SMB Tech

As we posted last March, email phishing attacks continue at record levels. Those who seek to commit fraud keep getting more innovative in their efforts. Many people have become savvy enough to recognize the common tell-tale signs. Whether it’s a tragedy or a fake IRS collection notice, we’re rarely surprised by the bait used by those who are phishing. This is one of those instances that gave us pause.
A client forwarded an email message that appeared to be a voicemail notification from their office phone. Many of us are used to getting text and email notifications for voicemail messages left for us. Whether the fake notification looks similar to what you normally see or not, one link click whilst in a hurry can lead to compromise.

The recipient did the right thing. Using the information they have learned about the tactics used by cyber-criminals, the client recognized the clues and didn’t take the bait.
Remember to always think before you click. Stay smart, the criminals are working hard to stay in business. Don’t let them get into your business.

Use Excel Filters to Make Short Work of Long Columns

Filters are a powerful tool in Excel that let you mask information from your view. For example, filters can be used to only show you the rows that have Widgets as the item type or only show you rows that have blank cells in a particular column.
For filters to work properly, your range of cells needs to have a column heading (a label at the top of each column). You turn on filters by clicking inside your range and then choosing Home > Sort & Filter > Filter. Voila, a drop down arrow appears next to each column heading. Clicking on any column’s drop down arrow provides a list of all entries in the column. Selecting any entry causes Excel to show only the rows that match that entry.
Note that on the drop-down menu there are additional filters that can be applied, depending on what type of data is in the column. You may see Text Filters or Number Filters or Data Filters. From those drop-downs you can select additional filters to change what’s displayed even more.
After you have chosen a particular entry to be filtered, the drop-down arrow on that column changes its icon. To restore the view of all entries, click the drop-down and check Select All or click on Home > Sort & Filters > Filter to turn them off completely.
More than one column can be filtered at a time, but they are cumulative. The second filter will not overwrite the results of the first filter. It instead restricts it further it. Excel’s basic filter works as an AND statement. You can create more complex filters using the Advanced Filter option. Advanced Filter allows you to filter using AND OR statements.
Filters can make working with your Excel data easier and faster. Give them a try. | VoIP Phone SystemSmall businesses are realizing the benefits of cloud-based phone systems. Using a VoIP phone system can increase productivity. Customer engagement and satisfaction also increase.
Are you (or your boss) considering a move to a VoIP business phone system? This post offers answers to the most common questions.

1. Is a VoIP phone service a cost-effective alternative to my current business phone system?

Compared to on-site phone systems, VoIP business phone systems offer real cost savings. In fact, savings of up to 50% are common when compared to traditional PBX systems. VoIP systems come from the cloud. This eliminates the need to buy expensive on-site hardware. Costs are predictable. VoIP phone system users pay only the monthly service charges.

2. What about maintenance costs? Our existing on-premises system costs plenty to maintain.

The technology used in VoIP business phone systems lives in the cloud. This means your service provider takes care of management and maintenance. Not only does this save you time and money, it means you system is always up-to-date.

3. Is it easy to add or remove lines of service or make changes to features?

VoIP phone systems scale fast and easy. One of the biggest values of VoIP is the ability to add or remove lines of service. As your workforce changes, even during different seasons, your phone system remains right-sized. (This also saves you money!)

4. Our current phone system has calling features that we rely on. What calling features does a VoIP phone system offer?

VoIP business phone systems have must-have calling features that help your business run. Old standards like Auto Attendant/IVR, call waiting and call forwarding are built-in. VoIP systems offer advanced features like call park and pick-up. You can also make and take simultaneous calls on the same line. Hunt groups and advanced call routing are easy to set-up.

5. We have employees in different locations. Many are mobile workers. Is a VoIP system flexible enough for my business?

Flexibility is at the core of a VoIP phone system. These systems use the Internet to carry calls. Your business phone system is available anywhere you’re connected. This makes it easy for you to keep track of mobile workers, and work while you’re away from the office.

6. How secure is a VoIP system? Our current phone system is locked in the backroom, so I know it’s secure.

Security is always an important consideration for any business. Traditional systems seem secure being on-site. Yet, they are vulnerable to tampering, theft and physical damage. VoIP systems use firewalls and other security measures to remain secure. A trained team of experts 24×7 stand behind a VoIP system. And most VoIP systems have redundant data centers. This is a clear advantage over on-site systems, and means your phone system is available when you need it.

7. Our current phone system integrates with other systems like our CRM platform. Can a VoIP system work with our other systems?

On-premises systems need middleware and custom programming to interact with other applications. Out-of-the-box, most VoIP phone systems work with common CRM, finance and billing systems. VoIP systems are hosted in the cloud. This allows easy integration with other cloud-based services.
A VoIP business phone system is an intelligent choice for today’s small business. It’s a flexible, cost-effective solution that increases employee effectiveness and customer engagement. | What Successful Small Businesses Need from TechnologyMany small businesses manage tech issues as they emerge. Small business owners are frequently occupied with running the organization and expanding opportunities.
Security must be a top consideration. Having a strong firewall between the company’s internal network and the Internet is one of the most frequent recommendations made by IT consultants. Ensuring antivirus and anti-malware apps are installed and kept up-to-date is equally important.
Most small businesses aren’t large enough to have a CIO or other technology leader on board. Consequently, the business owner or an employee is left to deal with tech issues.
“Today’s small business CEO is the Chief Everything Officer,” said Matt Kiolbassa, founder and principal of Ntelogic, a managed IT services provider based in California’s Central Valley. “Owners are typically not technology experts and they don’t really have someone they can consistently rely on.”
Regrettably, few small business owners stay up-to-date on current hardware and software trends, or what questions to ask to stay competitive.
“Sometimes it’s easier to let the office technology remain the same, taking the ‘if it’s not broke, why fix it’ approach” Kiolbassa said. Problems are dealt with in a break-fix manner. What often gets overlooked Kiolbassa says “is the importance technology plays in business today”, adding that taking a strategic approach is crucial to success.
Unless right-sized components are put in place early on, a small business will find they’ve quickly outgrown their IT solutions.
Quality of service, availability and reliability are highly important. Likewise, prompt, knowledgeable response to IT issues is key to reducing downtime
For small businesses, it is effective from both a time and cost perspective to work with a managed IT service provider.
The number one concern – cybersecurity – is often overlooked or not even considered by small business owners.
A ransomware attack in a two-person firm would be devastating. A 2016 survey conducted by Researchscape International found 61% of businesses suffering a ransomware attack lost access to crucial files or data for at least three days. That would put many small businesses out of business.
Having access to a technology thought leader is vital to success in the small business realm.
Obtaining sensible IT advice requires asking the right questions. Here’s some questions to start the discussion:

  • What does our IT infrastructure look like today?
  • What exposure to viruses, malware and network intrusion exist?
  • Do we have strong, maintained antivirus and anti-malware protection?
  • Are important files and data backed-up using business-grade tools?
  • Who responds to IT issues, and what are their capabilities?

“Security has to come first,” Kiolbassa said. Selecting the right hardware and software that will serve the current needs of the business while affording an ROI comes next. “Coming in third is training employees so they can reach maximum effectiveness with their technology.”

[twitter_follow screen_name=”ntelogic” show_count=”false”] | Domain Name Registration
Beware of Internet Domain Name Renewal Scams

Official looking notice is designed to confuse. Unscrupulous registration services utilize social engineering to defraud.

If you own an Internet domain name, you may be targeted by a scam that potentially puts your domain name at risk.

It looks legit. A letter reminding you that your domain name will soon need to be renewed. It ominously reminds you that failing to renew on time will result in the loss of your domain name and the interruption of your web services. The letter goes on to say that the sender firm will gladly take care of the renewal for you. Over-worked business owners might see this as a convenient service and one less thing to have to deal with. Sound good so far? Simply fill in your credit card info and sign the form. Nice and easy, right? Beware. The fees they charge are 400% or more over what your actual renewal fees are. Worse yet, you may have just signed control of your domain name over to them.
Recently, we have been contacted by several of our clients who have received letters that are similar to this one. | Beware domain name registration scamsMost would see the wording in this type of letter as a bit deceptive. The fact is, iDNS is a legitimate domain name registrar – they just happen to charge excessively high fees for renewing your domain name. What is less clear in the letter is that by using their “service”, you are actually transferring your domain name registration from your original Registrar to iDNS.

What Should You Do If You Receive One Of These Letters?

The best thing you can do if you receive a letter such as the one above is ignore it. Toss it straight into the recycle bin. Then, check who your current domain Registrar is.  You can find out by checking the WHOIS database at . The WHOIS record will also tell you the actual expiration date of your current registration. If you have any questions or are unable to determine who your domain Registrar is, give us a call at (209) 790-4560 and we’ll gladly assist you. | Windows 10 Creators UpdateMassive Windows Update Coming April 11th To A PC Near You

Here’s what you need to know about Creators Update

It seems like it was just yesterday that Windows 10 Anniversary Update arrived. By now, we’ve grown a bit accustomed to the force-fed update routines that tend to catch many Windows 10 users off-guard. It seems Microsoft has listened to the roars that echoed following the hotly debated free update from the beloved Windows 7 and again after last year’s Anniversary Update. Microsoft is being far more public about Creators Update. You may even discover the notice while looking at your Update Status in Settings. | Windows 10 Settings showing Creators Update notice
Windows 10 Anniversary Edition came with many new functions and features like the  Bash Shell, a dark theme, Windows Ink, Xbox Play Anywhere and more. If you’re looking for more added system and productivity features, you may find Creators Update a bit ho-hum. As the name implies, this update focuses on creativity.
According to Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President of the Windows and Devices Group, creativity has led the inspiration of our world’s greatest inventors, architects, educators, entrepreneurs, developers, and students, delivering advancements that move our world forward.
In an official statement on the Windows 10 blog, Mehdi said “Today, I’m excited to share our latest update to Windows 10, the Creators Update, will begin to roll out on April 11. The Creators Update is designed to spark and unleash creativity, bringing 3D and mixed reality to everyone and enabling every gamer to be a broadcaster. Beyond creativity, it brings new features to Microsoft Edge, additional security capabilities and privacy tools, and so much more.” A summary of the new features that center on the creativity theme can be found at the official Windows 10 Upcoming Features page.

But what about business users?

While this update won’t bring lots of features that will likely woo business users, there are some important improvements that will catch the eye of Small Office and SMB users.
The new Privacy Dashboard addresses previous concerns about the types and amounts of information Microsoft collects from Windows users. Some leading reviews feel the Dashboard doesn’t go far enough, limiting your choices to “minimal” or “full” access to your PC. The good news is, the Dashboard is simple to understand and straightforward in its descriptions. PC World has an excellent break down of the new Security Dashboard.
Whether you love it or hate it, Windows Update is here to stay. Fortunately for users of Windows 10 Professional, Education, and Enterprise, you will be able to defer new updates for up to 35 days, as well as decide whether they want to include driver updates in the downloads. Home edition users are still stuck with forced updates, however you can delay updates for up to 18 hours. Creators Update also brings Windows 10 into the Universal Update Platform. This shift will reduce the processing power needed to update, shrink the size of update files, and streamline updates.
Windows Hello brought us biometric security, letting you use your PC camera to unlock your computer. Creators Update will introduce Dynamic Lock. Using Bluetooth and your smart phone, your PC will lock anytime you and your smart phone walk away from your PC.
Streamlined VPN (virtual private networking) support will make it possible to easily activate a connection without opening your network connections once Windows knows your VPN credentials

But I’m happy with Anniversary Update…

According to Tech Republic, you can run, but you can’t hide. Pro and Enterprise users can delay it, Home users are getting it like it or not. No matter the edition you’re using, Creators Update is coming to your PC. The best thing you can do is prepare. Here’s some suggestions:

  • Back-up – be sure to have your important files, documents and pictures backed-up to your cloud storage, local external hard drive or both.
  • Make sure your system has adequate free disk space to accommodate the download and upgrade routine. Run a Disk Cleanup to remove unneeded files and free up space.
  • Have a list of your installed programs an applications, and make sure yo have the installation media and any license keys needed should you have to reinstall something.
  • Make note of your wireless network name and settings.

Microsoft has worked hard to make sure major upgrades go smoothly. Creators Update is no exception. Countless hours of testing and a global cache of Beta testers have put Creators Update through its paces. It’s now ready for prime time.