Workplace Tips

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.

 

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: 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.

 

 

How You Can Use Workflow Automation to Make the Office Better

While a lot of the focus on any business’ use of technology may be on its front-facing solutions, there’s a lot to be said about the technology solutions that power these businesses behind the scenes. Let’s consider a few ways that businesses are benefiting from automating some of these background processes.

Inventory

As anyone who has had to handle it could tell you, handling a business’ inventory is a major pain. However, solutions now exist that—by automating these processes—help to effectively eliminate it from someone’s to-do list.

While this benefit is particularly relevant to retail outlets and other businesses that deal with direct sales, there are benefits to be had for any business whose operations require supplies of some sort. Just consider how much paper many businesses still go through throughout their operations, and how much time goes into ensuring that there is enough on hand for these operations to continue. Now consider that these procedures could be easily carried out with minimal involvement from your employees, both saving time and reducing the risk of user error.

Human Resources

The HR department carries a ton of responsibility, so it only makes sense to do everything possible to simplify these processes. Automation makes this far more feasible by taking much of the typical workload off your HR resource’s plate.

Seeing as very few people actively enjoy paperwork, providing a means to attend to most of it with little effort will be a change that your HR department is sure to appreciate. After all, this allows them to leave their desk more often and spend more time with the employees they act as your representative between… ultimately adding to the company’s incoming cash flow.

Workflow Automation

Finally, we must address the complexity of your processes—or, more specifically, the potential hang-ups and oversights that could occur within them and throw your operations off schedule. Whether you are trying to ensure that information is properly filed away, that the right status updates are getting to the people who need them, and that everything is shipshape to securely fulfill your clients’ expectations, automation can prove to be an asset with visible benefits.

Fortunately, there are solutions available that can see to all of these needs and can be easily implemented… provided that you reach out to Jackson Thornton Technologies. Our team of IT experts can help you adopt the strategies that will ensure your business is the well-oiled machine your clients and customers want it to be. Give us a call at 334-834-7660 to learn more about how we can be of assistance.

 

 

How to Use Google Drive to the Fullest

For the business seeking out a comprehensive cloud-based content management and collaboration solution, Google Drive is an option that warrants serious consideration. While we don’t want to recommend it over another one of your options, per se, we did want to provide a brief beginner’s guide to putting it to use. That way, any business that does elect to adopt Google Drive—and the associated solutions it comes with—has more information going in.

Getting Started with a Google Account

If you have a Google account, you have access to Google Drive. Using your browser, or either the Android or iOS version of the application, you can log in to see your storage space.

There, you’ll find the root menu, titled My Drive, with options to view items that have been shared with you (under Shared with me) and all Recent documents, ones that have been Starred as important, and those that have been sent to the Trash. You are also provided with an indicator bar that outlines the amount of available storage remaining.

You can also find any files that Google has deemed to be of high Priority, as well as the folders that are shared within an organization in the Shared drives section—presuming that you’re using a business account.

Above those options is the New button, providing the user with the ability to create new folders and files of different types, or upload files and folders into the space. These files can cover a wide variety of formats, from the core Google applications of Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms to many others.

Sharing Documents You’ve Created

There are a few different ways that a document in Google Drive can be shared with another user, whether that’s between sharing access to a folder wherein it is stored, or by sharing the document directly.

Any document you’ve created can be shared from within it, through the Share button. From there, you can adjust editing permissions for those who you have shared it with and send it to them through a link, either by email or copy-and-pasting it as needed. Alternatively, right clicking the file in your Drive itself will present you with a few options, one of which being to share it.

When you and your collaborators are inside the document, you will all be presented to the others involved.

You can also share entire folders via a similar process.

Restoring Older Versions

Unfortunately, there is a lot that can go wrong with many hands on a document. To help resolve this shortcoming, Google Drive also saves a record of the document and any changes made to it for 30 days, or the past 100 revisions. From there, you can revert changes back to an older version if needed.

To do so, access the file and, from the File menu, select Version History. You can then review the saved versions and restore the ones you need.

Searching for Files and Folders

Finally, similarly to Google’s original function, Drive also has a search bar that allows a user to Search in Drive, with the option to add more specific criteria.

 

Consider Google Drive an Effective Business Solution

Depending on your circumstance, Google Drive may or may not be the right solutions for your needs. For more information, or to discuss your options, reach out to Jackson Thornton Technologies at 334-834-7660.

 

How Employees Can Cause a Threat, and How to Avoid Them

What would you consider to be the biggest threat to your business and its continued operations? Cybercrime? A natural disaster? What if I told you that it was the team members that you have employed—whether they meant to be or not? This is the hard truth that you need to prepare your business to resist.

The Threats Your Employees Can Pose

When it comes to exposing your business to threats, there are a few ways that your cybersecurity may be undermined by your team members. To effectively reinforce your business’ protections against these cyberthreats, you need to acknowledge this fact and prepare strategies to minimize the impact of all of them.

By the most basic definitions, your employees can pose a threat to your business in three different ways:

User Error

Or, in simpler terms, an honest mistake. Just think about how often you’ve made an error where you clicked on the wrong thing or put information in the wrong place—these kinds of errors are only too easy to make in the workplace. Unfortunately, these mistakes can often have considerable impacts upon productivity, and can even influence your business’ continuity.

User Manipulation

With so many businesses beginning to see cyberthreats as a real danger to their operations, security measures are finally being deployed more frequently. Unfortunately, cybercriminals have realized this and have responded by shifting their attention to the most susceptible way for them to access these newly hardened networks: the users who can grant them access.

Through schemes like phishing, hackers can identify and focus on the users within an organization most likely to fall for such ruses. Of course, they also have other methods up their sleeve, so keeping your team aware of the warning signs is critical.

Insider Threats

Fortunately, threats that come from one of the business’ employees are far less common, but it is still prudent to remain prepared and protected against them. An employee with a grudge may strike after they’ve left or steal a little data to make themselves more valuable at their next job. While you should cultivate a company culture that will discourage this, access controls and other preventative measures will help minimize the risks.

Protecting Your Business from Internal Threats

While we’ve touched on some strategies to help minimize the inherent threats your workforce will introduce to your company, the importance of security solutions combined with a security-first company mindset cannot be understated. Keeping your cybersecurity measures updated will make them more effective at blocking out threats. Access controls with role-based permissions will help keep your data on a need-to-know basis and in turn keep your data under better control. Your employees will likely pay more attention to their cybersecurity habits if reminded of the severity and prevalence of cyberattacks today. Your team can just as easily be a security asset as they are a security risk or liability, so training them sufficiently will result in significant benefits for you.

Finally, you need to acknowledge any employee observations, as their insight might reveal security issues that would otherwise go unnoticed. At the same time, working to resolve any issues team members may have will help discourage the kind of ill will that leads to insider threats. While you won’t be able to please everyone, demonstrating a willingness to try can go a long way.

Jackson Thornton Technologies can help you out with both aspects, as we can both help ensure your productivity and security, while also providing your team members with IT support as they need it. Find out more about what we have to offer by calling 334-834-7660.

 

Tip of the Week: 4 Resolutions for Your Business Technology

2021 is almost here, and if your business isn’t using technology to its fullest capability, you’re missing out on some considerable opportunities. Let’s go over a few winning strategies that you should adopt in the coming year.

Use the Internet to its Full Extent

The Internet offers businesses of all sizes a huge number of benefits, of all different kinds. Not only can you use social media to interact directly with your customer base, you can also attract their attention and pitch your business as an option to them by maintaining a website.

Operationally, the Internet can also support you by enabling you to access cloud-based services and data storage. The advantages to leveraging these services cannot be understated. With cloud-based software, you aren’t committing to repeated investments into your software solutions to make sure they are sufficiently updated and secure. Cloud storage allows you to mitigate the risk of data loss by keeping a copy offsite… a key component to our recommended business continuity planning.

As soon as possible in this coming year, figure out what is out there that would benefit your business the most, and take advantage of it.

Simplify Your Business Management

On the topic, there are many software solutions out there that can help simplify—if not outright automate—many of the processes and procedures that your business relies upon to function.

How well do you track your relationships with your individual clients and customers? How cohesive are the systems that allow you to manage the many facets of your business? Are your team members using the most efficient means to complete their workflows, whatever they may be?

From Customer Relationship Management, to Enterprise Resource Planning, to various other productivity-focused software solutions, your business’ operations can be made easier and more productive by embracing the tools now accessible to you. Investigate your greatest needs and find the software that can help you fulfill them.

Be More Secure

Regardless of how much (or how little) your business relies on technology, cybersecurity needs to be one of your biggest areas of concern. Remember how we mentioned solutions that could automate your processes? Cybercriminals have those, too, making no business too small of a threat to pique their interest.

Due to this, you need to proactively establish and enforce security parameters to counter these activities… which will require you to invest in cybersecurity-focused solutions. In addition to this, you’ll also need to establish a security policy to match. Enforcing solid password practices, access limitations, and other rules for your team to abide by will result in a more secure business moving forward.

Keep Your Team “In the Know”

Finally, for any of these improvements to take, you need to keep your team updated and bought into these concepts. By focusing on the benefits that these improvements will offer to the business, and by extension their workplace experience, your team will be more likely to adopt them. Without this crucial step, your business’ capacity to improve will be limited.

Jackson Thornton Technologies can directly assist you with many of these steps, in addition to providing our ongoing IT maintenance and management services. To learn more about what we could do for you, reach out to our team at 334-834-7660. Happy New Year!

 

 

Your Success Comes Down to Your People

We’re getting close to the end of 2020. Finally? Has it been a long year for you? Has it gone by really fast? We think every other day we have a different opinion about it.

Either way, it’s time to look at 2021. A fresh start, a clean slate. We think if there is one big mindset all business owners and C-levels need to take into consideration for 2021, it’s their people.

We’ve all had our full helping of lessons to learn in 2020. Many of us had to make hard decisions and take on uncomfortable roles in order to get through the year. Some were able to make the best of a difficult situation and adapted quickly, while others had a much harder time.

We think one of the bigger lessons to take away from this past year, and attempting to commit to business as usual, is that a lot of us are blessed to be surrounded by great, caring, forward thinking people.

We feel this way about our team at Jackson Thornton Technologies. They worked hard to help our clients earlier in the year get set up remotely. They worked hard to keep the internal communication happening and adjust our internal processes and deal with obstacles despite what was going on in the world. We're proud to be a part of this group of people.

We feel thankful about having great clients too. Clients who trust uswith their technology. The clients who have been with us for a long time, through ebbs and flows, who continue to put their faith in JTT to keep the gears running in their organizations—we thank you. To the new relationships we’ve made over the last year or two, we are so grateful that you chose to work with us and we can’t wait to see where we can go together over the next several years.

Our hearts go out to those who have been struggling and have had to downsize, or close their doors altogether. It’s not been an easy year. We hope we see you all again, building new opportunities for Alabama.

We're specifically addressing the business owners and C-levels here—we hope you are proud of your people. We hope you are thankful for them. We hope they were able to adjust to remote work if they had to, and we hope that, despite the obstacles, your business comes out on top.

As much as we want it to, when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, the world isn’t going to suddenly change. It’s up to all of us to take the lessons that we’ve learned and apply them to our lives, whether that’s our personal lives or our professional lives. Many of us make promises to ourselves for the new year in the form of resolutions—from one business owner to another, we'd like to suggest one to you.

Nurture Your People

How you do this will depend on your business, on you, and your employees. A good place to start is to realize just how important they are, and how much of an impact they have on your business. For some of us, simply conveying honest, thoughtful gratitude can be huge. If you’ve felt disconnected from your remote workforce, you aren’t alone. It’s harder to sweep the office and check in on people. Doing check-ins and dishing out kudos doesn’t seem as organic when it’s done remotely, but it’s still important.

Commit to educating your staff. Cybersecurity threats have evolved to take advantage of home users more than ever before, and with many organizations already being stressed, the last thing they need is to get caught with ransomware or a phishing attack. Your employees (in general) want to be good at their job. They want to do what’s right. They wouldn’t fall for a phishing attack on purpose, but it is up to you to make sure they understand what to look for. We can certainly help you with this step.

We mentioned check-ins before. Commit to this, or at least commit managers to it. Do it with your staff, with your clients, with your prospects. Communication is critical, and a lot of people are logging into work every day alone from their homes and apartments. They aren’t getting the same face-to-face interaction that they are accustomed to. Remote meetings are nice, and right now, still the way to go, but consider friendly check-ins and temperature checks just to make sure the people you work with and work for are doing well. For your staff, throw a meeting onto the schedule, and for your clients and prospects, have a quick call just to see if there is anything you can do. If it comes from a genuine place, it will likely be appreciated.

That’s all today. We just wanted to give my thanks to our team here at Jackson Thornton Technologies, and our incredible clients. It’s a little early to celebrate the end of 2020 (we’ve yet to yell BINGO with our 2020 Bingo card) but we want to pre-emptively wish everyone a fantastic rest of the year and a wonderful, safe, prosperous 2021.

 

How to Monitor Your Employees’ Activities without Crossing Any Lines

Of all the contentious topics in the workplace, employee monitoring is among the most divisive. As an authority figure in your business, it is only natural that you would want to make sure that your team is working diligently—especially as they are working remotely. That being said, there are some lines that cannot be crossed you should be aware of. Let’s discuss the concept of monitoring your employees and what cannot be done.

Monitoring Your Team Without Telling Them

For starters, you can’t just start monitoring your team without informing them and obtaining their consent. This is generally illegal, and therefore should be avoided at any and every opportunity. The basic rule of thumb is this: unless you have a valid and legitimate reason to suspect an employee of acting out and are actively investigating their behaviors, you are not cleared to utilize monitoring software without informing your team that it is in place.

Therefore (as obvious as this point may be), don’t do that.

What you should instead do is be transparent with your team. Let them know that their systems will be monitored, what it is that will be monitored, and—this is the really important part—why you are monitoring their computers at all. Maintaining this level of transparency will be important to keep your team comfortable with the thought of being monitored, while you enjoy the security benefits of keeping your fingers on the pulse of your business.

Monitoring Your Team, Outside of Work

Remote work has added an extra wrench into your considerations, as it obviously gives your team an increased level of access to their work devices. So, if you no longer have simple access to and control over these devices, it makes sense that you would want to continue monitoring their computers even after regular working hours.

Here’s the problem with that: who is to say how your employees are going to use their work devices after the work day has ended, and what kind of data could you inadvertently capture through your monitoring solution? Even if it happened by accident, you could wind up capturing the access credentials to one of your team member’s bank accounts, potentially putting you in hot water legally. There are a few different methods that you can use to avoid this, ranging from banning your employees from using work devices for personal reasons to giving your team members the ability to switch off their monitoring while using or accessing personal information.

Monitoring Your Team, For the Sake of Monitoring Them

Finally, you need to have a direct reason for monitoring your employees’ activities. Whether you’re trying to identify data leaks or resolve inefficiency in your processes, monitoring can be used to help collect the information you need. However, if you want to implement a monitoring solution simply to ensure that your team members are working diligently, you need to pause and reconsider.

A good rule of thumb to follow, in terms of employee monitoring, is that there always needs to be a specific goal that serves as the purpose for monitoring your team in the first place. Otherwise, you could be on shaky ground. Using it strategically, employee monitoring can bring you significant operational benefits.

With the right strategy, considerable benefits can be brought to your operations through the right technology solutions. Jackson Thornton Technologies can help. Find out how by calling 334-834-7660.