IT Support For Financial Firms

Using Old PCs for Your Business Costs More than You Realize

Using Old PCs for Your Business Costs More than You Realize

As a business owner or manager, you need to squeeze every bit of ROI out of your investments. Money doesn’t grow on trees after all. However, this mindset often drives business leaders to make penny wise, pound foolish decisions when it comes to the computers that their employees use.

Computers have a productive lifespan of three to four years and then they are ready to be recycled. Why? Because they are the daily workhorses that are used continually for eight hours a day, five days a week … that’s 2000 hours a year at a minimum! The cost to continue using an old computer is much higher than buying a new one.

The hidden (and not so hidden) costs of using old PCs

The number one cost of most businesses is payroll, and if this is true of your organization, then it is critical that you maximize the money you spend on payroll by providing your employees with the tools they need to do their jobs well.

Computers slow down over time, no matter how well they are maintained. This means that every single action that your employee takes on their old computer takes longer to complete.

For example, opening a PDF file on a new computer takes 1 to 2 seconds, but on a 5-year-old PC, opening that same PDF file can take 5 to 10 seconds or longer! Every second longer that the computer takes to boot up, load a program, open an email, or navigate the internet, is a second lost. And these lost seconds can easily add up to a half hour or more each day of lost productivity!

Now, let’s compare the cost to get a new computer with the cost of your information worker who’s using it over three years (PC cost vs. salary/benefits cost), and you’ll see why it makes sense to replace your PC’s instead of using them until they stop working:

1 – The cost for an average Windows business workstation with a three-year manufacturer’s warranty is $1000.

2 – The average cost for your employee who needs a computer to do their work is, say, $50,000 a year, or $150,000 over three years.

3 – Over those three years, the computer’s processing functions are slowing down and worker frustration starts to ramp up as it starts taking a bit longer every month to get the job done, especially when it’s an information worker using the computer to complete their daily work.

3 – The $1,500 machine for a $150,000 employee equals an investment of one percent of that employee’s salary to provide a decent tool to do his/her work effectively. That’s ONE percent.

4 – When you factor in the lost hours of time in a month that occur form working on an outdated machine, you’re seeing dollars spent on someone who cannot do the job as effectively (and is probably grumbling about it to co-workers); those dollars could have been saved by investing in a new computer that represents one percent of that worker’s salary (and greater employee satisfaction).

Make sure you discuss PC replacement with your IT service provider and find out what time line the firm recommends. Is it three years? Four? It’s important that you are proactive about managing your technology assets—including PC’s—and that you know in advance what the plan is for replacing them. This enables you to budget your IT expenses more efficiently.

As part of your budgeting process, you should also find out what the fees are for managing this process and handling the installation.

At IND Corporation, our comprehensive TotalCare managed IT services plan covers on-site IT support, which includes managing and installing computers within the fixed monthly fee. Our team will alert you to necessary and optional software upgrades and handle those installations as well.

Isn’t it worth it to you and your team to spend a small sum of money every three years (one percent of an employee’s payroll) to give them the tools they need—and a better user experience? Contact IND Corporation for a consultation about how our flat-rate TotalCare managed IT services can save your New Jersey organization money—and headache—when it comes to managing your corporate technology needs.

Is Your Cloud Email Up to The Challenge?

Is Your Cloud Email Up to The Challenge?

Your business relies heavily on email for crucial transactions and day-to-day communications that, without it, your business could not operate properly.

In the past, when small and medium-sized companies had on-site e-mail servers, there was the stark realization that you also needed to back up your email as well as have an offsite redundancy in case the system went down.

Now that businesses have mostly moved to Cloud-hosted email—such as Gmail and Office 365 Hosted Exchange — they seem to simply trust that their Cloud provider will also backup and provide them redundancy.

But Cloud-hosted email providers have very limited backup and redundancy systems in place, putting your business in danger of downtime and lost information. To safeguard your profits, ensure your business email systems have four things: archiving, backup, journaling, and redundancy.

Archiving

Archiving and backup are not the same. Backup is a copy of your data (in this case, a copy of your emails).

Archiving is a method to manage and store old emails in a separate location so that your mailbox stays at a manageable size, thereby keeping it working quickly.

The best type of archive is an online archive (an archive that is always available to each user.) This means that when a user needs to find an old email from years ago, they can do it themselves without getting your IT team involved.

Without good archiving, your email software (typically Outlook) will slow down and you will see the effects in emails that take long to open or send.

Different Cloud email services have different types of archiving capabilities – so it pays to ask and understand what you are getting.

The key to good archiving is the ability to locate and access emails quickly and easily. In theory, the Cloud is the perfect tool for this. When done correctly, the cloud offers great archiving solutions that will improve efficiency and productivity. Just make sure they are in place and meet your users’ needs.

Backup

Most off-the-shelf cloud email solutions provide only a short two to four weeks’ worth of daily backup retention, if they even backup your email at all. What does this mean exactly to you and is it important?

Well, let’s say your email backups are being retained for one month. This means that if you delete an email today, then after a month goes by, that email is gone forever.
The same principle applies to your data backup – so you want to retain your daily backups for as long as you want look back into the past to restore a file. We recommend retaining a year of daily backups, but the key is for you to understand how long you need to retain your daily email backups so that you can choose the right solution for your needs.

Again, the Cloud can provide convenient and efficient backup, but it needs to be implemented.

Journaling

With journaling, all incoming and outgoing emails are copied to and stored in a separate location outside of your employee’s mailboxes. This is typically done by a third party—for years if necessary.

If you don’t journal emails, then each of your employees can permanently delete emails and you will never know that they were ever sent or received.

Access to the journal is restricted to specified users who can quickly and easily retrieve emails when necessary, depending on the business’s needs and regulatory compliance requirements.

Journaling is almost never included in the base package of a Cloud-hosted email service, and it is required for a firm who is under regulatory compliance like FINRA.

Journaling can also have a downside to some firms – they don’t necessarily want to keep a copy of all emails. But it’s important for you to at least have the option to do keep a journal of all emails, so be sure to talk to your email host or your IT service partner about options.

Redundancy

Cloud-hosted email providers typically have some type of redundancy in place so if one of their servers goes down, your email stays up and running. However, this doesn’t protect you if they have a system-wide outage.

Also, your individual Cloud email accounts may not all be on the same server in the same data center; Google and Microsoft, the main cloud email hosts, have multiple data centers worldwide and your mailboxes are slotted on whatever pods and servers have space. Subscribers have little-to-no control over this.

This means that your employees email accounts may go down at different times. This is a productivity killer and makes redundancy with a separate third party a must. Ask your IT services partner about “store and forward” (S&F) service, in which all emails that get sent to you go through another service first … then the S&F service forwards messages to your primary Cloud email service.

And if you primary Cloud email service is down, then the S&F stores it for you. In this case, you can access your emails on the S&F service and even use it as emergency redundancy email service. It’s a low cost business continuity solution with tremendous ROI that can be set up by your managed IT service provider. Your workers keep working and when your email client comes back online, the S&F service transfers the emails to them and business continues as normal.

When correctly set up, archiving, backup, journaling and redundancy of Cloud-based email solutions should work automatically and seamlessly to efficiently manage and protect your email. The consequences of not having these protocols in place can set your company back significantly.

Why risk it? If you own a company in New Jersey, give IND Corporation a call. Our IT specialists will help you make the right choice for your needs, and our comprehensive TotalCare managed services plans will give you peace of mind at an affordable flat rate. We’re based in northern NJ and manage computing networks throughout the state for business of all sizes in all industries.

How to Protect Your Company Against Executive Impersonation

How to Protect Your Company Against Executive Impersonation

One of the most popular – and costly – cyber security threats that businesses are facing today are spear phishing attacks. If you are a C-level executive, then you’ve likely seen them: fake emails that impersonate one of the execs in your company, asking you to send money.

How executive impersonation works

Also known as spoofed emails, these emails look just like an authentic email (with your company logo and email signature), and even a real-looking display name, but it’s really from someone else.

What most people don’t realize, is that these emails are done without any hacking at all. The impersonators are getting the information by simply browsing the Internet to gather the necessary information they need. It’s easy for them to mine publicly accessible social media networks liked LinkedIn to find out all they need to know about you, your co-workers and the executives in your business. Then, the bad guys simply setup a fake email account that looks legit.

If you haven’t seen these emails yet, here’s what happens. Your book keeper, VP of accounting or CFO (someone in charge of or has access to corporate funds) receives an email (or a series of emails) from “the CEO” stating that he/she is opening an account with a new vendor in the supply chain, and they need money transferred as a deposit. This new supposed vendor is overseas (making the activity and account hard to trace), and the impersonator requests that the recipient wire the money by the next day – as in most good sales pitches, there is a call to action with a deadline.

The unsuspecting financial person then wires money without even verifying the request because they believe the request came from their top exec; by the time they realize they’ve been duped, the money is gone.

The more sophisticated criminals take their time and lead people on with a series of emails that set up the crime by talking about the upcoming business deal, sharing information about the overseas transaction, and alerting the recipient that as soon as the deal is signed, the money will be needed right away. It’s a nefarious scheme and many people across the country are being set up for the big cyber sting.

Another version of this spear phising attack comes when the bad guys pose as IRS agents, payroll or insurance auditors, and ask your HR person to send W-2 forms. This problem became very noticeable during the 2016 tax season, and it enabled the bad guys to file fake tax returns and steal identities (read about it here.)

How you can protect your business

There are two things you can do to protect your organization from malicious executive impersonation emails.

  1. Talk to your IT services partner about the counter measures that are available that will greatly reduce the number of malicious emails that you get. Remember, these emails usually don’t look like or act like spam so anti-spam software won’t pick these up.
  1. Implement a training program that teaches your employees from the top down to recognize and avoid these spoofs. Your users are the weakest link in this cyber fraud scheme and they should be trained on what to be aware of regarding any incoming emails—from what they look like to what they say.
  1. Require that all wire transfer requests are confirmed outside of email. A good rule of thumb for everybody in your organization is to trust but verify. If anyone does receive a suspicious email that asks them to do something (such as send money), verify this by phone or in person (not by email) with a call to the actual person, your IT department or your IT service partner.

At IND Corporation, we offer employee training around phishing and spoofing scams that help to greatly reduce corporate risk against malicious emails that install viruses, ransomware, and steal funds and identities. After the initial training, we send fake emails to your users that looks just like the ones that real criminals are sending. If the recipient clicks on those messages, the system will automatically pop up a warning and send that user to more training videos to show them what they’ve done wrong. This reduces the rate of taking the click bait from as high as 20% of the time to as low as 2% thanks to continual training.

Want to ward off executive impersonation and beef up your cyber security? Contact us to discuss your business computing and managed IT service needs. We’re located in northern New Jersey and serve companies throughout the state.

What Will You Do – or Which Devices Will You Take – on Your Summer Vacation?

Editor’s Note: We recommend you don’t bring any electronic devices, and really take a vacation!

The summer is upon us and thoughts are turning towards that summer vacation. Whether it’s in the mountains or at the beach, driving cross country or flying across the ocean, you likely will need to bring some type of computer/mobile device to keep up with work while you are away.

Let’s look at whether the lucky vacation tagalong is a laptop computer, a Microsoft Surface (Book or Pro), or a tablet, and why these are contenders for vacation disrupters.

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Why Your Business Needs a Network Admin

Does your managed IT service plan include network administration? It should.

Network administration is a crucial component in maintaining your business IT systems, whether they are in your office or in the Cloud.

IT infrastructure (servers, firewalls, switches, etc) can become out of date over time as new cyber security threats emerge and as changes are made throughout your IT environment. It’s vital that a trained network engineer proactively assess and update your IT assets to minimize system downtime and risks, and to maximize your profits.

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