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April 11th, 2016

2016Apr11_HealthcareArticles_AMake no mistake, healthcare costs are rising. For business owners who are generous enough to offer their employees insurance, this is undoubtedly a cause for concern. And you may wonder, is there any way to protect your employees and not go bankrupt in the process? Wearable technologies may be the answer. Here’s what you need to know about utilizing them in the workplace.

Last year the retail giant Target offered both free and discounted versions of the activity tracker, Fitbit, to their staff of over 300,000. To incentivize employees to use the device, they grouped staff into teams and held a month long competition to see which team logged the most steps. The winning team was then given a million dollars to donate to their favorite charity. This is just one example of the growing number of businesses using wearable technologies to encourage employee fitness.

The CEO of Fitbit, James Park, is well aware of wearable technologies potential in the business sector. In an interview he said, “The cost of a Fitbit device and the associated services is very small compared to the savings from a healthier employee population.”

This practice of offering incentives to exercise is known as gamification, and retail providers are not the only type of businesses to get in on the action. Two US health insurance providers are now offering customers discounts on their premiums if they wear an activity tracker to monitor their progress on accomplishing health goals. So how does it work? If an employee takes 10,000 steps a day, for example, they could earn $1.25 towards their health insurance. If they perform even more activity or exercise, they could reduce their premiums to $1,400 a year.

Incentives to exercise aren’t the only way wearables can help employees improve their health. Depending on the type of wearable worn, everything from blood sugar levels, to heart rate and sleep patterns can be tracked. So if your employee visits a clinic because their symptoms are flaring up again, a doctor can use the info tracked on the wearable to explain why. This can make it easier for both doctor and patient to resolve the health problem.

Controversy

While it may sound like utilizing wearable technology in the workplace is a no brainer, this matter is not without controversy: tracking employee activity raises the question of privacy.

As more and more businesses discover the value of big data, it’s more likely that information tracked by wearables can be exploited. One technology consultant, Barbara Duck, notes that tracking health information can lead to insurers assigning a score to your physical activity and health, and selling that information. Insurers could then use this information to charge consumers outrageous fees.

While this is just the beginning of wearable technology being used in the workplace, it’s too early to tell how privacy will be affected in the long run. As of right now it looks like wearables will be a growing trend in the future. And they’re certainly worth considering as they can reduce the costs of employee insurance and create a healthier, more productive staff. If you’d like to learn more about wearable or other healthcare related technology, get in touch. We’re happy to share our expertise.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Healthcare
April 8th, 2016

2016Apr8_AndroidTablet_CSleep is vital to your business. It enables you to focus, make smart decisions, communicate with colleagues and vendors, and accomplish tasks for business growth. And while your Android tablet may be a useful tool to help you accomplish some of these tasks, it may also be disrupting your sleep. Here’s how to ensure this doesn’t happen.

Don’t use it before bed

It’s been widely recognized that the blue light emitted from screens and mobile devices can disrupt sleep, suppressing your body’s melatonin levels (the hormone that induces sleep). Because of this and the distractions your tablet produces, it’s best to avoid using it a half hour before bed. However, if this isn’t possible here are a few tips to prevent your device from causing sleep disruption.

Silence distractions with Google Chrome’s Reader Mode

Reading before bed can be an effective way to induce sleep. However, if you’re using your tablet to browse the Internet, you’re often exposed to ads which are sometimes loud and flashy. Just as you’re nodding off, one of these ads could startle you awake and out of slumber mode. So what can you do?

Google Chrome’s Reader Mode can eliminate unnecessary ads and images, placing an emphasis on the text. To activate Reader Mode, type chrome://flags into your navigation bar, scroll down till you find Reader Mode triggering and choose Always from the menu. The next time you launch a page on Chrome, click on the banner that appears at the bottom of the page that reads Make page mobile-friendly. And just like that your text will be highlighted and ads eliminated.

Prevent disturbances

If you’re letting emails, calls and text messages wake you up in the middle of the night, then you are missing an obvious way to get a better sleep. Enter the Do Not Disturb setting. This will shut out all of these nightly annoyances so you can unplug from the world and focus on doing something important for yourself - getting a good night’s rest.

To turn on Do Not Disturb, open Settings > Sound and Notification. Then click on Do Not Disturb. From here you can choose which contacts can get through to you while you’re in dreamland.

Dim your device

While Android tablet doesn’t have a built in feature to adjust the amount of blue light emitted, there are apps that can help you easily adjust the filter opacity, which enables your screen to be less bright. The free app Screen Dimmer is one option you can try.

Monitor your sleeping habits

Do you constantly wake up at night unsure as to the reason why? Are you sleeping better or worse on nights when you consume certain food or alcohol? Or do you sleep better on the days you exercise? If you’re unsure of these answers, there’s an app for it. Using a motion sensor and sound recording, SleepBot will monitor your sleeping habits to help you discover which nights you sleep best. Then you can try to recreate those conditions to resolve your sleep issues.

No matter your business, sleep is vital to your success. We hope these five tips will help you get the sound sleep you desire. If you’re curious to learn more about how the Android tablet can improve your life and business, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic android
April 7th, 2016

2016Apr7_MicrosoftWindowsNewsAndTips_CNowadays, people have dozens of tabs open in their web browsers to access services that help them with work or catch up on social media. The problem is, it’s easy to lose track of all these opened windows and apps just to get to the information you need. The new update to Office 365 Groups solves that by enabling you to connect to third party applications within the Office 365 Outlook page. So if you want to declutter your taskbar of all those open windows, check out what Office 365 Connectors for Groups has to offer.

What can it do?

Office 365 Connectors enable users to access third party apps and services within their Outlook groups, rather than having to scour through dozens of windows to access a specific application. This new feature allows you to keep your company’s discussion in one place, and enables your employees to stay up-to-date regardless of the service used to broadcast an event. For example, your team members can be informed about a particular hashtag that your company is following on Twitter without having to explicitly open the page. Groups aren’t limited to one particular service either. With connectors you can use Twitter, Trello, Mailchimp, Bing, UserVoice and over 50 other services.

Small organizations can also take advantage of connectors. Office 365 lets you develop your own connectors by embedding the Connect to Office 365 button on your site. This allows users to connect to your service and get updates on your company, as they would with other third party services. Basically, with connectors, your Office 365 client becomes a hub for third party that keeps your company in sync to get more work done.

Connector card

Connector cards offer a user friendly way to interact with external applications. If a particular connector is added to a group, connector cards are generated within the group’s activity feed. While most cards will display events in plain text, some applications like Twitter and Trello provide formatted actions to interact with the card. Trello, for example, allows you to Assign or Comment on an event card.

Who can create a connector?

Office 365 group members can configure and use an array of connectors. Once you configure a connector for a specific group, that app will be also be available for other members. However, the person who added a connector to the group is the only one capable of modifying that app.

How do you access Office 365 Connectors?

With its public release, any Office 365 Mail user can use Office 365 Connectors for Groups. Simply navigate to a Group from your Outlook page and click on the Connectors tab at the top of the page. From here, you can connect the available third party services on offer to any of your Outlook groups. You can even configure the settings of your apps without ever having to leave Office 365. However you should probably only consider pulling in the applications that you think your group will be using the most.

As your business grows, you’re going to need more services to be more productive in the workplace. By aggregating them all in one place, you save time shifting around dozens of apps to find the information that you need. So the next time you create an Office 365 Group, help your team members work more efficiently by setting up some connectors.

If you’re interested in learning about the latest Office 365 updates, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office
April 6th, 2016

2016Apr6_Hardware_CSo your computer just crashed. Our condolences. When your PC displays a blue screen and spontaneously restarts your computer, this is called the Blue Screen of Death (BSoD). These errors are usually caused by internal failures in your hardware or, sometimes, your software. That’s all well and good, but how can you troubleshoot these problems? Before taking any actions to fix your computer however, you’re going to have to do some detective work and pinpoint what part of your system caused the crash.

Find out what caused your BSoD

The next time you get the blue screen, don’t panic. This is just an alert to prevent further system damage to your computer and to indicate the cause of crash. The most important part of the blue screen is the error name which displays messages like “Driver_IRQL_not_less_or_equal”. For Windows 8 to 10 users, this information is usually displayed at the bottom of the screen. For troubleshooting advice, a memory dump containing details of your latest crash can be found in Event Viewer > System > Windows Logs and click any messages indicating an error. Under the General tab you will see a full report of your latest crash -- this should be given to an IT technician so they can help you further.

Fixing the problem:

Update your drivers

Crashes are generally caused by problems with hardware or the driver software that is allowing that specific hardware to run. If you’re getting frequent blue screens, try to recall any recent changes you have made to your computer. Have you recently installed a new driver for an external device? You can also check if any drivers are conflicting by going to Control Panel > Device Manager. If you see a warning icon on any of the devices, there is something wrong with the device. Chances are, specific drivers are either outdated or weren’t properly installed.

To update, simply search online for your specific computer manufacturer and install the drivers provided in their list. Remember to only install the drivers that apply to the specific model of your device and your operating system. For example, if your operating system is Windows 8, only download Windows 8 related items for your specific model.

Other hardware problems

BSoD can also indicate hardware problems. Running very intensive programs that your CPU can’t handle will cause your computer to overheat and eventually crash. If you use a laptop, try to keep it on flat surfaces and away from fabric material as this could block the fan vents and cause your laptop to overheat.

Your RAM could also be faulty. Check if it’s attached to your CPU properly or go to Windows memory diagnostics to find out if you’re straining your RAM.

System restore

Using system restore will allow you to undo any significant software changes that are crashing your PC. To restore your computer to a previous time, go to Control Panel > System and Security > Backup and Restore then click on Recover System Settings for your Computer. From here you can select a restore point to a date where you think your computer was not experiencing frequent crashes.

Check for viruses

Some types of malware can cause instabilities in your operating system causing your PC to crash. If you are aware that your computer is infected with a virus, try running antivirus software. However, make sure you’re not running two antivirus software at the same time while you’re doing this. Both programs can conflict with each other and, in some cases, cause system crashes.

Clean reboot

This option is your last resort if none of the solutions above work. For Windows 8 or 10 users simply go to Settings > Update and Security > Recovery then select Reset this PC. If your computer is still getting frequent blue screens then it would be best to go to an IT consultant and have them look over your hardware.

The Blue Screen of Death is one of the biggest problems your company’s hardware is going to face. Consider using any of the above solutions to fix your blue screen and hopefully everything will be back to normal. If you would like to know more about any general hardware advice, or if you have any concerns regarding your IT, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
April 5th, 2016

2016Apr5_Facebook_CSimply getting a ‘Like’ on your post is not enough anymore. It doesn’t give you any other useful data and you can’t immediately tell what people feel about your post. However, with Facebook reactions, you can be getting just what your company’s social media page needs. Reactions allow people to quickly express what they think about your post with five new emoticons. But how can you use this to get more exposure and engagement? Here are five tips for you to consider if you want to effectively use Facebook reactions for your social media campaign.

Ask your audience for reactions

Sometimes, audiences won’t know how to react to your posts. You can point them in the right direction by giving call to ‘reaction’ phrases like “Did you learn something new? Give us a ‘wow’ by hovering over that like button”.

As Facebook reactions are a relatively new feature, you can increase the total engagement of your posts by simply asking your fans to use one of the six available expressions on your post. This will not only increase your overall engagement and reach but will also give your fans the opportunity to learn about the new Facebook reactions.

Soften the blow of negative reviews

If your service ever experiences any technical difficulties, reactions can be a lifesaver. Back when there were no Facebook expressions, people would often resort to negative comments or trolling when they are unhappy with a particular post. This could lead to a toxic page environment and may encourage others to do the same or even unfollow your page entirely. With Facebook reactions, you can minimize the effect of negative reviews with a more innocent ‘angered’ or ‘saddened’ emoji. Overall, this looks better on your page rather than lines of nonsensical text in all caps.

Gain more visibility with your page

Commenting and reacting to other local pages on your business’s Facebook account increases your chances of being discovered by potential customers. And, as an added benefit, engaging with other local pages can encourage them to return the favor.

Use reactions as constructive feedback

Facebook reactions add an extra level of depth to measuring how well your posts are doing. Before, more likes would mean more engagement. But now, reactions show that people are invested in your content.

What’s more, you can now measure what people feel about your content. This allows you to tailor your next post so that it gets the most engagement. For instance, if you notice that people are leaving more ‘Haha’ reactions to your posts, then this could suggest that your audience engages with your posts if they see more humor included in your content.

Check out your competition

You should note that page posts are public and can be see by anyone, even those who haven’t liked your page yet. This also means you can review your competitor’s posts and find out how people are reacting to their posts. This is valuable information to gauge what type of content, announcements, or status updates work for your target audience. Or if you find that your competitor is only getting likes rather than reactions, you can try experimenting with creative posts to get people to engage with your content instead.

Facebook reactions create a new and exciting way for people to express how they feel about certain posts. While some social media marketers would not pay too much attention to this feature, focusing on reactions can give you an edge when it comes to measuring how your target audience feels about your service. So the next time you’re going to make a new post, consider some or all of these tips to make the most out of those Facebook emojis.

Need more advice on managing your Facebook page? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
April 4th, 2016

2016Apr4_BusinessValue_CWhen purchasing new technology, how often do you consider its return on investment? For many business owners, calculating ROI is a tricky task that is sometimes skipped altogether. It shouldn’t be because if IT isn’t saving you money, it’s costing you. Here’s how you can gain a better understanding of technology ROI and how you can calculate it in your business.

ROI basics

What does it mean to have a positive return on investment? It’s pretty simple. A positive ROI means the results a technology produces are greater than or equal to the amount of time and money invested. Obviously you want a positive ROI, but when is the right time to consider it? Should it be before or after you make a technology purchase? The answer is both. Before purchasing, you want to carefully consider whether a technology service or product is worth your money. Then months after you’ve implemented it, you should analyze whether or not you made a good investment. Doing this enables you to learn from your mistakes (if you made one) and make a wiser technology purchase next time.

Also, don’t forget to look at your technology currently in use. Ask yourself, is your technology simply keeping the lights on? Or is it providing a solid foundation for your business to grow? If the answer is the former, there are likely better options out there worth trying.

How to calculate ROI

When calculating ROI, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Here is a simple formula to get you started.

ROI = net gain/cost Example: You spend $100 and make $150. Your net gain is $50 ROI = 50/100 = 50%

If you’ve yet to purchase a service or new equipment, you obviously don’t know how much profit it will generate. So you’ll have to do a bit of guesswork and estimation. It’s also important to consider some intangibles. Think about the productivity costs of staff time, disruption, and frustration (because most of us don’t work effectively when frustrated). Let’s take staff time for example. How much time will your staff save if you implement a Managed Services solution? With your employees no longer having to put out IT fires daily, what if your entire staff saves 50 hours a week because of it? How much does that add up to in saved salary expense? It’s important here not just to think about the savings in time, but also what your staff could be doing with those extra 50 hours. They could put those hours towards marketing or growing your business. And that alone could make up for the costs of the technology investment itself.

Intangibles don’t just apply to saving time, frustration and disruptions, but also the costs of implementing the new technology. For example, how much time will be required to train your staff on the new technology? What’s the cost of that? Also, how much time will it take to migrate from your old system to the new one? You should consider all of these when estimating your ROI.

Lastly, don’t forget to consider the unique circumstance of subscription purchases. Since you are usually paying these on a monthly basis, it can be a bit tricky to add up real costs. That’s why it’s important to use a timeline for these. For example, if you subscribe to software as a service, what’s the cost of that plan over the course of one year or five? How much money will you save over that time span?

What’s the benefit?

Besides the staffing example mentioned above, consider how a technology investment can create new revenue streams. For example, an investment in VoIP opens up an opportunity to offer video consulting to clients in parts of the country (or even world) that would normally be out of reach. This obviously leads to a new revenue stream and increased profits. So ask yourself, can the technology you’re considering create new revenue streams?

Next steps

Before making a technology purchase, it’s wise to talk with both management and end users about your decision. If you fail to consult your end users before implementation, they may disagree with your decision and therefore take longer to adapt or even rebel against it. Checking with them beforehand gives them a chance to offer valuable feedback on how it will be used in the trenches, and will get them onboard with the technology if you implement it. As for your management team, they can be a valuable resource to bounce ideas off of and gain insights about the technology you may have overlooked.

Lastly, ROI does not need to be calculated for every purchase. If you need to buy something small, like a new keyboard, just go and buy it. Save your ROI calculations for much larger investments that can have a dramatic impact on your business.

If you need help determining the ROI of a potential technology investment, feel free to give us a call for a chat. Our experts can help you determine the true benefits of a given technology and help you make a wise investment.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
April 1st, 2016

2016Apr1_HealthcareArticles_AMore patients are turning to a self-service approach when it comes to healthcare. Now this doesn’t mean they’ve taken to operating on themselves, but they are checking into hospitals without the help of medical administrators. Similar to portal technology, self-service kiosks can help streamline administrative tasks like hospital registration and payment. So is self-service a viable solution for hospitals?

Listed below are a few key benefits of a self-service solution.

Reduced costs

Implementing self-service kiosks in hospitals can reduce costs for the facility. Self check-ins save the hospital from using paper, filing the forms, and allows them to quickly look up information on that particular patient without having to sort through piles and cabinets of paperwork. Additionally, with self-service kiosks, nurses spend less time doing the bulk of the hospital’s administrative duties and more time providing care for patients.

Reduce patient waiting time

The need to fill out paper forms is replaced with an easy-to-operate digitized system. Usually, the administrative staff have to manually record the patient’s information and find the appropriate medical department that will tend to the patient’s healthcare needs. This process can be eliminated as self-service kiosks make it easier to check-in and verify patient information by simply swiping an identification card.

Less errors

Sometimes mistakes happen. Using electronic kiosks help reduce data entry errors made by an administrative staff. By crowdsourcing the filing of the electronic forms to patients, chances of errors are reduced since they are usually invested in getting the best treatment for themselves. This also means that duplicate consent forms and medical data going into the electronic health record (EHR) are not likely to happen as the device will simply alert the hospital staff if they have an existing record in their system.

Easier payment method

Tying the kiosk into a Web-based portal can also expedite the process of payment for the patient. Patients can pay their medical expenses by simply swiping and putting their credit card information into the electronic payment system. The device can also inform the patient of any outstanding medical balances, print out payments and medical certificates, as well as notify the hospital if the patient has made any payments for the treatment they received.

Less confusion

Apart from the easily accessible forms, patients can also take comfort in knowing that they are never lost with the self-service kiosks. In the same device, the patient can find their appointed physician by accessing a hospital map which will point them in the right direction. While this feature is pretty basic, it saves the patient some time from finding any available staff that can eventually direct them to the right room.

While some would still prefer to have face-to-face conversation with medical staff when they check-in to the hospital, self-service kiosks are well worth the investment. At the end of the day, implementing electronic devices is not only a cost-efficient solution, but one that can reduce the waiting time for patients and increase the time for hospital staff to care for them too.

Contact us today if you want to be informed on the latest trends in healthcare IT.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Healthcare
March 31st, 2016

2016Mar31_Virtualization_CWhile virtualization security is not often talked about, it is nevertheless important. Like all technology, securing your virtualized infrastructure is vital to the success of your business. So what are some of the security risks posed by virtualization? And how can you mitigate them? Here are some answers you should consider.

Security risks of virtualization

Complex infrastructure - much like the topic of virtualization itself, the infrastructure of a virtualization solution can oftentimes be confusing to small businesses. The extra layers of infrastructure complexity added by virtualization can make it more difficult to spot anomalies and unusual events happening in your virtual machines and network.

Dynamic design - the design of a virtualized environment is dynamic by nature and constantly changing. Unlike adding physical equipment, which is a bit of an event as you make room for it in your office and install it, the addition of virtual machines can go almost completely unnoticed as they’re created in a matter of minutes and aren’t visible in your workspace. The danger here is the age old adage, “out of sight out of mind.” And if you add too many, they can easily become difficult to manage and secure, creating security holes in the process.

Quick moving workloads - as your virtualized infrastructure grows, there will come a time when you need to move workloads from one machine to another. While this may sound harmless enough, the real issue is that your virtual machines will likely require different levels of security. And when you’re juggling multiple workloads over multiple virtual machines, you may accidentally move mission critical workloads to a machine with a low level security, creating a security hole in the process.

How to mitigate risks

While these three risks may sound alarming, they can all be mitigated. The key behind effectively securing your virtual machines all comes down to process. Put some thought into your security processes and then implement them. Here are a few areas to cover:
  • Organization - decide how and where to separate your test, development and production virtual machines.
  • Audit - develop a system to regularly audit your virtual machine security. Whenever possible, use tools to automate your security checks, balances and processes.
  • Patches - Perform regular security patch maintenance, and create a schedule to ensure your patches are up-to-date for all virtual machines.
  • Overflow management - When you have so many virtual machines they’re hard to track, you need a system in place to monitor them. So be aware of what each virtual machine is used for, and manage it accordingly. While doing this, find ways to consolidate machines whenever possible and get rid of the ones under utilized.
  • Responsibility - to ensure the security of your virtual machines doesn’t slip through the cracks, designate one IT technician or manager to be responsible for it.
If you prioritize security of your virtual machines and properly manage them, security can truly be a non-issue. If you’d like additional assistance with your virtualized infrastructure or would like to implement a new virtualization solution, give us a call today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 29th, 2016

2016Mar29_Security_CAs companies go to the Internet to conduct their business, their IT security becomes more vulnerable to many hackers and viruses. That’s why it’s even more important to recognize whether or not your systems are under threat from malicious software to swiftly fend off the infection. So how do you know if your company’s IT security is under threat? Here are a few warning signs to tell if you are a victim of malware infection.

Slow computer

The most common symptom of a malware infection is a slow running computer. Are your operating systems and programs taking a while to start up? Is your data bandwidth suspiciously slow? If so, your computer may potentially have a virus.

However, before you immediately assume your computer has a virus, you should check if there are other causes to your computer slowing down. Check if you’re running out of RAM. For Windows, open task manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc) and go to the Performance tab and check how many gigabytes of RAM you are using under the Memory section. For Mac OS users, you can open the Activity Monitor app and under System Memory you should be able to find out your RAM usage.

Other causes of a slow system include a lack of space on your hard drive and damaged hardware. Once you’ve ruled out the other potential causes, then a virus may have infected your device.

Blue screen of death (BSOD)

If your PC crashes regularly, it’s usually either a technical problem with your system or a malware infection. You might not have installed the latest drivers for your device or the programs you’re running could possibly be incompatible with your hardware. If none of these problems are apparent in your PC then the virus could be conflicting with other programs causing your crashes. To check what caused your last BSOD go to Control Panel> System and Security> Administrative Tools> Event Viewer and select Windows Logs. Those marked with an “error” are your recorded crashes. For troubleshooting solutions, consult forums or your IT department to figure out what to do next.

Programs opening and closing automatically

Malware can also be present when your programs are opening and closing automatically. However, do check if some programs are meant to behave this way or if they are simply incompatible to run with your hardware first before coming to the conclusion that your computer has a virus.

Lack of storage space

There are several types of malware that can manipulate the files saved on your computer. Most tend to fill up your hard drive with suspicious files. If you find any unknown programs that you have never installed before, don’t open the application, search up the program’s name over the Internet and use antivirus protections once you’re certain that it’s malware.

Suspicious modem and hard drive activity

Combined with the other warning signs, if your hard disk is working excessively while no programs are currently running or if you notice that your external modem is always lit then you should scan your computer for viruses.

Pop-ups, websites, toolbars and other unwanted programs

These are irritating signs that your computer has a virus. Pop-ups come from clicking on suspicious pages, answering survey questions to access a website’s service or installing free applications. Don’t click on ads where Jane says she earned $8000 a month staying at home. When you get pop-ups appearing out of the blue, refrain from clicking anywhere on the pop-up page and just close out of the window and use your anti-malware tool immediately.

Equally, free applications allow you to download their service for free but the installation process can be riddled with malware. When you’re installing a program from the Internet it’s easy to just skim over the terms and conditions page and repeatedly press next. This is where they get you. In the process of skipping over certain installation steps, you might have agreed to accepting a new default browser, opening unwanted websites and other programs filled with viruses. Just be cautious the next time you download something for free. It’s best to try avoiding any of these practices when you can in order to protect your computer.

You’re sending out spam

If your friends are telling you that you’ve been offering them suspicious messages and links over social media or email, you might be a victim of spyware. These may be caused from setting weak passwords to your accounts or forgetting to logout of them.

In the end, it’s best to know how malicious software affects your computer so you can take steps to rectify the situation as soon as possible. Regardless of whether or not your system has experienced these symptoms, it’s always smart to perform regular malware scans to ensure your business is safe. To find out more about malware and IT security, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
March 28th, 2016

2016Mar28_Browsers_CAd blocking is here to stay. Safari, Google Chrome, and Firefox all have extensions that make it possible, and now Opera has added an ad blocking feature directly into the browser. Should your business be concerned? Well it all depends on how much money you spend on online ads. Here’s the lowdown on Opera’s new ad blocking feature.

How it works

When Opera’s new ad blocking feature becomes live, it will be switched off by default. However, when an ad is causing a web page to slow down, the user will be prompted to turn it on. If you’re an Opera user who’d like to do this for yourself, simply click the shield icon in the upper right hand corner of your browser. For whatever reason, if you don’t want to block ads for a specific website, you’ll also have that option, which can be adjusted in the browser’s settings.

Why is Opera doing this?

One spokeswoman for Opera remarked, "Ad-blocking technology is an opportunity and a wake-up call to the advertising industry to pay attention to what consumers are actually saying." In other words, consumers are annoyed with intrusive ads that are irrelevant, and Opera believes this is an opportunity for advertisers to create better, more engaging ads. When that happens, ad blocking will become less of an issue.

How will this affect your business?

Ad blocking is not new, as other browsers provide a similar service. The only difference is that competitors like Google Chrome and Firefox use extensions to enable this feature. However, Opera has said that with the use of their native ad blocker, their browser on average runs 45% faster than using Google Chrome with the AdBlock Plus extension and 21% faster than using Firefox with that same extension. In today’s browser competition, and really the world in general, speed is currency. And this could cause users to abandon their current browser and flock to Opera.

You should bear in mind that right now, Opera isn’t an incredibly popular browser. According to the online statistics service W3Counter, Opera was only used by 3% of all Internet users this past February, while Google Chrome was used by 47.5%. With that said, many of Opera’s technological advances have later caught on with other major browsers. For example, Opera pioneered both pop-up blocking and tabbed browsing, which are now the norm for major browsers.

So if your business heavily relies on online advertisements, should you be worried? Unfortunately only time will tell. With that said, it’s likely not time to panic just yet.

What can your business do?

Some companies, like Forbes and New York Times, are already taking action, and experimenting with preventing ad blocking users to access their site. While this probably isn’t an option for you just yet, there are other marketing avenues you can explore. For example, businesses that rely on inbound marketing, which drives users to your business by providing free valuable content, will see little effect (if any) by Opera’s new ad blocking feature. Also, it should be noted that Opera’s ad blocker will not block all ads. It is predominantly focusing on those that are intrusive to users and cause browsing slow down. So if you’re a big on those pesky flash ads that many Internet users despise, it’s likely wise to shift focus to creating leaner, more engaging ads. They’re much less likely to be blocked.

Want to learn more about ad blocking, browsers or cloud technology? Send us a message. We’re happy to help in anyway we can.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web & Cloud