Man updating his software

Why Software Updates?

You’re no stranger to those little pop-up windows.
“An update is available!”

Whether it’s for desktop, tablet or mobile software, updates are a regular thing. Our lives revolve around software both in work and at home, so we see these notifications often.

As frequent as these little pop-ups are, however, the number of times we hit “remind me later” is almost as frequent.
How many times has a device forced you to update because you’d pressed that button too many times?
Software updates are important for all devices for both security and functional reasons. The sooner you click “OK” for these updates, the more confident you can feel.

Keep reading to learn the four principal reasons why software updates are so important.

1. They patch security flaws

One of the main reasons why updates are pushed out so often is to patch security flaws. Bugs are discovered, vulnerabilities are fixed, and the programmers behind the apps you use are always patching every hole for you.

Why wouldn’t you want to opt into the added security as soon as you can?

2. You deserve the best

Software updates give you the latest and greatest versions of the apps you love and need. New features and improvements are part of these regular updates.

Whatever the benefit, is there any reason why you wouldn’t want to opt in?

3. Updates do a lot

Software updates offer other benefits as well. Beyond hole patches and new features, updates also include better speed, no more crashing, and other improvements to the user experience.

4. It isn’t just about you

Whether it’s your work or personal computer or device, updates (and their implications on security, in particular) protect the data you share with others. They also protect you from getting a virus that could be passed over your network to other people’s devices and computers, too.

It’s easy to click “remind me later” and perpetually skip software updates. If they take a few minutes that you feel you just don’t have, it sometimes seems like the only option.

Putting your data or whole network at risk, however, is never worth it.

Understanding why software updates are so important is the first step. Now, take the extra few minutes to click “OK” on that next update pop-up, and you’ll gain these benefits and more.


Ways to Secure Your Passwords

Let’s assume you’re using different passwords for all the websites and apps you’ve signed up for. (After all, we certainly hope you are.)
That means you have so many different combinations of numbers, letters and memory triggers that it’s officially impossible to keep them all straight.
Fortunately, there are secure and convenient ways to store all your passwords so you never have to memorize another one again. You can keep your data even more secure and save yourself from ever getting locked out of an account by using one of these options.
1. Your browser’s password storage

Using your browser’s password storage option is a secure and convenient way to keep track of all your passwords. If you use the same browser on your desktop and mobile device, the password memory even carries over.

Perhaps the best part about this option is that every browser has it. Whether you use Chrome, Safari, Edge or Firefox, browser password storage keeps all your passwords safely one click away.

2. Password manager software

There are special websites and apps that store your passwords much in the same way your browser does. You can install the extension to your browser on any device, and your account information will carry over wherever you need to access your passwords.

The real stand-out feature of this type of software is that you can securely share credentials with other people. They receive an email notification with the option to “accept share,” and then they can log into that account without you actually revealing your password. It just fills in automatically for them.

You can revoke their access by email address whenever you want, too.

Keeping your passwords safe is ultimately about choosing the right storage option for you and making sure your passwords are strong. The most important passwords are still helpful to memorize, too, especially if you need to access those accounts on public computers.

And remember: even a really good password used over and over again puts your data at risk.

Questions? Ready to learn more about your password security? Contact us today.


A Dark Web Story

The “dark web” refers to online content that is not indexed by search engines. It’s also encrypted for browsing anonymity. You might have also heard it called the “dark net.”
The dark web is part of a bigger “deep web,” which refers to all sites not indexed by search engines.

The dark web can only be reached with special browsers like Tor Browser. Instead of taking the most direct route between your computer and the “deep” content you’re trying to reach, Tor uses a random path of encrypted servers. This is how users can connect to hidden content without any risk of their activity being tracked.
In other words, dark web browsers allow for anonymous browsing of hidden websites.

Why use the dark web?
Using the dark web provides the greatest privacy for users. Even using the Tor browser to access regular websites adds a layer of anonymity.
Many dark websites provide the same services and content you see across the rest of the web, but they do so from behind the shroud of “unfindability” (except by those they want to be found by.)

Anonymity is appealing to most of us, but in its early years, this anonymity of the dark web attracted criminals as a marketplace for drugs and stolen data.
Today, however, even someone trying to keep a medical condition private can benefit from the dark web. It’s a more common thing, especially with more of our data sold every day for advertising purposes.

4 Key Takeaways of the Dark Web
• The dark web is the smaller classification inside of the bigger classification called the deep web.
• Dark web content is both encrypted and not indexed by search engines.
• Special browsers like Tor are required to reach the dark web.
• The dark web can be used to help maintain privacy and allow people to freely express their views.

Thor on Tor
There was a guy named Thor who used Tor Browser. He was attracted to the dark web for its anonymous browsing, and he felt liberated to peruse website content without getting retargeted by creepy ads later.

Thor’s mother complained, “the dark web is where arms are traded and drugs are delt.”
Thor asked, “have you ever even been on the dark web?”
Indeed, Thor was able to benefit from the dark web in several ways.

When Valentine’s Day came, Thor thought, “what better way to look for gifts without my partner getting wise than to shop on the dark web?” He felt further vindicated by his choice to us Tor.
Thor found a deal on the dark web that advertised a discounted, temporary Netflix pass and a free pizza. He couldn’t have planned it better himself. Thor leapt at the chance to show his girlfriend a good time with some rest and relaxation over pizza.

As it turned out, Thor was actually suckered into a fake deal. The Netflix credentials had been stolen, and the owner had already changed her password.
Thor was only out a few bucks from the transaction, but he had no path to justice. This was even more damaging. The dark web had none of the standard consumer protections, and he had no way to prove that the transaction was fraud..

Worst of all, now Thor had to think of another Valentine’s Day gift.

Thor might have just lost a few bucks, but your business has a lot more to lose. The dark web has no purpose for most businesses today.

Unfettered dark web activity will expose your business to risk without any power to report or complain suspicious cases. Talk to us now to learn more about the dark web and to make the best call for your business.


Man in cyber world

4 Tips for Cyber Resiliency

Cyber resiliency is a fancy way to say “protect your digital assets.”
Putting it in more relatable terms, digital security is more than just a “core value” you slap on company training materials. Security today has to be backed with a real plan.
For businesses, that requires implementing firewalls and equipment security to support your overall cyber resiliency.
Here’s how.
What is a firewall?
The first time you ran into a firewall was probably when one had to be deactivated to get something on a website to work.
But what is a firewall, exactly? Could you define it in technical terms?
Firewalls are software programs that filter and examine the data coming into your machine from the internet. They’re installed as a first line of defense to stop malicious programs or hackers from gaining access to your device or network.
What is equipment security?
Equipment security, especially in the context of business cyber resiliency, covers a whole slew of protection, surveillance and identification systems running in the background on your machines and devices.
Equipment security protects your PCs, mobile devices, cameras, alarm systems and more.
In short, equipment security is the bigger “umbrella” of how you protect each piece of physical hardware your business uses to run.
4 Tips to Cyber Resiliency
Achieving cyber resiliency starts with the following four tips. Go through these one-by-one and your organization will have its core security covered to protect your brand’s integrity, livelihood, and assets.
1. Recognize where you are

Know where you are right now in terms of risk. You can get your risk level assessed by a proactive IT services provider (like us). Your take-away from this assessment should be a clear list of where you’re most vulnerable.

2. Reduce exposure

Once you know where you’re most vulnerable, that’s where you start to plan your next steps. Firewalls are especially handy to patch vulnerabilities here.

3. Secure assets

Equipment security is particularly handy in this stage, because securing your assets is simultaneously about protecting physical hardware and stopping hackers from getting your “soft assets” (or data).

This is also the step where many organizations learn exactly how urgently they need hardware upgrades.

4. Accelerate the capacity for business recovery

Once you know your vulnerabilities and have patched them the best you can, there’s still the possibility that your systems, hardware or data could be compromised by a malicious attack.

As long as that possibility exists, you need a contingency plan.

Protect yourself by continuous monitoring your network and by building a Business Continuity Plan

Keep reading these 4 tips for device and gadget security to get even more granular in your cyber resiliency.


Windows 10 Tips

4 Windows 10 Productivity Tips
In case you were wondering, about one billion computers today run Windows 10.
If you weren’t wondering, it’s no wonder you don’t know all the coolest ins and outs of the operating system!
A little curiosity goes a long way with Windows 10. Windows in general has been around for so long that most users don’t get too jazzed about updates, but the latest version has some tricks you’ll want to leverage.
Windows 10, they say, was built especially for productivity. Keep reading, and you’ll learn how to maximize your computer’s relationship with Windows 10 so it can work exactly the way you want it to.
Windows 10 for added productivity
You probably have the basics down in Windows. And that’s great! The following are some of our favorite tips to boost productivity even more when working on Windows 10. We guarantee you’ll learn something new.
1. Minimize interruptions

Stay focused on whatever it is you’re working on by eliminating notification interruptions. Pop-up notifications can be helpful, but at the wrong time they can kick you out of a productive headspace.

To turn these off, open the Start menu, click the Settings cog, and then click on System > Notifications and actions. There, you can turn notifications entirely off or limit which apps can send them.

2. Use (and organize) workflows

Some users feel pretty tech savvy just using the Alt-Tab combination to leaf through open programs on Windows 10. You can take the time to organize things even better, though, and make multi-tasking as smooth as can be. This is even cooler with the right multiple-monitor setup.

System tasks like automatic posting can be included in what are called “Workflows,” either preceded or followed by other tasks you perform. Just click the search icon and type in “workflow,” which will bring up the Workflow page. Create a Workflow by simply listing the steps on each individual line. Each step is set by conditions that you define.

3. Night light

Use the night light setting on Windows 10 to restrict the blue light shining out from your computer display. Blue light restricts your melatonin production at night, which makes it harder to sleep.

Go to Start > Settings > System > Display to activate the night light slider, and keep it on all day. You’ll be grateful you did.

4. Windows timeline

The Windows 10 timeline displays the history of all your activity in Microsoft apps. That includes everything from Microsoft Office files to Edge browser tabs. This makes it easy to jump back to something you were working on before, even after you’ve closed it out.
Being more productive means finishing your days sooner and with more energy, all while getting more done. These tips are more than glamorous—they’ll seriously streamline everything you do on your PC.


Compliance is Integral to Business Success

Let’s Not Be Frank
IT compliance means abiding by certain laws and legal norms that regulate the handling of data. Most of the time, it relates to handling consumer data, such as the protections HIPAA ensures for patient medical records.
Companies big and small are required to meet compliance standards with internal processes that ensure the safe storage of data. Managing these processes is part of a company’s risk management.
Compliance processes aren’t just important for meeting requirements, either. They also help prevent data loss, hacking, and even espionage and other financial risks. Compliant IT is also more efficient IT.
…If only Frank had known that.
Frank’s story
Frank was a fleet manager for a logistics company for more than 15 years. He had a good relationship with the clients he delivered for and an even better relationship with his drivers. The day came where Frank took his team and started his own firm.
Not long after Frank started his logistics firm, the pandemic hit. Business took off for Frank, because with shuttered storefronts and the sudden boom in e-commerce, there was more demand than ever for companies like his to move products.
Frank wasn’t prepared to scale that fast, though. He was barely able to hire new drivers quickly enough as demand went through the roof.
IT compliance was NOT at the top of Frank’s mind.
Frank thought, “compliance is only an issue if you get audited and fined.” His company had reasonable practices in place to protect data, but he wasn’t devoting enough resources to meet every compliance standard there was.
When Frank’s firm fell victim to industrial espionage, he lost all the company’s data. There were client addresses, employee driving records, and even bank information from payments made.
Under the weight of fines and lawsuits, Frank’s company went bankrupt in a matter of months.

Data privacy is vital to business, and the smaller the business, the more crucial it is. The cost of risks taken on can crush small and even medium-sized businesses otherwise. For a little added guidance, plus the tools you need to manage IT compliance responsibly, contact us today!


Man and woman working in technology

Is it time to upgrade your office technology?

Tech upgrades can be daunting. There are budgets and capabilities to stay on top of, not to mention how easy it is to overspend or get the wrong thing.

Business owners and management can often forget that even the newest and most cutting-edge technology will someday have to be replaced. No matter how fast or feature-rich that network or computer seems right now, there will come a time when it will need to be upgraded.

It’s best to keep in mind that you may be buying a replacement for current technology in as little as a year or two. How do you factor that into your plans? Let’s go through three factors that could affect your process.

Expected Life Cycle

Most pieces of technology have an expected life cycle that can be predicted. A phone might last a few years, while an external hard drive might make it to ten years of service. When making your plans, consult the manufacturer’s warranties. You can also talk to TimbukTech on what to expect.

You don’t want to count on a piece of technology to last any longer than it’s supposed to. At the same time, you don’t want to plan for those expensive upgrades long before they’re necessary, either.

Device Reliability

Reliability is a separate factor. While there is an anticipated life cycle, you should also be aware that some brands and manufacturers are more dependable than others. You may have Microsoft devices around your home or office that continue to work even though they are several generations old.

In many cases it’s better to buy a quality product that you can count on for a little more money than it is to deal with unexpected expenses later on.

Compatibility

Your tech devices may not stop working. They may just stop working with newer hardware and apps.

Newer and faster things are coming out all the time and you need to anticipate that you’re eventually going to start using tools that outstrip your current devices. That means that it’s better to be slightly more aggressive with your upgrade plans when you aren’t for sure. TimbukTech is ready to provide guidance and advice here, too!


Two men discussing computers

Before you fire your IT guy...

Most of us remember the stereotype where the “computer nerd” was an unsavory sort of guy. The image was always a single male decked in glasses and pocket protectors. The computer-loving “did you try restarting it” caricature seeped deep into the business psyche for years.
But then, the 21st century happened. The smart phone, social networks, and the internet of things (IoT) positively took us to places unknown.
Nowadays, IT professionals are portrayed in a far more commendable way. Though still seen as “quirky,” society has also come to respect the technical know-how that IT professionals possess. As computational systems and networks have grown exponentially more complex, the skills that the “IT guy” brings to the table have become far more conspicuous.
So, why ask if you should fire your IT guy? Simple: IT needs have grown so much that many businesses realize their IT guy or gal can’t do it all.
To learn what comes next, let’s first look at what today’s IT professionals are usually responsible for.
What does the “IT guy” do?
IT professionals are generally segmented into two very large sub-disciplines:
1. Network systems admin

Network systems administrators and IT support are the classic problem solvers. These are the IT professionals responsible for keeping whole networks up-to-date. They’re usually the IT guys on staff at most businesses, too, managing everything from networks to the apps used on local machines.

Network systems admins are also responsible for user support, installation and configuration of operation systems, and network devices.

2. Programmers

The second broad category of “IT guys” are the programmers. Generally, businesses only have programmers on staff when they, themselves, are tech companies.
Do you need a network systems admin?
Ask yourself the following questions:
• Do you need quicker access to support issues these days?
• Is your business (or your reliance on tech) growing?
• Do you need more focused expertise on specific IT skillsets?
If you answered “yes” to any one (or more) of the questions above, the case can be made that you need to outsource your IT services. Specifically, you would benefit from managed services that address your specific needs.
That does not, however, mean it’s time to start preparing the termination paperwork for your internal IT guy.
In fact, your IT professional can stay on-board as a liaison to any outsourced IT service providers. Your company’s reliance on tech will only continue to grow, and it’s probably too much for your internal IT guy to chew on. There’s still full-time work, though, managing the other service providers who come in.
To discuss your company’s specific situation, connect with us today.


How TimbukTech Saved My Business

How TimbukTech Saved My Business

How TimbukTech Saved My Business
If any of you were fans of the hit ABC show “Lost,” you’ll remember how the production stretched the definitions of multiple genres. It stretched the limits of script writing, too.
“Lost” was a show full of surprises, to say the least. One particularly unexpected surprise was how the show evolved over time.
For instance, the first few seasons were defined by the compelling and symbolic character-specific flashbacks, some of which took up half the airtime of an episode. Several seasons in, however, the writers started playing with flashes forward.
If you saw a flashforward of your business right now, what would that reveal? What if you saw that your brand had lost credibility with clients thanks to a major data breach? Or what if some unprecedented crisis hit (like, oh, a pandemic), and after 14 months of downtime you had to shut your business down for good?
These would be depressing things to see. At the same time, we know something equally challenging will probably happen to every business at some point. What that will be or when it will happen remains as mysterious as Hydra Island, but the power to mitigate the inevitable still rests with you.
Today, we’ll be diving into three ways that TimbukTech protects businesses for whatever comes their way.
Who knows? Maybe in that next flashforward you’ll be saying instead, “that’s how TimbukTech saved my business.”
1. Business Continuity: Business downtime is bad for everyone. Productivity plumets along with revenue and budget, employee performance comes to a screeching halt, and we’re left picking up the pieces of client relationships. TimbukTech works with your business to write out and implement strategies that reduce downtime.
2. Computer and Network Security: Your staff make up your first line of defense against cyber threats, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a robust backend that keeps everyone safer with less room for human error. We deploy multi-layered security solutions to protect the integrity of your computers and network while also educating your staff. We pay special attention to mobile device security, which has become far more important in the last year.
3. Security Vulnerability Assessments: We also provide security assessments to tell you where your vulnerabilities are so you can focus resources where it counts.
Starting with a security vulnerability assessment and then rolling out a plan will give you major operational advantages—from business continuity to greater staff confidence in the systems you have in place.
The world of tech is fast moving and threats like Malware and data hackers are always a step ahead. Take two steps forward now and you’ll protect your business now and into the future.


Backups & Syncing Solutions

Backups Versus Syncing

Backups vs. Sync
Maybe these are two terms you use synonymously. Or maybe you know that there’s a difference but wouldn’t easily come up with a winning definition on Jeopardy.
Syncing and backing files up both refer to protecting your data, but of course there are differences. In fact, it’s those differences that are critical to protect your business with the right option.
Business owners should understand the ins and outs of syncing versus backing files up. Today, we’ll give you the bite-sized lesson you need.

What is a “file backup?”
Backing files up means copying data from one location to another. For example, if you drag and drop files from your laptop into an external hard drive, you’re creating a backup.
Next to cloud-based services like file syncing (which we’ll get to in a moment), the idea of copying files to an external hard drive sounds archaic to some. However, a backup is still the most reliable way to protect assets because the copy is totally independent of the original file. If someone accidentally deletes the original, nothing happens to the copy.
Backups can be automatic, too. It’s not always a manual process of dragging and dropping. Automatic backups that occur multiple times a day can also help you keep tabs on multiple versions of digital assets.

What does it really mean to “sync files?”
Syncing files and data means that a link (of sorts) is created in the cloud, though the source content is still the original file. The synced data reflects the most recent information available from that source.
Syncing services like Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox have become enormously popular in recent years, and for good reason. These services allow the storage and organization of assets in a common space where the most recent version can be accessed by users in real-time.
As a product, syncing is excellent for collaborations. To secure your business continuity, however, using only synced files opens you to the risk of the original file getting altered, misplaced or deleted, which wipes the “linked” version out, too.

Backups and file syncing services both have a purpose. We like to recommend using both. The cloud has created the perfect environment for both syncing and backups to be automatic while also supporting teams working remotely.
Both these services are similar in infrastructure, but each requires its own setup by your team of trusted experts. Get in touch with us today to get started or to learn more.