The Basics of Creating an Online Presence for Your Brand
Gone are the days where an online presence was limited to technology-related businesses.
In today’s hyperconnected world, an online presence is a must—not an option. No matter what industry you’re in, whether you’re a startup or are an established brand, having an online presence can positively impact your business.
If you don’t know where to start, know that the first step is simply deciding to have an online presence. After that, the best place to start is getting a website.
Here are some tips to help you move forward:
Why Build a Website?
Social media may be all the rage, but nothing beats your own website.
Social media may seem like a more worthy spend of your online minutes because of the potential for a high quantity of likes and engagement. But when you sign up for a new social media account, content visibility will depend on the social site’s algorithms. Perhaps your content is doing well at the moment, but inevitably, social sites switch algorithms to lessen visibility so that businesses will buy ad space to stay front and center.
With a website, everything is yours to own and control. Additionally, having a website makes your business look more professional.
The good news? It’s never been easier to build a website. You don’t need to learn code, as there are plenty of what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) website building tools that you can use to get started online.
The downside? Many of these WYSIWYG tools are managed websites that require a monthly fee and seldom offer a dedicated web host, meaning that they share bandwidth with other websites. These slight inconveniences aside, a managed website solution is perfect for starters and technophobes that don’t want to have to deal with any of the technical aspects of their website.
One of the most popular website builders is WordPress, which is free to download and use, and is quite easy to set up. WordPress powers over 30% of the internet and is easily customizable with themes and plugins. Using WordPress, the only other thing you really need is web hosting (which you can get from various hosting services).
Depending on your web host and package, you can also set up your email address to reflect your domain name, creating a more professional means for communicating with clients.
Design with the End in Mind
Knowing what you’re using your website for can help you determine your specific site requirements.
If you offer physical products, you’ll need to tap into special ecommerce functionality. If you have a restaurant business, you’ll need to use tools that help people view your menu and make reservations. If you’re in the information business, you’ll need blogging functionality and the ability to capture leads.
Promote your Website
Once your website is complete, it’s time to share it with the world. Though social media can help, the best way to get more visitors is through the use of search engine optimization (SEO). SEO helps by recommending to users the most relevant content for their queries. A large part of SEO can be attributed to content, so when creating content, remember to always create value for your audience.
Investing time in establishing an online presence is never a regrettable decision. If you don’t have time to work on your website, give Harrington Technologies a call—we’ll do everything for you!
Best Practices for Safely Backing Up Data
Besides the increase in security and data breaches, data loss is up 400% from 2012. Although this does not bode well for a company’s customers, companies also have a lot at stake when it comes to data loss.
According to the National Archives & Records Administration, 93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more during a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster. Additional research from the University of Texas has also found that 43% of companies that suffer catastrophic data loss never reopen, and 51% close within two years.
While there may be various reasons for data loss, there is a simple way to prevent devastating data loss: create backups. However, 58% of businesses have no backup plan for data loss.
Here are some of the best practices for safely backing up data.
Backup Data Regularly
Although the amount of data may vary per company, they share a common denominator: whatever is stored frequently changes as data is created and/or modified on a regular basis. This is why it is important to frequently backup data. Data can be backed up hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly. Choose a backup schedule that is apt to how often data is created. The more frequent, the better.
There are several programs that can automate the backup process for you.
Test Data Backups
Even if backups are completed, an important practice that is often neglected is testing these backups frequently to ensure that you can actually restore the data when you need it.
Store Data Backups in More than One Place
When it comes to backing up important files, there is no such thing as having too many backups.
Store data in both onsite and offsite locations. Keep multiple copies of external hard drives: one onsite for easy access and another backup copy in an offsite location (like a bank safety deposit box) in case of disaster. These ideas represent an easy and inexpensive way to store backup files.
However, besides the fact that hardware devices may run the risk of being stolen or broken, it is easier for malware programs like spyware to encrypt data stored on these hardware devices, so you also need to store copies of your backup on offsite locations. Make use of file servers, offsite servers, and cloud storage.
These solutions allow you to access your data from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection. On the downside, these solutions can be pricey and data retrieval depends on internet speed.
Final Thoughts: Best Practices for Safely Backing Up Data
Life has been made infinitely easier with the help of technology. But, it’s important to remember that technology isn’t fail-safe, and can cause serious damage to businesses if it breaks down. Thus, it is important to take a proactive role in ensuring that data is always safe.If you need help securing your data systems, we’re here for you. Contact the experts at Harrington Technologies.
Why You Should Hire an All-In-One Technology Solutions Provider
The trend today tends to lean towards niche businesses, which are businesses that target a specific demographic or specialize in a certain field. Niche businesses are popular because although they narrow down the target demographic, they often see a higher conversion rate. They get more sales for less effort when considering the possibility of marketing to a larger set of customers.
Although the idea of a niche business sounds appealing (and many people find success in niching down), it may not work for every market. Certainly, there are situations where people benefit greatly from a business that covers all their needs: a one-stop shop.
The Benefits of All-in-One Business Solutions
A one-stop shop is a business that handles multiple related needs for customers.
One-stop shops are usually associated with places like convenience stores, sporting goods stores, or department stores — but they can also actually apply to services. Beauty salons and event coordinators (offering rentals, catering, and venue access) are examples of service businesses that work based off of this concept.
Another example of a service business that has great potential for being a one-stop shop is a technology solutions provider.
Advantages of Hiring an All-in-One Technology Solutions Provider
One of the top benefits of a one-stop shop is convenience for the customer.
People are busy and would rather use one business to take care of all related needs, instead of inquiring and shopping around for multiple specialized businesses.
Besides convenience (and not having to rehash similar business details to every supplier or provider), another advantage of hiring an all-in-one solutions provider is cohesiveness. You’ll be dealing with the same people for multiple different projects, which helps save time and limits frustration.
To put this into perspective, imagine having your internet connectivity installed by one provider, then having another provider come in only to realize that the wiring interferes with their products and services. They’d have to redo the wiring, and you end up spending double. Such a hassle!
Another good thing about having only one team working on related business tasks is that they can provide better customer service. They know who handled various projects if they need to follow up for more information regarding another project. Because of this, you should be able to reduce your involvement in getting your outsourced team any necessary information after initial onboarding.
Lastly, you can save money when you hire an all-in-one solutions provider. Many of these businesses have established relationships with accredited partners and vendors. Because of this, they can negotiate with their partners to offer you the best pricing.
Final Thoughts: Why You Should Hire an All-In-One Technology Solutions Provider
A risk that comes with hiring an all-in-one technology solutions provider is investing in the wrong business. This can be tricky because you’ll be letting them handle multiple aspects of your business. Be sure to read reviews or ask for client feedback regarding the provider you’ve got your eye on. Your best bet? Choose a technology solutions provider that prioritizes relationships with both customers and vendors, like Harrington Technologies.
Why It’s Better to Leave Installations to Your Technology Solutions Provider
When people need home or office hardware and systems installed, they do one of two things: They either ask an expert and accredited solutions provider for a quote, or think about doing it themselves—especially when the quote seems too high and the job seems easy enough.
Manufacturers have made technology more accessible and easier to use, so that end users can purchase their items and DIY the installation process. Thanks to websites like Amazon, customers have access to ordered items as soon as the next day. However, many people underestimate the skill necessary to correctly install their home or office systems and still end up calling a technology solutions provider for help.
A Faulty DIY Process
In an ideal world, the customer buys the right product for their needs and the installation goes smoothly. However, more often than not, the customer ends up buying the wrong product, with specifications that are a mismatch for their requirements.
The end result? Instead of saving money and having their system installed in a timely manner as planned, they may have to repurchase needed items, then wait for these new items to arrive before the technology provider can install them. These unnecessary steps can add days or weeks to a project that could already have been completed with a better process.
Calling in the Experts
When it comes to home or office installations that involve both simple or complicated jobs, it may be best to leave the dirty work to the experts—even if you think you can do it yourself. It will save you a lot of time, effort, and headaches!
Although working with an expert may cost more than to do it yourself, the reason why you’re paying more for a “simple installation job” is because you’re also paying for the solution provider’s expertise. With that expertise comes the assurance that the job will be done quickly and correctly the first time.
How to Communicate Your Budget
If cost is a major concern, make sure to be open with your technology solutions provider about your budget. A good solutions provider will take that into consideration, prioritizing the use of relevant products that can give you the best bang for your buck.
It is important to note that when you have a budget to stick to, it is important to be open-minded about the products that you will be using. You can’t have it all!
A good solutions provider will give you options: you may opt to go for a cheaper yet less established brand or refurbished items from more established brands. The ideal solutions provider will have established relationships with accredited vendors, so you can be sure that you are getting items that have been tested for quality control: whether brand new or refurbished.
Accredited vendors will protect your investment with a warranty. In the off-chance something breaks, you won’t have to worry about replacement.
Final Thoughts: Why It’s Better to Leave Installations to Your Technology Solutions Provider
Here’s the bottom line: when you need help with an installation, get in touch with an accredited technology solutions provider like Harrington Technologies. We will help you get the job done right the first time.
Why You Should be Using a VPN
It’s not uncommon in today’s entertainment to come across a scene where one of the characters is able to gain access or retrieve sensitive information by hacking through security systems or computers. As they say, fiction mirrors reality—so what happens on TV is definitely based on what is happening in real life.
Whether people are aware of it or not, there is always someone watching and trying to steal personal information for their own gain.
In this current day and age of the internet, it shouldn’t take a serious data breach (like the much-publicized Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal) for people to take action when it comes to their data privacy, especially when there is an easy way to keep data and internet browsing sessions safe. It’s called a virtual private network (VPN).
What is a VPN?
A VPN, or virtual private network, allows users to access a secure private network and share data remotely, even while they’re connected to a public network. To visualize how a VPN works, imagine a secret tunnel that leads you to an end destination without running into any unwanted hitches. Usually the route takes more time, but it gets you to your destination safely.
A VPN cloaks and encrypts your internet activity so that your data is secure. Instead of accessing the internet directly, it goes through a VPN server, which manipulates your IP address so that it appears as if you’re using a different device or coming from a different location.
The primary reason to use a VPN is for data privacy.
America does not have data privacy laws as stringent as the European Union, which recently enacted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Sadly, few states recognize an individual’s right to privacy—save for California, which currently has an online privacy law in the works. Although US institutions must abide by certain regulations regarding personal data, they are severely outdated and not comprehensive.
Net Neutrality is a set of rules that required internet service providers to treat all websites equally and prevent them from overcharging for better service or content. The repeal of net neutrality means that internet providers can opt for a pay-to-play strategy, which means that consumers might have to pay more for better service. This provides advantages for people and businesses that can pay while alienating those with less budget.
If you live or visit countries with restrictive internet connections such as China, VPNs allow you to bypass censorship restrictions and access the internet freely, while concealing your activity from the government. In fact, in countries like these, as much as 30% of the population use VPNs.
On a lesser scale, VPNs can also keep your connection safe, especially if you use public WiFi connections in places like coffee shops.
The good news? Americans are aware of how government and corporate entities manipulate how their personal information is collected and used.
According to a 2018 Pew Research study on internet privacy, 64% of Americans believe that the government should do something to address internet safety and privacy, with 61% saying that they would like to do more to protect their privacy. A simple way to do so is through the use of a VPN, but sadly, only 17% of Americans use a VPN, versus 25% of the rest of the world.
Final Thoughts: Why You Should be Using a VPN
With data breaches and the end of net neutrality, a VPN is an affordable way to keep your data and browsing safe. If you’re looking for additional guidance with protecting data privacy in your organization, contact the experts at Harrington Technologies.
4 Things Small Businesses Should Do to be GDPR-Compliant
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was implemented effective May 25, 2018, was created primarily to give European Union (EU) citizens more control over their personal data, as well as to simplify things for international businesses by providing a unified regulation that they can easily follow.
But if you think that the GDPR is only limited to European websites, you’re wrong: it applies to all websites that processes and store data of EU citizens, which is why you’re suddenly receiving all these emails detailing changes in terms and policies.
The GDPR comes with hefty fines for non-compliant businesses. Now that the GDPR has been implemented, here are some things small businesses need to do in order to be GDPR-compliant.
#1: Know the Data you Process
The GDPR primarily covers personal and sensitive data, though it also includes other types of data in its scope (such as big data). Knowing which visitor/customer data you collect, where it comes from, and where it’s going can make all the difference, especially if you’re questioned for breaching the regulation. Note that ignorance is not going to cut it as an excuse.
If you haven’t yet, review the data you collect, especially from EU citizens. Do an audit of your whole data collection process and identify any gaps.
#2: Ask for Consent
Two of the things that the GDPR promotes is transparency and empowering users to have more control over their data. Thus, websites that plan on continuing to process data will need to have clearer, more understandable privacy policies and have to ask users explicitly for their consent to process information.
#3: Update your Website Security Measures
The GDPR was created to protect personal data, and a part of that is ensuring that no hacker can get their hands on sensitive information. If you haven’t yet updated your website security, do so as soon as possible.
Some things you can do to improve website security include:
Setting up an SSL certificate, which encrypts sensitive information as it’s transferred over the internet and makes it harder for hackers to decrypt.
#4: Practice Accountability in Data Processing Activities
One of the requirements of the GDPR is the appointment of a data protection officer. However, this is only limited to large businesses or businesses that process an extensive amount of personal information. Regardless, if you operate a small business that doesn’t necessarily process a large amount of personal data, it still pays to do what’s necessary from an accountability standpoint.
Train your employees on key GDPR concepts, especially as to what constitutes a data breach. The new rules associated with GDPR requires that you report these breaches within 72 hours of them happening.
Final Thoughts on What Small Businesses Should Do to be GDPR-Compliant
The GDPR is quickly becoming the new standard for data privacy. Although the regulation is only applicable with regards to the data of EU citizens, all websites that process the data of EU citizens are still affected. With or without the hefty fines, website owners should comply with the GDPR for improved data safety.
Need help understanding how to be GDPR-complaint? Get in touch with the data experts at Harrington Technologies.
GDPR Basics for Tucson Businesses: What You Need to Know
On May 25, 2018, the European Union’s (EU’s) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into full force. It is the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years, replacing the the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC.
While seeking to give the citizens of 28 EU countries more control over their personal data, at the same time, GDPR simplifies data regulations for both local and international businesses with a unified regulation that stands in the EU.
Despite the fast-approaching implementation date, there is still much confusion surrounding the GDPR, especially in terms of what it means and what businesses should do about it. In fact, it was found that 84% of SMEs are still unaware of these policies, which might have something to do with the fact that the entire policy is 200 pages long. With this in mind, Gartner predicts that by the end of 2018, more than 50% of companies will not be in full compliance with its requirements.
As a business owner, here are the basics you need to know about the GDPR.
What is the GDPR?
In a nutshell, the GDPR looks out for the data privacy of individuals by requiring businesses and organizations to provide and develop clear policies to protect personal data. It also pushes them to adopt appropriate technical and organizational measures.
GDPR was built around two key principles:
Simplifying and harmonizing directives for international businesses by unifying the regulations within the EU
Giving EU citizens and residents more control over their personal data.
In fact, with the GDPR, explicit content is required before companies can process data, and citizens can request for access or information as to how their data is used. The GDPR also allows citizens the ‘right to be forgotten’. This means that if they do not want you to process their personal data, or if you have no legal grounds for keeping the data, like if a person is no longer a client of your company, you must respect their decision.
Companies that are not compliant with the GDPR can be fined up to 20 million euros (about US $24 million), or 4% of global revenues—whichever is greater.
Will this Affect US Businesses?
One criticism of the GDPR is that they have not defined territorial scope adequately. But in a nutshell, the GDPR will apply to businesses that processes any data from citizens of the EU. Put simply, yes, the GDPR affects US-based businesses.
Before you get too worried, Article 3 of the GDPR states that the rule only applies if you collect personal data from an EU citizen within EU borders. But if the EU citizen is outside of the EU, GDPR does not apply.
Anyone found breaching any of these laws must be reported to the regulator within 72 hours (24 hours, if possible).
Final Thoughts: GDPR Basics for Businesses
With so much recent news about data breaches, the GDPR is a step in the right direction on controlling data privacy and will change the way Europeans approach data privacy. Once this is implemented and proves successful, there’s no doubt that more countries will follow suit.
Learn more about the GDPR on the EU’s website about this new policy.
How to Protect Your Personal Information on Facebook
With up to 87 million Facebook users’ personal information harvested and passed on to Trump-affiliated political firm Cambridge Analytica, which used it to target voters in the 2016 presidential election, people throughout the world are scrambling to better understand how to protect their personal information on Facebook and other social media outlets.
After you’ve checked if your data was given to Cambridge Analytica, you’ll want to go ahead and see which apps and websites have access to your personal information. This can be done by going into your settings, and then clicking on “Apps and Websites.”
Wired explains, “If you do find apps there that you want to remove—it’s amazing how many you can pile up over the years—keep in mind that they can still hold onto your data after you give them the boot. To be totally free and clear, you have to contact them directly, through their Facebook page or website, and ask them to clear out whatever they have on hand.”
Facebook’s Suggestions for Security
Facebook offers six things you can do to help keep your account safe, but they don’t seem to offer much insight other than what most would consider the most basic of internet security.
Protect your password: Don’t use your Facebook password anywhere else online and don’t let anyone else know it.
Log out of Facebook when you’re done using it on a shared device.
Use anti-virus software.
Think before you click or download anything.
If Facebook’s list doesn’t really make you feel any more secure or informed—don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Put Your Account on Lock Down
The first step toward understanding and gaining control over your social media accounts, especially Facebook, is locking them down. You can tighten up your Facebook account by clicking on the settings and selecting “Privacy” from the options on the right.
Take a look at who can see your future posts and start editing. You’ll most likely want to move it from “Public” to “Friends.” However, if you’re really wanting to keep things private, you can select “Only Me.”
This only takes care of future posts. Now, take a look under “Who Can see my stuff?” Here, you’ll find the option to limit the audience for posts that you’ve already shared with friends of friends or the public. Click on “Limit Past Posts.” After the menu expands and you click on “Limit Old Posts,” a warning box will appear—click confirm.
Once these two major steps have been taken, you can start going through the details of your profile and deciding what you want to make available to friends or the public—like if you want your age to show, your relationship status, and so on.
Protect Your Personal Information on Facebook
What this most recent breach of trust between Facebook and its users—most of whom did not fully understand how much of their personal information they were selling for the privilege of using Facebook—reveals, is the need for individual users, as well as businesses, to be savvier in understanding cybersecurity risks. These risks are heavily compounded for businesses that not only need to protect their own data but are also saddled with the responsibility of protecting the sensitive personal information of employees and clients.
IT solution companies, such as Harrington Technologies, are built to keep your business running smooth and fast, ensuring the highest-level of security for you, your employees, and your clients. Get in touch to learn more!
3 Password Management Tools For Your Business
This might sound obvious, but many people forget that secure passwords are essential to your business. Not only do you have the need to protect your company’s information but are often responsible for protecting client’s information. Failing to do either of these can be detrimental.
Businesses, which often have more than one employee who needs to be able to log in to an account or program, have a unique issue when it comes to password protection. Your data is only as safe as the weakest password in the system.
The Equifax Data Breach, which exposed more than 140 million American users’ personal information (including social security numbers), inspired huge numbers of people to begin sifting through the dozens of password managers available for one that would work best for them.
To simplify your own research process, here are the top three password management tools for your business.
The LastPass(word) You’ll Ever Need
LastPass is an excellent option for your startup businesses, especially if you’re still not convinced you need a password manager (seriously, you do though).
The company offers a free version and a paid version. However, for individuals, the free version is packed with enough extras that it will be hard to justify spending money on anything else. In addition to serving single consumers, LastPass offers team and enterprise versions, both with free trials.
With an AES-256 bit encryption with PBKDF2 SHA-256 to ensure complete security in the cloud, LastPass allows you to create a master password (ideally, a strong master password) to locally-generate a unique encryption key. This basically breaks down to you needing only one password to access all your accounts.
Get Away Clean with Dashlane
Dashlane claims that “employee adoption is the key to your business’s security — and we’ve built a product they’ll actually want to use.” And, PC Magazine agrees.
According to PC Magazine, “If the password manager interferes with your normal flow, you just might stop using it. Fortunately, Dashlane handles all the basic tasks and more, with flair.”
With Dashlane for Business’s terrific dashboard interface, which provides information on the password health on all devices, it’s not a surprise to hear the company, and PC Magazine, push its user-friendly side. The password manager is designed to be easy for tech-savvy people (as well as the rest of us!) to use.
One of the features of Dashlane, which uses a“military-grade” encryption, allows you to create and organize password categories, as well as limit, revoke, and assign privileges to your team members based on their access level.
You’ll Never Need Another Password Manager Once You Have a Keeper
With the same encryption system as LastPass, Keeper is another standout password management tool. Offering native apps for all popular platforms and browsers, as well as two-factor authentication and secure password sharing and inheritance, it’s no surprise to find Keeper among the top choices for businesses.
Additionally, it offers many of the other features a business owner wants a password manager to include, like retaining a full history of passwords and files; auto-filling web forms and app passwords; and emergency access.
Final Thoughts: 3 Password Management Tools For Your Business
Though LastPass, Dashlane, and Keeper are some of the best password management tools available, there are plenty of others that offer top-flight security and additional features that might be a good match for your businesses.
No matter which password management tool you decided to go with for your business, the most important thing is that you’re taking the necessary steps to protect your business and your clients.
Want extra help with your cyber security? Contact us for a free audit of your business’s security and find loopholes you might not know exist.
How to Create a Strong Password
One of my quirks is an uncanny ability to create nearly impenetrable passwords. Are the passwords I create for my clients quick to type and easy to remember? No. But they offer the type of data protection I demand for my clients.
When I received a report recently with the most popular passwords of 2017, I couldn’t help but shake my head. I have a feeling that, if you know anything about cyber security, you’ll have the same reaction. Here are the top 10, according to SplashData:
Number 16 on the list was an interesting addition for 2017, so it’s worth mentioning too. It was “starwars.”
Now, I love Star Wars and football just as much as the next guy, and I can relate to the frustration of just wanting to get let in to an account, but to use these words and number series as a password is asking for trouble. If you’re tempted to steal from this list of passwords because they’re easy to type and remember, I urge you to think twice.
Here are a few tips from yours truly, the password fanatic, on how to create memorable, yet strong passwords.
Notice that some of the most popular passwords contain a series of numbers. These series are patterns that are easy to guess and easy to hack. SplashData reported seeing some attempt at securing this style of password by adding a character at the end (for example, 123456!) but alas, adding a character does not make the password safer to use.
I suggest avoiding patterns in general. Instead, mix up your password with letters, numbers, and characters. More on how to do that effectively below
Jumble a Phrase
If you demand a password you can remember, choose a phrase you love. Since ‘starwars’ made the list of popular passwords, let’s use this as an example to illustrate this point.
Once you have a phrase in mind that’s memorable to you, jumble it with numbers and characters. Starwars could then become $t@r34rS or S!a&w@r$. It’s hard to see but those characters and numbers are replacing letters. $ can be used in lieu of the letter S. @ can be used in lieu of the letter a. It’s a simple concept but when used effectively it can exponentially increase your password’s strength while still making it memorable.
Now, although this approach helps, using a phrase and replacing letters with numbers that look similar isn’t always the safest approach. Still, it’s far better than typing a series of words that are easy to guess, so we’re at least moving a step in the right direction if you use this method.
Use a Password Generator and Keeper
The most secure types of passwords are those you could never rattle off to a friend or remember to type without hours of practice. They’re secure because they’re nonsensical. Having a password like this might sound like a nightmare scenario, but there are apps to help you remember and protect them, so you don’t have to memorize 20 random characters, numbers, or letters.
To generate a password, I like Random.org’s Password Generator. You can choose how many characters each password should be and how many different passwords you need.
Storing passwords, so you can quickly pull them up when needed, is another important step. After all, what good is a password if you don’t have it when you need to login to an account? There are a few services that help with this. A few of my favorite include:
I’m an advocate for strong passwords because I’ve seen the devastation it can cause when passwords aren’t secure. There’s a reason for being such a stickler about this and I hope when you create your next password, you choose a strong one for your sake.
Want extra help with your cyber security? I’m here for you. Give us a call for a free audit of your business’s security and find loopholes you might not know exist.