The Top Online Journal Services For CEOs

August 16th, 2019 by Julie Lough

How to Choose the Right App for CEO Online Journaling

Learn why many business leaders turn to journaling to build their brand and improve their leadership skills and see what features the top applications offer.

CEO Journaling

When you want to establish your own personal and professional brand online, using an online journal is an effective way to spread the word about your insights, leadership, business and philosophy. Having the right tool to help you get your message across to readers is an important decision.

Other CEOs use journals to fine-tune their skills, reflect on their days and improve their leadership skills.

“Setting aside as little as 10 minutes a day to record your thoughts stimulates reflection critical to making sense of the fast-moving world around you,” notes a recent Strategy and Business article. “Journaling engages the analytical, rational functions of the brain, which gives the more creative parts of your cranium space and time to work their magic.”

Below are the top online journal services that CEOs can use to build a better online persona or simply track their thoughts and perspectives.

What Features Should I Look For in a Journaling App?

The most effective apps are those that offer features that make it easier to write and publish. Some of the most common features among the top apps are:

  • Easy interface. You want to be able to focus on writing, so you need a minimalist interface that lets you focus your thoughts and write well. The app you choose should also be easy to use, with a limited number of clicks or taps needed to add an entry.
  • Exporting. You want to choose a product that allows for exporting into formats such as PDF, RTF or common word processing extensions that allow you to use the content wherever you want.
  • Syncing. Keep your journal synchronized across your devices with an app that has synchronizing capabilities.
  • Reminders. Gentle automated nudges to enter your thoughts are a good way to maintain the habit.
  • Visual support. You may want to add other elements to your journal, including photos, videos and graphics.

What Are the Top Online Journal Services for CEOs?

You have many choices when it comes to journaling services. Here are a few of the top options:

  • Day One. Automatically add metadata such as date, location, time and weather, synchronize your entries across devices, and use a dark mode if working in low light. It also uses IFTTT (“if this then that”), a free web-based service to automate the creation of entries on multiple apps.
  • Diario. A great choice when you want to add lots of images. You can add folders, tags, dates, locations and other filters.
  • Diary. A simple interface makes Diary popular for shorter entries, which can be shared easily with friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms or via email. Provides cloud storage and reminders, too.
  • Journal. An intuitive interface and clean layout highlight this product. Synchronize with Google Maps to add location metadata and street views. Export entries to file types suitable for printing. Security features include Touch ID, Face ID and PIN protection and automatic backups to Google Drive.
  • LiveJournal. One of the oldest journaling apps dating to 1999, LiveJournal lets you share and read others’ journal entries while writing your own.
  • Momento. Connect Momento to social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube and you can automatically add social activity to your journal.
  • Penzu. Security is the name of the game with Penzu, which offers double password protection and 256-bit encryption, along with customizable backgrounds and fonts.

Whether for branding or reflection, the right journaling tool can improve your professional outcomes.


Protect Yourself From Ransomware In Windows 10

August 15th, 2019 by Julie Lough

Windows 10 Security Tips

Protect Yourself From Ransomware In Windows 10

You may have been using Windows 10 for some time now, but it’s likely that you haven’t mastered all of its features just yet.

You’ve heard about ransomware, right?

It’s a type of malware that encrypts your data so you can’t access it and holds it for ransom. Usually, this malware makes its way into your systems by posing as a file or program you think you want. Even if you don’t end up having to pay the ransom, it’s a lot of trouble that you should try to avoid.

Did you know that you can enable Controlled Folder Access in Windows 10 to protect against ransomware?

Enabling Controlled Folder Access protects the default Windows data storage locations in your profile from access by unknown applications. When compared to identified and allowed programs, if the malware is determined to be unsafe, you’ll get a pop-up letting you know it was denied access to your storage.


Get More Out Of The Clipboard In Windows 10

August 8th, 2019 by Julie Lough

Windows 10 Tips

Get More Out Of The Clipboard In Windows 10

You may have been using Windows 10 for some time now, but it’s likely that you haven’t mastered all of its features just yet.

Copy/Paste was a revolutionary feature when it came out years ago. However, operating systems have been slow to adopt the next logical step in its evolution – the clipboard.

Did you know that you can save 10 or more items to your clipboard on a long-term basis?

It’s simple – hit the Windows key + V to bring up your clipboard history. It’ll show you the many things you’ve Copy/Pasted, any of which you can choose to delete (for security purposes, if it were, say, a password) or pin for later use.

That way, you don’t have to always go back and Copy/Paste that same info from the same note or .doc file – you can have it ready for use on your clipboard for as long as you need it.

Enjoying our Windows 10 Tips and Tricks emails over the past few weeks?


What Should Manufacturers Know About IoT?

August 7th, 2019 by Tracy Slaugher

Essential Information on IIoT

Manufacturers are also benefitting from changes made possible by the industrial internet of things (IIoT). Learn the basics to start your company’s journey into the world of IIoT.  

Consumers have long been engaged in benefits reaped from the internet of things (IoT). Manufacturers are also benefitting from changes made possible by the industrial internet of things (IIoT). These innovations maximize energy efficiency and productivity in the factory setting. Learn the basics to start your company’s journey into the world of IIoT.

What is IoT?

The internet of things refers to interrelated computing devices, digital or mechanical machines, and animals, objects or people that receive inputs and outputs from each other. Each component has a unique identifier (UID) and can transfer data via a network without requiring human intervention.

What is IIoT?

IIoT stands for Industrial Internet of Things. It’s the application of IoT to manufacturing and other industrialized settings. Instrumentation and sensors connect to machinery and vehicles, mainly in the energy, industrial or transport fields.

Besides home automation, which more people are becoming comfortable with, there’s a whole world of possibilities opening up in the manufacturing realm. IIoT is the network of industrial devices that drive automation and communications in systems that collect, monitor, analyze and deliver new insights. These insights drive smarter, faster business strategies for businesses.

IIoT is changing the way companies operate. For example, predictive analytics can detect corrosion within a refinery pipe. This real-time production data can also reveal additional capacity at a plant, or facilitate rapid product development thanks to service data feedback. IIoT software solutions are driving positive business outcomes for those who implement it.

What are the Benefits of IIoT?

One of the biggest benefits of IIoT is predictive analytics. Instead of stocking parts for machine failures, predictive analytics would order replacements on an as-needed basis — saving time and money in the long term. This is just one example of the power of predictive analytics.

Manufacturers are always looking for ways to save energy due to the high cost of energy consumption on an industrial level. IoT technologies optimize energy consumption by using real-time data from machines in numerous facilities. It analyzes the data to find out where systems could be run more efficiently. The technology beneath these innovations has a large upfront cost but is well worth it.

How Can Manufacturers Deploy IoT Technologies?

Transforming facilities to IIoT is far from easy. Deploying IoT technologies is far more involved than installing smart automation at home. To avoid mistakes and misunderstanding, IoT deployment needs to be completed by IT experts familiar with IoT technologies.

Hiring an IT provider familiar with IIoT and manufacturing can help ensure a successful implementation. Savvy consults can bridge the gap between the manufacturer’s goals scope and budget constraints. It’s crucial that manufactures express their goals clearly so that IIoT can be used to optimize operations and cut down on any bottlenecks in the current system.

There are numerous opportunities for manufacturers to use IIoT solutions for more efficient factories that fatten their bottom line. Many manufacturers are already using or implementing IIoT, making it crucial for others to do so in order to keep up with the demands of the market.


Auto-Lock Your Computer In Windows 10

August 2nd, 2019 by Julie Lough

Windows 10 Tech Tips

Auto-Lock Your Computer In Windows 10

You may have been using Windows 10 for some time now, but it’s likely that you haven’t mastered all of its features just yet.

Do you know how to get your computer to automatically lock while you’re away from it?

It’s a feature included with Windows Hello. While you may already be using Windows Hello to unlock your computer with face recognition, you may not know about Dynamic Lock.

Here’s how it works – you configure Dynamic Lock to recognize a Bluetooth enabled device you keep on your person, such as your phone. After starting up, if that device goes out of range for longer than 30 seconds, your computer will automatically lock itself.

This feature allows you to get up and leave your computer unattended for short periods without having to worry about someone else snooping around your data.

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Will Your Business Be Impacted by the End of Microsoft Exchange 2010?

August 2nd, 2019 by Julie Lough

End of support Microsoft Exchange 2010

Will Your Business Be Impacted by the End of Microsoft Exchange 2010?

Exchange 2010 has been a great program for businesses for many years, but its time is now winding down. Find out what this means for your business. 

All good things must come to an end. For Microsoft Exchange 2010, that end will happen at a date in the very near future: January 14, 2020. Migrating away from an integral piece of business software can take some time, so if you’re not already planning this shift for your business it’s time to get started! While Microsoft is encouraging people to shift away from the perpetual license option and go towards Office 365, you can also move to Microsoft Exchange 2016 if you don’t want to move to the cloud. At the end of a product’s lifecycle, the manufacturer determines that the vast majority of individuals and businesses have already moved on to a new platform, and they stop providing new features, security and bug fixes, time zone updates and support. In today’s world, your email server is your first line of defense against malware and ransomware — making the lack of security updates a key reason for taking the time to upgrade before time runs out on your support.

What Does the End of a Software Lifecycle Really Mean?

As with most software companies, there are several stages in the lifecycle of Microsoft Exchange and other Microsoft Office products. They are generally defined as mainstream support, extended support and service pack support. Mainstream support is generally guaranteed for a minimum of five years after product ships and is valid while the vast majority of people are still actively using the platform. Extended support generally lasts another five years, and includes a more limited support infrastructure. There are limitations on the work that the software teams are willing to do on products in this stage of life: non-security hotfixes are not released and there are no new functionalities added to the platform. While the platform is still considered secure and supported, this stage is an indication that it’s time to start your search for what comes next. In the final stage, you only receive critical security updates and little else in terms of support.

Why It’s Time to Move On . . . Quickly

Exchange 2010 doesn’t support an in-place upgrade, meaning you’ll need to find the time and IT staff hours to migrate completely — setting up new servers and mailboxes if you decide to go the route of another perpetual license option. Moving to Office 365 may be a good option for your business, but there is still a bit of setup required before you can make this move. With only a few months left before security updates are no longer provided, many organizations are scrambling to be sure they beat the deadline and maintain a platform that is fully protected and receives regular security patches. Email is a mission-critical application for your business, making it crucial to ensure that you’ve made a decision and have a game plan in place long before January 2020.

Upgrade Options Available

There are a few different ways to get out of the woods if you’re still running Exchange 2010. It may seem intuitive to simply upgrade to Exchange 2013, but that product has already completed Phase I and II of its lifecycle and is no longer receiving cumulative updates. Exchange Server 2016 is a better option if you prefer to stick with perpetual licensing models, but the product is already several years old. Updating to the most recent version of Exchange 2019, which was released in late 2018, seems like the best option — but it’s important to note that you must first upgrade to 2016 before making the jump to 2019 versions. Moving to Exchange Server 365 may provide a range of benefits for your organization such as better integration, improved security and continuous updates but it’s also important to note that there are additional decisions to be made around the other aspects of Office online.

Finding the right solution for your business does take time and analysis, but it’s vital that you take the first steps soon to reduce the risk to your organization. Critical patches for Microsoft products are released on a fairly regular basis, and your business can be opened to cyberattackers if you miss a single update — much less several security updates. Completing your migration will provide your technology team with peace of mind knowing that your most important channel of business communication is fully protected by an up-to-date Exchange server.


Staffing In The Digital Age

August 2nd, 2019 by Julie Lough

Staffing Digital Age

Digital Disruption Forces Businesses to Rethink Staffing Strategy

See how rapid technological advances are revolutionizing how companies approach the structure of their workforces and new strategies for employee recruitment.

The remarkable pace of digital transformation has changed how businesses operate at every level. Companies today need to be nimble, taking a close look at emerging technologies, choosing the right investments and continuing to thrive in the face of constant disruption.

That means reexamining business models, processes used and, perhaps most critically, the nature of work and who (or what) does it.

Understanding staffing in the digital age means taking a strategic approach to personnel.

What Staffing Model Works in the Digital Age?

Traditional labor models are not always the right choice in the digital era. Major initiatives are conceived, launched and executed more quickly than ever, requiring companies to act nimbly. Leaders are shifting towards a model that’s both strategic and flexible.

The modern staffing model may include a mix of the following:

  • Permanent employees who focus on the most critical initiatives
  • Skilled contract employees that support the work, complementing permanent employees and providing talent not available internally
  • Specialists that provide additional capabilities and are available on an as-needed basis to complete high-value projects

This approach allows companies to be responsive, provide the right resources for time-sensitive and mission-critical work, and make key hires.

As a recent Deloitte report notes, HR offices are grappling with how to address personnel management in a digital age. “HR’s concerns will soon be revolving around the changing nature of the organization and employees becoming increasingly digital,” the report states.

Organizations must be mindful of the realities of work, including:

  • Digital trends that are pervasive, including cloud computing, social media, mobile connectedness, cybersecurity and data analytics
  • A multigenerational workforce that includes several generations whose entire lives have been digital in the same workplace with older employees whose technical comfort and skills may be lacking
  • Hyperconnected employees looking to blur the lines between work and personal lives
  • An emerging group of digitally skilled employees
  • Business models that are challenged by digital disruption and new competitors
  • Employee perceptions that they are the first consumers of and ambassadors for their employers’ brands

“HR needs to be more pre-emptive with regard to digital transformation as it plays an important role in shaping the organization’s digital identity,” cites Deloitte. “It is a challenge and a real complexity to plan future capabilities of a workforce in the digital economy.”

What Are the Challenges of Staffing in the Digital Age?

The greatest challenge is talent. For many highly skilled positions, competition is fierce, with potential employees having considerable leverage. Advanced data analytics, robotic process automation and cloud computing are just three needed areas where demand is high as companies seek to incorporate emerging technologies into business processes.

Recruitment is fiercer and requires more creativity than ever before. Companies are using a number of tactics to improve their hiring outcomes, including:

  • Pre-Employment Networking. Companies are forging relationships with potential candidates well before there are available openings. A focus on engaging potential talent may include providing insights into the company and its strategic plans, offering informational interviews, social gatherings and regular check-ins with a recruiter. Relationships forged early can lead to faster-hiring processes.
  • Digital Solutions. Digital labor platforms allow for integrated personnel management, connecting the primary HR functions under one roof. With recruitment, hiring, onboarding, training, development and evaluation in the same platform, it allows organizations to be more nimble and cohesive in employee matters. According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, using a digital labor platform can increase output by 9 percent, reduce employee costs by 7 percent and add 275 basis points to profit margins.
  • Flexibility. Many employees today expect to have a high level of flexibility in when, where and how they work. Remote employees can use digital technologies and powerful collaboration tools that keep them in contact with colleagues. A digital mindset in the HR office and throughout the organization makes companies more attractive to candidates.
  • Focus on Company Culture. Businesses today need to focus on corporate culture. Why? Because there is more information available about most workplaces. Sites such as Glassdoor provide detailed information about companies, including employee reviews that can paint a clear picture of how an organization treats its workers. “Top performers know their value and are growing more footloose as a result; many are going online to find new opportunities and to evaluate potential employers,” notes McKinsey.

Recruiting and retaining employees in the digital age requires employers to think very differently about their workforce. Flexible, creative and strategic approaches allow for better outcomes.


Make process management easier

August 1st, 2019 by Tracy Slaugher

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Last week I shared a story about one of our manufacturing clients who increased their profit margin and gained accountability and peace of mind with iPads and a new line-of-business application. The support and infrastructure improvements we made were critical to their success.

Had they installed the software with a less strategic partner, they might have experienced a different outcome.

Should I have Susie give you a call to set up some time for us to have a more in-depth conversation?

Talk to you soon,

Tracy


How to Protect Your Business from SHTML Phishing

August 1st, 2019 by Julie Lough

Email Phishing

Protecting Your Data from SHTML Phishing

Data security is vital to any business. Learn how SHTML phishing works and how to minimize the risk of your data falling into the hands of attackers.

Email phishing has been in the playbook of hackers since, well, email. What’s alarming is the scope in which criminals can conduct these attacks, the amount of data potentially at risk, and how vulnerable many businesses are to phishing attempts. Here’s what you need to know to spot the hook and protect your data from being reeled in.

How Does Email Phishing Work?

A phishing email typically contains an attachment in the form of a server-parsed HTML (SHTML) file. When opened, these shady files redirect the user to a malicious website often disguised as a legitimate product or service provider. The website then requests sensitive information such as the user’s address, date of birth, social security number, bank account number, etc. in exchange for providing said product or service.

Users who comply end up giving their information to a criminal who may then sell it to various illegal organizations. Victims may end up losing money and having their identity connected to criminal activity. The attackers may even offer to sell the information back to the owner for a hefty ransom. For businesses, the damages can be irreparable. Phishing is often the launchpad for large-scale cyber attacks, and businesses that fall victim can lose not only cash and assets, but the trust of current and would-be customers.

Who Does SHTML Phishing Target?

While many individuals fall victim to phishing, the main targets are businesses in the banking and finance sector. The sender may use a seemingly legitimate email address, often posing as a trusted, reputable organization. They may goad users to open attachments by claiming to be the IRS, a wealthy businessman offering a lucrative deal, or, ironically, a security provider offering to scan the user’s computer for vulnerabilities. While many phishing attempts are obvious, some can be convincing, and all it takes is a hasty click to give the phisher what they want.

Types of SHTML Phishing

Depending on the attacker, a phishing attempt can range from simple and generic to detailed and personalized to fit the target. For businesses that conduct large quantities of transactions, a phisher may send a simple email claiming to provide a receipt for their purchase. Others may send invoices. Sophisticated attackers may gather information about the business including its suppliers, partners, and even names of individual employees. They may then create fake accounts disguised as these trusted entities, fooling the target into giving away sensitive data. While most phishing attempts fail, a convincing premise combined with a busy, distracted user can equal success – and disaster.

Potential Signs of SHTML Phishing

Being proactive and training your employees to spot phishing is the best line of defense. Here are some potential red flags that may, but not always, indicate that an email is a phishing attack:

  • Poor spelling and grammar
  • Strange characters and punctuation
  • Email addresses comprised of a seemingly random combination of letters and numbers
  • Emails claiming to offer large sums of money
  • Emails claiming that you owe a large sum of money
  • Emails claiming that your data is at risk and offering protection
  • An overly lengthy or short email body
  • Attachments with file types you don’t recognize

How to Protect Your Business from SHTML Phishing

While there’s no way to guarantee that your business will be 100% safe from phishing attacks, you can take precautions to greatly minimize your risk of becoming a victim. Many email clients have rules that automatically filter out suspicious or spam emails. Savvy IT professionals can create additional rules to identify and block phishing emails.

The greatest defense is training every employee to recognize the red flags, especially the not-so-obvious ones. Make basic data security a part of the onboarding process, and hold presentations and seminars several times a year to keep employees aware and bring to light any new threats they should look for.

Data security is more relevant than ever, and businesses need to stay up to date on the latest cybersecurity threats. Is your business taking the necessary precautions to keep phishers away?


Everything You Need to Know About the Dark Web

July 31st, 2019 by Julie Lough

The Dark Web

What Is the Dark Web and How Can You Stay Off It?

Ever heard of the dark web? It’s definitely not a place you want your company’s information to be. Learn everything you need to know about the dark web here.  

Most people have heard about the dark web in one form or another. It’s a place where criminal activity happens — from the purchase of illegal drugs to the hiring of assassins.

Of course, there is a legal side to the dark web as well; though, most people don’t know about. In fact, the origin story of the dark web is entirely legitimate and is even linked to the government.

Still, as a business owner or CEO, your relationship with the dark web (should you unfortunately have one) will not likely be good. It’s a bad sign if any of your information is found there. That’s why it’s important to know about what exactly the dark web is: Where it came from, what’s on it, and what you should do to stay as far away from it as possible.

What Is the Dark Web?

The dark web is essentially one “section” of the Internet. Specifically, it’s a section that isn’t included in mainstream search engines like Google. So, when you search a normal search inquiry, such as, “Where’s the best hamburger joint in downtown Pittsburgh?” you don’t get results from the dark web.

Instead, this section includes all sorts of illicit goings-on. Mostly, it’s a marketplace for things you shouldn’t be buying because they’re illegal to sell and/or buy. For instance, you can buy lifelong access to Netflix for a small price (six bucks). You can hire someone to hack into someone else’s computer for you and download their data or track their keystrokes. You can purchase credit card credentials. You can obtain prepaid debit card numbers and security codes.

How Does One Access the Dark Web?

We’ll reiterate again that the dark web is not a place you want to find yourself (or your information). However, for the sake of knowledge, we’ll explain that in order to access the dark web, you must download what’s called the Tor browser.

Tor stands for The Onion Router. This is basically the software that makes the dark web operate in the dark.

Where Did the Dark Web Originate?

The dark web began in the late 1990s as a way for the United States Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) to better hide their online communications. At this time, The Onion Router or Tor was brand-new.

Soon after its initial creation in 2004, the dark web’s Tor software was released for public use. Since that time, it has ceased to be solely a government resource and has turned into the “back alley” of the Internet.

How Can the Dark Web Affect Business Owners?

The dark web is a potential danger to all businesses of all sizes and in all industries. In fact, it can be a potential danger to individuals as well. But let’s talk about your business and the dark web.

Basically, it has been found that 60% of the web listings on the dark web could harm a business. That’s because, these listings offer individuals searching the dark web ways to obtain things like the following:

  • Customer data
  • Tips for hacking computers
  • Tips for hacking networks
  • Malware
  • Financial data
  • Phishing advice
  • Operational data
  • Intellectual trade secrets
  • Tutorials for cyber crime
  • Remote access Trojans (RATs)
  • Espionage services
  • Credentials access

How Can You Keep Your Business Safe From the Dark Web?

The best way to keep your business safe from the dark web is to have the proper cybersecurity measures in place. This means hiring a cybersecurity team or a managed service provider (MSP) to handle your company’s cybersecurity. Even if you’re a small business, hiring an MSP to have on retainer is a good idea.

They will make sure that you have firewalls and other detectors of malware in place for adequate security. It’s also essential to back up your data and to make everyone who works for or with your company aware of how to avoid phishing attempts.

Lastly, your cybersecurity team should be monitoring the dark web to make sure that none of your information lands there. This goes for personal information for you and your employees, as well as overall company information. Taking these measures is the only surefire way to ensure that your company does not end up on the wrong end of the dark web.