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Business
Passwords ensure the security and confidentiality of data that is stored on various workstations and servers throughout your business. Some of this data includes financial information and employee names and addresses, social security numbers, and more. It is your responsibility as a user, to make sure that all your account passwords are as difficult to guess as possible.

Did you know that…

A weak password can allow a virus to help worm its way deep into your network Weak passwords are easily deciphered by algorithms that hackers to gain access to a system Verizon has found 63% of confirmed data breaches involved the usage of weak stolen or default passwords

Choosing the right password

Don’t use…
  • previously employed passwords or variations of them
  • proper names,
  • words from the dictionary,
  • common character sequences such as “123456”, mar2004
  • derivatives of user-IDs,
  • personal details such as variations of your own name, your spouse’s and pet’s names, license plate numbers, social insurance numbers, and birthdates
Do…
  • create passwords that are at least 10 characters in length
  • create passwords that are difficult to guess
  • use at least three of: alphabetic, mixed case, numeric and punctuation characters when creating a new password
  • vary the case of the letters such jSno34Rt

Need some help with Password Management?

NTS offers scheduled reminders, as well as assistance with a suite of additional options to help guarantee your data is safe! Contact us today at 231.881.3123 or email [email protected] to request more information or to schedule your FREE consultation.    
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Just For Fun

Small business owners, whether working in a busy office, on the road or from home, can easily get distracted – and overwhelmed. From email (and text) messages bombarding their inboxes and smart phones, to having to stop what they are doing to attend meetings or put out fires, to the temptation to check social media, it can be hard – make that nearly impossible – to stay focused and complete tasks on time.

So what, if anything, can small business owners do to stay focused and on top of things? Following is a list of free or inexpensive tools (listed alphabetically) that can help.

1. Active Inbox A Gmail plug in that allows you to organize your inbox as tasks. Small business owners like it because whatever project management system you use, a lot of tasks actually happen via email. And Active Inbox allows you to keep track of project-related emails and easily follow up with people. The app works particularly well for entrepreneurs who are followers of David Allen’s Getting Things Done® method. 2. Asana “Asana is a great tool to organize and stay up-to-date [on] projects, assign tasks to team members and keep track of everyone’s progress, including my own,” says Steve Benson, founder & CEO, Badger Maps. “Getting reminders about due dates and being able to add comments and links back to relevant docs on Google Drive makes it very valuable for us and helps me manage more efficiently.” “Asana lets you list and organize tasks, as well as assign tasks to teammates,” says Craig Bloem, founder & CEO, FreeLogoServices.com. “It also helps you track project status and communication. Any messages you send through the interface are saved in a conversation history, providing helpful background information on each project. You check off items as you complete them, and when you do, the tool even shoots a little unicorn across the page to celebrate your accomplishment.” 3. Google Calendar “I plan everything on Google Calendar,” says Ophélie Castelot, communication manager, Space Designer 3D. Google Calendar helps business owners – and workers – “stay focused on what needs to be done and have a better understanding of exactly how much time is needed to complete a task. Plus, you can share a calendar with your coworkers, so everyone can see what the others [are doing].” 4. Google Keep “This simple, straightforward app can help [you] keep track of many projects,” says Rhonda Waterhouse, an entrepreneur with three businesses, including Daisy Yoga. “The colored rectangles act like expandable sticky notes. I have one for each project and even one for home. And I can check off items as I complete them. Recently Google added a feature to allow users to pin important notes to the top. This is the best to-do list I’ve found!” 5. Nimble “Nimble [a popular social CRM app] allows me to add all my contacts into this neat and well-organized CRM system,” says Vicky Llerena, founder, Social Vibes Media. “Once you upload emails, the system is smart enough to recognize social media handles for each contact. It’s great to segment my lists, set reminders for follow-ups and put a face to the name when I am about to give a friendly follow-up call to my prospect.” 6. ProsperWorks “If your job relies on building and maintaining relationships with customers, partners, leads or anyone outside of your organization, a CRM solution is a must,” says Mark Lee, partner, Hokku PR, who recommends ProperWorks, which seamlessly integrates with Google G Suite. “ProsperWorks syncs with your email, pulls data from email signatures and organizes all of your contacts in one place so you can easily access pertinent data like past interactions, contact status and more,” he says. “This kind of automation means less time wasted on spreadsheets and manual data entry, and you’ll know exactly who you’re interacting with at all times so you can craft a highly relevant and personalized experience.” 7. Todoist “Todoist is the best task manager on the market today,” says Gavin Jones, founder and director, MeeTime. “The main benefit of this app is the number of platforms that it is available on: Android, iPhone, web, Mac and Windows.” “There are so many planning and organizing tools out there, but I have found Todoist to be the most effective,” says Jennifer Straus, people ops strategy and analytics, Kabbage. “It allows [you] to label each task, which, for me, involves assessing the difficulty of the task. “With each task labeled, I can spread out my more taxing tasks throughout the day and the week,” she explains. “In addition, I can easily add notes to the elements of my list as I come across relevant information or hold meetings pertinent to the task. With this one tool, I can keep my to-do list accurate, have a plan for the week [and] set reminders for the future.” 8. Trello “To stay productive, I organize all my projects in Trello, a project management tool,” says Shayla Price, a B2B content marketer. “It helps me manage the content production process from start to finish. I can add due dates, create checklists and even invite people for collaboration. Productivity is all about having one central location for your projects, and Trello makes that possible for me.” “I live by this tool,” says Llerena. It “helps my team and I create tasks for our entire group. The free version allows you to add team members, create separate boards and apply lists to each board. The tasks are like cards, so you can easily move them around from list to list or remove once complete.”
This story, “8 great small business productivity and collaboration apps” was originally published by CIO.
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Business
Preventative maintenance, why should that seem important for you? We at Northern Technology Services are sure you understand that concept of taking your vehicle in for an oil change and tire rotation every 5000 miles. Taking a visit to see your doctor every 6 months to a year, to help guarantee your health. The same concept goes into play when it comes to the technology that you use to run your business!
Normally you probably think to yourself:
  • It’s on
  • It’s working
  • Everything Is Good
Then when something catastrophic happens, such as freezing, slows down to an almost halt, or just completely crashes, you are get put into CRISIS mode.

5 Preventative Maintenance Tasks!

  1. Restart your computer
  2. Delete Temporary Files
  3. Operate Ant-Virus Scans
  4. Defrag your Hard Drive
  5. Download and Install Updates
Now these steps will help increase your productivity, and profits throughout the workplace by using the preventative maintenance approach to keep your systems running at tip-top performance. If done appropriately this could take anywhere from 1-5hrs a week per machine if you do this manually.  Now if you reviewed one of our recent blogs, What is the Cost of Downtime you will see how this could be important to you and your businesses daily operations.

A Solution for Your Business!

So what if we told you, that the team at Northern Technology Services have a solution to creating a preventative maintenance plan for your business.
The same way as you visit your auto mechanic and doctors office, through the NTS Managed program our Spartan RMM becomes your 24/7/365 concierge computer maintenance device.
This allows the ability to provide the preventative maintenance your business technology needs to stay operating at peak efficiency, reducing your businesses downtime, lowering your risks.

Are You Ready for the Tech Support You Deserve? A Simplified Preventative Maintenance Solution!

Contact us today at 231.881.3123 or email [email protected] to request more information or to schedule your FREE consultation.  
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Business
Ransomware, this is a scary word that you may hear on the news, or floating around the internet. So you are probably wondering, what is Ransomware, and why should you be worried?
Ransomware /noun: a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid

Why is your business a potential target?

Here are a few reasons as to why you could be in the crosshairs of a cyber attack.
  • Because that’s where the money is;
  • Because attackers know that a successful infection can cause major disruptions, which will increase their chance of getting paid
  • Because small business are often unprepared to deal with cyber-attacks and have a relaxed BYOD (bring your own device) policy
cost of ransomware petoskey charlevoix boyne city

How does a Ransomware attack begin?

The most common methods that can lead to a Ransomware infection is:
  • Spam emails that contain malicious links or attachments
  • Security exploits in vulnerable software, or non-updated equipment
  • Legitimate websites that have been potentially corrupted with hidden code
  • Non-legitimate websites that have been specifically created to mislead you
  • Spoof software downloads that look like something you may need or will protect you
The worse part of an attack, once it breaches your first lines of defense, and one device falls victim, your whole entire network could soon come next!
The best protection, is prevention, and that is where we come in!

5 Ways to Prevent an Attack

With Ransomware threats on the rise, some of the best ways to proactively protect against major disruptions caused by ransomware are actually easily.
  1. Don’t store important data only on 1 PC
  2. Have a backup! Whether using an external hard-drive, or a cloud system
  3. Ensure your software and operating system are up to date
  4. Use safe on-line practices
  5. Partner with an IT Firm to help protect and prevent cyber-attacks

To Conclude

The cyber-attacks are rising, and the attackers are getting smarter and wittier everyday. We at Northern Technology Services always suggest, the best way to help prevent an attack, is to be cautious and pay attention to what you are doing while using your devices within your business. Do not think that just because you are a small local business located in Petoskey, Charlevoix, or Boyne City Michigan that you are not at risk! Every device across the globe connected to the internet is a potential target for cyber-criminals.

Let us offer you a FREE Network Security Evaluation!

Contact us today at 231.881.3123 or email [email protected] to request more information or to schedule your FREE consultation.    
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Business
 

Credit and Debit Cards Take Control

According to recent polls, only 24% report that they utilize cash for most of their purchases. Even fewer (53%) individuals report that they utilize cash for more than half of their purchases. The fact that credit cards and debit cards are king and queen means that businesses should invest in technology to allow customers who don’t carry cash to still make a purchase.

So where do EMV card readers come in place?

Massive data breaches that resulted in stolen credit cards have been regularly making headlines over the past few years, so the credit card industry has been working constantly, to build protections that can reduce the amount of credit card fraud.
Thus the creation of EMV Card Readers and Chip protection for both Businesses and Consumers
One of the biggest things you need to know, if you haven’t switched to using EMV card readers for your business yet. Is that if you just slide a chip card, you leave yourself open for chargebacks.

Are You Ready for a Change to Your Current Merchant Services Option?

Contact us today at 231.881.3123 or email [email protected] to request more information or to schedule your FREE consultation.  
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Business

What is the cost of downtime? Good question right!

It is amazing how many small and mid-sized businesses do not have a solid plan for preventing “bad things” from happening on their computer networks. Some of these “bad things” (server/desktop crashes, firewall crashes, router/switch malfunctions) can take down an entire network for many, many hours. Our team at Northern Technology Services hopes these major issues don’t happen frequently, and although lets be honest, most of you as business owners do not think that they will happen at all.
Now while that fits the BROAD DESCRIPTION of downtime, there is actually a more refined version that you may not know is already effecting your day to day operations!

Does “downtime” occur only when you are down?

Not really, in fact, this is only a small part of downtime. When talking about your computer network, downtime is anytime when your employees’ performance is negatively affected by your technology.
When your employees wait for applications to load on their desktops … this is downtime. When employees wait for slow web pages to load on their workstations … this is downtime. When employees wait for pages to print on the printer … this is downtime. When employees recreate deleted and missing documents … this is downtime.

When you start to track how much of this “hidden downtime” actually occurs in a week/month/year … then you can see real costs of downtime and how they are effecting your business.

So, what is the cost of this “hidden downtime”?

Let’s begin with an average employee wage of $35,000 / year. Assuming this employee takes two weeks of vacation in a year, they make $17.50 per hour. If during a typical hour at work their workstation is a little slow (causing them to “wait” a couple of minutes) this translates to 16 minutes each day or 1 hour and 20 minutes over the course of the week. The weekly cost of these little minutes would be $23.28 and over the course of a year this would be $1,210.56.

Obviously, this does not include those times when there is actually down-and-out time when the server or other network resources have actually crashed and are not usable.A company of 10 employees could lose over $12,000 or more due to these little “wasted” minutes each year – OUCH!

3 employees @ $20,000 / yr = $ 60,000 4 employees @ $35,000 / yr = $140,000 2 employees @ $50,000 / yr = $100,000 1 owner @ $80,000 / yr = $ 80,000

** Total payroll of $380,000 / year.

Are You Ready for a Change to Your Current IT Support

Contact us today at 231.881.3123 or email [email protected] to request more information or to schedule your FREE consultation.
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