Part 3 of a guest post from our friends at Emsisoft.
Every day, we pay for the cost of digital convenience with our privacy. The currency, of course, is personal data. Sometimes, it’s a reciprocal transaction, like when we install a social media app on our phone. We install the app knowing that our information will be harvested, aggregated, and likely sold off to marketers and advertisers.
In other scenarios, the erosion of privacy is less obvious, like when governments quietly conduct mass surveillance on the population; or, at the other end of the scale, like when someone plugs in your USB drive and starts snooping through your vacation pics.
It’s easy to think that we’ve all but relinquished our right to privacy. But by making a few simple changes to your devices and rethinking how you interact online, it is still possible to maintain a good level of control over your privacy.
Here are five things you can do today to start taking control of your online privacy.
1. Secure Your Browser
How to Do It: Installing the following browser extensions can dramatically increase your privacy and reduce your online footprint.
Why: Privacy and data management policies vary significantly between vendors. Many web-based tools will attempt to collect your data under the guise of providing a personalized experience, while some developers of free software will often try to recoup their costs by selling your data to third-party advertisers or bundling their applications with potentially unwanted programs (PUPs).
How: Before you use an online service or install software on your device, read the fine print to ensure you understand what you’re getting yourself into. Switching from your usual services to one of the more privacy-conscious solutions below can help you keep your data where it belongs.
We know that some of these suggestions appear daunting but don’t worry, Yellowstone Computing is here to help! Give our experts a call at 715-669-6136 or stop by our office located at 219 N Washington St, Thorp today! Don’t miss next week’s issue as we continue to outline basic steps to help you secure your digital privacy in 2021!
Part 2 of a guest post from our friends at Emsisoft.
6. Remove Apps You Don’t Need
Over the years, you’ve probably amassed a bunch of applications on your PC and mobile devices that you never use. It’s time to get rid of them. Unpatched and misconfigured software are common entry points for malware, so removing unnecessary apps can reduce the risk of infection while freeing up storage space.
Once you’ve uninstalled the unnecessary apps, keep your storage devices uncluttered by only installing software that you actually need. Read dialog boxes carefully during installation to ensure you don’t inadvertently install potentially unwanted programs and be cautious when installing free software – remember, if you’re not paying for it, you’re probably the product.
7. Enable 2FA Everywhere You Can
Leave single-factor authentication in the past and start enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) everywhere you can.
2FA is a simple and effective way of adding an extra layer of security to your accounts. With 2FA, you’re required to provide both a password and a secondary form of identification (typically a verification code, PIN, hardware token or biometric pattern) to access your account. Even if attackers are able to install keylogging malware on your device and obtain your login credentials, they won’t be able to access your 2FA-protected account without the second form of authentication.
8. Lockdown Your Smart Devices
Internet connectivity is finding its way into more and more of our home devices. While smart devices might be ushering in a new era of convenience and efficiency, each Internet-connected device also provides a possible point of entry for malware attacks. Below are a few tips to keep your smart devices secure:
U.S. households are now home to an average of 11 Internet-connected devices, according to figures from Deloitte. Taking control of the security of each individual device is a logistical nightmare, so your best bet is to look for a cloud-based solution that allows you to manage all the endpoints in your home from a single portal. The Emsisoft Management Console, for example, comes free with all Emsisoft protection software and enables you to manage all of your devices remotely from a single pane of glass. Efficient, powerful and easy to use, it’s the best way to protect all of your family’s devices from malware in 2021.
With remote working and distance learning here to stay for the foreseeable future, it has never been more important to maintain a high level of cybersecurity. Applying the practices described in this article can go a long way toward securing your home network and keeping your devices free of malware in 2021.
We know that some of these suggestions appear daunting but don’t worry, Yellowstone Computing is here to help! Give our experts a call at 715-669-6136 or stop by our office located at 219 N Washington St, Thorp today! Don’t miss next week’s issue as we continue to outline basic steps to help you make 2021 malware-free!
A guest post from our friends at Emsisoft.
1. Think Before You Click
Phishing preys on human tendencies and uses social engineering techniques to coax you into clicking things you shouldn’t. It’s responsible for 31 percent of cybersecurity incidents and is likely to be a prevalent threat in the months ahead as attackers seek to take advantage of the global shift to remote working. Make 2021 a phish-free year by thinking twice before clicking. Here a few key tips to avoid falling for a phishing scam:
Many types of malware work by taking advantage of security flaws in your applications or operating system. To fix these known security vulnerabilities and protect their users, software developers regularly release updates that should be applied as soon as they’re available.
While it may be tempting to ignore those nagging pop-up windows, keeping your software up to date is crucial for maintaining device security and reducing the risk of malware infection.
3. Install A Good Antivirus
There are a few good options on the market for antivirus and anti-malware software, so take the time to think about your requirements, read some reviews and install a few different trial versions (not at the same time!) to get a feel for each product.
If you’re looking for reliable, fast and easy-to-use protection, feel free to download a free trial of Emsisoft Anti-Malware and see if it’s a good fit. See this blog post for more advice on how to choose the right antivirus software.
4. Secure Your Router
Responsible for providing all of your devices with Internet connectivity, your router is perhaps the most important gadget in your home. Keep it secure with the following tips:
Pirated software poses a significant security risk (not to mention the serious ethical implications, which we won’t get into here). While statistics are scarce, it’s not uncommon for pirated software to be infected with malware such as password-stealing trojans, ransomware and cryptojackers.
In 2021, it’s time to retire the Jolly Roger and embrace your new life as a regular old landlubber. Wipe the slate clean by reformatting your device and only installing legitimate applications. There are many free, open-source business applications and productivity tools that provide similar functionality to paid alternatives, while gamers can legally enjoy a plethora of top-notch games without paying a cent as developers increasingly embrace free-to-play models.
We know that some of these suggestions appear daunting but don’t worry, Yellowstone Computing is here to help! Give our experts a call at 715-669-6136 or stop by our office located at 219 N Washington St, Thorp today! Don’t miss next week’s issue as we continue to count down basic steps to help you make 2021 malware-free!
By Serenity Gibbons | Forbes
Just because something works doesn't make it efficient or practical. Take an old gas-guzzler car. It may get you from point to point, but you're going to waste money and resources along the way.
Legacy technology systems fit this metaphor well. They may work, but at what cost? Often, they're clunky and much slower than more modern digital solutions. Plus, they may not have the capacity to allow your team to scale and compete.
The answer, of course, is a digital transformation (DX). Unfortunately, it's an answer that doesn't always pan out. Around seven out of 10 companies that embark on the road to DX never make it to their destination. They peter out. And their legacy systems keep chugging along.
Around Seven Out Of 10 Companies That Embark on The Road To DX Never Make It To Their Destination.
Why the high rate of DX failure? To be honest, several challenges lie in the way of a successful technological transformation. First of all, support doesn't always come from the top down. Bottom-up DX rarely gets enough traction to make a lasting splash. Plus, lots of companies make wrong replacement choices, merely replacing one legacy system for another. Finally, a true DX project can lead to transformation fatigue if everyone's expected to make major changes on a dime.
This isn't to suggest that DX is an impossible dream. It's hardly the stuff that Don Quixote warbled against in "Man of La Mancha." It just takes a tempered touch and some serious planning to make legacy technology transformations stick long-term.
1. Go for The Easy Wins.
Instead of replacing your tech stack portfolio at once, alter it slowly. For instance, replace one of your legacy systems that won't cause tons of ruffled feathers. Email is a good starting point. Most people can adapt to new email platforms, even if they're not the most tech-savvy workers on your team.
Getting a small, fast win tears down psychological hurdles to embracing new digital solutions. It also allows people to see the advantages that can come from upgrading, such as being able to sync calendars effortlessly or send unlimited files within an encrypted intranet system. Never underestimate how powerful it can be for your employees to have a good DX experience from the start.
2. Cultivate Champions in The Executive Ranks.
CIO not on board with legacy transformation? CEO keep putting it on the back burner? You're on the road to stunted tech growth. You need a high-level champion front and center who can help you succeed and improve buy-in across the board.
Speaking of the board, having board members involved in your DX campaign can be a huge asset. Board member support can put pressure on C-suite leaders to take modernization initiatives seriously. After all, the board has a huge stake in the economic viability of your company. When they're emphasizing and prioritizing DX at the board-level, your top-ranking executives will listen.
3. Break Down DX Into Bite-Sized Chunks.
Rome wasn't built in a day. Neither was Detroit. Or Cincinnati. Or a solid technology transformation. So think agile and move in short sprints rather than one long marathon. Along these lines, you may want to look for simple answers that allow you to keep parts of your legacy system for even longer, such as putting "wrapper" systems in place. Digital wrappers aren't new; MIT was talking about leveraging them years ago. Taking baby steps lets everyone catch their collective breath after one legacy system or solution has been replaced by a more contemporary version.
As you're chunking your DX steps, be sure to share goalposts with your crew. As an example, you may want to send out reminders about timelines and expectations. This keeps employees abreast of what's occurring. It also shows them how they can help you move closer to meeting your expectations.
4. Give People Training to Make The Most Of Replacement Systems.
Sure, you'll have some self-starters on your team who will dive straight into any system you install. But most of your folks will sit back and timidly toy around the edges of unfamiliar software and systems. That's why you have to teach them why it's okay to get rid of the legacy systems they love and embrace the myriad possibilities of a replacement.
It's not enough to offer a single training or two. Go overboard with anyone you want to actually make good use of your DX solutions. Offer in-person, socially distanced workshops. Set up virtual sharing sessions. Do whatever you can to educate your team members. Along the way, you'll probably see rising superstars who can be point people for the new system. Identify them and make them the go-to gurus of "their" DX platform.
5. Keep Communications Flowing.
If you've followed all the steps until now, you're probably humming along pretty well. To maximize the flow of information about your legacy technology transformation, send regular progress updates via text, email or maybe a video message. Be up front about other legacy systems you plan to retire.
Being communicative is essential to foster higher employee engagement, especially if your team is now working remotely like so many across the country. Mirrored Media's Justin Lefkovitch has gone on the record as a consummate over-communicator. In his words, "Nobody complains about being too informed, so clear and informative communication is a good way to begin.
At the same time, be open-minded to getting "word on the street" feedback from employees. You'll want to hear about what's working and what's not. Send out surveys and request one-on-one sessions with people using the latest DX solutions. You'll get a 360-degree view of what's happening and how to proceed.
There's an old saying: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Sometimes, it's true. However, that's no way to run a disruptive company. Often, the kindest thing you can do for your business and coworkers is to say goodbye to legacy technology. That way, you can say hello to lightning-fast workplace capabilities fueled by your commitment to DX.
This article was written by Serenity Gibbons from Forbes and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2021 has already had a rocky start – and compared to 2020 that’s saying a lot. Many hoped that this year would mark a return to normal. Instead it seems we’re in for a continuation of our new normal, complete with unexpected threats and digital acceleration. Anticipating what’s around the corner may continue to be impossible. Fortunately for small businesses, the market’s near-limitless device options give them an opportunity to respond more nimbly, so long as they select the right ones.
If choosing tech for the year ahead feels like a shot in the dark, follow these guidelines and future proof your business.
Choose Devices That Are Flexible
Numerous lockdowns amid growing health concerns have led to mass remote work over the last year. Thanks to the billions in collective cost savings and notable productivity increases that followed, many employers are considering agile working models like hot desking and hybrid office environments as long term solutions.
As the popularity of flex schedules and location agnostic work models increases, so does the demand for flexible devices. And though laptops may seem like the obvious choice, they’re certainly not the only one.
Convertibles and 2-in-1 tablets are affordable options that prioritize portability. Their built-in connectivity and docking options also make them a popular choice for traveling between work and home.
Even desktops have their place. They’re ideal for hot desks, offering more processing power and bigger screens for programs like CAD or performance analytics. Many newer models are more compact than ever, saving space without compromising on performance.
Buy Tech to Boost Your Resilience
Uncertainty was the hallmark of 2020. Moving forward, companies who want to insulate themselves from circumstance must make intentional moves to drive value and mitigate volatility. And they must do it digitally. As BCG explains, the path to business resilience is a digital one. “With almost every organization having to depend on data, analytics, digital tools and automation, digital technologies will constitute an increasingly critical element of business resilience tomorrow.”
Keep Collaboration In Mind
Collaboration and teamwork have always been essential components of great work. Even with in-person meetings and desk chats on pause, keeping these professional relationships strong is critical. We need each other to do our best work. While video meetings and cloud-enabled collaboration technology may have started as stand-ins, they’re quickly becoming the norm. 98% of meetings now have at least one employee attending remotely from home– a figure that is predicted to persist post-COVID.
As schedules become more staggered and the world opens at different rates, having devices that support top-tier collaboration tools will be key to producing top-tier work.
Many remote employees are working outside the company network for the first time. Cybercriminals have used this opportunity to make targets out of millions simply doing their job.
Spending a little more on your team’s tech now is the best way to prevent costly data and privacy breaches in the future. Search for devices with security features like:
Make Cost-Effective Decisions
Cost-reduction pressures are mounting as businesses brace for another year of unknowns. However, the real money is in cost optimization, not cost-cutting.
How do you spend proactively instead of cutting retroactively? Gartner recommends a three-phase approach:
Accountants are experts at surviving the “busy season.” Tax accountants, for instance, are slammed as annual deadlines draw near. There are slow times, too, but during crazy times, the last thing an accountant wants is essential tech going down.
A broken computer or server downtime can be devastating. Say it’s a few days before a tax deadline, and the accountant logs into an essential tax preparation application and sees a blank screen: the system is down, and they can’t get in. It’s the kind of crisis that more cups of coffee can’t handle.
In the United States in 2018, the Internal Revenue Service’s website crashed on April 17, Tax Day. Since many people had waited until the last minute to submit their tax returns, this single day of downtime is estimated to have cost millions. It’s a clear example of the damage even a day of server downtime or other type of outage can cost a business and, in this case, one that business accountants can relate to!
If the firm takes a break-fix approach to its technology needs, the answer will be to call in an expert. This could mean hours on the phone with an IT helpline only to find out the problem is with another service provider. Or it could mean trying to reach someone to come out and check the network only to get on their calendar in the next available spot.
Deadlines are looming, and you are spending time on IT woes? It’s a disaster.
A proactive approach is to outsource IT help to a managed service provider (MSP) instead. Rather than waste valuable time trying to solve the problem yourself, turn to an IT technician to get to work.
Outsourcing Your IT Help Desk
With managed services, when you need help, the experts are readily available to tackle your concerns. Many solutions are remote.
Better yet, the MSP will use your slow times to set up systems to cut the risk of downtime during crunch season.
The MSP gets to know your business objectives and your technology infrastructure, which can help them react more efficiently and effectively. They can also track your IT to detect issues or security vulnerabilities early. Plus, they will help create business continuity plans to get your firm up and running again fast.
If the worst does happen, the MSP is only a help ticket or phone call away. Their experts are familiar not only with your technology but also with how you use it. Plus, as a consistent customer, you are a priority, not just another name on a list of people needing help who all see their needs as an emergency.
One other advantage to outsourcing your IT help is that it can reduce costs. The break-fix approach can be an expensive one. Instead, you’ll pay an MSP a set, monthly fee for the peace of mind that your IT needs are being looked after. The MSP can also help you identify opportunities to reduce IT-related operational costs.
Your laptop computer may feel like a lifeline. It has everything important on it, both personal and professional! Regrettably, the time does come when you need to replace it. Yet, some computer problems could be solved instead by replacing the laptop battery.
Some computers now come with a variation on the car dashboard indicator light. You may see a red X on the icon that shows you the power level for your battery. Those with computer models with Windows 7 and up get a message saying, “consider replacing your battery.” But not all of us have this useful warning, in which case you’ll want to be on the lookout for these sure signs that battery replacement is needed.
#1 You Have to Charge the Computer Often
When you buy a battery-powered device the marketing boasts of the many hours it can hold its charge. Expect a fully charged laptop battery to last six hours (depending on the programs used). But as the laptop battery ages, it doesn’t hold its charge for as long.
You might plug it in overnight and wake up to find it still has charging to do. Your solution may be to keep your laptop plugged in at all times, but this cuts into the very mobility a laptop promises.
#2 Your Lap Is Heating Up
You’re working away on your tasks and the computer becomes an unexpected warming blanket in your lap. That didn’t used to happen! Now, your battery is having to work harder to power applications. This causes your computer to overheat, which can strain your computer.
#3 Your Laptop Keeps Shutting Down
This one is going to get you worried really quickly. You’ll be seeing the dollar signs associated with buying a new computer in your eyes. This may be a sign instead that your battery needs to be replaced. A bad battery doesn’t hold charge for very long, and your computer will unexpectedly power off.
#4 Time Is Not on Your Side
You know your laptop is more than five years old. Don’t be surprised if you experience power issues. Did you know that laptop batteries are typically meant to last only 400 charges? That’s one or two years! So, your laptop battery might already have been living on borrowed time for years.
Be Nice to Your Laptop Battery
Before you buy a new computer, think about whether it could be the battery instead. Laptop batteries are not manufactured for eternal recharging. You might think you’re doing the right thing by keeping it plugged into a wall charger all of the time, but you’re actually doing your battery a favor by unplugging it every once in a while.
One other suggestion: don’t let the computer get below 20% charge before plugging it back in. This can help preserve battery life. Replacing a laptop battery isn’t always straightforward. Don’t worry, we can find the right battery for your laptop and replace it for you!
All good things must come to an end – it’s inevitable with computer software. If you’re using Adobe Flash, the day has arrived. It’s time to uninstall Adobe Flash Player.
Adobe stopped supporting Flash Player on December 31, 2020. What does this mean?
Adobe is no longer issuing Flash Player updates or security patches. The company “strongly recommends immediately uninstalling Flash Player.” The company announced the decision to bring Flash Player to end of life (EOL) in 2017.
To help secure user systems, Adobe began blocking Flash content from running in Flash Player on January 12, 2021. Major browser vendors have also disabled Flash Player from running: Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and Microsoft Edge have all stopped supporting the technology.
This renders Flash Player pretty useless. Flash was key to early Web browsing, powering interactive website elements such as animations and forms. Web developers loved it, because it saved them from offering users dull, static pages. However, open standards have matured to provide a viable alternative to Flash content. The HTML 5 standard has replaced Flash in many cases.
Adobe Flash is old, unsupported, and has unfixed security issues. It’s actively used for malware. Fake Flash Player installers have long been an effective way to deliver malware. As recently as 2020, three years after the EOL announcement, it was found that 1 in 10 Macs were infected by one prolific piece of Flash malware. Don’t keep it on your system, and definitely don’t download versions of the Flash Play-er from third-party sites.
Uninstalling Adobe Flash Player
If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, you don’t need to worry. Flash was never supported on iOS devices. Otherwise, it’s worth checking if you have Adobe Flash Player installed. You may not even remember downloading it, but don’t just let it sit there.
To check if Flash Player is installed, navigate to https://helpx.adobe.com/flash-player.html. Under Install Flash Player in five steps, the first step is to check installation. Click on “Check Now.” If it tells you “Sorry, Flash Player is either not installed or not enabled,” you’re in good shape.
To uninstall from a Windows computer, you will need to download the uninstaller found here (https://helpx.adobe.com/flash-player/kb/uninstall-flash-player-windows.html) to your desktop. Then, exit all browser and other programs that use Flash. Run the uninstaller to delete all Flash Player files and folders. Restart your computer, open your browser, and verify uninstallation is complete.
Mac users will download the uninstaller (https://helpx.adobe.com/au/flash-player/kb/uninstall-flash-player-mac-os.html) suited to their OS Version. You can determine your version by clicking on the Apple icon and choosing About This Mac. You then run the applicable uninstaller. After restarting your computer, verify the uninstallation is complete.
Without updates or security patches, hackers could access your system using Flash Player vulnerabilities. It can be frustrating when software reaches EOL. Even so, it’s important to be proactive. Take the precautions to keep your system safe. Worried about downloading and uninstalling safely? We can help. Not sure what other legacy software you might have on your computer that is putting you at risk? We can help there, too. Contact us today!
Happy February, its Coffee & Cookie Thursday this week!
We serve homemade cookies and Joe's good coffee, tea, or hot chocolate to anyone who wants to stop by! Take your cookies and beverage to go, or find one of our cozy office chairs and visit for a while!
To read about us, click here!