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Choosing the Best Antivirus Software for Your Business

  Does your business have the right antivirus protection?

Does your business have the right antivirus protection?

Regardless of what industry you’re in, antivirus software is absolutely vital. Your antivirus software helps ensure that your IT security can stand up to attackers. In the digital work environment, everyone should have strong IT and data security protocols enforced. For small and medium sized businesses, cybersecurity is even more important. Attackers often prey on smaller organizations as they do not usually have the same level of security and monitoring a large company does. This makes them an attractive target for hackers. Don’t worry—there are plenty of great software options for ensuring that your antivirus and IT security. 

McAfee: One of the most well-known antivirus programs, McAfee is cloud-based, making it a great solution to the problem of protecting remote devices and securing data, across multiple networks. It also comes with great email protection and daily vulnerability scanning to help find weak points in your IT network. The primary drawback with McAfee is its size. This robustness does a great job of keeping your IT security constant, but it does tend to slow computer performance. 

Avast: Avast has many similarities to McAfee as it is also cloud-based, with an email protection to keep your inbox safe from phishing. With its tracking feature, files, attachments, and URLs being communicated on your network are scanned to protect you from secretive spyware or malware. There is less of a computer performance issue than with McAfee, however, Avast doesn’t have a mobile platform so its protection schema only applies to desktops. 

Bitdefender: Bitdefender has two unique features in the antivirus field: its central console and its low price. The central console allows IT administrators to control and track remote users and develop security policies before applying them to users based on characteristics like location. This is a great feature which goes along with industry-consistent protection levels, all for a great price if your company has a thin budget.

Webroot: Webroot’s main advantage over the competition is its size. Taking up just 2MB of disk space, it can be installed in less than 10 seconds. As a cloud-based, all-in-one protection product, Webroot offers more than just great antivirus security. From excellent malware and browser protection to behaviour monitoring, it covers all the bases required for IT security in 2018. And since it’s cloud-based, updates take place automatically, which means you won’t have to feel guilty as you press “Update Tomorrow” every single day!

Here at CONNECT, we prefer Avast. Read why in our blog: Avast: One of the Best Antivirus Platforms for Your Business

CONNECT is your local IT solutions partner because we support businesses of all sizes in Kelowna, Penticton, Kamloops, and Vernon through our comprehensive IT services, 60-minute response time, and our True Partner relationship which is based on communication, responsiveness, trust, and experience.

Avast: One of the Best Antivirus Platforms for Your Business

  Is your business protected by an antivirus platform like Avast?

Is your business protected by an antivirus platform like Avast?

Antivirus software is absolutely vital, regardless of what industry you’re in, to ensure that your IT security can stand up to attackers. In the modern, digital work business environment, everyone should have strong IT and data security protocols in place. This is especially the case for small or medium sized businesses because attackers often prey on these organizations due to the fact that they often don’t have the same level of cybersecurity protection as larger companies. What they lack in size, they also often lack in protection, making it more effective for hackers to bring in several smaller fish versus one whale. Don’t despair. There are plenty of great software options for ensuring that your antivirus and IT security keep your company safe.

 

At CONNECT, we use a system called Avast. All of our technicians know Avast inside and out, to ensure that every one of our IT security clients reaps all of the benefits of this excellent antivirus platform. These benefits are wide-ranging, comprehensive, and include the following:

 

●      Antivirus: Scans files and programs before allowing them to open or run

●      CyberCapture: Sends suspicious files to the Threat Lab for analysis

●      Behaviour Shield: Stops dangerous programs and applications on your device

●      Web Shield: Blocks dangerous websites before they open

●      Email Shield: Continuously checks for threats in incoming and outgoing emails

●      Anti-Spam: Blocks unwanted spam and phishing emails

●      Smart Scan: Quickly checks for any performance or security issues

●      Sandbox: A safe environment to test dubious files and programs

●      Wi-Fi Inspector: Discovers vulnerabilities in your network

●      Real Site: Keeps you away from fake sites designed to steal your data

●      Rescue Disk: Creates an external backup to salvage compromised PCs

●      Software Defender: Automatically updates your installed software to help prevent hacks

●      Data Shredder: Permanently deletes files you don’t want to be recovered

●      Browser Cleanup: Erases junk files slowing down your browser

●      Webcam Shield: Alerts you before your webcam is turned on to protect your privacy

●      Passwords: Protects your passwords and streamlines your online accounts

●      SecureLine VPN: Makes open, vulnerable networks safe, anywhere in the world

At CONNECT, we also use Avast as our connection to remotely work on our clients’ computers, as well as our method to push out new Windows updates. This creates synergy between security tools. If you’re worried that your antivirus isn’t up to snuff, come talk to us today about how Avast can improve your IT security to keep your company safe.

Still need help? Check out our blog post: Choosing the Best Antivirus Software for Your Business

CONNECT is your local IT solutions partner because we support businesses of all sizes in Kelowna, Penticton, Kamloops, and Vernon through our comprehensive IT services, 60-minute response time, and our True Partner relationship which is based on communication, responsiveness, trust, and experience.

How to Choose a Great Password (That Won't Get Hacked!)

  Is your business optimizing your password security protocol?

Is your business optimizing your password security protocol?

As we previously mentioned in our Business Owner's IT Security Checklist, passwords are especially vulnerable access points to your office computer network. Creating and maintaining strong, unique passwords is a must for all employees and network users. There are a few easy ways to develop great passwords, which set up a sturdy foundation for your IT services. There are also several tech support tools available that we believe all businesses in Kelowna, Penticton, Kamloops, Vernon, and beyond should utilize. Let’s take a look at both of these.

 

The Basics of Great Passwords

There are two components to a great password: development and maintenance. When developing a new password, there are a few criteria that you should always follow. These include:

  • Incorporating uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters like punctuation
  • Making every password at least eight characters long, with longer always being safer
  • Avoiding obvious passwords (password, 1234, etc.), personal details, or any real words that appear in dictionaries
  • Using phrases instead of words, i.e. MyDogDoesn’tGoToSchool!

Each of these criteria will ensure that every password you create is difficult for hackers to guess. However, hackers are relentless. To keep your business’ IT security maximized, it’s also important that you follow these password maintenance tips:

  • Change all of your passwords at regular intervals  
  • Never reuse passwords between different accounts, or over time
  • Don’t answer ‘yes’ when prompted to save passwords in your web browser
  • Always log out when you are finished with a program or browser

These tips are informed by typical hacking methods. By developing and maintaining a stable of strong passwords, you are stacking the deck in your favour. Once you have these great passwords, the next step is to use password tech support tools.

 

Password Tech Support Tools

There are many tools and techniques available for fortifying your business’ password security protocol. Each of these are additional ways to protect the great passwords you have developed and maintained. Using them in combination makes your office computer network and IT security as impenetrable as possible.   

  • Password Manager: A password manager is the better alternative to writing all of your passwords down. These tools, like LastPass and Dashlane, store your passwords in a single, secure location. Once a password is stored for a website, you can use it to automatically log in whenever you visit that site. You can also easily update each password whenever it is changed. This removes the burden of remembering dozens of frequently updating passwords, which is a primary barrier to great passwords.
  • Password/Email Audit: Using a password manager also helps with password auditing. You can search the manager for any duplicate passwords, to eliminate repetition. You can also judge password strength for every website, to identify any cracks in your foundation. It is also important to do a mass ‘search and delete’ for emails in your inbox with terms like ‘password,’ ‘login,’ or ‘username.’ This prevents anyone who has managed to gain access to your email from easily spreading to your other accounts.
  • Two-Step Verification: Two-step verification adds an additional layer to your IT security. By requiring a code sent to your phone or email, or physical component like a fingerprint scan, it turns your password into a multi-layered puzzle that is extremely difficult to hack remotely.

 

Following these basic great password development and maintenance steps, accompanied by the password tech support tools and techniques, leads to a strong security approach for your office computer network.


CONNECT is your local IT solutions partner, because we support businesses of all sizes in Kelowna, Penticton, Kamloops, and Vernon, through our comprehensive IT services, 60-minute response time, and our True Partner relationship, based on communication, responsiveness, trust, and experience.

What's New for Office 365 in 2018?

  This year’s Office 365 is perhaps its most powerful and easy-to-use version yet.

This year’s Office 365 is perhaps its most powerful and easy-to-use version yet.

The need-to-know changes that will affect your team and business

Microsoft's latest version of its flagship suite is now out, and this year's update comes with some significant upgrades for systems admins and end users alike. Some of our favourite features are the refreshed version of Office 365 Email and stronger security functionality, which make this year’s iteration of Office 365 well worth the cost of upgrading. Read on for the key features to take note of in this year’s release - no matter if you’re in Kelowna or Penticton, they’re well worth leveraging for your business!

 

More centralized IT management capabilities

In the past year, quite a few of our clients in the Kamloops area have been asking us how they can more effectively manage their organizations for an IT perspective. Fortunately for all of us, Microsoft has come through with a solution for us on this front! This year, Office 365 is equipped with centralized IT management functionality that allows IT administrators to do manage all of their organization's devices in one cloud-based solution. Admins now have the ability to quickly deploy software updates, Office add-ins, and more - all through one easy-to-use interface.

 

Advanced security features

In this year's edition of Office 365, you'll also get a full suite of advanced security features specifically designed for small to medium-sized businesses. The new Microsoft 365 Security & Compliance Center makes it easy to spot threats before they affect your organization, and Microsoft's proprietary Advanced Threat Protection system is now available for all users along with its standard anti-virus and firewall software. Whether you’re running a nonprofit in scenic Vernon or overseeing a small online retail business in Kamloops, these security features will help you secure your business data, and be proactive about addressing any vulnerabilities!

 

An upgraded version of Skype for Business

Skype for Business is Microsoft's flagship VOIP product, and its integration across the entire Office 365 suite is deeper than ever. It's a great way to standardize VOIP phone systems across your organization, and as an added bonus, it now syncs flawlessly with Outlook. Our clients in the Thompson/Okanagan area love this feature, as it dramatically simplifies scheduling conference calls and client meetings for their teams.

This year's iteration of Office 365 is Microsoft’s most powerful version yet, and it shows. The numerous features for small to medium-sized businesses are well thought-out, and many of our clients have already reported great success in leveraging it for their organizational IT needs.


If you'd like to further explore how Office 365 could help fulfill your company's IT and technical support needs, feel free to book a free consultation with our team, and we'll be in touch right away. We look forward to speaking with you!

Pros & Cons of VoIP Phones for Business

  Time to Upgrade Your Business Phone System?

Time to Upgrade Your Business Phone System?

VoIP Phones are all the rage these days, but are they the best choice for your company?

When first introduced, VoIP revolutionized communications by giving tech-savvy businesses an affordable alternative to telco-provided voice calls. In the early days of the Internet, VoIP solved the very specific problem of expensive long-distance calls, but it was not a practical, business-friendly solution. Early adopters of VoIP technology had to configure their own equipment and live with variable call quality. Additionally, many businesses had to retain their more expensive landline in order to connect with customers who were not VoIP savvy.

 

The Evolution of Small Business Phone Systems

Much has changed since companies first used VoIP technology to save money. You can still configure VoIP on your own to get voice calls on-the-cheap, but today's savings are quite a bit smaller because the whole industry has moved to more cost-effective digital technologies.

Today, VoIP is an enabling technology rather than a solution in and of itself. So, the better question is, “what can VoIP add to my business phone system?” VoIP phones, such as the IP version of the NEC SV9100, solve complex business challenges with cool digital features. But if your business does not have any challenges or unique needs, then a regular digital phone might be your best option.

 

Business VoIP to Increase Customer Satisfaction

VoIP can do things like real-time video and interactive web conferences, but unless it addresses a real-world problem the cool features just get in the way. One real-world problem we often see in the Okanagan Valley is providing consistent customer support through multiple company locations. With CONNECT’s telephone systems, we can easily create a system that seamlessly coordinates offices in Penticton, Kamloops, Kelowna, and Vernon giving customers the convenience of one number and employees the power to instantly access the entire company's knowledge-base.

Some businesses in the Okanagan need to be highly mobile, especially during the busy summer months, and in those situations CONNECT provides cost-effective, Hosted VoIP PBX solutions for on-the-go employees and remote office integration.

 

Summary

PROs

  • Advanced solution for numerous complex business needs
  • Replacement for other business solutions like video conferencing
  • Seamless communication connection between multiple remote locations

CONs

  • Its many features, if not needed, can be a distraction or nuisance
  • A landline may be required in the event the Internet goes down     

 

CONNECT provides VoIP phones, regular digital phones, or hybrids to streamline your business operations. To learn more about VoIP and find out if VoIP-enabled products are right for your business, contact our team at 1-855-804-9636.

Business Owner's IT Security Checklist 2018

  How confident are you in your IT security? 

How confident are you in your IT security? 

Blind spots in IT security are understandable. They can also be incredibly damaging to your operations. At CONNECT, we want to help local organizations in Kelowna, Penticton, Kamloops, and Vernon avoid simple IT security mistakes. Since we care about IT solutions in the Okanagan, here is a simple IT checklist to gauge the safety of your data and office computer network.   

 

Policies and Training: IT support begins with your organizational attitude. By outlining strict IT policies, all of your employees are on the same page about security expectations. Costly miscommunications are less likely to occur because of this. It is also easier to enforce written policies. Along with clear IT support policies, all employees must be trained in proper IT security methods. It is important to empower your team with the skills and knowledge to protect their data and your network. Doing so makes IT security far less daunting, because of a greater understanding of possible blind spots.  

 

Passwords: Passwords are the most vulnerable access point on your office computer network. It is crucial that your employees understand this. Strong and unique passwords are a necessary part of any good IT solutions strategy. You can also consider using a tool like LastPass to protect employee passwords. Tools like this allow you to store all passwords in a single location. This way you don’t need to remember every single one, which helps prevent password duplication.

 

Software Updates: It doesn’t matter what part of the Okanagan you live in, we all share the common experience of clicking “Install Later” when your laptop, phone, or tablet wants to update its software. Your schedule is obviously busy, but these updates are important for ensuring IT security. One of the main components of any software update is the security improvement that it institutes. Software updates are how software companies plug up vulnerable areas. Failing to update your software can leave your computer open to hacking. So taking the few minutes to update software can save you a major headache in the future.    

 

Tracking and Diligence: After instituting these simple IT solutions, it is important to monitor their effectiveness. IT support is an endless process, because attackers never rest. Policies must be reviewed. Employees must be educated on new platforms. Passwords and software must be updated.

Following this checklist is a great first step to ensuring the security of your data and office computer network. For further consultation or support services, contact CONNECT today.

 

CONNECT is your local IT solutions partner, because we support businesses of all sizes in Kelowna, Penticton, Kamloops, and Vernon, through our comprehensive IT services, 60-minute response time, and our True Partner relationship, based on communication, responsiveness, trust, and experience. 

NEC Servers now Available in Canada

Connect Okanagan Telephone


CONNECT strengthens NEC partnership and becomes authorized to offer NEC server and storage solutions.

  • NEC servers are common throughout many countries but Canada has not been one of them. Up until our first deployment a couple of months ago I'm sure I had not come across one anywhere in the Thompson, Okanagan. Through our longstanding relationship with NEC, CONNECT is looking to change that
  • We know and trust NEC hardware from decades of installing NEC Telecom systems. In fact we have been a premier NEC partner for over 25 years!
  • From low cost, entry level to fully fault tolerant, NEC offers a wide range of options with a business warranty second to none
  • Equally important is the price point. If you are in the market for an on-premise server or wanting to learn more about the differences between cloud and premise based hardware please contact us
 EXPRESS 5800 Series   more details

EXPRESS 5800 Series

more details

 FAULT TOLERANT 99.999 UPTIME   more details

FAULT TOLERANT 99.999 UPTIME

more details

Can IT really help my business grow?

Outsourced Information Technology Okanagan

So you own your own business in beautiful Vernon BC and things are going well. You are experiencing some growth, sales are increasing and now, after 5 years of hard work, you have grown from a staff of one (yourself) to five full time employees!  That's great right? All of your hard work is paying off and your are actually thinking this was worth it. Fast forward a couple more years and now you have 8 staff and a whole lot more variables to manage. A lot of times this is about the time we are contacted by business owners looking for assistance with the myriad of IT products and services.

Today IT is a significant part of any business growth strategy and let's get one thing straight: IT is EXPENSIVE! It is a major cost to any growing business and in many cases, especially in small business, it is piece-worked together using consumer grade hardware and free software and cloud solutions. 

If you are looking to seriously grow your business and expect to scale you had best change your mindset on the value of IT! Stop thinking of it as an annoying cost and start considering how it might be properly deployed to help you succeed. As your business becomes more successful you, by that very nature, have more to lose. Some key IT pieces you should be educating yourself on are;

  • Website - Is it current? Do you have an online store? Who is Hosting your site? Is it up to date and secure?
  • Data Backups - Is your data being backed up? Are you sure? Where is it? What is the retention period?
  • Disaster Recovery - If your office suffered a fire or flood and you lost your server do you have another copy of your data? How long will it take to restore the data and get operational again? You don't have a server you are using a "cloud service" instead - what is their data backup policy?
  • Antivirus - Are you using some free antivirus software you found? Are your virus updates current? Are your staff educated on erring on the side of caution re- suspicious attachments/links? Have you even heard of the Cryptolocker virus?
  • PCI Compliance - Do you accept credit card payments? Do you store cardholder data? If you are not PCI compliant you could face liability risk
  •  Business CRM Software - You may have gotten by on Excel spreadsheets and a basic Accounting program but as you grow you will need to invest in CRM software typically specific you your industry that will look after sales, client management, billing, Inventory and the like. This software will also likely be expensive. Sorry.
  • Business Process - As you grow so grows the number of processes. You seem to have spreadsheets for everything! Anytime data entry is seeming excessive this is a good time to review your process and consider automation and scripting for tasks if possible
  • Employee Computers - Are they secure? Are the local files backed up on the server? What happens if an employee loses or steals a computer?
  • Company Data on Personal Devices - The most obvious example is company email on employee smartphones. Could you remove that email data if needed?

Yes IT is expensive and yes it is relatively complicated. As I mentioned there are lots of small businesses who get by on the cheap but I will wager that it is simply a question of "When" they will spend $$ on IT if they are actually going to stick around and grow. Do your homework on IT, it really is important! Find a service provider that you can trust, build a relationship and start taking your IT seriously!

IT provider Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon, Merritt

Which Office 365 Model is Right for You?

office 365.jpg

More and more Okanagan businesses are asking questions regarding Office 365. From Vernon to Penticton,  big and small. This relatively new Microsoft cloud offering is getting lots of attention. It can, however, be a little bit confusing determining exactly which model is right for your business.

From Word to SharePoint, Office 365 has a lot offer. But each business requires different features from Office 365. Some may prioritize business analytics, while others may be content with no more than the productivity suite and Outlook. If you’re planning to deploy Office 365, first consider your business needs, then use the information below to find out which license is right for you.

Business or Enterprise?
If you’re running a cloud-first business, you’ll have to decide between Office 365 Business and Enterprise. Both may have access to Office Online and OneDrive, but there are some notable differences between the plan.

For one, Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E5 plans have unlimited archive and mail storage space, while Business plans have a 50-GB storage limit and don’t provide archive access from the Outlook client.

When it comes to SharePoint, Business plans are short on enterprise search, Excel services, and Visio features. Additionally, unified communication solutions, Power BI, and Delve analytics are also missing from the Office 365 Business offering.

Although it may seem like Enterprise subscriptions are superior -- and in some ways they are -- Business plans are perfect for smaller companies running on a tight budget. Office 365 Business and Business Premium cost $12 and $17 per user per month respectively, while E5, the biggest Enterprise plan, costs $35 per user per month.

As a general rule, start looking for Enterprise plans when your employee headcount exceeds 50 people and users require more storage space and solutions.

E1, E3, or E5?
If you do opt for Office 365 Enterprise plans, you’ll have to examine the features and choose one of three plans (E1, E3, and E5) that suits your needs.

E1 offers basic enterprise solutions such as Outlook and Word, OneNote, PowerPoint, and Excel online for only $8 per user per month. Apart from this, users also get access to SharePoint Team sites, video conferencing, and Yammer for enterprise social media.

E3 provides all E1 features and adds data loss prevention, rights management, and encryption to ensure business security and compliance. While E5 is a full enterprise-grade solution with all the aforementioned features plus analytics tools, advanced threat protection, flexible Skype for Business conferencing, and unified communication solutions.

Small- and medium-sized enterprises will usually select either E1 or E3 subscriptions and decide to add third-party applications to meet cloud security and VoIP demands. But if you have the resources and prefer a fully-managed suite of Microsoft applications, E5 plans are the way to go.

Migrating to an Office 365 platform is a big step, and if you’re still undecided about which plan to opt for, contact us today. We don’t just provide Office 365, we assess your business and find the best solution that meets your budget and objectives.

Using Good Judgement & Caution to Avoid Computer Viruses

How to avoid Computer Viruses

Being in the outsourced IT services business in the Thompson/Okanagan we tend to take IT security seriously! At the end of the day for the majority of our clients their data is their business and if they don't have their data they are in serious trouble! So we go the extra mile to ensure our client networks are secure (Robust Firewall, Anti-virus software, Anti-spam software, secure password policies, data back-up & disaster recovery plans).

But even with all of this protection it is difficult, if not impossible, to stop data loss if an employee RUNS or EXECUTES a virus! It is very common for hackers to attempt to infect your network data by way of an inbound email. These emails will usually look very, very legitimate and we are constantly being asked what to look for. I have recently discovered the following guide which I feel can be very helpful to identify possible virus/hacker risks to be aware and cautious of.

I would highly recommend you take a few minutes and read it over. I find it really helps you exercise good judgement which can sometimes be difficult to do in today's fast paced communications work environment.