IT Support for Local Business

Picking a Backup Solution For You | Chilliwack & Abbotsford Tech Support

Backup, backup, backup! We say it all the time. We mention it frequently in our articles. Backing your files up can be, probably, the most important thing you can do to protect your business against a whole range of natural or security disasters.

Online Backup vs Online Storage

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When looking at your online backup options, you may be wondering what the difference is between online backups over online storage. (And it is an important difference to understand, as it can affect which service you choose to fit your business needs.)

Put simply Online Storage is just like it says on the tin – storage for your files online! It acts like an additional hard drive, where you can store your files separately to your physical computer, and also share them with others. Some services sync files as your store or alter them. So, if you delete the file from the computer, the file is also deleted from the online storage. Other storage services will only have the version you uploaded in the first place.

Examples of storage services are DropBox, Google Drive, OneDrive (included with Office365 Business Plans), Sync.com and iDrive.

In contrast, an Online Backup takes a copy of your files and stores them online in a secure repository. This allows the service to keep copies of files for days… weeks… even years after they have been deleted from the computer.

Some more premium backup systems take things to the next level and take a snapshot of your hard-drive and replicate everything on it – allowing you to recover your entire computer or server. These services are concentrating more on securely protecting your data and giving you the chance to restore everything in the case of a theft or computer failure.

Examples are BackBlaze, Carbonite, CrashPlan and SOS Online Backup For Business.

So, which is right for you?

Well, there are lot of factors to consider on this one. Every business is unique, so you need to look at how your business operates to decide. Questions to take into consideration are:

  • What kind of files are you dealing with?

  • How many machines do you need to backup?

  • How much data do you need to backup?

  • How often is your data updated?

  • What is your budget?

  • Do you have an industry compliance to consider? (Financial, medical, country-specific etc)

If you are having difficulty deciding on which option is better for you and your business, our team can certainly help! Just give us a call on 778-771-0184 or email help@wildfrogsystems.com

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 Make Sure Your Mobile Tech is Safe

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The era of smartphones has certainly changed the world we live in and do business. It is estimated that by 2020, there will be 6 billion smartphone users in the world, and with the ability to do practically everything (from checking emails and googling directions, to taking payments and online banking… and even pre-paying and ordering your next coffee at Starbucks!) they are replacing more and more PCs at home and in the workplace.

However, having complete access to your life in your pocket can also have some major security concerns – particularly if you do use your mobile device to do business. Up to now, mobile malware has been fairly uncommon (taking up only 8% of the total infection pie) … however, this malware is now increasing at an alarming rate. There was already a 27% increase in new mobile malware at the end of last year, and that figure is climbing.

Android devices are seemingly the main target for malware, which is understandable when you consider that 85% of the world’s smartphone users are on that platform. That being said, that does not mean that other devices are completely safe!

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Threats come in a few different forms:

  • Banking trojans. These pretend to be legitimate banking apps which lure users into downloading them and then steal their credentials.

  • SMS malware. These use the phone to send premium rate texts without the user knowing.

  • Mobile spyware. Like it’s PC counterpart, it will secretly monitor your activity.

  • Rooting malware. Uses root access to do all sorts of damage, from stealing passwords to purchasing and installing apps.

  • Device theft! Something this small and this valuable is easy prey to the opportunist thief.

So, what can you do to protect yourself and your company?

Here are a few things to help:

  1. Beware of what apps you load onto your device. Only download apps from trusted sources and be wary of any app that asks for more info than it needs to do its job.

  2. Be careful of using public Wi-Fi sources (eg at airports & coffee shops). If you are using your device for business, look into having company policies on public Wi-Fi use, and provide VPN technology to your employees if needed.

  3. Keep your OS up-to-date, as well as your apps.

  4. Do not allow employees to use jailbroken or rooted devices for work purposes.

  5. Encrypt devices. Strong passwords are a must!

  6. Encourage employees to install anti-malware (Android).

  7. Educate employees on the dangers of mobile malware.

If you need help with setting up your mobile technology to be safer, or what company policies to bring in for protection, our team is here to help! Send an email to info@wildfrogsystems.com or call 778-771-0184.

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.

5 Ways to Help Your Business Be More Cyber-safe! | Chilliwack & Abbotsford IT Support

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and the need for awareness has never been higher! The stats are alarming...

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For businesses, the situation is just as scary.

50% of small businesses don't think that they will be targets of cyber crime.

BUT 40% of all cyber attacks in 2011 were on small to medium sized businesses.

The cost of cybercrime is about to reach $6 TRILLION, with no signs of slowing down!!

Put simply, EVERYONE is a target for cyber crime - the bad guys are not picky about size of business or the industry. As with so many things in life, prevention is much better than cure... but in the business world, cyber crime prevention can save hassle, time AND a LOT of money.

This month, we are sharing tips and advice here and on our Facebook Page ... but to start, here are 5 ways you can help make your business a #cybersafebusiness !

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1. Secure personal devices. Personal devices allow us to do business "on the road", but limit how much you use them, avoid public wifi for work use when you can, and make sure employees follow a security policy.

2. Train employees on the threats. If your staff are online at your business, include training on the latest threats, such as email scams, viruses, phishing and malware.

3. Teach smart clicking. Make yourself, and your staff, familiar with what a suspicious link and email looks like. Things to look out for include hyphens, numbers, spelling mistakes and symbols replacing regular characters. (We have a blog post illustrating some ways to safely spot bad links.)

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4. Use strong passwords. Make your passwords obscure, long and a good mix of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols. Use different passwords for different places and do not write them on scraps of paper where they can be taken or copied.

5. A have a good plan in place for when employees leave. When an employee leaves, make sure their account passwords are changed immediately, and documents are secure.

To celebrate Cyber Security Awareness Month, and to help give local businesses a leg-up on getting #cybersafe, we are offering 30% off our Tech Health Check-ups!  These check-ups do cover way more than just your security vulnerabilities. We look at all of your technology and the way you use it, to see where you can avoid future problems, and find out how you can work smarter while saving money.

Is Tech Fraud Getting Worse? | Abbotsford & Chilliwack Tech Security Consultants

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Tech Fraud IS on the rise and no-one is safe! A quarterly report was recently released that looked at who tech scams are targeting… and the results were both interesting and a little scary.

Overall, the summer saw a 25% rise in the number of email fraud attacks on targeted companies, but what is scarier is that also meant a whopping rise of 85% on the same quarter last year!

DANGEROUS EMAILS ON THE RISE

The amount of malicious emails, appearing in inboxes rose by 36% on the previous quarter. Among all that nasty stuff, 11% were ransomware emails.

WHAT IS RANSOMWARE?

It is a particularly devious scheme where you will be sent an innocent looking email containing a link or file. That file, when clicked, releases a virus that locks you out of all your data. You then receive an email demanding payment for your data’s release – often in bitcoin or other electronic funds. The ransom amount can vary, but typically costs a company thousands of dollars.

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TECH SUPPORT FRAUD IS GROWING FAST

One of the most famous forms of tech fraud, is (surprisingly) now also the biggest growing one – the good ‘ole Technical Support Fraud! (The one where you receive a call from a thick-accented individual in a noisy call-centre, claiming to be something like Microsoft Windows). Given the amount of publicity and public education that this form of fraud has attracted (not to mention a slew of YouTube videos with people winding up these scammers), it is surprising to see it is still growing, but it is. This quarter’s attacks jumped by 36%... which gives an astounding 400% increase on the same period a year ago!!

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SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT SAFE

The report also showed that attacks are now coming from more directions than just email and your phone. Social media is gaining its fair share, with the most popular being from “angler phishing”. This is where fraudsters create fake accounts that mimic famous brands. Then when someone has a legitimate customer service requests, they swoop in and pretend to be that brand in order to gather the customer’s information.

Overall, all types of fraud were on the increase, with no discrimination in who they targeted (all career levels) or where they targeted (all industries and all company sizes, with retail and government hit hardest).

HOW CAN WE PROTECT OURSELVES AGAINST TECH FRAUD?

The burning question is how can you protect both yourself and your staff? Preparation is your biggest weapon! Here are a few things to help to get you started…

  • TRAINING - Knowing what to look for and educating all of your staff on what to spot, is the best plan. You can check out one of previous blog posts to see what the telltale signs of a scam email are.

  • BLOCKERS – up-to-date spam filters and virus software can help filter out most of the threats before ever reaching your inboxes.

  • BACK-UPS – a regular back-up of all your data means far less downtime (if any) and huge cost savings in the case of a ransomware attack. You don’t have to buy back that information if you already have another copy somewhere else!

You can see the rest of the report, including more stats on the different targeted departments and industries, here. If you would like more information on how to protect your company’s systems, whether it is a good virus software and back-up solutions or staff awareness training, you can contact us at Wild Frog Systems, and we will be happy to help! Email info@wildfrogsystems.com or call 778-771-0184.

Office 2019 is Almost Here! | Fraser Valley IT & Tech Support

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The countdown is ticking ever closer to Microsoft’s launch of its new version of Office for fans of the perpetual license model. Office 2019 is rumored to be released on October 1st of this year, although commercial users have been able to play with a BETA version for a few months now. So, what’s the difference between Office 2019 and Office 365?

Put simply, Office 2019 is perpetual license version – ie you pay a one-time license fee and that’s it! In contrast, Office 365 is a monthly subscription version and run online. So, the latter benefits from more regular updates and better features than it’s offline counterpart.

The cloud subscription version (Office 365) is still the way Microsoft really want you to go – at least that’s how the marketing seems. They seem to be pushing the online version way more, with more support available for subscribers, along with regular updates and more features.

But, there are still many who either don’t like the growing trend of the subscription model or are unable to switch short term, and Microsoft acknowledges that, hence why this perpetual license option being available. However, many experts are speculating that this will probably be the last perpetual license version that Microsoft will develop.

What’s new in Office 2019?

According to Microsoft’s website, the features will include:

In Word – a new black theme & new sounds, learning tools captions & audio descriptions, text to speech, improved inking functionality and improvements to accessibility.

In Excel – funnel charts & 2D maps, new functions & connectors, publishing capability to PowerBI, enhancements to PowerPivot & PowerQuery.

In PowerPoint – zoom capabilities for ordering of slides within presentations, a morph transition feature, inserting/managing Icons, SVG & 3D models, improved roaming pencil case.

In Outlook – Updated contact cards, @mentions, focused inbox, travel & delivery summary cards, and (with an Exchange online account) Office 365 Groups.

What else do I need to know about Office 2019?

The most important thing to consider, if you are planning to upgrade, is what operating system you are running on your computer. Office 2019 will not (easily) run on any system older than Windows 10, Windows Server 2016 or macOS Sierra. This new suite will also only receive 5 years of mainstream support followed by roughly 2 years extended (compared to the 5 and 5 of previous versions) – meaning that support of Office 2016 and 2019 will finish on the same day – and further evidence of Microsoft’s possible plan to ditch perpetual licenses in the future.

If you are looking to upgrade and have questions on which version is better for you, drop an email to the Wild Frog Systems IT Support Team at info@wildfrogsystems.com or call 778-771-0184.