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: 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.

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

How to Spot a Phishing Attempt

With email being such a huge part of doing business, phishing has become a favorite tool of many scammers. To fight back, it is key that you know how to recognize a phishing email, so we’re dedicating some time to doing just that.

What is Phishing?

Phishing goes beyond just your email. The term actually covers any digital attempt that someone makes to trick you into revealing important information about your business or personal accounts. A scammer would try to fool you into handing over a particular detail about yourself, like the password you use for your online banking, or your business’ client and personnel files.

Of course, this kind of fraudster doesn’t have to use email as their preferred phishing tool, but many of them do. With social media becoming such a big part of business and personal life, phishers will pose as people you know and message you to try and extract information. Others will just pick up the phone and call you as someone else, hoping you won’t question them and hand over the information they want.

These different methods that a scammer might use can even classify the attempt into a more precise type of phishing. Attacks that are highly customized to one particular target are called spear phishing attacks, and there are all types of different phishing attacks, typically identifying the type of medium used to phish a target. 

Regardless of what kind of phishing it is, it ultimately relies on deception to work, more than any other factor.

Catching a Phishing Attack

Fortunately, while some phishing scams are getting to be pretty elaborate, there are a few practices that can help prevent you from being fooled. Here, we’ve put them together to give you a simple guide to avoiding potential phishing attacks. There are plenty of warning signs to help you spot a phishing attack. Some are found in the body of the email itself, while others are actually based a little bit on behaviors. For instance:

Is the message filled with spelling and grammar issues?

Think about it this way: does it look good for a business to send out official correspondence with these kinds of avoidable errors? Mind you, we aren’t referring to the occasional typo, rather the tone of the message as a whole. It certainly does not, which suggests that the message may not be legitimate.

Is the message written to make you panic about something?

Consider how many phishing messages are framed as something you immediately have to handle or there will be dire consequences. While there are a variety of ways that people can be convinced, these types of messages hit on some major ones:

● Striking quickly to keep people from questioning you.

● Removing power from someone who wouldn’t listen to you.

● Using very definitive and final terms. 

There are more, but a phishing message will aim to make you anxious. Does the message do these things? Does it suddenly alert you to a terrible issue that only the sender can protect you from? If so, there is a good chance that it is a scam.

Is the message a typical occurrence in general? 

Finally, think about the average case when a message like this is received. If you were to suddenly get a message on social media from someone who you really don’t talk to, it’d be a little weird, right? The same goes for your business communications. Getting messages from unknown or random people is always a red flag.

Protecting Your Assets

Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to help reduce how effective these attacks can be.

● Use a spam blocking solution to help reduce the number of phishing messages your employees need to deal with. While many phishers have become more sophisticated, plenty are still keeping it simple enough to be stopped automatically.

● Make sure your employees are trained to spot and properly handle attempts that may come through. By starting with the end user, you’re taking away a lot of the power that phishing has.

At Jackson Thornton Technologies, we appreciate the importance of secure workplace practices. If you’d like to learn more about phishing, and how we can help stop it from hurting your business, give our IT experts a call today at 334-834-7660.

 

 

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: Lesser-Known Google Play Features

Android device users rely on the Google Play Store to source applications, but many may not be aware of the controls and features that the Play Store has to offer. Let’s go over some of these features that could prove useful.

Controlling Purchases with a Password

App store purchases, whether to purchase or subscribe to an application itself or to add features and functionality to a free version, can very quickly and very substantially add up—especially if someone else gains access to your device. Locking the ability to make purchases behind password-based authentication can help prevent such spending from taking place.

Content-Based App Filtering

As the Play Store caters to users of all ages and audiences, many applications include gambling, violence, and other inappropriate and otherwise “Not Safe for Work” content. Naturally, you don’t want your business’ users to be downloading these applications on company-owned devices—or, for that matter, using them during work hours. Filtering out these kinds of apps can be accomplished by navigating to the Play Store, accessing Settings, finding Content Filtering, and adjusting the settings to outline what is appropriate within your business.

Review All Orders and Purchases

Speaking of overspending and checking for inappropriate app downloads, keeping track of how much money has been spent in the Play Store is simple thanks to the record that is maintained. On the online version of the Play Store, access the Gear icon, and find the My orders section.

View All Android Devices

To close, the online version of the Play Store also allows you to keep track of every device associated to a particular Google Account and used to access the Play Store through it. Again, in the Gear icon, the Settings area will reveal this information.

What else can the Play Store do to help you manage your mobile devices? 

 

 

Tip of the Week: When Do I Need to Clean My Computer?

As your employees go about their workdays, it is important that they do so with the resources they’ll need to remain optimally productive… and that these resources are in the best condition for them to do so. While this is often an overlooked consideration, this means that their computer needs to be clean and fully functional. Let’s go over a few best practices to follow when it comes to keeping a workstation clean enough to work optimally.

What Difference Does a Clean Workstation Make?

Putting it simply, quite a bit. If it isn’t properly kept maintained, a computer can get pretty gross.

Not only is it more aesthetically pleasing to look at when it is kept hygienic, keeping a workstation clean can help its operations by helping to control its temperature and can even prevent germs from spreading. Therefore, it is important that you address your workstation’s cleanliness periodically. Let’s go into some best practices to ensure that your computer equipment is properly cleaned.

How Often Should I Clean My Workstation?

There are a lot of variables that play into how frequently your workstation should see a little TLC. While the minimum should be at least once a year, other factors will play into your specific situation. Where that computer is located, for instance, if it’s in the home or in an office or in some other environment, and what conditions are present there can make it prudent to clean it more often.

It only makes sense that things like:

● An industrial environment

● The presence of pets

● Carpeting

● Who typically uses the computer (especially children)

…and numerous other factors would increase the frequency that a computer should be cleaned. So, if it’s been over a year since a computer has been cleaned, it’s time.

Properly Cleaning Your Workstation’s Components

Each piece of your workstation should be cleaned differently to protect them from unintentional damage. Here, we’ll focus on the best practices for a desktop workstation, which differ somewhat from those to clean a laptop.

While we’ll briefly go into the proper way to clean each component, there are a few generic best practices that you should remember as well:

●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.

●Always turn off the computer before you attempt to clean it.

The Case

Cleaning your computer’s case can help assist airflow while also making it look better. Use a lint-free cloth to wipe down the exterior to help minimize dust.

The Interior

Keeping the inside of your case clean helps to reduce the internal temperature of the device, ultimately benefiting its operations. Compressed air allows you to clear out debris without risking damage to the internal components of the device.

The Peripherals

There are assorted benefits to cleaning the different accessories that enable you to use your desktop. Keeping the keyboard and mouse clean with a combination of compressed air and diluted rubbing alcohol or some other disinfectant can help keep you healthy, while regularly dusting off your monitor will help promote visibility.

To learn about these practices in more depth, call Jackson Thornton Technologies today at 334-834-7660, and don’t forget to subscribe to our blog for more useful information.