A CEOs Guide to Artificial Intelligence

May 31st, 2019 by Julie Lough

CEO Artificial Intelligence

Today’s CEOs are increasingly being asked to lead their business into a data-driven world, but does that mean that immersive courses in understanding the technology are crucial? Not necessarily — in fact, it’s much more important that CEOs understand the potential of the technology and how to drive culture change throughout their organization. While Artificial Intelligence (AI) is truly changing the landscape of business, it’s doing so because fearless leaders are dreaming about the changes and improvements that are now possible through the genius of technology. See how this cultural revolution in the way we work is sweeping through business and leading a fast and furious discourse on how organizations will interact with data and individuals in the future.

The Promise of AI

CEOs have likely seen several generations of “transformative business models”: cloud-based computing being the most recent. As businesses are still reeling from this rapid-fire shift to Software as a Service (SaaS) models, the promise of artificial intelligence has the C-suite scrambling to understand the implications for their business. Scrappy start-ups do as they have always done, harnessing a new technology direction to quickly make changes to their business model as tech is introduced into the marketplace. Larger businesses and enterprises may be slower to act, as they can be weighed down with limited budgets, heavy infrastructure and disparate legacy systems. It takes time to move in a new direction, but the promise of AI is significant enough that business leaders throughout the world are exploring how to deploy data-driven decisioning in their operations, marketing and accounting solutions. From computers that recognize an individual human’s face to predictions of sales based on the weather, AI can be found in any number of practical applications throughout the business world — as evidenced by the 270% growth rate that AI has enjoyed in the past several years according to Gartner research.

Understanding How AI Works

In this season, the hype around AI is beginning to manifest itself in workable business models such as chatbots, next-best actions for customer service and predictive analytics. These systems can sense, analyze and respond to their environments in a way that is both interactive and intelligent. Creating a machine that is able to make better decisions over time based on the validation of its hypotheses requires a great deal of programming and math. However, the beauty of AI is that once the background work is done, humans are able to interact with the systems to continue the cycle of learning. AI systems “see” and “hear” sensory inputs and are able to translate that information, extract value and provide intelligent feedback to the user. Sensors and IoT (Internet of Things) connected devices also serve as input mechanisms, allowing machines to “feel” when something is cold or hot, positive or negative. This level of intuition is what is new to the business horizon, and it provides organizations with an ever-expanding range of possibilities to solve business problems.

3 Levels of AI Comprehension

While AI may have initially brought to mind futuristic robots that have taken over the world, true intuitive thought and “leaps of logic” are still beyond the limits of current AI technology. For example, an AI program can identify the difference between dogs and humans. The same program may be able to recognize how the two relate to each other as owner and pet and make the leap that they were going for a walk because the owner was holding the dog’s leash. However, it would not be able to intuit — or make an educated, quantifiable guess — anything about their relationship to each other in the future. This type of abstraction is still beyond the limits of current AI computing. The three primary levels of AI comprehension can be defined as:

  • Recognition: Identify items in a picture or video
  • Comprehension: Determine how the items relate to each other
  • Abstraction: Evaluate the information and make a prediction about future performance

Each stage in the evolution of AI has taken years, but the advances are coming more quickly all the time as business leaders and technology teams come together to dream and create the interactions of the future.

Bridging the Knowledge Gap

Business people are struggling with an unfathomable knowledge gap between their understanding of business intelligence and AI and the possibilities for the future. Data scientists are swiftly becoming the bridge that helps cross this gap between technology teams and business leaders, providing the insight that can translate business needs into practical applications of AI and machine learning. As CEOs deepen their understanding of data and possibilities for their business, a data scientist or business analyst may provide the necessary cohesion to maintain forward momentum on these highly technical projects.

Creating a Culture of Innovation

Perhaps the most important challenge faced by CEOs when it comes to AI isn’t technical at all — it’s cultural. If the organization is not willing to embrace the future potential of this emerging technology, it’s unlikely that AI-based projects will be successful. There is a fundamental fear within many organizations that AI or machine learning tech will replace individual knowledge workers as the AI can produce similar results in some instances as long as the correct inputs are being provided. A great example is in healthcare, where nurses or intake professionals traditionally gather basic information while assessing patients in an emergency room. AI chatbots can be programmed to not only gather and log this information quickly but also use micro-data to determine the level of distress of the individual — potentially classifying their level of pain for more immediate action by doctors. Minute facial changes, heightened breathing and sweating are all inputs that an AI can process in milliseconds that might be overlooked by a harried charge nurse.

While that scenario sounds as though it could potentially replace a position, what it actually means is that the human nurses are freed of repetitive tasks so they are able to add more value to other interactions. These lower-level engagements with patients are simply a distraction for nurses, taking time away from patient care and their ability to connect on a deeper and more proactive level instead of being stuck in a place of reaction to outside stimulus. CEOs who are able to clearly communicate the value of AI to their organizations in a way that is both non-threatening and that drives excitement within staff are more likely to be able to successfully sustain change initiatives for the future.

Rethinking Traditional Business Models

In a traditional business model, managers, directors and even chief executives are accustomed to making decisions based on incomplete data or inaccurate assumptions. While this often works out, the deluge of data that is now available allows for more informed decisions to be made — as long as business leaders are willing to take the time to ask questions and refine their understanding of business problems. Machines are exceptional at uncovering patterns, and many of these designs can fool people into making certain decisions based on their intuition. With the introduction of AI-driven decisioning, it shouldn’t be surprising that there are unexpected variances in the data that point to inefficiencies, inaccuracies and outright errors. Understanding how to interpret this information can often fall on the shoulders of a data scientist, but helping work through those questions and drill into root causes of issues will be a crucial skill for all business leaders in this brave new world of data.

Getting Started with AI

Whether you have a million ideas you want to vet with your team or are just starting to consider how AI can impact your organization, the time to get started is now. Organizations of all sizes are embracing basic AI — everything from social media chatbots that can help customers place a simple order or learn more about a product to connected systems that predict which products consumers may purchase next based on the buying patterns of others throughout the world. Determining where to begin is challenging, but here are a few basic considerations as you’re prepping for action:

  • Determine the reporting structure for AI, and this could change for every organization depending on the needs of the business. Will AI be mostly used in marketing or communications, operations or as a predictive analytics engine to determine when a potential breach has occurred? Understanding the application of AI technology can help ensure that the project gets the support that it needs to be successful.
  • Will you hire or rent the technical know-how for implementation and ongoing support? Here again, there is no “right” answer, but it requires contemplating the breadth of the engagement and how quickly you want to ramp up for your AI-based project. A similar question is needed to determine whether you will buy a codebase that contains the majority of what you need and customize it, or build your AI applications from scratch.
  • What’s the business case for AI? The most successful organizations are the ones that are able to quantify the value that they expect to gain from AI in terms of time savings, productivity boosts or improved customer engagement rates.
  • Understand (and be able to articulate!) the “Why” of your project. Are you solving a problem, beating a competitor to a goal or simply exploring the potential for the new technology within your business? Being realistic about expectations helps reduce the potential for pushback from non-believers within your organization.

Artificial intelligence has far surpassed the time when it was simply a buzzword that people loved to throw around and is now a thriving part of the business landscape with over 60% of businesses adopting some form of AI in the past year alone. Understanding the potential for disruption in your industry — both positive and negative — and how AI can be leveraged will be crucial skills for successful CEOs both now and in the future. There’s one thing for sure: AI is here to stay. Business leaders can make a decision to avoid moving forward with any AI-driven initiatives, but the cost to the organization may be higher than stakeholders are willing to pay.


8 Ways Cybercriminals Make Your Firewall And Antivirus Useless

May 29th, 2019 by Julie Lough

Cyber Security Solutions

Having the right cybersecurity technology is just a part of doing business in today’s world.

In fact, security solutions like firewalls and antivirus software accounted for $23 billion in annual revenue – it’s likely that you contributed to that in some small way.

But are they really worth your money?

There’s no disputing the need for an effective firewall or antivirus solution, regardless of the size or specialty of the business in question.

But, given that they are such a standard in the business setting today, have you ever stopped to figure out what you’re paying for?

What is a Firewall?

Your firewall is your first line of defense for keeping your information safe. A firewall is a particular type of solution that maintains the security of your network. It blocks unauthorized users from gaining access to your data. Firewalls are deployed via hardware, software, or a combination of the two.

A firewall inspects and filters incoming and outgoing data in the following ways:

    • With Packet Filtering that filters incoming and outgoing data and accepts or rejects it depending on your predefined rules.
    • Via an Application Gateway that applies security to applications like Telnet (a software program that can access remote computers and terminals over the Internet, or a TCP/IP computer network) and File Transfer Protocol Servers.
    • By using a Circuit-Level Gateway when a connection such as a Transmission Control Protocol is made, and small pieces called packets are transported.
  • With Proxy Servers: Proxy servers mask your true network address and capture every message that enters or leaves your network.
  • Using Stateful Inspection or Dynamic Packet Filtering to compare a packet’s critical data parts. These are compared to a trusted information database to decide if the information is authorized.

What about Antivirus?

Antivirus ProtectionAntivirus software is used in conjunction with a firewall to provide defense against malware, adware, and spyware. Each of these cybercriminal tactics has the potential to do immense damage to internal processes and a company’s reputation. The job of antivirus software is to spot, block, and isolate intrusive, malicious applications so they can’t do damage to your data and legitimate software.

Antivirus is installed to protect at the user level, known as endpoint protection, and is designed to detect and block a virus or malware from taking root on a user’s computer, or worse, accessing a network to which the user is connected.

If a user encounters a threat, the antivirus software detects the threat and blocks it using a string of text – an algorithm – that recognizes it as a known virus. The virus file tries to take one action or sequence of actions, known to the antivirus software, and the algorithm recognizes this behavior and prompts the user to take action against suspicious behavior.

Is this type of cybersecurity software effective?

Short answer?

To an extent.

Sorry for the underwhelming answer, but it’s a bit of a difficult question to answer.

A next-generation firewall and up to date antivirus solution are great at doing specifically what they’re designed for.

The problem is that they are not the end-all, be-all of cybersecurity in the modern world.

You could have the best firewall and antivirus software on hand, and still be vulnerable in any number of other ways…

The top 8 ways that cybercriminals get around firewalls and antivirus

Cybercriminals target your employees.

As important as cybersecurity technology is, on its own, it simply isn’t enough. The key to truly comprehensive cybersecurity is simple, yet often overlooked: the user.

Cybersecurity gimmicks — such as “set it and forget it” firewalls and antivirus software — fail to account for how important the user is.

Even the most effective digital security measures can be negated by simple human error, which is why conventional solutions are simply not enough to make sure you’re safe.

Much of cybersecurity is dependent on the user, and as such it’s vital that you properly educate your employees in safe conduct.

The more your workforce knows about the security measures you have in place and how they can contribute to cybersecurity, the more confidently they can use the technology is a secure manner.

Well trained employees become a part of cybersecurity, and are capable of:

  • Identifying and addressing suspicious emails, phishing attempts, social engineering tactics, and more.
  • Using technology without exposing data and other assets to external threats by accident.
  • Responding effectively when you suspect that an attack is occurring or has occurred.

Cyber Criminal

Cybercriminals target your offsite devices, outside of business hours.

This is a critical limitation of your cybersecurity software, and it’s obvious when you think about it – if your firewall is only installed on your work devices, but you let employees use personal devices and home workstations to access business data, then obviously you won’t be totally secure.

In addition to having a detailed Acceptable Use policy in place at the office to stop your staff from using work devices to use unauthorized software and visit dangerous websites, you also need a mobile device policy in place to protect your data that may be on personal devices.

The right monitoring software for mobile devices will protect you from a number of dangerous scenarios, including:

  • Jailbreaking and rooting company devices
  • Unauthorized access to company data
  • Lost or stolen devices that need to be remotely wiped

Cybercriminals figure out your passwords – because your passwords are weak.

Users, both at home and at work, tend to be horrible at selecting and maintaining strong passwords.

Did you know, for instance, that 81% of data breaches in 2017 came down to stolen and/or weak passwords?

Are you confident in your password strength?

Find out for sure by reviewing these common password mistakes:

  • Length and Complexity: Keep in mind that the easier it is for you to remember a password, the easier it’ll be for a hacker to figure it out. That’s why short and simple passwords are so common – users worry about forgetting them, so they make them too easy to remember, which presents an easy target for hackers.
  • Numbers, Case, and Symbols: Another factor in the password’s complexity is whether or not it incorporates numbers, cases, and symbols. While it may be easier to remember a password that’s all lower-case letters, it’s important to mix in numbers, capitals, and symbols in order to increase the complexity.
  • Personal Information: Many users assume that information specific to them will be more secure – the thinking, for example, is that your birthday is one of a 365 possible options in a calendar year, not to mention your birth year itself.The same methodology applies to your pet’s name, your mother’s maiden name, etc. However, given the ubiquity of social media, it’s not difficult for hackers to research a target through Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sites to determine when they were born, information about their family, personal interests, etc.
  • Pattern and Sequences: Like the other common mistakes, many people use patterns as passwords in order to better remember them, but again, that makes the password really easy to guess. “abc123”, or the first row of letters on the keyboard, “qwerty”, etc., are extremely easy for hackers to guess. Despite the fact that passwords are the most direct way to access a user’s private information, most passwords in use today are simply not strong or complex enough. Passwords protect email accounts, banking information, private documents, administrator rights and more – and yet, user after user and business after business continues to make critical errors when it comes to choosing and protecting their passwords.

Keep these tips in mind when setting your passwords:

    • Password Strength: It’s common that passwords are required to include uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Consider using a passphrase—which is when you combine multiple words into one long string of characters—instead of a password. The extra length of a passphrase makes it harder to crack. For a more secure passphrase, you’re encouraged to combine multiple unrelated words to create the phrase, for example, “m4ryh4d4l1ttl3l4mb.”
    • Password Managers: These programs store all of your passwords in one place, which is sometimes called a vault. Some programs can even make strong passwords for you and keep track of them all in one location, so then the only password or passphrase you have to remember is the one for your vault.The downside of using a password keeper program is if an attacker cracks your vault password, then he or she knows all of your passwords for all of your accounts.
    • Multi-Factor Authentication: Multi-Factor Authentication is a great way to add an extra layer of protection to the existing system and account logins. 45% of polled businesses began using MFA in 2018, compared to 25% the year prior.By requiring a second piece of information like a randomly-generated numerical code sent by text message, you’re better able to make sure that the person using your employee’s login credentials is actually who they say they are. Biometrics like fingerprints, voice, or even iris scans are also options, as are physical objects like keycards.

Cybercriminals penetrate your unpatched, out of date networks.

Did you know that one of the most common ways that cybercriminals get into a network is through loopholes in popular software, applications, and programs?

Despite how advanced modern software is, it is still designed by humans, and the fact is that humans make mistakes. Due to this, much of the software you rely on to get work done every day could have flaws — or “exploits” — that leave you vulnerable to security breaches.

Many of the most common malware and viruses used by cybercriminals today are based on exploiting those programming flaws; to address this, developers regularly release software patches and updates to fix those flaws and protect the users.

This is why it’s imperative that you keep your applications and systems up to date.

Unfortunately, most users find updates to be tedious and time-consuming and often opt to just click “Remind Me Later” instead of sitting through an often-inconvenient update process.

Comprehensive and regular patch management is a crucial part of proper IT security. Some of the worst data breaches are based on “zero-day exploits”, which are based on exploits found by hackers but not by the developers, leading to severe security risks and an immediate need for patching.

Data Backup Services

Cybercriminals target data that hasn’t been backed up.

Do you have a data backup policy in place?

If not, then you’re vulnerable, right now, to ransomware.

Ransomware has quickly become one of the biggest cyber threats to businesses today – remember the Wanna Cry epidemic that infected hundreds of thousands of IT systems in more 150 countries?

That was ransomware, and it could happen to you too. Unless that is, you get a data backup solution put in place.

If you have you have a data backup solution, then it doesn’t matter if your data has been encrypted. You can just replace it with your backup, simple as that.

That’s why you should make a considerable investment in a comprehensive backup data recovery solution so that you can restore your data at a moment’s notice when necessary.

Be sure to:

  • Back up data on a regular basis (at least daily).
  • Inspect your backups to verify that they maintain their integrity.
  • Secure you backups and keep them independent from the networks and computers they are backing up.

Cybercriminals trick your staff into installing dangerous software.

One of the most popular cybercrime tactics is to trick users into downloading malware, under the assumption it’s a type of software they need.

This could be hidden in a large downloaded file that users may think is a work program, a video game, or even a mobile app.

This is further reason why you need an Acceptable Use policy and content filter in place on work devices. These types of measures will protect you against your unsuspecting employees.

Cybercriminals trick your staff with phishing emails.

A popular cybercrime tactic among hackers today is “phishing” – a method in which they send fraudulent emails that appear to be from reputable sources in order to get recipients to reveal sensitive information and execute significant financial transfers.

It’s more effective than you might assume. That’s why the rate of phishing attacks increased by 65% in recent years – businesses keep making it easy for cybercriminals to get away with.

Share these key tips with your employees to make sure they know how to spot a phishing attempt:

  • Incorrect Domain: Before even taking a look at the body of the message, check out the domain in the sender’s address. Maybe they claim to be from your bank, or a big name company – but talk is cheap.It’s much more difficult to spoof an actual domain name, and so it’s more common to see domains that are closer, but not 100% correct. If it seems fishy, it probably is.
  • Suspicious Links: Always be sure to hover your mouse over a link in an email before clicking it. That allows you to see where it actually leads. While it may look harmless, the actual URL may show otherwise, so always look, and rarely click.
  • Spelling and Grammar: Modern cybersecurity awareness comes down to paying attention to the details. When reading a suspicious email, keep an eye out for any typos or glaring errors. Whereas legitimate messages from your bank or vendors would be properly edited, phishing emails are notorious for basic spelling and grammatical mistakes.
  • Specificity: Another point to consider is how vague the email is. Whereas legitimate senders will likely have your information already (such as your first name) and will use it in the salutation, scammers will often employ vaguer terminology, such as “Valued Customer” – this allows them to use the same email for multiple targets in a mass attack.
  • Urgent and Threatening: If the subject line makes it sound like an emergency — “Your account has been suspended”, or “You’re being hacked” — that’s another red flag. It’s in the scammer’s interest to make you panic and move quickly, which might lead to you overlooking other indicators that it’s a phishing email.
  • Attachments: Phishers will often try to get you to open an attachment, so, if you see an attachment in combination with any of the above indicators, it’s only more proof that the email is likely part of a phishing attempt.

Cybercriminals cut out the middle man and pretend to be you.

With the amount of personal data that people put online today, it’s not as difficult for cybercriminals to impersonate you as you might think.

By mining your social media, your LinkedIn and your company website, it can be pretty easy for a hacker to figure out your email address and reset your password.

Or maybe instead they spoof your email address and use it to contact a subordinate or a business contact to gain further information and access to use against you.

Put simply?

You need to protect yourself as a matter of privacy, and with the right processes:

    • Never give out private information: A basic cybersecurity rule is knowing not to share sensitive info online. The trusted institutions with which you do business will not ask you for your private information.They already have your account numbers, social security number, and your passwords. They won’t have any good reason to ask for it again, right? If an email from a superior or external contact asks for that info, it is likely a scam, so be sure to confirm the request by phone or in person.
    • Set standard protocols for requests: Have steps put in place for management to follow when asking for information or access from employees. If your employees have a clear idea of how these interactions should look, they’re less likely to be fooled by a hacker posing as their supervisor.

Are your firewall and antivirus worth the money?

Yes.

Security software is a vital part of your cybersecurity – but the key word in that statement is part.

You should definitely invest in the usual cybersecurity solutions, but they are not enough on their own. Cybercriminals have so many tactics and methods for penetrating an organization like yours that you can’t settle for defending yourself on one front alone.

That’s why you need a comprehensive defense, that combines cybersecurity solutions, employee training, best practices, and detailed policies.

Anything less and you will have left a gap in your armor, making only a matter of time before cybercriminals find their way in.


How Technology Can Assist CFOs and Their Expanding Job Functions

May 28th, 2019 by Julie Lough

CFO & Technology

CFOs & Technology

The CFO role continues to evolve. CFOs used to be considered fairly powerless scorekeepers or merely chief bean counters, but today the role has taken on more responsibility as well as prominence.

Of course, any CFO will tell you that the old role is not unimportant, and it has not gone away. The expansion of the CFO into strategy, decision-making, and even IT oversight creates a capacity problem. How can the CFO meet all the new responsibilities without neglecting the old? Technology can assist in a number of ways.

Before we dive into how technology can assist CFOs in their expanding job functions, let’s look at what some of those expanding job functions are. Depending on where your organization is in its digital transformation, you may have already taken on some of these. If not, this overview will give you insight into what may be added to your plate in the coming months and years.

New CFO and Finance Responsibilities

The CFO has traditionally focused on finance and accounting, and these responsibilities remain both significant and important. New areas of responsibility are developing, though, including these.

Technology

The CFO role has an increasing responsibility for overseeing technology decisions and spending, along with the CIO. The entirety of the business is dependent on technology, and good choices in this area lead to dynamic transformation. Bad choices can have catastrophic results.

Future Focus

CFO and finance responsibilities are evolving from sole focus on the past (compliance and reporting) to include a future focus. CFOs are partnering with managers around the company to improve operations, and they often work with the CEO and the board to help plan company strategy.

Financial data and analytics have helped in this aspect of transformation. Another team may be responsible for analytics, but when it comes to the financial aspect of analysis, the CFO and finance team are an essential part.

Partnering with CEO

Today, CFOs partner with CEOs to develop strategy more frequently than they did in years past. While the roles remain distinct, the line is more blurry than it used to be, and the level of partnership and collaboration is much greater.

Partnering with Division Leaders

It’s more frequent than it’s ever been for the CFO to partner with division leaders or line-of-business leaders. These leaders necessarily have other focuses than finance, and they may need or seek guidance from the CFO. This guidance is sometimes finance-related and other times more generally related to business vision. The CFO also plays a role in teaching division leaders to accept financial guidance from the finance group.

How Technology Can Assist Today’s CFOs

Savvy CFOs will leverage technology to assist them in their expanding capacities. Here are a few technologies empowering CFOs and finance teams.

Big Data and Analytics

Data is more powerful than it’s ever been, and CFOs will benefit from technology solutions in this area. Powerful customer data can drive major insights into financial trends as well as business trends. Use analytics to make better-informed predictions on the future of sales. You can often get a better picture of what the customer wants by analytics than you can by traditional means like focus groups or customer surveys. These are powerful tools that can solve many problems and speed up many tasks for the CFO and the finance team.

Embrace the Cloud

Cloud-based apps can lower IT infrastructure spending as well as the need for maintenance. Many if not all the major IT applications needed by the finance team are available in cloud format, including ERP and CRM systems as well as planning and reporting systems.

Using cloud-based applications and systems allows your company to expand without having to consider infrastructure improvement. With the cloud, you’ve outsourced the infrastructure completely.

Finance leaders and CFOs are sometimes wary of the cloud, and this is understandable. Cloud-based services have had their fair share of highly publicized leaks and breaches. These have led some to question whether the cloud is really the right solution for sensitive data, whether financial or privacy-related.

The answer to this concern is twofold. First, the track record of these cloud apps is astoundingly good. Second, take a step back and review the landscape. Do you really trust that your in-house IT or infosec team is as skilled in protecting you from an internal breach as the team at a cloud service is? Your business is broad, and IT infosec is only one small component. For the cloud service, it’s nearly everything. One breach and they’d be out of business.

Mobile Technologies

While mobile technologies are most visible on the sales force and other customer-facing services (like your website), mobile can improve the quality of life for the CFO and finance teams, too. Selecting cloud apps that allow for mobile access gives additional flexibility to where and how work is done and data is displayed.

Need A Great IT Company Who Works With Top CFOs

This is just the surface of what technology can do to empower CFOs in their expanding roles. For more, or for help implementing solutions, contact us today.


How to Copy Cells in Microsoft Excel

May 28th, 2019 by Julie Lough

Today’s quick tech tip covers one of the basic functions in Microsoft Excel.

Watch the video below or click here.

 

Here’s how to copy cells in Microsoft Excel, plus one of the advanced copy and paste features available in the application.

Step 1: Select the Cell or Cells You Want to Copy

If you want to select a single cell, you simply need to click on it. If you want to select a range of cells—whether that’s a partial or full column or row, or a wider range—click and hold on one of the cells you want to copy and drag to the other end of the range.

You can also select an entire column or row in one click by placing your cursor outside the grid, on top of the letter or number corresponding to the column or row. Your cursor will change to a rightward or downward arrow. Click to select the entire column or row.

Step 2: Copy

To copy the selected cells, click the “Copy” button in the Clipboard section of the ribbon. In your default view, the Clipboard section is in the upper left. You can also use a keyboard shortcut to copy: press Ctrl + C on a PC or Command + C on a Mac.

Step 3: Select Destination and Paste

All that’s left is to click on the cell where you want the copied information to go and paste. If you’ve copied a single cell, simply click on the cell where the copied content needs to go. If you’ve copied a range of cells, you don’t have to select an identical range of cells to paste. Simply select the cell that’s in the upper left corner of your range.

To paste your content, click the “Paste” button in the Clipboard section of the ribbon, or use a keyboard shortcut. This time, the keyboard shortcuts are Ctrl + V (PC) or Command + V (Mac). Your content will appear in the new location, and you’re ready to move on to the next task.

A Few Notes

Now that we’ve covered the basics, here are a few warnings and advanced tips.

Formulas

If you copy a cell with a formula in it, Excel will automatically copy that formula to the destination. If this isn’t what you want, click the down arrow below the Paste button. Excel gives you a dozen or so special methods of pasting. If all you want is the raw number, no formula attached, then use “Paste Values” instead.

Overwriting Content

If you copy a range of cells, be aware that pasting that range will overwrite anything in the destination range. Make sure you have enough space there and won’t lose any important data.

Copy Paste Cells Microsoft Excel


Honoring Those Who Gave Their Lives

May 24th, 2019 by Julie Lough

On Memorial Day we remember the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. These brave men and women have dedicated their lives to honor the living and make our lives better.

 

 

Can’t see the video above?  Click Here.

The History Of Memorial Day

Memorial day is the most solemn American holiday. Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. After the Civil War in 1865, America needed a secular, patriotic ceremony to honor its military dead.

In May 1868, the commander-in-chief of the Union veterans’ group The Grand Army of the Republic, General John A. Logan issued a decree that May 30 should be a nationwide day of commemoration for the more than the 620,000 who were killed in the Civil War.

Decoration Day was a day where he said American should lay flowers and decorate the graves of the war dead “whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.” The federal government began creating national military cemeteries for the Union war dead. Monuments to fallen soldiers were erected and dedicated. Ceremonies were held to decorate soldiers’ graves.

For more than 50 years, the day was only to honor those killed in the Civil War. Finally, after World War I, Memorial Day included honoring those who died in all American wars. And Memorial Day wasn’t officially recognized nationwide until the 1970s, while America was deeply embroiled in the Vietnam War. In 1971, Memorial Day became a national holiday by an act of Congress.

Today

Today we celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday in May. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season.

Although many of us will be enjoying a long weekend, the opening of the local pool, barbeques and some fun at the beach, it’s a day for honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.

Today as we enjoy paid leave and ice cream, perhaps a little reflection is in order.

How Best To Remember The Meaning of Memorial Day?

Never forget our fallen soldiers. They have shown us a path to patriotism. We should honor them by our actions. Listen closely to their plea: “Honor us by sacrificing today for a better tomorrow.”

Our office will be closed on Monday for Memorial Day.

We hope that on this day you will make an effort to set aside a quiet moment to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Memorial Day 2019


Top Questions CFOs Have Regarding Backup & Business Continuity

May 22nd, 2019 by Julie Lough

If your organization is large enough to have a CFO, it surely has some kind of backup and business continuity plan in place. Do you understand how this system works? More importantly, is the system your business has in place actually sufficient to protect you in the event of a disaster? These are questions every business needs to ask, and you as the CFO need to be a part of that conversation. To get prepared, here are a few of the top questions CFOs have regarding backup and business continuity, answered.

CFO Disaster Recovery

 

Aren’t Backups Enough?

The short answer is no. The longer answer gets into the wide range of backup formats. On-site backups are a part of the solution, but they don’t protect against natural disasters or physical site breaches. Off-site backups have their limitations, too. The farther away the site, the more logistically challenging data transfer and physical storage can become. On the other hand, if the off-site backup is just down the street, it may be just as vulnerable to the natural disaster that hit your business.

Is the Cloud the Answer?

Cloud backups are a great new innovation in the industry, but they alone won’t save your business, either. Restoring from a cloud backup takes serious bandwidth, and bandwidth could be an issue following a catastrophe. Consider that not all business disasters are natural. If your business suffers a crippling cyber attack, cloud backups may complicate the restoration process.

What is Backup and Disaster Recovery?

Backup and disaster recovery, sometimes shortened to just backup disaster recovery or BDR, is the term for a comprehensive system that includes both data backup and a disaster recovery plan. These two components are designed to work in tandem, allowing a business to remain operational through or quickly restart operations following a disaster. Having a strong BDR plan is the real solution for backups and business continuity.

Backups in BDR

The backup component of your BDR plan should be multifaceted. Most companies benefit from having at least two forms of backup: on- or off-site as well as cloud backup. With backups, redundancy is a desirable feature, not a place to cut costs. Storage drives (whether at your location or in some server farm far away) can fail without warning.

Disaster Recovery in BDR

The disaster recovery component is just as crucial as the backup component. This is security planning, in a nutshell. If your physical office building gets wiped out by a natural disaster, you need more than your data. You need replacement computers, servers, and networks to use that data on, not to mention a place to do that work. Your disaster recovery plan finds the solution to these problems. Develop a recovery time objective, a measurement of the amount of time you’ll need to resume operations. From there, build out a plan for sourcing equipment and facilities.

Your disaster recovery plan is closely tied to your business continuity plan, which outlines how essential functions will keep running or be restored.

What Does a BDR System Accomplish for the Business?

Implementing an effective BDR system has many advantages for your business, including faster recovery time, lower risk, and lower costs.

Faster Recovery

Your business’s recovery time will be much shorter if you have both a detailed plan for what to do in the event of a disaster and a complete, usable backup of all critical systems. There’s no real way to put an exact figure on it, but working a plan is always going to turn out better than winging it, especially when in disaster mode.

Lower Risk

Every step you take toward a well-planned BDR system lowers your business risk. Having an on-site backup is safer than having none. Having on-site paired with off-site is safer still. Adding cloud backup to the mix does the same. Similarly, the more thorough your disaster recovery plan, the lower your risk.

It may sound overly simple, but “be prepared” is a pretty great motto. No business can completely mitigate all risk, but implementing a BDR system lowers your business’s risk profile greatly.

Lower Costs

Companies implementing BDR systems often contract with managed services firms to create and/or execute those systems. It’s worth taking a look at what’s available. You may find that your costs with a managed service provider are lower than the costs of building a BDR in-house.

Even if you determine monetary costs aren’t lower, there’s also an opportunity cost to consider. How confident are you in your in-house plan (or the team that built it)? Is that team made up of dedicated experts, or is everyone involved working just a bit outside their expertise? There is a real opportunity cost to not getting this right. Contracting with a quality MSP reduces the risk of missed opportunities due to an overly long outage or recovery.

Conclusion

If you haven’t yet implemented a BDR system, it’s time to do so. If you need help developing or implementing a BDR at your firm, contact us to get started.


Is The CFO Today’s Technology Champion?

May 21st, 2019 by Julie Lough

CFO Tech Champion

It’s always been important for the C-suite to understand the cost benefits and value associated with technology projects, but today’s complex infrastructure needs are requiring greater levels of input from financial executives, in particular. Technology spends are increasing dramatically, and there’s a need to balance the shorter-term benefits of specific tactics with the long-term strategies that will help move the organization forward. The days of technology teams making do with the funding that they are allowed are over, as technology becomes more tightly intertwined with business strategy. It is crucial that the big dollars invested in technology and innovation are tied to true business value in a way that can be communicated throughout the organization — making the CFO an integral part of the decision-making when it comes to determining the IT spend.

Funding Sustainable Growth

Technology is advancing at an unbelievable rate, with new software applications and methods of reaching customers coming at breakneck speed. Making several poor decisions around technology can create a miasma of problems that can take years to resolve, but that risk is mitigated when financial leaders work closely with technology teams to ensure that there are adequate measures and milestones in place. CFOs must ensure that the organization has the funds available to budget for items that are critical for continued business operations that support corporate strategy and sustainable growth initiatives. This has to be balanced with the additional risk that can be assumed by waiting for “something better” (an application, a way of controlling data or reduced legislation) to come along. According to Gartner, worldwide IT spending is set to reach $3.8 trillion this year, with ongoing increases in spending attributed to IoT, shifting on-premise computing to the cloud, software applications and maintenance fees. With this shift comes a fundamental change in the way technology dollars are budgeted: from capital expenditures to a SaaS model that is billed as an operating expense.

Aligning Technology Spend with Strategic Initiatives

Starting with the strategic initiatives of the business and slotting in technology where needed may be the way CIOs and CTOs are familiar with budgeting, but the new paradigm requires additional work. The risk potential of having business systems vulnerable to a cyberattack is an ongoing concern and one that can require a significant amount of spending in any given year. Data silos are being broken down and consolidated as older legacy systems reach their sunset years. This tension between supporting an often-aging infrastructure and providing a stable base for the future creates a need for creative budgeting throughout the organization. Having the CFO work with technology executives can help bring greater visibility to the IT needs of the organization and how they align with specific strategic initiatives.

Constantly Examining Technology ROI

Part of the budgeting process involves being intentional about determining business ROI for the various technology initiatives and being unafraid to boldly cut or fund projects based on the changing needs of the business. New threats occur on a regular basis — as well as new opportunities to seize dominance in a particular market. Having the flexibility to pivot and create revenue may require a continual review of the various projects as well as a fundamentally different approach to what have traditionally been multi-year IT projects. Vigorously defending projects that no longer provide business ROI can put a major drain on limited organizational resources, especially in light of changing features and functionality for even the most stable business platforms.

Now more than ever, CFOs must have a solid understanding of the business value that IT projects plan to deliver and a solid review of milestones. This shared responsibility with CIOs and CTOs creates not only a greater accord in financial decisions but also a deeper understanding of the value that various projects have for the entire business.


Critical Update From Microsoft: Remote Desktop Services

May 16th, 2019 by Julie Lough

Impacted Systems:

  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows XP
  • Windows7
  • Windows Server 2008

Nonimpacted Systems:

  • Windows 10
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Windows Server 2019

If you are still using Windows Server 2003 or XP, Windows 7, Windows 2008 R2, or Windows 2008 you could be in trouble. A wormable virus may be coming your way. The virus is designated as CVE-2019-0708.

CVE-2019-0708

This means that the virus can get into your system without you doing anything like clicking a malicious link. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights without your knowledge.

What Should You Do?

Microsoft has released a critical update for their Remote Desktop Services that impacts multiple Windows versions. The patches are for devices and systems that are both in and out-of-support, which is rare for Microsoft to do. This shows the importance of these patches.

The update addresses the vulnerability by correcting how Remote Desktop Services handles connection requests. To apply the patches, go to the Microsoft Security Update Guide for in-support systems and KB4500705 for out-of-support systems.

Note: Clients & Customers on a valid managed services agreement are being taken care of and there is no immediate action for any computer, server or other devices under a valid managed services agreement.

Microsoft recommends that customers running one of these operating systems download and install the update as soon as possible.

Does This Mean Even Systems Without Support Can Get The Patch?

Yes, Microsoft is aware that some customers are running versions of Windows that no longer receive mainstream support. This means that you wouldn’t have received any security updates to protect your systems from the CVE-2019-0708 virus.

Given the potential impact on customers and their businesses, Microsoft decided to make security updates available for platforms that are no longer in mainstream support.

All Windows updates are available from the Microsoft Update Catalog.

What Should We Do Before We Apply The Update?

It’s recommended that you back up all of your important data first. If you have a reliable backup, if the patch creates problems you can still access your data. You should do this before you install any patches.

What If We Can’t Apply The Patches?

If you can’t apply the patch for your system there are other things that you can do:

  • If you don’t need the Remote Desktop Services, you can disable it.
  • Block the TCP port 3389 (this prevents unauthorized requests from the Internet).
  • Enable NLA (Network Level Authentication) for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008.

Of course, the best thing to do is to contact your local IT services company. They’ll know exactly what to do.

What Is A Wormable Virus?

This means that any future malware that uses this vulnerability could propagate from one vulnerable computer to another. This is how similar malware like WannaCry spread around the world. Experts are worried that this flaw could be used to fuel a fast-moving malware threat like the WannaCry ransomware attacks of 2017.

Here’s what Simon Pope, director of incident response for the Microsoft Security Response Center tells us:

“This vulnerability is pre-authentication and requires no user interaction,” Pope said. “In other words, the vulnerability is ‘wormable,’ meaning that any future malware that exploits this vulnerability could propagate from vulnerable computer to vulnerable computer in a similar way as the WannaCry malware spread across the globe in 2017. It is important that affected systems are patched as quickly as possible to prevent such a scenario from happening.”

Have There Been Any Attacks Yet?

Microsoft said they haven’t found evidence of attacks against this dangerous security flaw. But one could happen at any time. Right now they are trying to prevent a serious, imminent threat with these patches.

Simon Pope goes on to say:

“While we have observed no exploitation of this vulnerability, it is highly likely that malicious actors will write an exploit for this vulnerability and incorporate it into their malware.”

What Does The Microsoft Remote Desktop Do?

You use the Microsoft Remote Desktop application to connect to a remote PC or virtual apps and desktops made available by your admin. You can control your desktop computer and all of its contents from another computer.

The app lets you connect to your desktop from wherever you are. The access to the remote desktop happens over the Internet or via another network. It lets you interact as if you were physically working from your desktop.

The Remote Desktop application also gives the “master” computer access to all of the contents on the remote computer.

What Else Should We Know?

If you had updated from Windows 7 to Windows 10 or from Windows Servers 2008/2008 R2 to Windows Server 2016 or 2019, you wouldn’t need to worry. This is why it’s essential to keep your systems up to date.

Soon, on January 14, 2020, support will come to an end for all Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2 equipment and the Windows 7 operating system.

If you’re still using these servers or operating system, it’s crucial to replace them now so that there’s no disruption to your daily operations or loss of data.

Any hardware or software product that reaches its end of life is a potential gateway for hackers to enter through. In addition to the security hazard, there are other reasons why it isn’t a good idea to keep using old equipment such as unresolvable outages.

Where Can We Get Help?

Contact us to ensure your Microsoft desktops and servers are secure and protected from unauthorized intrusions.


The CFO’s Guide to Smart Investing in Information Technology

May 15th, 2019 by Julie Lough

CFO Technology Guide

Opportunities to spend on tech are endless these days. But your budget isn’t endless. Your company needs to invest in technology, but you need to do it in a way that’s smart and strategic. Check out our CFO’s guide to smart investing in information technology. We’ll show you how to prioritize your technology investment so that you can make smart decisions and stay on budget.

The Problem

The problem with smart investing in information technology is the sheer number of choices available. Hardly a day goes by without a new B2B information technology product hitting the market. You can’t possibly purchase them all, nor does your business need them all.

As the CFO you may or may not be involved in specific purchasing decisions, depending on the size of your business and the size of the purchase. You do, however, bear ultimate responsibility for setting your purchasing strategy. With so many IT investment options available, you may be overwhelmed trying to cut through the noise and decide what’s best for your organization. The lower your comfort level with technology, the worse the confusion gets.

Understand the Importance

The first step toward solving this problem is to engage with it. Understand that in many real ways technology is the future. You can’t afford to sit on the sidelines or to keep doing business as usual. Your competitors aren’t, and you’ll be left behind.

Simply put, picking the right new tech and integrating it successfully into your business can give you a competitive advantage over competitors. Therefore, in concert with your business’s technology team, you and the financial team must evaluate new IT developments, selecting and implementing the trends that will keep you competitive.

A Framework for Evaluating Emerging IT Innovations

Typically, companies receive far more internal requests for new software or hardware that can be approved within the current budget. To add to the problem, B2B sales efforts come from every direction. These promise to solve one problem or another or to give you that competitive advantage over your competitors. Never mind that the salesperson is trying to sell the exact same solution to those competitors.

What’s needed is a framework for evaluating emerging IT innovations. The questions below can help you decide which internal requests and outside sales pitches are worthy of your attention . . . and your money.

Question 1: How does the tech improve the group requesting it?

Many businesses receive countless technology requests from within. You and the finance team likely can’t approve every one of these, nor should you. The easy questions to ask are “does an employee want this software?” or “Will this software improve the employee’s situation?”, but those aren’t the right questions. Instead, ask “how will this piece of software improve this department or the whole company?”

This strategic question can help you prioritize your technology spend. Software A may very well improve life for that one person in sales, but if Software B realizes far more gains for a 30-person division, it ought to rank higher in the budget.

Question 2: Would this investment disrupt our existing IT deployments?

Sometimes blowing up the status quo is just what you need to succeed. Other times, though, wisdom is to leave well enough alone. If a new technology investment isn’t going to play well with your existing systems, you want to find this out before signing off on the purchase.

Neither internal requests nor external sales pitches are immune from this danger. Work with your technology teams to discover how a new investment will interface with your current system. Don’t spend the money until you’re convinced that the new tech will integrate into your current systems.

Question 3: Would this investment disrupt our workflow?

This is similar to question 2, but it focuses on the human component. A shiny new piece of software may well speed up Step 4 in a complex process in your business. Maybe it even cuts the time in half. Sometimes, though, there are trade-offs. You need to know if it’s going to make Steps 1 through 3 an absolute pain to complete, or whether it will add time to Steps 5 through 8.

Avoid facing an employee mutiny by fully vetting the impact the new technology will have on your current workflow. Be sure it’s a true net step forward before you commit.

Question 4: What are the returns on investment we will see by implementing?

With question 1 you’ve already established how the product will benefit one or more departments. Now, take it a step further and look at your ROI. How greatly will this investment increase sales? What estimate can you place on the productivity or quality-of-life gains? Is the cost worth the advantage you’ll gain over competitors? Answering questions like these gets you to a more specific understanding of the true worth of a proposed investment.

Conclusion

Navigating the new technologies available will always be a challenge for CFOs. By asking these 4 questions, you can prioritize your technology investments smartly.


What Is PII Under GDPR?

May 13th, 2019 by Julie Lough

GDPR PII

The security of user data is of high importance, and that importance only grew with the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). These sweeping new regulations went into effect on May 25, 2018. They are European Union regulations, but they have sweeping effects since they apply to any business that stores personal information of any EU citizen.

It’s important to comply with GDPR. The first step, though, is to understand what exactly GDPR requires for your business.

PII Under GDPR

The short answer to the question of what PII is under GDPR is that it’s not a thing. Personally, identifiable information is an American term. The rough European equivalent is personal data. It’s important to note, though, that the two are not identical. The European standards are more restrictive, and the European category (personal data) is, therefore, more inclusive.

Here’s the bottom line: don’t assume that if you’re PII compliant that you’re automatically GDPR compliant. You need to do more for the latter.

Defining Terms

If you’re asking the question “what is PII under GDPR?” there’s a good chance you know some of the lingo already, but it’s worth reviewing.

Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

This term refers to any number of pieces of information that a company might store that can be used to identify individuals. Bad actors who accumulate enough PII on an individual may be able to compromise the individual’s accounts or even steal the individual’s identity. Examples of PII include (but aren’t limited to) driver’s license numbers, social security numbers, full names, physical addresses, and credit card numbers.

Remember, this is an American term, not a global one.

Non-Personally Identifiable Information (non-PII)

Non-PII is what’s left that’s not PII, in the American way of viewing things. This is the kind of information that can be used in aggregate forms. It’s useful data, but it can’t be used to identify individuals on its own. Examples include IP addresses, device IDs, and cookies left behind on devices while browsing the web.

Personal Data

Personal data is the EU equivalent of PII. It’s the information that businesses store on customers that could be used to identify those customers. The important difference here is the breadth of the definition.

GDPR concludes that even non-PII can be personal data. Cookies and IP addresses, for example, can be used in conjunction with PII to help reconstruct a person’s identity. For this reason, even these forms of information are considered personal data and are protected under GDPR.

The ruling that even cookies can be considered personal data is why you’ve started seeing cookie warning messages all over the internet. Those companies are seeking to comply with GDPR by receiving permission from all visitors to use cookies.

Best Practices for Businesses

Given the changing landscape of privacy regulations, businesses must adapt and stay compliant. Here are a few best practices for complying with GDPR.

Survey What Data You Collect

The first step toward compliance is to know what your business is collecting. Conduct a comprehensive survey of the data that you collect and store through your site.

Keep Only What You Need

Second, ask the hard questions about what personal data your business truly needs. If it’s not providing real value, dump it.

Get Permission to Keep It

Whatever you decide is essential, ask permission to keep it. That’s what the cookie notices are doing, and you need to do the same.

Conclusion

Data privacy regulations are complex. You might not want to go it alone. If not, we’re here to help. Contact us today!