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Maintaining a small business isn’t just about how smoothly the company runs. Of course, you have to deal with employee morale, paying the bills and liaising with clients. But, you shouldn’t forget other key components such as security. Regardless of the size, almost every business uses an online business network to store important files and data. Although it might be easier, it leaves your company open to cyber attacks and hacking.

To make sure that doesn’t happen to your company, take a look at a few ways to secure your business network.

Encrypt your Wireless Router

If you have an online business network, it will almost certainly be connected to a wireless router. But, a surprising amount of wireless routers is left wide open and unsecured. If this is the case with your business, anyone can gather and record your sensitive information from a nearby location. In fact, they don’t even have to be in the room.

As a result, your sensitive data could be hacked without you knowing. A secure encryption is a WPA2 encryption that isn’t as easily broken as others.

Create Complicated Passwords

Passwords are the first line of defence. Whether it is the wireless connection or direct entry into your business’ network, a password should secure the information as best as possible. But, too many have sentimental value or are just too easy to guess.

Make sure any passwords you use are not easy to guess. The best way to do it is to have a mixture of upper and lower case letters and include numbers also. The strongest examples are at least eight characters long.

Install Anti-Virus Software

Passwords and firewalls are good, but anti-virus software is essential. It is far more effective and wide-ranging. It encompasses safe web searches, anti-theft procedures and protects against vicious malware systems.

Every computer in your business should be complete with anti-virus software. For the ultimate security system, incorporate every measure available.

Encrypt your Mobile Devices

Most businesses don’t just use the computers at the office. Now, laptops, mobile phones and tablets are all integrated into one system for ease of access. Although it is fluid and somewhat effortless, there are more options for hackers to steal sensitive data. Install whole disk encryption on laptops and download anti-virus software for your tablet.

You never know when someone is going to steal your personal belongings. If they end up in the wrong hands, it could be detrimental to your business.

Regularly Backup Offsite

If someone does manage to crack your security systems heaven forbid, it is not the end of the world. However, protection is a big deal and you can’t do it on your own, so don’t be afraid to ask or look for help. Web pages such as Cmitsolutions.com/services/remote-backup-and-disaster-recovery/ are a brilliant place to start looking as they offer a variety of solutions. For example, you can start to backup your files offsite to minimise the effects so you have everything saved and ready to go at a moment’s notice. You can even backup files online or store them on a computer, but make sure it is located in a different site than the original files.

Remember: if you need any help, just ask someone who knows.

 

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Setting up a small business, whether on your own or with a partner, carries certain risks, and for many people this is part of the appeal. However, protecting your business and yourself against those risks is important. It can help ensure that your business survives, even in the wake of a potential disaster, and it can even protect your reputation as well as the financial stability of you and any other partners or employees that are part of your business.

General liability insurance not only covers the legal costs that are associated with lawsuits, but can also cover damages. Whether you provide services, or you offer consultancy services and professional advice, the provision of a poor quality service or costly advice can land your business in court facing a potential lawsuit.

Insuring equipment and property against loss means that you can replace business-essential items like machinery, office equipment, and even the premises from where you work. Whatever your business, the tools of your trade, which may include computers and other office equipment, are essential to the successful completion of projects and the longer you are without, the longer you will be losing money. Insurance not only ensures that you have the finances to replace items, but that you can do so quickly and when required.

Auto insurance is a legal requirement when on the road, and it is worth noting that some personal auto insurance policies will not cover you for business or professional use. A separate and dedicated policy will provide the protection that you require, and can be customised to include machinery and equipment that you carry in your business vehicle.

If you employ any workers then worker’s liability is likely to be compulsory, although not if it can be proven that workers are self-insured. If an employee suffers an accident and gets injured, or if they become ill as a direct result of their work or working conditions, it is your worker’s compensation insurance that protects you against all associated costs, including legal fees and compensation.

A Business Owner Policy, or BOP, is essentially a package of insurance policies that include elements of the above and any other elements that are considered essential to your business. Every business has different demands and requirements, and every entrepreneur has different insurance needs. A BOP from XL Catlin can be tailored to only include the insurance that you need, and to ensure that every area of risk is covered.

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The thing about technology is that we all use it each day, whether we like to or not! Of course, it’s something that gets utilized to improve and enrich our lives, both at home and at work. If you run a business, it’s obvious that you’ll use all kinds of technology to fulfill your tasks each day.

You might not realize it, but you can also use it to improve your company’s customer service! One might think that being friendly to customers and talking to them in person is enough. But, today’s tech-savvy consumers expect better levels of service in our connected world.

So, just how can technology help your enterprise to excel at customer satisfaction and become “the best”? Check out these examples:

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Offer an online chat facility

Let’s face it; many people lead busy lives. If you want to get hold of a representative from a business, you might think that email is a convenient way to do so. The only trouble is; email conversations take too long.

If your customers want answers to their questions now, and they don’t want to phone you, what should you do? The answer is simple: offer an online chat facility! By doing so, your customer service agents can speak to a raft of people simultaneously. Scripted responses mean that agents don’t have to type the same answers out all the time. And it also means you can still offer a professional level of customer service.

There are many software solutions that can enable you to set up an online chat facility on your website. LivePerson is a good example that thousands of companies like yours use each day.

Send your customers personalized videos

Do your clients buy high-ticket items from you like cars or electrical appliances? If so, you might not realize it but personalized videos are a brilliant way to upsell to them! At the same time, they can also get used as tools to gauge what they think about your products and level of customer service.

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Let’s say that you run a car dealership. You could film yourself walking around the showroom and showing your customers the latest models you have on offer. Meanwhile, the sales rep is talking to you and addressing you by your name. Such customer service and marketing methods are memorable. And they’re likely to result in repeat business!

Expand your call center availability

Does your business have a call center in-house? If so, it’s likely you’ll only have a finite amount of agents available to take calls. During busy periods, your customers might get an engaged tone. That’s the worst thing that could happen!

Instead, technology can lend a helping hand. When your inbound lines are busy, your phone system could divert calls to a business answering service. Your customers won’t know any different. That’s because the agents act as a backup call center. They’re all trained to answer questions about the products and services you offer.

So, now you know the secrets of using technology to improve your customer service. It’s time to put them into action. Good luck!

Tech Upgrades to Create a More Impressive Home

Tech is a common feature in every home today. This means having new tech gadgets is not always an impressive feature for home owners to show off. People need to find some ways to showcase the technology that they have and upgrade as needed without spending extreme amounts of money every year.

Even though it seems impossible to keep up, there are a lot of tricks and ideas people can use to make their home something to be remembered. Use these ideas to impress guests and create an even more functional home. Here are some tech upgrades to create a more impressive home.

Upgrade to a better service

Before changing anything or investing in a new gadget, everyone should take a look at the services they have in the home. Upgrading services like internet and TV can make a huge difference in its own. Look for new TV package information to see what new options are available in every price range.

Dress up technology around the home

Even if a person cannot afford to buy new tech items, they can make their existing items look new again to make a good impression. There are a lot of easy DIY ideas that people can use to quickly improve the appearance of every gadget in the home. One example includes putting a frame around a flat screen TV.

Bring the coffeehouse home

Grommet coffee is no longer thought of as an occasional treat. Many people demand to have this luxury every day of the week. It is possible with new, high tech coffee and espresso makers. Everyone can have gourmet coffee for themselves and guests every day of the week.

A green way to save energy

Energy-saving items not only make the home more efficient, but they also can be very eye-catching for people to see inside and outside the home. A lot of people will like to show off that they are going green and helping the planet while keeping a comfortable and beautiful home. Solar panels are just one example that can be added to the roof to make a big difference or hidden in the window blinds for a less obvious impact.

A universal control for the home

Adjusting every items of the home individually is no longer necessary or convenient for anyone. It is much easier and simpler to make the home universally controlled by one device. Everyone can install home automation systems that allow them to control the systems of the home from one remote or even from their mobile phone or tablet.

Make temperature control automatic

Spending any time in a house that is too hot or cold is something that no one wants to deal with. Additionally, it is a hassle to be constantly adjusting the temperature to keep everyone comfortable and use the least amount of energy. All these problems vanish after a home owner installs an automatic thermostat that instantly adjusts to help the home stay at the perfect temperature without hassle.

Image: http://pixabay.com/en/technology-tech-laptop-computer-791297/

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Staying connected and up to date in the modern business world is a constant battle. You need to be looking to the future and finding new ways to improve your connectivity at all times.

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Improve Your Internet Connectivity

It’s important to get the basics right first of all. Your office’s internet provisions need to be as fast and effective as they possibly can be. Different internet service providers are better in different parts of the country. So, you should do your research and find which provides the best coverage in your area.

If you have a large office space to provide internet coverage for, it might be in your interests to use a 4G LTE router. These are good for wide area connectivity options, and they combine firewall functionality with routing. You’ll then make sure that the coverage is equally good across all departments of your business.

Use Social Media

Connectivity isn’t just about connecting to the internet though. It’s also about how well your business manages to connect with the outside world and especially with potential customers. Social media marketing is a big part of every successful brand in the 21st century, so it’s something you need to work on.

If you get your approach right, you’ll be able to raise your brand awareness and, in the process, bring in more customers to your business. You should take the right tone and make sure your approach chimes with the needs and wants of your target customers though. You could even use it to boost your customer services success.

Upgrade Internal Communications

If you run the kind of business that requires interaction between the different departments in your office, you need to focus on internal communications. If your employees can’t interact with one another swiftly and easily, it could cause hold ups and, ultimately, a fall in productivity.

Start by thinking about which primary form of internal communication is right for you. Email systems are important, but they’re not suitable for quick and urgent communications. A lot of businesses are now starting to look at the advantages of using instant messaging services in large offices. They allow quick interaction and make the office as a whole move faster.

Embrace Flexible Working

Flexible working is becoming increasingly popular in a lot of modern workplaces. Letting people work from home has lots of advantages, but it’s only possible if the business knows how to communicate properly with employees. Constant communication is key when employees are doing work away from the office.

You should use all the modern programs and applications available to you if you do decide to go down this route. This means improving your connectivity and making sure that you know how to use Skype effectively and keep in contact with them using instant messaging systems.

Staying connected and ahead of the curve is an essential part of running a business in the 21st century. You can’t stay in front of your competition unless you confront all the issues discussed above, so get to it!

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Bitdefender has been considered one of the better overall internet security and anti-virus programs available, repeatedly for many years now.  The one thing over everything else great about it that makes it so appealing, is likely its simplicity.  If you are not interested in the extras that seem to be packaged with more and more modern internet security suites, such as anti-theft for mobiles and secure cloud storage, then Bitdefender Internet Security 2015 is a sensible choice that will provide you with the protection you need for your computer without you having to do much work.

The main screen, much like previous incarnations of the software, is laid out in a very practical and organised way.  There is a banner that tells you whether you are protected or not and there are large buttons for the Tools, Privacy and Protection sections of the interface, along with smaller buttons that enable you to configure optimisation , update the software and scan your computer.  From here you can also select “Autopilot,” when you want the security suite to work silently in the background. Consider using it if you don’t want a pop-up notification every time Bitdefender blocks an attack.

Features that are new to the security software are gaming, movie-watching and working profiles.  These profiles help to alter your computer settings and level of required security depending on the kinds of programs you are using.  Gaming is when most people reading this post will find this function of Bitdefender most useful and helpful, as other security suites on the market red flag games as dangerous programs.

In addition to the above there are a few other features that will help to ensure your time spent online is safe.  This includes link-scanning and Bitdefender Wallet.  The former identifies potentially dangerous links on websites, Twitter streams and Google results; while the latter makes online banking a much safer experience.

For the most part,  Bitdefender Antivirus has been considered one of the better overall internet security and antivirus companies, repeatedly for many years now.  Especially if you are using a Windows 7 or more recent computer.  Although start-up time is generally unaffected on Windows Vista and XP running computers, applications and software does seem to be slow to open and/or install with Bitdefender running.

Although it does not have unnecessary features and gizmos that you will never use, Bitdefender does come with an installable widget for your desktop and some additional add-ons for your preferred internet browser.  The desktop widget displays things like notifications and the status of your protection so you don’t have to always load the program up properly.   These additions are very user-friendly and easy to get the hang of.

To summarise, Bitdefender Internet Security 2015 may not be the most comprehensive suite on the market, but it is a good choice for any casual or professional computer user who wants as little fuss as possible and the right level of protection running in the background.

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Businesses need to be looking to the future continually, not looking backwards. A business that is behind its potential customers is doomed to fail. So, put these ideas into action as soon as possible!

Marketing

Sending out leaflets and pamphlet to potential customers doesn’t have the impact it once did, and that’s because the modern alternative are so much better. If you want to get information out to customers directly, you should use email marketing and send out newsletters to them that way. Just remember not to spam customers with emails.

There are endless ways in which the internet can be used to create interest in your brand. Start by honing your social media skills so you can interact with customers and future customers. You could also contact a business that offers Enterprise App Development services and have them make an app for your business.

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Customer Services

Getting the right personnel working in your customer services department is the most important thing to get right. They need to be the kind of people who are positive and have a lot of patience in dealing with problems and unhappy people. Short-tempered and rude people will only damage your business.

Once you have the staff you believe in, you should think about giving them the correct training. Send them away on customer service courses so that they know exactly how to deal with the many problems that might arise. Finally, monitor their performance continually and look for areas that need improvement.

Recruitment

The key to securing the right candidates for every role is knowing where to look for them. You should post your job advert in numerous key places. Firstly, online ads should be your main focus. You should create a professional looking advert and then post it on any specialists job sites that cover your area of work. For example, if you work in publishing, find a job website that is specifically for publishing jobs.

You could also think about putting adverts in newspapers if your type of work is suited to the kind of people who still look in newspapers for jobs. It’s all about thinking where the best people for the job will be found.

Sales

The way people are buying is changing all the time, and it has already changed enormously over the last 20 years. Just in case you haven’t noticed already, e-commerce is a big deal. So, if you’re not focusing on your online sales, you need to start doing so. This is how people consumers buy goods nowadays, so get it right.

If your business isn’t selling to consumers or you deal in telesales, you employees are vital. This kind of selling has not changed so much because it still requires direct interaction between the buyer and seller. Securing talented sales employees is vital to success if this is what you do.

No business can find success if it’s still living in the past and trying to function in a world that no longer exists. It’s a recipe for disaster. If your business is struggling to modernise, start with these tips.

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Ensuring the safety of your computer, for both yourself and any friends or relatives, is imperative. In today’s society where we can buy anything, make bank transfers and even book holidays online at the click of a button, it is important to make sure that your home computer is secure so as to avoid becoming a victim of fraud or worse. It is incredibly easy for hackers to get our online data when we don’t guard it properly, as ease of access has been making it easier and easier for us to pay for things online without having to enter all our personal details.

Most of the time it is already on file. Your details are already saved in your browser cookies, or on your computer, so in order to keep this data safe, you need an anti-virus program. Computer viruses have been around since computers were first invented, as it has always been a given that when somebody creates something new and unique, some other miserable person has to try and ruin it all for the rest of us. Viruses are no different.

So what are anti-virus programs and why do we need them so badly? London based IT & Technology specialists www.tmb.co.uk recently explained the risks and benefits involved, and why you should give great consideration to choosing yours.

What is an Anti-Virus Program?

Anti-virus software, mainly abbreviated to AV and sometimes also known as anti-malware software are programs designed to protect your computer systems from malicious software. Malicious software can be anything that intends to harm, damage or otherwise compromise your computer memory or internal data, some of which will be your personal financial information and perhaps even information about where you live and work, so it is a pretty big deal.

Antivirus software works to prevent and contain malware so that it does not harm your computer system. The software is designed to be suspicious of questionable files that are downloaded to your system without permission, sometimes from a website link, sometimes from a pop up that appears when you open up a website, and to assess whether or not they are a threat to your system.

Which is the Best Program?

There is no real way to answer this question as it is often down to personal preference. Experience has shown that the free programs are often far more successful, whereas the programs that come installed with your device can be short lived and often need updates. It is a good idea to just shop around and see what most people recommend.

What about my Apple Device?

To be honest, hackers tend not to target apple devices so much as Microsoft and Windows are still much bigger fishes when it comes to number of users, so apple devices are less likely to need anti-virus software. However that is not to say that you can’t find a program for your apple device. There is anti-virus software available for apple devices, so if you are worried you can always download a recommended program just to be safe.

More Programs, More Protection, Right?

Actually no. One would think that installing more anti-virus software would result in more protection, whereas in fact it does the opposite. AV software is designed to monitor your computer and detect suspicious software monitoring your computer, so what it will do is each type of software will monitor the other type, see that it is monitoring your data and try to attack each other thus resulting in a lot of computer memory being used up and two anti-virus programs doing nothing but yell at each other all day from different sides of the fence. This is not an ideal situation because then any real viruses will be more likely to slip through unnoticed. You’re better off just picking one anti-virus program and sticking with that.

At the end of the day, if your computer has never connected to the internet in its life and you only use it to play solitaire or work on that novel you are never going to finish, the chances are you’ll do just fine without anti-virus software. However no man is an island and sooner or later the allure of the internet will draw you in. When that happens, it wold probably be a good idea to invest in some anti-virus software.

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Security mistakes are rife when it comes to SME’s, mainly because administrators are pressed to keep up with the demands of security requirements in a very small team, sometimes even individually. It’s also down to the fact that end-users, such as employees in this instance, quite regularly ignore the numerous lectures, e-mails and verbal warnings handed out on a daily basis.

You’ll be surprised by some of the basic security measures that are often ignored by employees, including the most basic of security recommendations such as not leaving passwords on bits of paper scattered around the office. However, while end-users are often to blame, there comes a time when administrators at small to medium-sized businesses have to face the music themselves. It administrators are human after all and prone to the odd mistake, especially when working for an SME.

IT administrators are under much more pressure than their fellow employees who are far less likely to understand the tech logic behind computer security. Administrators are expected to know the office tech inside out, with the vast majority of security questions reaching their office.

Unfortunately, working for an SME means that administrators have to do far more than just sit at a desk and monitor potential security flaws. They are also responsible for each employees’ hardware and the odd 2my internet is down” question that gets bandied about at least a few times a week. This hugely demanding level of workload puts pressure on administrators at SME’s to meet deadlines and can subsequently lead to uncharacteristic errors.

Here are some of the errors I’m referring to, along with guidelines on how you can combat them and make your administrative responsibilities a little less oppressive at any small to medium-sized business.

Regular System Updates

It’s essential that all systems are regularly updated when this is requested by the computer. Essential; updates help to fight back against security vulnerabilities and loopholes in software. Security patches can be fixed instantly with an update, so make sure they are installed as soon as possible.

Connecting to the internet Before Installing Essential Software

Connecting hardware and other systems to the internet before you they are equipped with the necessary spyware scanners and virus protection software is a big mistake. Programs to prevent malicious software should be installed on all computers prior to Ethernet cables and Wi-Fi capabilities being enabled.

Creating Backups

Backups should be created and not doing so is a sign of laziness. These backups should then be tested and maintained in case of any emergency scenarios where computers are plagued by viruses or hackers. Backups are an easy way of storing vital information on the cloud and this data can be retrieved at any time.

Inform and Educate Your Employees

Keeping your employees well aware of all the latest online threats enhances their resilience and makes them well-informed and prepared to deal with any issues that may arise. They will also think twice about opening dodgy-looking e-mails. Uneducated users are most likely to fall victim to hackers and phishing attacks.

Don’t Do It All Yourself

Doing it all yourself can actually have a negative effect on the safety of your business. IT departments are commonplace within the largest companies but small businesses often rely on a single administrator, so it’s important you ask for advice when necessary and get external help to ensure the job is done right the first time round.

Using the Default Username and Password

Hackers dream of accounts that still use the same default password and username, as this makes it incredibly easy for them to gain access to the network. Always make sure that you change or delete default accounts immediately upon setting up your network.

Updating Antivirus Software

Your antivirus software alongside spyware scanners should always be updated to ensure the most up-to-date version are present on all computers. Malicious software is always changing and the latest updates will ensure the latest malicious software is stopped in its tracks.

This article was provided by London based IT & Technology specialists www.tmb.co.uk.

 

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Every passionate moviegoer loves the movies but hates the movie going experience. Restless crowd which is there to do everything but watch the movie, mobile phones, bad seats… At some point you just have to wonder is it really worth it? Not really, considering the fact that today’s technology allows us to watch our favorite movies and TV shows surrounded by friends and comfort of our room. Just be careful and take into consideration these 5 things before actually buying your own projector.

What It Will Be Used For

Basically, there are four kinds of images projectors can show: video, photos, data and gaming. Assuming that you are not beyond using any of its other purposes aside from playing movies, you should know that being good at showing one type of image doesn’t necessarily mean that projector will show other as good. Most projectors are sold either as business projectors (covering PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets, PDF files, etc.) or home entertainment projectors, which are better at handling movies and games.

Aspect Ratio

So, you have Foxtel contract and glorious Blu-ray collection, but you have bought projector that is formatted to aspect ratio of 4:3. You will be unpleasantly surprised to see that native aspect ratio of 16:9 of the video you are watching had to be altered for the projector. Knowing what aspect ratio is commonly used for what will help you to avoid this mistake. Regular TV programs, classic movies and IMAX presentations are made for the aspect ratio of 4:3. Blu-rays and HDTV are, on the other side, both designed for better picture quality and 16:9 systems.

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Resolution

Projector resolution is determined by the number of projected pixels and it is obvious that larger that number is image will be sharper. Projector with the resolution of 1280×720 will be perfectly serviceable for DVD’s and Blu-rays and you can find it at an affordable price. Videos with the aspect ratio of 16:9 are meant for the projectors supporting the resolution of 1280×768, though. If you want to spend more, you should opt for the projectors with the resolution of 1920×1080 which are the best solution for the high definition formats.

Brightness

For the start, projector’s brightness is measured in lumens and they usually have somewhere between 800 and 3000 lumens. We could assume that brighter the projector the better, but too much light can cause eye fatigue. You can choose from the cheaper solutions with just above 1000 lumens and up to 3000, but there is no need to go beyond that.

Technology

Finally, you have to ask yourself which technology you want to use out of the existing four (laser raster, LCOS, DLP and LCD). The most inexpensive are the DLP projectors which, like some of the LCOS-based projectors, project their primary colors sequentially, which sometimes lead to rainbow effect. While LCD projectors don’t have this problem, they are heavier and bigger. Standard LCOS projectors offer best picture, but they are the heaviest and the most expensive.

So, all you have to do is to take the most of what we said above, find the best all-around solution which fits your needs, call your friends and enjoy some good movies. Which one? That’s whole another topic.