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Ma! Did you make a new FB account?

Have you ever received a Facebook friend request from your mom even though she is already a friend of yours on Facebook? So, you call her up to make sure she didn’t forget her password again and just create a new FB page. Then right after that, “she” sends you a video link saying you’re in a YouTube video. You think, “Well dang I didn’t think she even knew how to use messenger”. As the confusion mounts, you realize, momma’s FB has been cloned in an effort to hack your account. Not today hackers! 

In this day and age of social media, there are two very specific ways hackers compromise your data. Cloning is the first. This is when someone makes a social media account by using someone else’s identity. You’ve all seen them, mom is already your friend on FB but now you’re receiving another friend request from her. The new page has one photo, no posts and a handful of mutual friends that fell for the fake profile. This within itself is not hacking. It’s incredibly easy to copy a photo and create a basic FB page with basic information. The idea behind cloning is to get you to think this is your friend or loved one so they can hack your information. Social engineering can come into play, asking mutual friends for money – saying you’ve been arrested. Another way is by having the clone account send malware to friends.   

This exact situation happens more often than not, but what does it have to do with your business? Mom may not work with you, but take her lesson as a valuable warning. When Facebook account funny business, a multitude of things could occur, compromising your business, clients and other important data you may have stored. Imagine receiving a message on your company Facebook messenger from a friend saying “you’re in a YouTube video”. The link is readily available, you have the urge to click on it, it could be bad PR right? So, you click it and instantly, the malware takes over your computer. Passwords and logins are automatically stolen from you and in the hands of hackers. Not good. This could compromise payment methods or pertinent company information. This hacked info could turn into full-blown social engineering if you don’t pay attention. The worst part is that almost everyone on your friend list will get bombarded by a similar message creating a domino effect. It’s terrible to infect your loyal followers and you’ll see a lot unfollow you because of the inconvenience.   

Facebook is not the only platform to worry about, in fact, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat have all fallen victim to hacks. One huge reason for this is because people don’t know better when it comes to security information. Social media is so easy to use that people often forget that information can be compromised. Careless clicking is another culprit. Aren’t you curious what your favorite coffee says about your personality? Its quizzes and fun time wasters like this that allows hackers to access information. So simply clicking on these silly things opens your account to malware and in some cases ransomware. Users have reported being locked out of their accounts, accounts being deleted and some even being held for ransom until users paid the hacker. If you are using these platforms for business, you must be extra leery about what you are clicking on. It’s a terrible day when the content on your social media disappears over an avoidable breach.  

These things don’t have to happen to you as long as you are smart about your social media. Make sure whoever is running it is well trained in cybersecurity. Also, ensure your passwords are strong and not easy to hack. Then go check on mom and give her a fast and efficient cybersecurity breakdown. This subject seems obvious, but the amount of people that get hacked each year as well as the amount of stolen data continues to grow. Hackers are also constantly looking for new ways to take information. Be vigilant and up to date on current trends. Protect your business from these sly social media mongers.

Not so long ago it would have been ridiculous to ask a new employer to give you free TV, free Movies, free Mail, free Music, and a free TV camera and crew at your house in case you wanted to work from home and conduct a meeting with coworkers. Yet, with the internet, all of these things and more are at the fingertips of most office employees. And a growing number of employees will use some or all of these services for personal use while under your roof and on the clock.  

Many employees use much more bandwidth than is necessary to do their jobs. But as a business owner, what can you do about it? First of all, you’ve got to let your employees know that bandwidth is a commodity. Just like electricity, water, and leasing building space, bandwidth is a necessary expense you need to keep your business running. But unlike all the others, the amount of bandwidth you truly need varies based on the workload. But it can also be overused by employees who stream videos, stream music or play video games between completing company tasks. So, who are these Bandwidth Bandits? Let’s take a look at the most likely culprits. 

VIDEO: Does your company upload or store video content on a daily basis? Many companies do these days, especially for Marketing and Training purposes. But what about the videos that are being watched in-between company projects? Viewing TV shows or movies online uses about 1 GB of data per hour for standard definition video, and up to 3 GB per hour for HD video. Downloading and streaming consume about the same amount of data. And since just about everything online is HD quality, you can see that video content is usually the guiltiest bandwidth abuser in your office. 

WIFI: Everything that is available to your employees through their internet connection is available through Wifi. But the extra signal drainers Wifi puts on bandwidth are the users who connect their phones to wifi so they can save on their personal data plan. So at no extra cost to them, they can watch streaming video on their phones. Some people also use their phones to play streaming video games while on, (or off), their lunch breaks. Just being connected puts a small drain on your Wifi, but all the rest can slow your network down to a crawl. 

THE CLOUD: Using the Cloud adds a lot of flexibility to your business. And the scalability allows you to tailor your bandwidth needs as your company’s needs grow or shrink. But the amount of bandwidth usage varies as more and more files and programs are shared through the Cloud. With subscription-based software programs becoming the norm, there’s data floating in and out of your employee’s workstations all day. And if you use heavy-hitting data drainers, like HD video files, that are shared between two or more employees, your Cloud gets weighed down fairly quickly. If not monitored properly, excess data usage through the Cloud can clog your system like hair in a bathtub drain.  

FILE SHARING: Gone are the days when you had to copy a large file onto an external device, a CD or DVD if you wanted to share it with someone. Today there are no files too large to be shared through services like Dropbox. But these large files can slow down your network if you’re not careful. Even sharing smaller files, like documents, photos or audio files will each take a slice out of the bandwidth pie. Basically, every item that is shared with someone else will take away a chunk of bandwidth until the transfer is completed.  

VIDEO CONFERENCING: Whether you’re working from home, meeting with clients, or even interviewing potential new employees, Videoconferencing is defiantly a tool that makes good business sense. Many business trips have been replaced by video conferencing, and that’s good for your budget. But now you’re sending that information through your internet connection, and that needs to be factored in. But the good news is that video conferencing costs a lot less than travel, so spending a little more on bandwidth is probably the most cost-effective way to meet with people one on one. 

STREAMING MUSIC: Many people enjoy listening to music while at work, and if the company allows it, then it’s no big deal. Right? Well, mostly right. Problems may arise when the streaming music is left running 24 hours a day. And the more people stream music the more it will cause a drain on your bandwidth. Even though music streams at a low data rate, some services allow users to store their music files on The Cloud, and that causes a bump in the data flow. Accessing personal music files and streaming Internet Radio may not take up too much bandwidth, but the missing factor is the number of employees who are constantly listening to music. If most of your employees listen to streaming music then data usage should be monitored so you’ll know if this might be an issue for you or not. 

EMAIL: Not too long ago, sending email was a big deal for businesses. When email was a new function, it was the largest drain on bandwidth business owners had to deal with. And if you attached a photo or a document to the email, guess what happened? It took forever for the attachment to transfer its data through the internet connection and get sent along with the email. But today’s much faster internet can handle multiple emails and attachments that were impossible to send just a few years ago. But even though email is a low data user by today’s standards, it still adds up in the overall data usage throughout the workday. 

SOCIAL MEDIA: Humans are social creatures, and they search out ways to stay connected to people they are close to. Social Media gives us many ways to stay in touch with others, but in the office, that comes at a price. When business owners calculate the bandwidth requirements for start-ups, they often don’t factor in their employee’s Social Media habits. Sure, most functions utilized through Social Media don’t use much data at all. But, increasingly, video attachments are sent along with a text message. Even in a compressed state, video files are among the greediest bandwidth thieves.    

As you can see there are many ways your bandwidth is being used throughout the day. And it can impact your business in a variety of ways. For example, just a few years ago it was taboo for employees to spend time watching videos on YouTube or looking at pictures of their nephew’s graduation on Facebook. But today it is generally accepted that employees will spend some time doing these things. 

As a business owner, you can place limits or controls on these habits, but these actions may cost you in other ways. Employee morale is linked to social media habits, and if employees can’t stay in touch with their friends on your time, they’ll probably take more breaks than they used to so they can wish Aunt Edna a Happy Birthday.  

It’s your challenge to find a balance between the bandwidth your business needs and the bandwidth your employees need. As the one who writes the checks, it may not seem fair that you’re funding someone else’s social media habits, but in today’s business arena it’s the price of doing business. And if you use Social Media sites as part of your Marketing Plan, well, you’re probably helping your business grow by letting your employees tell everyone online how much they enjoy working for you. 

 

Horrible house guests, we’ve all had them. Whether it be that annoying family member that over stays their welcome, or that old college buddy that leaves beer cans and potato chip crumbles all over your couch, we have all experienced those discourteous visits. If you thought that was bad etiquette, you’ve yet to see the worst…

Imagine coming home and finding that your current work has gone missing, your valuable data has been completely disorganized and all your important files have been put in the trash, what would you do? I’m not referring to your terrestrial home, I am talking about the virtual home most businesses today share – the cloud.

Cloud computing has its own essential and unwritten code of ethics. As a cloud user, you must be courteous of others you share the cloud with, no one appreciates an ill-mannered cloud partner. For those reasons we have put together a few etiquette tips to help you be the best house guest possible when visiting the cloud.

Keep emails and subject lines concise and to the point. If you find yourself four paragraphs in and still haven’t gotten to your point or asked your question, it’s time to pick up the phone.

Subject lines, keep them short, useful and specific! “Do you have a minute to chat?” is too vague and doesn’t really explain the contents of the email. Instead try, “Let’s meet to discuss the new BDR solution and pricing.” Use words that people would reasonably search for. Instead of “Please review the attached,” include what they are reviewing: “Cloud Etiquette 101 blog draft for review.”

Compress your files, please. There is nothing more irritating than receiving an email that takes 10 minutes to load because of a 50 MB attachment. Be sure to always compress files before hitting send. If a file cannot be compressed any further, you can also use a cloud-based storage solution with shareable links such as Dropbox or WeTransfer.

Maintain accountably. Cloud computing works best when there is accountability. Everyone need to be made aware that sometimes there will be many individuals working out of the same project. Because of that, it is always important to communicate all changes made to any folders or files in the cloud.

Ask before you delete! When deleting from the cloud, the files aren’t just deleted from your computer – they’re deleted from everyone’s computer whom you’ve shared the with. Make sure to never delete files from folders without asking.

Don’t pick stupid names. Try and be as specific as can be when naming a file or a folder on the cloud. The file-naming convention that your business uses needs to be understood by everyone in the cloud.

Don’t overfill folders. Be aware of the size of your files. Don’t add a massive 3 GB mega-file that’s going to take up all of that folders storage space. Also, be sure to keep your data organized to avoid annoying others with unnecessary clutter.

Together is the only way we can make #thecloud a better place. Don’t be that person no one wants to share their cloud with. Put these cloud etiquette tips to use and you will surely be invited back into the virtual home.

Data loss is not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when – and it happens to every company, big or small. More than half of businesses locate their disaster/backup systems in the same physical location as their primary system – red alert! If you only have one copy of your system’s backup at your office, and your hardware fails or a breach occurs and all your data is stolen, then a backup was completely useless to begin with. In a bit of irony, it turns out that the safest place to be during a storm is “in the cloud.”

Cloud computing not only offers back up protection against system malfunctions or natural disasters, it also keeps businesses safe against cybertheft, ransomware, malware, viruses, phishing, cross-site scripting, employees, and the list goes on. It’s not that businesses don’t recognize the importance of having a disaster recovery plan in place. It’s just that they simply have it in the wrong place.

So, let’s say you’ve finally agreed that it’s time to move to the cloud – where do you start?

Here are some recommendations that can help you though the process:

While the road ahead may be tough, with these tips in mind, you can begin moving your business processes to the cloud safely and efficiently.

Everyone is talking about cloud computing these days and for good reason. The cloud is revolutionizing how computing power is generated and consumed. Cloud refers to software and services that run on the Internet, instead of locally on your computer. When tech companies say your data is backed up “in the cloud,” it has nothing to do with those white fluffy things in the sky. Your data isn’t actually up in the cosmos or floating around in space. It has a terrestrial home. It’s stored someplace – lots of places, actually – and a network of servers find what you need, when you need it and deliver it.

Cloud computing, if done properly can make your business much more efficient. However, a cloud solution is only as good as the quality of the research, the implementation, and the follow-through. So, how do you know if moving your business applications and data to the cloud is the right answer for you? There are few things you need to know about the cloud first.

What exactly is the cloud? This is a tricky question in and of itself. Just like the clouds in the sky, there are many clouds when it comes to technology. In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and applications over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. It is using a network of computers to store and process information, rather than a single hard drive.

Public vs. Private vs. Hybrid? Not all clouds are the same. You have options with public clouds, private clouds, as well as hybrid clouds. Choosing the right options for your business comes down to the needs and the amount of control you would like to have.

HaaS or Saas? Just like there are different types of clouds, when it comes to cloud computing, there are also different types cloud services. Most commonly used cloud services fall into two categories: HaaS and SaaS.

Is it safe and reliable? As mentioned before, cloud computing is the way of the future. We know it is easy and inexpensive – but, is it safe and reliable? What good is saving money and switching to a cloud solution if it will bring additional risks to my business? Most cloud service providers offer encryption features such as service-side encryption to manage your own encryption keys. So, in reality, you ultimately decide how safe your solution is. As far as reliability goes, in many cases, cloud computing can reduce the amount of downtime right down to seconds. Since there are multiple copies of your data stored all throughout the cloud, there is no single point of failure. Most data can usually be recovered with a simple click of the mouse.

In the end, though, companies shouldn’t make decisions entirely based on what they are comfortable with, or what with what is cheapest. What should be most important is deciding whether or not transitioning into the cloud will work for your business.

To cloud, or not to cloud? The choice is all yours. Do your research and ask the right questions.