Business Consulting

Our Top Tips to Avoid Device Theft When Travelling | Fraser Valley Tech Consultants

Many of the people we work with spend a fair amount of time out of the traditional office setting and on the road. Since summer is now fully with us and, probably, the most popular season for travelling, we thought it was a good time to give a few reminders and tips on how to avoid your tech (or data) being stolen while you are on the road!

Image by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Image by Austin Distel on Unsplash

The temporary coffee shop office

This should be a no-brainer, but you would be shocked how many times we have been at a coffee shop and watched someone leave an untethered laptop or bag, while they disappear to the bathroom. You can be complacent and say “oh, it’s a quiet, local spot… we’re in a safe part of town”, but it takes seconds for an opportunist thief to swoop by. Not only are you vulnerable to theft, though, you are also vulnerable to prying eyes!

If you are working remotely at somewhere at a coffee shop, you should be taking the following precautions:

1.      Use a laptop tether to secure your device to the table.

2.      If you need the bathroom, and you are alone, take your bag with you!!!

3.      Be aware of who/what is behind you, especially if you have sensitive info on the screen. (Ideally locate yourself so only a solid wall is behind you.)

4.      Try to avoid using the “free WiFi”, but if you really must, only use websites that use HTTPS, make sure you are definitely on the coffee shop owner’s WiFi and use a VPN before logging into any accounts or view sensitive data. (A recent survey found 70% of hacks actually took place through unsecured public Wifi!)

Photo by   Oleg Magni   from   Pexels

Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

Security at your destination

No matter where you go in the world, there will always be plenty of light-fingered friends to relieve you of your prized tech. Beaches are a goldmine for pickpockets and petty thieves. Once again, it can only take a few seconds for someone to scoop your bag (and valuable tech devices) while you quickly cool off in the waves.

1.      The best defense is to simply not take your mobile devices to the beach!

2.      Make use of the hotel safes.

3.      If you must take your device, and want to swim, (and it’s not waterproof) look at purchasing a waterproof case so you can keep it with you.

4.      If you must take your device and want to take a nap on the beach, keep the device discretely tucked away and preferably anchored/hidden under your body!

5.      Be vigilant of unexpected distractions. Thieves can use these as a diversion, and when your gaze wanders, your stuff becomes theirs!

6.      Keep close to lifeguard towers. Of course, these guys are there for safety and not to watch your stuff… but thieves will avoid those areas because of the higher risk of getting caught.

The airport security scam

If a flight is on your travelling agenda, watch out for the dreaded X-ray scanner scam! Here is how it works…

At the airport security check, the first scammer will go through the line quickly & efficiently. A second scammer will wait until the people just behind them have loaded up their tech devices (cellphones, laptops etc) to the x-ray machine conveyor belt, and then proceed to hold these people up (something innocently-looking like struggling to get keys or change out of a pocket).  The first scammer then scoops up those devices as they emerge from the x-ray at the other end and walks away!

Be vigilant and only put your devices on the belt when it is your turn to go through, keeping an eye on them as they pass by! If you see someone taking an unhealthy interest in your devices, alert security personnel immediately.

Safe travels!

Top 6 Tips to Protect Your Business Technology & Data From Theft | Chilliwack & Abbotsford IT Consultants

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We have talked a fair bit, before, about protecting your business against online threats – with all sorts of scammers constantly trying to steal passwords, identities, data or money. But what about the good old-fashioned real-world threats of theft? No matter how safe you think your location is, break-ins and property theft are also still a concern that you should take into consideration for your business.

Here are our top 6 tips to help you protect your data, and keep the impact to a minimum, if your business is broken into…

1. Anchor or tether equipment to immovable objects

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A laptop is stolen every 53 seconds (according to tech research firm, Gartner). Stats suggest that the vast majority of these are actually stolen from public places, but they are still a quick payday from an office-interloper too. Did you know there is a way that you can lock up your laptop to protect it from light-fingered visitors? Almost all laptops, for quite a while now, have a small opening on them where you can attach a locking cable. (Like this one , available at Staples) So, you can use this to lock your laptop to an immovable object! You can also do something similar with desktop units in the office.

2. Lock computer cases to prevent removal of hard disks.

For the smart thief, yanking out hard drives makes a quicker & lighter getaway. To thwart them, locking a computer case completely shuts them out – and adding that to a machine already tethered, your data is far safer!

3. Back-up data to online storage

Our favourite phrase does seem to be back-up, back-up, back-up… but we just can’t stress this one enough! Back-ups can save so much time and money in cases of data loss, whether it is from a theft or natural disaster. Using online server storage will also protect precious data in the event of a hardware theft, since that precious data was never on the machine to begin with!

4. Encrypt your hard disk

If you do have to keep important data or files on your PC/laptop, then encrypting your hard disk is a great way of keeping non-authorized eyes away from the goods! (Particularly if you are on the road a lot and not always able to tether your machine). If you are using Windows 7, 8 or 10, then this is actually a really easy thing to do yourself. You can see how, by checking out our quick tip video…

5. Keep servers & network storage devices locked away.

If you do use physical storage devices in your business, make sure they are kept in a locked room or cabinet. Key/combination holders should be kept to a minimum, with access given to only those people who really need it.

6. Install tracking software

If you are the kind of business that is on the move a lot, you may want to consider installing tracking software or services to your mobile devices. Sadly, the chances of retrieving a stolen device are slim, but this could give you a fighting chance… and many will, at least, give you the opportunity to wipe the data from the wandering device! Prey and LockItTight are 2 such services who can help you to track your devices and secure or delete data, or even see what the thief is up to.

If you are an Apple consumer, you have the Find My Mac or iPhone options in the iCloud settings, which also allow you to lock or wipe the devices. Make sure the setting is on.

If you are in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley or the surrounding areas of the BC Fraser Valley, and would like more advice on how you can protect your business technology both online and in the real world, our team will be happy to help! Call us to book a consultation at 778-771-0184 or email help@wildfrogsystems.com.

Switching Phone Systems to VoIP | Fraser Valley Technology Consultants

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Is VoIP for you and your business?

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The traditional business telephone solution is showing its age. With the Internet and online technologies powering more and more business functions, organizations are finding it difficult to justify keeping the good ‘ole traditional phone line for their communications solutions. When you add to that the consideration of the initial cost of implementation and how difficult it is to scale a traditional PBX phone system to accommodate for growth, more and more businesses are looking for a more dynamic, and more flexible, solution that’s in line with their needs.

This is where cloud VoIP solutions are coming to the rescue. VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, and is a type of phone that uses the internet to make a call! It can either connect to someone else who is also on an internet-capable system or switches to the conventional phone line at one end if needed.

A More Flexible Option

VoIP systems are, cheaper to implement and to manage, often allowing rapid changes to your phone system configuration on-the-fly. With all your staff on the same system, they can work from anywhere and still take advantage of the VoIP phone System.

Plenty of Features… if you need them!

Telephone service providers may often bundle services together in an attempt to offer consumers the opportunity to get more for their money, but these “cost savings” may not actually be worth it if you do not fully use all the services the package provides. With cloud VoIP, you get exactly what you pay for - no more, no less. This helps you build a solution to best align with the specific needs of your business. Plus VoIP systems still have an abundance of fancy features for you to choose from, if you need them!

Adjustable for Growth

The traditional PBX phone system is often difficult to work with, especially if your organization is constantly growing. For each new user, new phone lines and extensions have to be added to your telephony infrastructure. With a cloud VoIP solution, the phone infrastructure is much more dynamic and new users can be added easily. You don’t have to lay new phone lines or remodel your office every time you add users!

To add to that, it is very portable - meaning you can still answer your phones from wherever you have a good Internet connection. (And many VoIP providers also allow you access through mobile apps!)

Some Cons

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution and not everything in life is perfect. There is almost always the odd con with most systems, and VoIP is no different. VoIP systems are completely reliant on your internet bandwidth (even though they are smart enough to work out when you are not speaking and not use bandwidth in those moments) - so a good internet connection is vital. Our team have become experts in properly assessing your connectivity and working with your ISP to get the best connection.

Along with an Internet connection, the system is also completely reliant on a power source, so power outages can cause a problem. We implement batter backups to reduce this issue.

Also, if you dial 911, emergency services may not automatically be able to locate where your call is coming from, so they can divert you to the nearest dispatcher, like they can with traditional phone calls. You can, however, register an address with your number to aid this.

Fully-hosted and Maintained

Managing and maintaining a telephone system can be complex, especially if you already have other priorities, like managing your day-to-day business operations. Implementing a new system can also be daunting… however, that is why we are here! Wild Frog Systems can advise you on the best system for you and provide the care needed to ensure that you get the most out of your telephone system.

To learn more about how cloud-hosted VoIP can benefit your business, give us a call at 778-771-0184 or email info@wildfrogsystems.com.

What is Spear Phishing and How To Avoid It | Fraser Valley IT Consultants

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You have probably already heard of phishing – after all, it is everywhere, these days - from the good old-fashioned Nigerian prince email all the way through to the CRA phone scam (also known as voice-phishing or vishing). The scammers cast a huge, wide, net as far as they can, and wait to see if anyone bites. However, there is another, more-complex level of phishing, that you may not have heard of, called Spear Phishing.

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Spear phishing is different in that they target a specific person – usually someone in a large company with access to valuable data or finances. Before they are contacted, the scammer will take the time to do some research on their intended victim, mostly online through social media accounts etc.

Using the personal information that they have gathered, they will then contact this intended victim, making their email as personal and legit looking as they can. It may be as an application to a job that they know they are recruiting for, or a faked email from a friend claiming to have a link to a new menu from a favourite restaurant. Of course, this link or document will contain a malware-infected link or document.  Once clicked, the hacker either gains access to company data, or can plant a crypto-locker virus for ransoming.

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Most spear phishing is aimed at mid-tier employees. However, there are a few brave spear-phishers who will sometimes target someone at the top of the company tree, like a CEO, CFO or senior manager. When this happens, it is called whaling.

So, how can you prevent this kind of phishing?

  • Education is a key one here. Making employees aware that this can happen will go a long way! Advise them to keep their social media content as private as possible (after all, that is as much for their own personal benefit as yours!).

  • Make sure all employees know what to look for in fake emails (such as poor spelling and grammar, or checking link addresses before clicking them by hovering the mouse pointer to see a pop-up box of the address. If you get a link claiming to be from a certain bank or company, open a browser window and go to the bank/company website directly and compare their actual address to the one you see on the email.

  • Limit data to the people who need it. If you keep data on shared drives, make sure sensitive data is housed on separate drives (eg a drive for Accounting only, a drive for customer lists only etc) and only give people access to the areas/drives they need to work.

  • Keep all software, anti-virus programs and firewalls up-to-date.

  • Back-up, back-up, back-up!! Back-up your data well and back-up often!!

If you are worried about your company’s potential vulnerabilities, give our team a call at 778-771-0184 or email info@wildfrogsystems.com, and talk to us about scheduling a Tech Health Check-Up.

Top 5 Reasons Why You Need a Disaster Recovery Plan | Fraser Valley Business IT Consultants

Running a business is already a lot of work on a day-to-day basis, so it’s not surprising when we come across businesses who have not had chance to put together a disaster plan. Most have probably thought about it at some point, but the hustle and bustle of getting things going, or keeping the money rolling in, has taken precious time from turning those thoughts into an actual plan.

So, how important is a disaster plan? The answer is VITAL! If your business does not have a plan for these top 5 scenarios, stop now and start getting one sorted before it is too late and very costly.

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1. Natural disaster

We may not be directly on an earthquake Fault-line, (we are kinda close, though) or in the shadow of an active Hawaiian volcano, but there are still plenty of potential natural disasters that could cripple a business either short or long term. It can range from temporary power failure from a wind/ice storm, all the way through to permanent loss from fire. (A particular concern, locally, with our summers yielding increasingly-worse forest fire seasons.) So, from an I.T. perspective, things to consider here definitely include off-site back-ups, as well as power and office-space alternatives.

2. Virus/Crypto-attacks

You hear about them all the time – and you probably see a heap of Spam attempts in your inbox everyday. The internet is a disease-infested stew of malicious pirates on a mission to plunder your ship of its spoils. Attacks are daily (in fact, businesses are targeted approximately every 14 seconds, resulting in a new ransomware victim every 40 seconds!) and is estimated to cost companies somewhere in the region of $11 billion, this year alone. If any of your technology is somehow connected to the world outside your office, you need protection AND data back-ups!

3. Malicious Employees

So, you may work hard to protect against those external attacks, but what about internal ones? It just takes one disgruntled (probably soon-to-be-ex) employee to do all sorts of damage. That damage can be anything, from simply downloading software for personal use (and compromising your legal license agreements) to a full-on data breach with intent to sell to a competitor. Do you have the steps in place to protect your company finances and data? It may be time to look at access policies and your exit procedures for leaving employees.

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4. Accidental Employee Damage

As much as a person may really love their job, and really work hard, they are still human. Humans make mistakes. It could be a spilled coffee, a cleaner unplugging a server, or an innocent click on an emailed resume (coincidentally sent during a recruitment drive) that turned out to actually be a ransomware Trojan virus. The magic words here are back-up, back-up, back-up… oh and good education!

5. Equipment Failure

No matter how good your I.T. crew is, there will come a time when a piece of equipment dies. It can be a tiny little component that wasn’t quite fitted right during the manufacturing process, or something as common and simple as an old-age issue. Regular maintenance and monitoring will help, but back-ups are key, as well as understanding the expected lifespan of your equipment and budgeting for replacements before you reach those dates.

Hopefully, you will never need your disaster plan. But, like home insurance, it is very wise to have it, just in case. If you do not have a good (up-to-date!) IT Disaster Plan in place and would like help, you can give our team of tech experts a call at 778-771-0184 or email help@wildfrogsystems.com. We will happily send one of our knowledgeable tech support consultants to give your business a disaster health check-up, and advise you on the best options to have a water-tight plan in place.

How to Change the Name of your Facebook Business Page! | Chilliwack IT Support & Services

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So, as you may (or may not) have heard, we recently had a little makeover and got ourselves a shiny new logo and name. It sounds like a simple thing to do (and it WAS very exciting!), but the reality is that changing a business name can take a lot of work.

So, when our grand launch day finally arrived, we were more than ready to share our hard work with the world. All our ducks were in a row, paperwork finished, and the new artwork prepped and ready to go. First job of the day (for me!) was to head to our social media channels to do the announcement and the “big switch”. This was where I found things to get a bit interesting…

Changing things on most of our social media went very easily and smoothly. Instagram was a breeze, as were Twitter and Google. However, (surprisingly) Facebook was more of a challenge than we had anticipated.

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Facebook Procedures

On the surface, it looks easy. You just go to the About section of your business page and click “edit” next to your page name. However, this is where you must stop and think.

Facebook’s algorithms will not approve your name change if it looks too different to the previous one. We ran into this problem because our new name looks nothing like our old name… and Facebook refused to approve the change! (Even more surprisingly, though, they had no issue with us changing the username, which gives you your vanity URL!)

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In the Page Support Inbox, next to the message telling us of our new name failure, there is an option to appeal their decision. However, our experience (and further research!) showed us that this will do absolutely nothing to help your plight.

So, we found a work around… and it was a success! Being the helpful folks we are, we thought we would share our process…

2-Tier Process

For the easiest success, it is best to do the change in 2 phases.

PHASE 1: First, you change it to a temporary name that incorporates both your new name AND old name. (So, for example, if you are changing your business from something like “Joe Bloggs Plumbing” to “Easy Run Waterworks”, you would make the new FB page name something like “Easy Run Waterworks – Joe Bloggs Plumbing”.) You need to leave it like that for at least 7 days (as per Facebook rules).

PHASE 2: Once your 7 days is up, go back to the name edit option, and repeat the process, but this time change it the name you ultimately want. (i.e. dropping the old name part). Done!

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I totally understand the logic behind it. Facebook works on a lot of automation but still wants to protect the everyday user from scams and confusion. You also want your customers/audience to understand that you are the same company with just a new name, and this 2 step process does reinforce that. It is just a tiny bit annoying when you just want to get things done and move on!

The Top 3 Digital Storage Solutions | Chilliwack Business Technology Consultants

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Hands up all those people who love clean spaces! There’s something very zen-like and peaceful when you work in a minimalist environment. You see the photos in trendy magazines, of the clean white desk, with just a computer, a book and a trendy looking succulent… but the reality is that the clutter-free work environment is more productive and becoming more common, thanks to the wonderful digital age we work in.

In the good ‘ole days, a cluttered work desk was a familiar sight – a pile of files or paper in the “IN tray”, another (smaller) pile in the “OUT tray”, pens, diaries, reference books, filing cabinets, sticky notes… I could go on! Now, almost everything has gone online, and hard copies are becoming a thing of the past. Your diary is on your device (synced to your computer), business is done on websites, records are scanned, interactions are made via email and you can even digitally sign contracts online.

We may be saving some forests, and filing-cabinet floor space, but everything still needs to be stored somewhere, and that’s where a different challenge comes. As the digital revolution has boomed, so has storage needs. Thankfully, technology has evolved to keep up…so, what are your options?

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Local Servers

These machines are a common solution for larger businesses and have been for some time now. Like all storage devices, servers have adapted and grown, as technology has advanced. They are powerful, adaptable devices that can do a lot more than just storing files. They allow employees access to whatever they need, from anywhere in the building, whenever they need it, and working with large documents is only restricted by the speed of the network, so less waiting for things to load or save.

Network Attached Storage (NAS)

These are similar to, but less powerful than, servers. They have many of the same advantages, but are cheaper, smaller and just built primarily for file storage. These are a great solution for smaller companies that need a file server without any bells or whistles. However, backing up these devices can be trickier.

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Cloud Storage

Storing on the cloud is a newer, popular choice for companies with people in multiple locations, or anyone who wants more flexibility without the hardware headaches. Of course, the major advantage to cloud storage is the ability to access it from anywhere at any time – the world has now just become your office!

At the end of the day, all 3 methods have their pros and cons… and like many things, the perfect solution for your business depends on your individual needs. If you are thinking of changing or upgrading your data storage, our team would be happy to point you in the direction of the best plan for you.

Alternatively, if you are still working in that paper mountain, and would like advice on how technology can simplify your workflow and free your desk space, you can ask us that too! Send an email to info@wildfrogsystems.com or call 778-771-0184.