Mannassi IT Solutions

Blog

What's happening.

Posts tagged tips & tricks
2017 Wrap Up: 5 Tips to End the Year Right!

With the year winding down it’s a good time to double check to make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row for 2018. Here are five tips for loose ends to tie up before the ball drops.

  1. Brush up on the numbers! Contact your CPA and have them run the numbers. This helps you to see if you need to do some last-minute purchases in order to reduce your taxes.
  2. Upgrade under the wire! If you’ve considered upgrading your computer or network equipment, check with your accounting department to see whether purchasing (Capex, aka capital expense) or leasing (Opex, aka operational expense) will save you the most money.
  3. Shop til you drop! The end of the year is a perfect time to purchase, as most vendors are trying to wrap up their end of year sales. Be on the lookout for special end of year deals and grab that tech you’ve been eyeing.
  4. Clean house! Have you been holding on to old equipment “just in-case”? Now is the time to donate! Make your charitable donations before the new year so you can use the deduction on this year’s taxes.
  5. Budget now, play later! Start making a list for your 2018 budget, it may seem like not a lot of fun, but the new year is only a couple of weeks away.

What big plans have you got for the end of 2017? Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to share!

3 Little Known Security Secrets that Can Make A BIG Difference

If you’ve been following us long you know that we’re always harping on about security here at Mannassi IT Solutions. We firmly believe that a solid offense is the best defense, especially when it comes to protecting your data and by extension your business. The big threats most everyone is aware of; malware, ransomware, phishing scams etc. But what are the most overlooked security threats? Here’s three security vulnerabilities that are oft forgotten.

1: Where’s that WiFi coming from?
Ever sent a personal email over the coffee shop WiFi? It’s not secure! One of the top ways hackers can break into your laptop or cell phone is by using a public wifi connection. Not to mention, if you’re required to be HIPAA compliant, sending an email that contains ePHI over an unsecured WiFi connection is a big no no.

2: Calling all charging ports!
You’ve probably been stranded in an airport at some point in your life, with your cell battery running low and so many work emails to answer. Many airports have provided a simple solution, USB charging ports. But these ports are often home to those with nefarious purposes! A USB is a simple way to break into your device, so plugging in to a public USB connection is kind of like wearing a sign that says “KICK ME”.

3: Ma, don’t write down your password!
One of the top ways someone can get into your computer is when you’ve written down your password & stuck it to your monitor. We’ve even seen laptops with passwords stuck to the outside! Why don’t you give the neighborhood thief the keys to your car while you’re at it? Your password is your first line of defense, and should be strong as well as secret. If you really can’t manage to remember all you passwords consider using something like Keypass, which allows you to securely store the keys to everywhere your tech takes you.

There you have it! Are you guilty of any of these security faux pas? Tweet us @MannassiIT & tell us your security stories.

Don’t Let Power Problems Eclipse Your Business

With the great American eclipse just passed (hope you remembered your viewing glasses!) now is a great time to review your IT and power! California power providers had been working on a plan for two years to support the electrical grid when the eclipse took effect, in order to adjust for the substantial loss of solar power generation.  However, they still issued a warning that there could be potential power outages!

As a small business, you can’t afford to be caught without power; servers, network equipment, and other vital tech could all suddenly shutdown! Immeditaely causing you to lose money and productivity. Although the eclipse lasted for only for an hour or two, the damage to computer hardware and software comes from tech being suddenly turned off and the resulting spike in power when the grid comes back online.  

All your computer equipment should be protected by surge protection strips, but make sure you don’t go for the cheapest one you can find, as these offer little to no protection!  It’s best to get a surge protector that comes with a warranty to repair or replace equipment if damaged. Since turning off a server suddenly can corrupt operating systems and applications, your servers should have battery backup systems that automatically signal it to shutdown cleanly. 

Finally, now is a great time to double-check your backups! If the worst happens and your system is fried, knowing your backups are solid gives you the piece of mindto know you can get back to business quickly and with minimal loss. 

Remember, even though the Great American Eclipse has moved on, power problems are an ever present risk to your systems and your business. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of care!

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, @MannassiIT, for more about protecting your business from anything life can throw at it! Stay tuned to our Facebook for our weekly exclusive tips, coming to you on Thursdays.

Respect the Tech!

I have been working with technology since 1984, and just when I think that I have seen everything another situation pops up that surprises and amazes me with the way people are so casual about their tech.  Since technology is so vital to our daily lives, you would think people would treat their computers and phones with at least a modicum of respect and attention. However, this is not usually the case.

Recently I went to see a new client and they showed me a desktop computer that had a ‘drive not found’ error. Such a serious drive error message isn’t great to begin with, but it was compounded when I asked about the backup and only got a blank stare, followed by the revelation that he has not done a backup in over 5 years. DOH! The hard drive is dead, and we have no way to restore his data.

That’s not the only tech slip up out there. Every day I hear stories about people at Starbucks sending confidential email via the free wifi. Come on people! Would you shout your social security number, address and date of birth across a crowded room? Hopefully not, so don’t do it via email either!

When investing in tech, don’t just go for the cheapest.  The saying “you get what you pay for” holds as true for tech as it does for anything else. Buying the no name brand computer, or a residential grade firewall for a business, will certainly come back and bite you in the @$$ and cost you an arm and a leg.

Networks are vulnerable to breach every minute of every day, unless you are constantly vigilant and take proactive steps to protect your systems and your data you are going to feel the pain of data loss and outages. It only takes a little extra effort to save yourself a lot of trouble.

Mannassi IT Solutions can help you find the right solutions for your business at the right price. Give us a call to chat about your options.

Follow us on twitter @MannassiIT or Facebook for all the latest on keeping your tech in great shape.

Nothing Can Stop This Road Warrior!

Nowadays there’s no excuse for not being able to work while you are traveling. Yes, I know, we all love to use travel as an excuse to kickback and have a little “me time,” however with all the complicated employee travel laws requiring you to be paid while traveling, your employer is likely expecting you to maximize this time to use on work.

Gone are the days of “I will answer your email once I get to my hotel.” We now have the option to work on the plane, of course that’s if your airline has wifi available onboard. If not, it’s time to consider flying the friendly skies with a more connected airline! With in-flight wifi you’re enabled to answer email, answer calls on your soft phone, do a skype call (make sure to use your earbuds or the background noise is an issue), or even prepare for that all important meeting you are en-route to.

Most airports will provide you with free wifi, however this can sometimes be extremely slow, so also look at options with your cell phone carrier. Keep an eye out for plans that include a hotspot, as this will enable you to turn your cell into a wifi connection for your laptop. I often do carpool trips with my partner and I have found this a great option, as we can do a full business meeting while driving and pull documents as we need them from our office.

Word of warning, when traveling, double-check with your IT department that your laptop is encrypted and has a tracking option enabled in the event it gets stolen or misplaced. Also, check that your email is encrypted. If, for example you are sending confidential information like the kinds of records protected under HIPAA requirements, you need to be using encrypted email in order to stay compliant. Otherwise you’ve breached HIPAA requirements just by sending a single email over public wifi!

Lastly if you find yourself constantly looking for a power outlet for your laptop, consider some newer models, many can last 10+ hours on battery power. While newer aircraft do provide you a power outlet at your seat, be extremely careful about using the public USB charging stations at airports as this is a well-known point of contact for hackers intent on compromising your mobile devices.

With just a few precautions you can be a real road warrior, saving the day from your airplane seat!

Check out our twitter @MannssiIT, and our facebook for regular tips about staying secure while on the road.

How to Catch Those Hidden Telecom Costs Before They Catch You!

The ability to turn up voice and data services has never been easier; many providers even offer self-provisioning. While this might seem like a swell idea, it comes with the risk that a company will spend money on voice and data circuits they don’t need, or were once in use but aren’t any longer. 

Another area of corporate waste is with wireless carriers and company issued mobile devices.  Over the years, we have found many instances of mobile devices never returned, or voice/data plans that are still active long after the employee has left the company. 

Another area of financial waste is incorrect billing.  Telecom billing departments are not perfect and it pays to look closely for changes in the bill.  We’re frequently asked to review telecom invoices to confirm if the charges are applicable and correct, and more times than you’d expect we find old circuits that were never cancelled, or double billing, or new carrier pricing that can be rolled back to the lower cost with a simple phone call to the sales department.

Telecom technology is ever-changing and sometimes changing the tech makes sense and can save money.  A prime example of this is replacing MPLS with SD-WAN, which can often net 60% savings. But unless you’re certain how your telecom switch is going to save on your bottom line, consult someone who knows how to find all the angles to save you money and hassle!

Did you know Mannassi IT Solutions can provide full service telecom analysis? Give us a call so we can find out how to shave those precious dollars off your telecom budget.

As always, follow us on Twitter, @MannassiIT, or Facebook for regular updates & more cost saving tips!

Thought Your Mac Was Malware Safe? Think Again!

One of the most often applauded perks of Macs is their invulnerability to viruses. Well, the bubble of virus-free Apple products has officially burst.

A recent outbreak of the highly invasive malware “fruitfly” has been wreaking havoc on Mac users for the past six months. The sneaky virus went undetected for years, and allows the controller of take complete control of your Mac—from files to your keyboard, from your webcam to your mouse.

Apple did recently release security patches to fight the “fruitfly” but new variants have emerged. Since Mac malware is so rare, it’s been particularly difficult to corral.

A report on CBS news follows some of the techies working to combat this “fruitfly” but it seems reigning it in is proving to be difficult, especially since no one knows exactly what the malware does or why it would be implemented.

So what can you do to protect yourself? Here’s three tips:

1. Make sure all your software is up to date. Security patches can only help you if they’re updated regularly and your system matches their requirements.

2. Always back up your computer regularly. Don’t get caught without your important documents in the event you’re infected.

3. Take security precautions seriously: have a strong password (your cat’s name is not usually a safe bet), don’t click links within emails, minimize your downloading activity, and use a pop-up blocker.

With a little due diligence you can do a lot to prevent a malware attack from crippling your tech. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

Follow us on Twitter @MannassiIT or like us on Facebook for more security in the news.

Not All Clouds Have A Silver Lining

Currently, there is a big push for businesses to move some or all of the their IT infrastructure to the cloud.  However, there is one thing that tends to get overlooked in the planning; that is the connection between the corporate office and the cloud servers.  Regardless of whether you have gone to public cloud with AWS, a hybrid, or a private cloud, that internet connection is now the keystone to your productivity. 

Here are four things to consider when planning your switch to the cloud:

  1. Can the internet current internet connection have sufficient bandwidth to support this extra traffic, over and above regular internet browsing? You may also want to implement a policy to prevent Internet slow down, such as restricting March Madness streaming on ESPN.
  2. Does you ISP provide a service level agreement so that in the event of an outage the repair work is started immediately and guarantees a return to service? Most cable, FiOS, & DSL connections (like Spectrum, Cox, Frontier, U-verse, & the like), make only a best effort and give you no bill credit for extended down time.
  3. Do you have a secondary/redundant internet connection from a different ISP? This will provide a failover option in the event that the primary ISP goes down.  Depending on the firewall you have, you may be able to load balance traffic over both connections, giving you better performance.
  4. Speaking of firewalls, this too is a single point of failure, a second firewall is key to redundancy.  Automatic failover is a common option on most business and enterprise class firewalls.

It may seem like, on the surface, having to pay for two internet connections is an unnecessary expense, but remember the last time your own internet went down & how frustrated you were. Now multiply that frustration by a factor of 1000 for you & your staff as you are unable to get any work done because your cloud servers are unavailable! Make sure your backup plans have backups so you’ll be prepared for any emergency.

Check out our facebook page or follow us on twitter @MannassiIT for daily updates.

3 Tips to Make Sure Your Security is Up to Snuff.

Cybersecurity is all over the news at the moment: every day there seems to be a new security breach or ransomware attack. So how can you make sure you’re protected from the bad guys? Here are three tips to keeping your security strong.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Security is an ongoing process. You need constant monitoring and adjustments just to stay ahead of the game. Hackers are constantly changing their methods to match updates in technology and you’ve got to be ready to adapt ahead of the curve and make sure your security steps stay current.

It’s like an onion, layered. There’s no “one size fits all” approach. Start with a business or enterprise class firewall with intrusion prevention enabled and build from there to anti-virus and anti-malware endpoint protection software.

Watch for the enemy within. A lot of security breaches come from the inside, so no firewall or anti-virus software is going to protect you. Manage your passwords effectively with company-wide best practices for complexity, length, and duration. Don’t forget to cancel access for employees who have left your company! Former staff with unfettered access is one of the most common security gaps.

Your security mantra should be making security a way of life, not just a footnote. Staying on top of your security needs can save you a big headache in the long-term. Security as a service is a great option for the not-so-security-savvy among us. Letting a pro take the wheel can save you time, money, and let you get back to business.

Drop us a line to hear more about our security as a service options. And make sure to follow us on twitter @MannassiIT for updates on the world of cybersecurity.