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Remote Working with Office 365

Posted & filed under Software.

Working from home is a big change in an already tumultuous time. Yet there’s a bright side. The quarantine could be your opportunity to reinvent how you work — for the better. Migrating to Microsoft Office 365 has benefits now. Plus, when you’re back to business as usual. 

Office 365 is the cloud-based version of Microsoft Office. With a subscription, you get both the desktop and online versions of apps you already know. This includes Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint, Teams, Yammer, and more. 

Office 365 enables collaboration in many ways, on desktops, tablets, and smartphones. For example: 

  • Outlook — primarily associated with email, but also lets you share notes and files 
  • Teams — a hub for instant messaging, video conferencing and calls   
  • SharePoint — an internal content management platform. SharePoint lets you customize team sites where you automate workflows and share resources 
  • Yammer — a social network connecting all the users in your organization 
  • OneDrive — allows users to share and co-author documents securely 

Working in Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint and other Office Apps you can collaborate simultaneously. There’s no need to email back and forth. In fact, you can even see different people creating and editing together in real time. 

Remote Work with Teams 

Microsoft teams at its core is a chat program.  But it does so much more. On all your devices, both iOS and Android, Teams allows “channels”. You can have company-wide or small task group channels. Or use a separate channel to instant messaging to a single person. 

You can also invite clients or customers into channels to join the discussion. Additionally, you can set up security features that filter what they can access. You don’t want them to know the ingredients to your secret sauce! 

Within Teams channels users can share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Teams also integrates with other software. The options include Zendesk customer support, Asana project management, or Zoom video conferencing.  

Using Teams in Office 365 creates a streamlined platform for remote work. 

Remote Work with OneDrive 

Working on premises, your users always had access to the business file server. OneDrive is the cloud equivalent. Yet, since it’s online, it’s always accessible. Microsoft’s hosts the file storage to let you access and share work files from all your devices. 

Employees can even work offline. Any changes or edits to files automatically upload when you next connect. 

Share OneDrive folders or files with external partners as well. Again, you can secure access with limits on who can see what and specifying what actions they can take. You can even set up automatic revoke access after a set time limit.  

Office 365 & Business Security 

An Office 365 subscription protects from viruses and cybercrime. It also offers ways to recover your files from malicious attacks. 

Office 365 apps update with security patches without any effort on your part. Plus, Outlook scans email attachments and checks links for viruses or phishing scams. 

OneDrive helps you restore files, so they’re not held captive in a ransomware attack. Office 365 also lets users encrypt email, prevent forwarding, and secure sensitive files.  

Office 365 lets your business communicate and collaborate in real-time. Work on any device, anywhere, at any time. Enjoy business agility and flexibility with internal and external users. 

Migrating to the cloud isn’t as simple as pressing the “start” button. Still, our tech experts can get you up and running quickly and with ease.

Let us help you go online and get back to business as usual, even working remotely.Contact PGP Computers today at 763-691-1957 or contact us.

Setting Up Your Work from Home Tech

Posted & filed under Tech Tips.

You’ve been told to stay put and work from home. You’re looking around your home or apartment and thinking, “uhm, work where?” You’ve never set up a home office. Here’s help getting you organized to go online and get things done working remotely.

The first things you’ll need are a computer and a cell phone. You may even need the phone if your computer is set up for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communication, but at the very least, you will likely need to be able to talk to people and get online.

Work may have provided you with a laptop. Or perhaps you already had one or a desktop that everyone in the house has been sharing for years. So, you’ve got a computer on which you can log in to necessary business applications.

But wait; we said log in – you’re going to need an internet connection. Most homes do at this point, but you may have a pretty barebones router. Like you, your internet service provider (ISP) wasn’t expecting business traffic from your home.

To work remotely online you’ll need the internet speed and capacity to handle video conferencing and running business software. If it were just you, that wouldn’t be an issue. But you have a partner or roommate working from home now, too. Or perhaps there are kids out of school who are avoiding e-learning by streaming shows or playing video games.

It may be time to upgrade. Newer routers often offer both the older 2.4 GHz and the faster 5 GHz frequency, which has less interference. Additionally, since 5 GHz isn’t as common, you’re less likely to compete with neighbors for Wi-Fi signals (since they’re probably stuck at home, too).

Being Productive Working from Home

Once you’re connected to the internet, you’ll also have to log in at work. Some businesses will have set up virtual private networks (VPNs) for added security. A VPN connects a computer, smartphone, or tablet to a shared or public network as if you’re connecting to a private network.

If not, the responsibility for securing your online activity is yours. It’s always a good idea to make sure your operating system is up to date. Plus, run the latest antivirus and software with the most recent security patches installed. This is required if you’re working from home with an industry that has compliance standards, but it’s a best practice for everyone.

And please don’t use Windows 7 any longer. If you haven’t upgraded your OS since you bought that software, it’s definitely time to update. Microsoft has stopped supporting Windows 7, which means it’s also not doing anything to patch vulnerabilities. Cybercriminals know this, so don’t leave your home computer open to attack.

Knowing that you could be working from home for the next few weeks, take the time to actually establish and organize your workspace. Try to find a place away from distractions or that has a door you can close to keep distractions to a minimum. Also, think about being somewhere in the home that gets natural light. This helps people be happier and more engaged in their work.

You’ll also want to think about how far you’re setting up your workspace from the router. Depending on the power of your hardware, you could encounter a reduced signal the further away you go. You could consider a network cable or Mesh Wi-Fi for your home. Traditional Wi-Fi relies on a single router, whereas a mesh system helps you reach many, spread out areas in your home.

Need to get up and running from home quickly? A managed service provider can help you connect, upgrade, or troubleshoot your home office setup. Contact PGP Computers today at 763-691-1957 or contact us.

Steer Clear of Coronavirus Scams

Posted & filed under IT Security, News.

With the world grappling with a health pandemic, scams are shocking. Regrettably, bad actors are everywhere, always looking for opportunities, and they’re seeing one in the coronavirus. This article outlines what you need to watch out for and how to stay cyber safe.

The last thing you want to read right now is that there’s another threat out there – sorry, but it’s true. Cybercriminals take advantage of fear. They take timely concerns and use them to target victims. Using the anxiety and upheaval around coronavirus is their mission.

Coronavirus Scams

So far, several coronavirus-related attempts to cyberscam people have been reported. There are examples of:

  • emails that appear to come from government health departments;
  • offering a tax refund to get people to click on malicious links;
  • memos to staff that appear to come from large employers;
  • COVID-19 test offerings from private companies;
  • fake websites promising to sell face masks or hand sanitizer;
  • soliciting donations to help fund a vaccine.

What to Watch Out For

Another concern is the number of bogus websites registered with names relating to COVID-19. The site can look legit but is set up to steal information or infect the victim’s computer with malware.

You may get an email promising the attached information offers coronavirus safety measures, or information shared by the World Health Organization (WHO) if you click on the link, or a similar email pretending to be from a reputable news source, such as the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

In another example, an email impersonating a healthcare company’s IT team asked people to register for a seminar “about this deadly virus.” Anyone who didn’t question why IT was organizing the meeting clicked to register. By filling out the form, they gave their details to hackers.

What to Do

Be cautious. It’s understandable that you’re anxious, but don’t let that stop you from taking cyber precautions. You should still:

  • be wary of anything that tries to play on your emotions and urges immediate action;
  • question where emails are coming from – remain vigilant even if the communication appears to come from a reliable source;
  • hover over links before clicking them to see where they will take you – for example, in the WSJ example, the Web address was for the “worldstreetjournal”;
  • avoid downloading anything you didn’t ask for;
  • doubt any deals that sound too good to be true (“a mask that stops the virus 99.7% of the time!”);
  • ignore any communications requesting your personal information;
  • don’t be suckered by fraudulent pleas for charity.

Global health organizations generally do not send out emails with advice. Instead, navigate directly to that reputable health institution for real news.

If you’re still not sure about the validity of the communication, check it out. Do so by calling or using another medium to get in touch with the “source” of the received message.

While there is not yet a vaccine for COVID-19, you can put anti-virus protection on your computer. Also, make sure that you’ve applied all available security updates to keep your software safe.

We hope you’ll take care and stay healthy both physically and online in these tough times.

Need help installing security software and keeping your technology safe? Our cybersecurity experts can give your home a tech immunization. Contact PGP Computers today at 763-691-1957 or contact us.

Help Wanted: Should You Be Hiring a Virtual CIO?

Posted & filed under IT Security.

How many seats are there at your C-suite table? A small business might have only a CEO. A mid-sized one may add another one or two C’s — COO? CFO? CMO? But you don’t have to be enterprise-sized to enjoy a Chief Information Officer’s (CIO) skillset. Virtual CIOs help any size business create a tech strategy to meet business goals.

Virtual Chief Information Officer

Every business will shape the CIO role differently. Still, this individual typically has the following responsibilities:

  • planning information technology (IT) strategy
  • budgeting for technology to support business goals
  • keeping abreast of current technology trends
  • evaluating new technologies to improve productivity, enhance operational efficiency, and reduce costs
  • building and maintaining an effective, motivated IT team
  • inspiring and embracing technological innovation
  • developing security, business continuity, and disaster recovery policies

Notice how this role differs from a Technology Director or IT Director. The director is typically more of a hands-on operationally focused IT leader. The TD or IT Director is more likely to be buying IT and managing the technical solutions.

The vCIO is a strategic consultant. He or she needs to understand the day-to-day operations, of course, but this role is more about bigger-picture thinking. As more technology is moved to the cloud and outsourced to partnerships, the vCIO is the outward-facing lead.

A vCIO takes a broad view of business technology needs. They prioritize IT needs and provide methods to improve regulatory compliance. With an eye to ROI, the vCIO builds vendor relationships and reviews the IT teams’ strengths.

How Does a vCIO Help Business?

People may be the backbone of the business, yet you can bet they rely on networks, computer systems, and software applications to get the job done. Processing invoices, collaborating on documents, organizing meetings, video conferencing … business has gone digital.

Without the right technology in place, you could be wasting resources: time and money. Many companies get sold on particular IT solutions and stick with them out of loyalty. With so much else demanding attention, it’s easier to rely on legacy systems to get the job done.

But that’s not necessarily the best thing for the business. A virtual CIO can help identify areas of duplication and wasted resources. Maybe you are paying for more software licenses than you need? An outdated system is slowing you down. You could be under-utilizing your existing hardware. This tech expert explores process and makes recommendations for streamlining business practices.

As digital transformation leaders, CIOs are as critical to cultural change as chief human resources officers. — Gartner

A virtual CIO lets you keep up with the core challenges facing your business. Meanwhile, you’re leaving technology concerns to an expert. A virtual CIO, even a part-time one, comes to understand your business objectives. Then, they ensure your IT infrastructure is the best fit it can be.

Regardless of your industry, it’s safe to say that technology is complicated. Plus, IT is evolving rapidly. Don’t miss out on opportunities to leverage the best tools for your business. Take a strategic approach to IT with the aid of a virtual CIO.Make sure your IT investment is a wise one with the input of a virtual CIO. We can help.Contact PGP Computers today at 763-691-1957 or contact us.

Is Your Business’s IT Ready for the Coronavirus?

Posted & filed under Networking Solutions, Software.

The Coronavirus is spreading as fast as feared. Business must be ready for the worst. One priority? Protecting the health of employees. Preparing the way for remote working is one top recommendation.

News of the virus, which the WHO is now calling COVID-19, has prompted urgent interest in remote work. Business collaboration software, virtual desktops, and private networks can all help. This tech helps business continue as usual, even with quarantined employees.

Get Business Ready for the Coronavirus

It’s difficult to imagine you aren’t aware of the looming health pandemic. Trying to limit the contagion, we’ve already seen big business take major measures. These include:

  • Nike temporarily closed its European headquarters when an employee was diagnosed with the virus. After the first death in Washington state in the U.S., the company also closed its world headquarters for a deep clean of its campus.
  • Twitter told its roughly 4,900 employees to stay home to work.

Other businesses are weighing up the options. Furloughs? Changes to sick leave? Or encouraging work from home. The last option appeals, but how do employees work remotely? How can they continue collaborating with people they used to sit beside, meet in the office, or travel to see? Technological solutions.

The Right Technology for Remote Work

Remote workers want a centralized platform with a simplified (yet secure) login process. Business collaboration software is a great enabler of mobile, flexible work. Replace in-person meetings with voice or video conferencing. Streamline chat, voice, and video in one software platform. Tools such as Microsoft Teams, Google’s G-suite, or Slack, allow business to create team channels.

Business collaboration tools also simplify access to email, calendars, documents, and file sharing. Employees can use a single sign-on to access business tools and data. This supports improved efficiency and increased transparency.

Providing a virtual desktop can provide access to important business applications, as well. Virtual desktops in the cloud allow users to work separately from their personal computers. The software virtualizes the user’s unique desktop environment at any workstation. All the data and applications are stored on a central server. Users access apps, folders, and toolbars from anywhere, with a consistent, secure experience.

Using a cloud-based solution also provides peace of mind. While remote workers access the corporate network, the sensitive data isn’t stored locally. So, the business needn’t worry about the loss or theft of sensitive data. Plus, cloud-based virtual desktops are easy to rapidly install outside a quarantined area.

Worried about securing those remote connections? Another option is a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN connects computers, smartphones, or tablets to a shared or public network as if connecting to a private network. These encrypted connections to the internet secure data and protect employees’ mobile activities.

Mobile Work Helps Every Day

You can hope that your employees stay healthy and your business remains unaffected, but why take that risk? Empowering remote work benefits business, even without the threat of a fatal flu.

Remote teams enjoy greater work-life balance. The workers spend less time commuting and are more productive. Empowered, they also feel trusted and more engaged.

Meanwhile, business can save money on physical space and hardware investments. Additionally, the hiring pool of qualified personnel expands with remote work, and the business can offer its services more globally and flexibly. All that’s true whether the coronavirus becomes an issue for your business or not.

Enabling a remote workforce takes technology. Need assistance installing and connecting your employees? We can help. Contact PGP Computers today at 763-691-1957 or contact us.