of your IT solutions, make sure you reach out to our team!

 

 

Tip of the Week: Pin a Chrome Tab for Easy Access Later

Google Chrome is far and away from the most used Internet browser on both PC and mobile platforms, so it only makes sense to make using the Chrome browser as convenient as possible. Here’s a tip to help you simplify your Chrome browser tabs management.

Pinned Browser Tabs

Most times, you’re going online to do a set list of things, using just a few certain websites more than most others. Studies have shown as much. However, if a user prefers to keep these tabs open throughout their browsing session, it is too simple to accidentally close it out when trying to navigate between them.

This is where the benefits of pinning a browser tab become apparent.

By pinning a browser tab, your tab can no longer be closed out and the website name is removed so that it takes up less space and leaves more room for other tabs.

Pinning a tab is simple:

1.Right-click on the tab

2.Select Pin tab from the drop-down

When you want to unpin your tab, follow the same process, and simply select the correct option from the same drop-down. If a tab has been pinned, any internal links (directing to a page on the same website) will open in that tab, while external links will open in a new, unpinned tab.

Interested in learning more about how your technology can work harder for you? Reach out to Jackson Thornton Technologies today by calling 334-834-7660.

 

 

The Different Options for Powering Down Windows

While your attention is likely more dedicated to how you use your computer while it’s on, it is just as important to consider the different ways that you can turn your computer off, in a manner of speaking. The varied options present in the Start menu will each have their own effect, so it is important to be aware of what these differences are. Let’s review what each option does so that you’ll be able to use them more appropriately.

Reviewing Our Options

If you were to open your Start menu and click Power, you’ll likely see a few options:

● Sleep

● Hibernate (you may not see this option, based on your hardware or any group policies that may be in place)

● Shut Down

● Restart

Each of these options kicks off a different process concerning your device that are well-suited to different scenarios. Shut Down and Restart should be pretty self-explanatory but Sleep and Hibernate might be less so. Let’s go over them, and when they are most appropriate to use.

Sleep

Sleep is a state where your computer is inactive, but still on, which speeds up the time it takes to get back to business. After all, because your computer is still turned on, the entire startup process isn’t necessary to carry out—you essentially just have to wait for your monitor and peripherals to wake up and for full power to be restored to all the components.

This speed is partially because all data is put into RAM when the device is put to sleep, allowing it to be called up rapidly—however, this also exposes your data to some risk. If your computer were to lose power (or run out of battery) during that time, your stored data would be lost. Save often!

Hibernate

Hibernate is almost the middle ground between Sleep and a full shut down, as it still allows your place to be picked back up, but the computer is functionally turned off.

To achieve this, the hibernate function saves the stored data to the actual hard drive, rather than the RAM. As a result, it is a safer means of saving your data in the “longer short-term”, but it can take up a lot of space on your hard drive if you aren’t careful.

Resuming work is as simple as pressing the power button on your machine.

Which One You Use Will Depend on Your Needs

Or, frankly, what is available to you. Your hardware of choice, as we mentioned, may not provide a Hibernate option or it may be disabled at the admin level. So, depending on what your IT team or resource determines necessary (or what your hardware is preconfigured to) you may or may not have Hibernate to make use of.

Are there any other matters concerning your computer, its settings, or the rest of your IT solutions that you want more information or guidance into? Lean on Jackson Thornton Technologies for the answers you’re looking for. Give us a call at 334-834-7660 to find out more.

 

 

Tip of the Week: Keep Your Gmail Messages Private

Gmail has proven to be as secure as most other email platforms, but email is email and there are times when you send an email that isn’t opened promptly and you’d rather not have the information in that message get sent around or archived where you can’t control it. Now Gmail has added a feature that allows users to send messages that will delete themselves in a predetermined time frame, and work to keep the contents of those messages from being shared. Let’s take a look at them today.

Introducing Confidential Mode in Gmail

We’re all familiar with the secret agent that has a mission briefing that will self-destruct when it finishes. Made popular by the Mission Impossible franchise of movies, Gmail now gives users the ability to essentially do this. Users that don’t want messages to disintegrate over time can also send a passcode via text message that the recipient must enter to read the contents of the email. Pretty useful stuff.

Using Gmail’s Confidential Mode

Once you have the Compose window up, you will want to click on the little icon of the padlock and clock next to the Send button. This will toggle confidential mode on/off. Clicking on it will bring up a compose window in Confidential mode.

From here you can set the message’s expiration date if you so choose. It ranges from a day to five years, and you can select to provide a passcode for further security. If you do select to have a passcode, you will then be prompted to enter the phone numbers for both your phone and the recipient.

On mobile, Gmail offers additional confidentiality, using a similar process. To compose a confidential email, open the three-dot menu and select Confidential mode, and then select the preferences you’d like for that particular message. 

Obviously, this doesn’t guarantee security, but it will go above and beyond just sending a standard email. 

If you would like more tips and tricks, subscribe to our blog and check back to our site regularly.