Carisma Computer & Technology Thoughts…

What you Need to Know About Your Computer’s Firewall

Firewalls. They’re popular in television and movies as barriers that hackers must break down before gaining access to data or control of computer systems. But what are they really? And how do they actually work? In the simplest of terms, a firewall is a doorway to a computer or network. Like the door to your home, it provides some boundaries on what can get in or out. In the case of your home, it fits into a door frame that limits the size of objects that can pass through it. Firewalls operate no differently. They fit into broadband pipes that determine how much data can pass through. No matter how efficient and effective your firewall is, nothing can get through if it’s too big for the pipe. Firewalls are also like doors, in that they are keyed for entry. Anyone with a key that fits can get through. But, unlike doors, firewalls are composed of thousands of smaller doors that direct people to certain parts of the house. Key A will get you to the kitchen, but not the dining room. Key B will take you to the master bedroom, but not the den, and so forth and so on. Clever hackers can indeed breach your firewall, just as a clever thief can pick your door lock, but these are not the breaches as seen in the movies. They are subtle attacks that are much harder to detect than fiction would have you believe. We can help you understand what your firewall is and isn’t doing for you, and configure it so that it does what you need it... read more

Tips for Network Security

Network security has recently become a pretty big topic. Whether you operate a large network for a company, or you just maintain a small network in your home, some of your most sensitive data is stored there. Because of the disastrous effects of a breach of your network, it’s important to make sure that it’s as secure as possible. Here are a few ways you can do that.   Pay attention to everything that comes in Pay attention to everything that your computer receives, because each instance is another chance for a hacker to gain entry to your network. This can be anything, even as simple as opening a webpage, but is especially true for downloads and files. Scan everything before you open it, and ignore or delete e-mails that contain files you didn’t expect, especially if they are executables.   The little things Even the things you take for granted are important when it comes to network security. Make sure that you are using strong passwords. Check your encryption and security settings. These are things many people sometimes forget about, but they are also some of the most important aspects of security.   Software You can’t protect your network against every threat. Luckily there is software for that. Make sure that all of the machines on your network are running strong, current anti-virus software. Look into other, more advanced network security software, especially if the data on your network is particularly sensitive, such as customer’s payment information.   Looking for more information on how to keep your network secure? Contact us. We’re here to help with anything that you... read more

Make The Cloud Count For You

If you own a small business, you have to make everything count. Any advantage you can find is important. You may have heard of the cloud, and that it comes with a number of benefits, but it can be a little confusing to determine everything that is offered. Here are a fewservices that the cloud can offer to a small business.   Storage Rather than maintaining a server room, consider storing all of your files on the cloud. You’ll still need computers and an internet connection, but you won’t need much else. This can save you a lot of money, and even more hassle. Even if you already have servers set up for files, consider using the cloud for your off-site backup copy.   Accounting Instead of hiring an entire accounting department, have it done on the cloud. Numerous companies will compete for the chance to take care of all of your accounting tasks. All you have to do is input the data into the website, and their software and staff will take care of everything else.   Human Resources Taking care of HR tasks can be a huge hassle. If you do it yourself, it could take almost all of your time, and if you pay someone else to do it, you’ll still be paying more than if you had it done online. Cloud companies can create and store all of the documents that are legally necessary to keep staff. They can also pay your employees for you, and keep track of records, such as benefits.   Interested in learning more about what the cloud can do for... read more

Keeping your information secure starts with your employees

If you have a company that relies on the Internet and email for communications, you probably want to ensure that your information is secure from outside prying eyes. There are a number of steps that you, as a business owner, can take to ensure that your company is secure from outside, but the biggest step you can take is employee cyber safety training. By ensuring that your employees, which are your most valuable asset as well as your biggest liability, know how to stay safe on the Internet, you are taking a big step toward securing your company’s information. The easiest way to provide safety training is through some sort of online, or virtual, classroom. This will provide employees with an easy to use presentation with knowledge checks and a quiz at the end to verify satisfactory knowledge of the content. This training should include information for both the workplace and home life. Whether employees are aware or not, their use of Facebook or other social networking sites and personal email at home could pose a security risk to themselves and their employer. By providing employees with a comprehensive training session that is interesting and covers a wide variety of potential cyber safety threats, you will be taking a big step toward securing your business’s online presence. CARISMA Computer Services LLC has the ability to help your business when it comes to employee cyber safety training. If you are interested in developing a training program, please contact us and we will be happy to work with your company to build the solution that best meets your... read more

Don’t Let Your Business Crumble! What to Look for in Antivirus Software

The internet is the lifeblood for many businesses and the people who run them. There’s no denying that being digital is critical for running a successful business in today’s world. And there’s no question that there is an undeniable convenience associated with doing everything online. But small businesses have a problem that they didn’t have in days past: malware and viruses that threaten to shut down your operations. If malware or a virus infects your network or devices, you will have a serious issue on your hands. Everything you do could be at risk, from the sensitive business information you rely on, to financial details, to customer information or even your services themselves. So what’s a small business owner to do? It’s important to have airtight cyber security and antivirus software solutions protecting your data and networks. There are a lot of providers out there, though. What does your business need in antivirus software solution? Protection This one is obvious. Your security solution — whichever one you choose — needs to protect your files. Don’t choose one full of holes. Pricing You can’t necessarily afford a huge system that drains your wallet. Luckily, you don’t need one. There are plenty of antivirus software solutions out there that are scalable and can fit your needs, at a price you can easily afford. Performance Some antivirus software solutions are notorious for being performance hogs. But you can’t have your devices slowed down by resource-hogging software that could interfere with getting things done. Ease of Use As a small business owner, you’re one of the busiest people on earth! Your system shouldn’t require a... read more

Your small business and the cloud..

If your small business doesn’t include some type of cloud solution in part of your operational approach, you may be missing out. A 2015 report found that 88% of business enterprises have a hybrid cloud approach. Business solutions company, Intuit, suggests that “Nearly 80 percent of U.S. small businesses will be fully adapted to cloud computing by 2020.” The percentage is high because businesses recognize that there are a number of advantages to cloud services. Here are some of them: Better Workflow When work lives in the cloud, more people can interact with it – and each other. Cloud services make data sharing and collaboration ubiquitous for a small business. Not only does this increase productivity but it improves the quality of the final product. Scalability As a small business, it’s important to be able to quickly adapt to the ebb and flow of business. Services – especially cloud computing solutions – can be scaled up or down based on the expansion of your business or the need for austerity. This level of agility allow you to react and respond to business demands quickly. Security Cloud services are located off-site and the software is managed by the provider. This means that updates, bug fixes and upgrades can be quickly deployed before they cause problems for the end user. The alternative is physically managing multiple workstations located in an office setting. This traditional approach is not only cumbersome to manage, but prone to slow response times and human error. Paperless Cloud services allow multiple people to access files and documents without the need for physical copies. This allows the business... read more

3 Tips for Managing an Effective Mobile Workforce

Mobile computing is an increasing part of the workforce. Although it’s convenient and improves productivity for employees, there are also serious security issues to contend with. A security risk can lead to hacking of company networks, and theft or proprietary information and other sensitive data. To protect shared documents and email information, there are best practices that organizations need to implement tomanaging an effective mobile workforce. By training all employees in these security measures, your company is less vulnerable to security attacks. 1. Install Anti-Malware and Firewalls Viruses and malware on a computer or network can cause havoc on a system. One of the smartest things you can do to protect mobile computing is to install top quality security software suites on every computer and mobile device. The application needs not only an anti-virus, and anti-malware program, but also a firewall. These programs work together to keep your system safe. 2. Require Authentication Another way to reduce security problems is to require authentication. Employees have to prove who they are before being able to access computers or mobile devices. Employee will need a passwords or personal identification number (PIN) to send emails or share documents. The password or PIN needs to be strong so it’s not easily guessed. A PIN or password needs at least eight characters with both lower-case and upper-case letters, numbers and symbol. The password shouldn’t be related to your name, birthday, pet’s name, or other personal information that is easy to uncover. It’s also important to keep authentication enabled on all devices in case an employee loses or misplaces his computer. Logging off of every... read more

5 Tricks for Creating Strong Passwords

Creating passwords has become a second nature to us all with the high use of technology in our everyday lives, we seldom ever put much thought into how secure it is until faced with a hacked account. Hackers are out there and whether you’re a big time business owner or working an entry-level job, your status doesn’t exactly make you more or less likely a victim. All it takes is someone obtaining your information. Are you one to skim through the password recommendations and settle for the first eight letter word to come to mind? If so, you may want to reconsider how you go about creating your passwords. It’s quite easy to make a hack resistant password. Here are five steps anyone can follow to ensure a secure account. 1.) Combination of characters: Take advantage of your random side. Majority of passwords are case-sensitive, so throwing in both uppercase and lowercase letters is a great starting defense against anyone trying to invade your account. Strong usage of numbers, symbols, and spaces create more of an in-depth guessing game as well. 2.) Refrain from repetitive use: Providing the same code for all of your accounts makes life easier since you don’t have to memorize multiple passwords, right? Try again. If a hacker manages to figure out this very password for one account, who’s to say they wouldn’t be tempted to get into others? You can protect every account you own by establishing different passwords for each one. 3.) Length is key: Most accounts have an eight character criteria, but you should aim for something longer. The thing is shorter passwords are... read more

Four Reasons Why You Should Repair Rather than Replace Your Computer

Four Reasons Why You Should Repair Rather than Replace Your Computer   There are far more than four reasons why you should repair rather than replace your computer; however, these four are certainly more than enough to consider the alternative. Less Expensive Repairs As computers become more streamlined, repairs become much easier. Completely replacing a computer means that you pay the premium brand cost with no added benefit. Upgrades are also quite possible for many generations after your base computer – you can add additional RAM, better graphics cards and even more processors much more frugally than buying a new computer with the same specs. Compatibility Insurance Replacing hardware means that your network compatibility is immediately at risk. At the very least, you will have to take time to reconfigure the rest of your business network into your new computer. This is an additional cost that you will not incur if you repair instead of replace. Security Microsoft was recently taken to task for its new Windows 10 operating system defaulting as a keystroke reporter. Keeping your old computer means keeping your preferred security. Saving Money on Backup You probably did not perform that system backup that was so necessary a few months back. Repairing your computer instead of replacing it will keep you from having to pray that your proprietary information and intellectual property can somehow be salvaged from the ashes of your dead hardware. Make sure you contact us for your next antivirus sweep, hardware repair, data backup or network upgrade. We offer services that will ensure your professional privacy and... read more

Want to Double Your Small Business’s Profit? Cloud Computing May be the Answer.

Small businesses who embrace cloud computing double their profits and increase revenue by 25% compared to those that keep their IT services completely in-house. This according to a recent study conducted by software companies Exact and Pb7 Research. The study, which surveyed 750 U.S. companies with 50 employees or less as well as companies in Europe, found that the number one reason small businesses decide to move to the cloud is enhanced security (32%) followed by lower IT costs (26%) and low maintenance requirements (23%). Once companies make the switch to the cloud the top benefits they observe, ranked on a scale of 1-5, are ease of use (4.0), easier to find information (4.0), easier to share information (3.9), and higher productivity (3.9). This is interesting information, and highlights the benefits that the cloud offers small businesses, but why did companies see such a dramatic increase in profit and revenue? The answer lies primarily in the lower IT costs and increased productivity achieved by moving services to the cloud. Lower IT costs are found not only via a reduced hardware and software spend, but also in reduced costs associated with things such as IT outages that cause downtime to the business. Employee productivity is improved because they spend less time looking for the information they need or dealing with computer outages, and more time making money for your business. Where does your small business stand? Are you in the 51% that has adopted some form of cloud computing and want to go even further? Or are you in the 49% that still hasn’t made the move to the cloud? Either way, contact us today and find... read more

Make Your Wireless Router Hack Resistant

Make Your Wireless Router Hack Resistant   Today’s set-it-and-forget-it routers are open for hackers to enter and control your home network.  Many router users never touch the router once it connects to the internet.  Depending on antivirus software to guard an intermediary between the computer and the internet is insensible.  Take action. Strengthen vulnerable entries and stop hackers in their tracks with five ways to make your passwords hack-resistant on your wireless network. Change the administration username and password By default, the router comes with a given username and password.  Those given passwords are easy to crack, and hackers know it.  Leaving those accounts unchanged gives hackers access to your entire home network.  Avoid the scary situation and change both the username and password to something tough, similar to the ones you use during online banking.  A mix of lower case, upper case, symbols, numbers, and a code longer than eight characters will do wonders. Use WPA2 encryption Encrypted passwords give a set number of dots that throws hackers off.  They’ll think it’s the exact number when it’s really longer or shorter than it appears.  WPA2 encryption is stronger than WPA and adding no encryption at all.  It protects the router and wireless activity. Set a network key Listed under networks, computers attract routers’ wi-fi around the area.  Just click on the network, press connect, and presto.  You’re using someone else’s wi-fi without their knowledge.  However, with a network key, no one can enter without a password.  Many routers have a network key listed under the router; we advise you to change this.  Like the administration tip, choose a... read more

CARISMA Computer Services is hiring!

9/29/2015 CARISMA Computer Services, best of bucks 2014 and 2015, is growing and seeking to hire a talented and motivated help desk/computer technician. Please submit all inquiries via e-mail to support@carisma.net. read more

What anti-virus software does your business need?

What Does Your Business Need in an Anti-virus Software? Here Are Three Things to Consider   You wonder: what does your business need in an antivirus software. We can come up with three things to consider: First: Anti-virus software protects devices so it’s important to protect each of your stand-alone and networked computers with anti-virus software.  Attacks carried out by attaching malware to emails are on the decline and very much old-school but they still account for about 3% of attacks. In addition, anti-virus software can warn users who attempt to contact a known malicious site or when an outside entity tries to hijack the system. Second: If you and your employees use mobile devices to connect to the internet, exposure to data theft is certainly a possibility. Smart phones are basically hand-held computers that employees use to contact the internet every day. Smart phones need an anti-virus software just like your desktop does, especially if you download data from the internet to the smart phone and then from the smart phone to the desktop. Malware can easily transfer from one to the other during that download/upload process. Mobile versions of anti-virus software are available. Third: Head in the clouds? Many businesses today use some sort of cloud-based data storage system. Whether you are a non-profit using Akubo or Giftworks for managing your database of membership rolls and donor lists or if you use Dropbox or Googledocs to send documents back and forth between your employees and your clients, anti-viral software is still relevant. While cloud-based systems have their own cyber-security systems in place to protect your data while... read more

Cloud Services for Small Business’s

What are the types of cloud services available to small businesses? If you’re considering migrating some of your business’s computing operations to the cloud, you’re far from alone in the small business universe. Forbes has compiled an astounding array of statistics and predictions, among them, that by 2020, 78% of the country’s small businesses will have adapted to cloud computing, joining the 37% who are already on board. Next year alone, they expect the SMB cloud computing and services market to grow from this year’s $43 billion to $55 million. This begs the question, what are the types of cloud s services that can benefit your business? And how will they benefit you? According to the same article, the top ten functions used presently or expected to be implemented by small businesses in the next 12 months are #10: HR – with 37% already there #9: Product Management – 39% #8: Operations – 44% #7: Customer Care – 48% #6: Sales – 50% #5: Marketing – 52% #4: IT: 54% – (which represents a giant leap of faith) #3: Web/eCommerce – 55% #2: Office Tools/Productivity – 56% #1: (drum roll please) – eMail/Collaboration Software Who Benefits? If you have a small IT department that is perpetually overworked and haggard from being on call for maintaining your company’s key systems, your techs as well as the whole company will be happy with the delivery of IT enhancements that keep the system up and running. And if you are responsible for the budget, you’ll appreciate how subscription-based pricing supplies predictable costs for budgeting. The fact that migrating to the cloud brings... read more

4 Signs That it is Time to Expand Your Network

As your business grows it is important to expand systems to meet the current demands. It can be challenging to determine when it is time to grow your network. Below are some clear signs that it is time to upgrade or expand your business network. This will help you answer the question, “If your business is growing, should your network grow too?” Signs that you have outgrown your network Slow internet: If you find your internet speed is to slow, it is likely time to upgrade to a faster connection. This becomes an issue particularly with data-intensive work. There are a number of options available for expanding bandwidth and dissolving this problem. Frequent crashing: If your computers are crashing frequently, it is time to invest in some new equipment. This may seem obvious, but consistently crashing computers will negatively affect productivity. Crashing computers are a sign of outdated equipment or software. In order to keep up with current standards, you may need to upgrade. Slow Wi-Fi: With the popularity of mobile phones accessing wireless applications, it is common for wireless systems to become bogged down. If you find that your Wi-Fi connection is slow, it may be time upgrade to a new wireless access point. Data storage: When you find your business is running out of storage space, consider adding more space. There are a variety of excellent options available today. Online data storage has become a popular solution. You may be in a situation where you are expecting growth in the near future. In this circumstance, it is helpful to be proactive and expand your network before the... read more

Cyber Safety Training for Employees

Making sure that your employees know about cyber safety can be daunting, but it needs to happen. As technology has become the most progressive aspect of business, it has also become the most vulnerable, making cyber security the single most important type of security. Ensuring that your employees know how to use online technologies safely is the first step to protecting your company’s information. Here are some tips for cyber safety training: Talk to your employees. This might seem obvious, but the only way your employees can know about the importance of cyber security is if you tell them. Have frequent discussions with your employees about the types of cyber attacks and the possible consequences of a breach in cyber security. Make sure your employees know their responsibilities to keep company information secure. Create routines. Set a date every few months for employees to change their passwords. Train employees to instinctively lock devices when they leave the area. Set procedures in case of an attack and have regular reminders. The more familiar employees are with the protocols, the more diligent they will be about following them. Solicit feedback. How your employees perceive company policies with regards to cyber security affect how diligently they will follow those policies. If they don’t understand why they are being asked to do something, they are less likely to be meticulous about doing it. Thus, being able to provide explanations and alter the guidelines based upon feedback is essential. Overall, if you approach cyber security in a focused, detail-oriented, and receptive way, you will be able to effectively train your employees to reduce the risks your company faces. Contact us for more information about... read more

Here are 5 Ways to Make Your Passwords Hack Resistant

If you use the same password for everything or your favorite password is LetMeIn, you’re doing it wrong. To safeguard against identity theft and other cyber crime, pay attention to password security. The following are 5 ways to make your passwords hack resistant: Never use personal information in a password. That would include your name, birthday, Social Security Number or anything that hackers can socially engineer from your Facebook account, for example. Use longer passwords with eight or more characters. Lengthy passwords are more resistant to brute-force attacks. Do not use plain English dictionary words. Hackers rely on electronic dictionaries to crack passwords. If you must access a service with an easy-to-remember password, try using random characters with the first letters of a saying or poem. For example: @RaRvAbTpIhBiKiT# (“@Roses are red/Violets are blue/This password is hard/But I know it, Too.#”). Go the dual route. When available on a service you access, go for using both a traditional password with some other follow-up authentication that a thief cannot access or use. This could be anything from providing a PIN or answering a personal question. As an additional safeguard, use a ridiculous answer to a personal authentication question. Example: Q: What is the name of the city in which you were married? A: Lower Slobovia. Create obscure, mixed character passwords. Mixing upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters and creating a distinct password for each service you access all add obstacles to hackers. Consider using password manager software like 1Password to simplify your password management. Finally, don’t disclose your passwords to anyone. It is also a very good idea to have a printed list of your passwords locked away in a secure... read more

What to Do if Your Computer Has a Virus: A Few Steps in the Right Direction

We’ve all heard of it before – the dreaded computer virus. There are many different viruses that can be contracted, but one thing is consistent, they are bad for your computer! Even a cautious internet user can come across a virus at some point, so what should you do if your computer has a virus? Here at Carisma we have a few tips to get you started with the virus removal process: Install Antivirus Software If you already have antivirus software, skip on ahead. But if not, this is the first step to diagnosing your problem and getting on the road to recovery. A good antivirus software will scan through your entire computer and compile a list of potentially problematic files. Quarantine Infected Files This will essentially put the bad files in “time out”. They will not be able to damage your computer further, and then you can have the antivirus software delete them. Sometimes, one infected file downloaded to your computer can download additional problematic files, so make sure to wipe out all suspicious files. Run in Safe Mode Most computers come with the option to boot up in “safe mode”. This setting allows the computer to run with only the most basic and necessary functions – so the idea is that the virus won’t turn on. Conducting a virus scan in this mode can find the more difficult viruses and remove them. To run in Safe Mode press F8 while booting up your computer and select “Safe Mode” from the list that appears. Restore Computer If you’ve tried and tried and nothing seems to be effective, the last ditch effort you can... read more

3 Ways To Prevent Viruses and Keep Your Computer Safe

Today more than ever we are choosing to live our lives on our computers. In the course of just a day, most of us bank online, share photos and reveal sensitive personal information about ourselves without even thinking about it. Businesses reliant on computers are at great risk of theft, viral infection and losing valuable documents. The need for virus prevention and secure computing is greater than ever. Here are some great tips on how to prevent viruses and keep your computer secure: Make Sure You Install a High Quality Antivirus System – Don’t trust the antivirus system that came with your computer. If what’s on your computer is important to you, make sure you install a business-grade system that’s proven to work. Real Time Anti-spyware Protection Is Vital – There is an abundance of free anti-spyware products out there, but they won’t give your computer the protection it needs. Seek out a professional-grade anti-spyware program so you can rest assured your valuable computer assets are protected. Make Sure You Perform Daily Scans – Great antivirus software will only work if you perform scans on a daily basis. Your computer is under constant attack, so make sure it’s protected by putting effective software to use. Carisma is a full-service technology service provider that specializes in helping small to medium sized businesses in Bucks and Montgomery counties with their tech and IT needs. What sets Carisma apart from our competitors is our dedication to great customer service, state of the art computers and superior knowledge of the threats that computers face today. For more info on what Carisma can do for your business, contact us... read more

The Employee Role in Cyber Safety

Common wisdom about hacking and corporate systems is that if you have not been hacked yet, you will be at some point. There are things that you can do to reduce the possibility and severity of such an attack.  In security circles this is called reducing the attack surface.  One of the largest attack surfaces is your people, and since you do not want to get rid of your people, you can reduce the attack surface through proper employee cyber safety training. There are active and passive techniques your employees can use to spot and counter cyber threats: Active: Know what to do when faced with a threat. This may include knowing what to do with a suspicious attachment. Passive: Learn to spot a suspicious attachment, and to distinguish it from a legitimate attachment. Active: Contact the designated security point of contact (POC) in the event of an attempted security breach. Chances are good that if a hacker fails to get through security with one employee they will try with another. Passive: Note mistakes a hacker will make. Hackers are intelligent people, but they are not perfect. A hacker may learn the names of internal systems just by listening closely to a support call or asking innocent sounding questions. They may then call back and refer to a system by name and ask for a change. They may be good, but probably won’t be perfect.  They’ll make mistakes in their assumptions about the system, and that should arouse suspicions. Active: Don’t correct a caller about the capabilities of an internal system.  A hacker will learn from speaking to you and... read more

Everything You Need to Know about Your Firewall

There is a great amount of danger to those who decide to connect their computer to the internet without having a firewall in place. Since the internet is rather risky at times, it is important that you protect both your computer and your personal information from attacks that may surface. Here are a few things that you need to know about your computer’s firewall. How it Works A firewall can either be hardware or software. It works to control the information that passes between the internet and your computer. With a firewall, information is filtered before it is transferred to the internet and the firewall only allows authorized data to be received or sent. A firewall can also prevent computers or connections from connecting to your computer. It can also hide the unique IP address of your computer, which can make it invisible to others. Hardware or Software The difference between hardware firewalls and software firewalls is that software can be installed directly onto a single computer. There will be no need for any hardware other than the firewall software. With a hardware firewall, it is possible to have a router that can protect several computers at once. Typically, it is suggested that both a software firewall and a wireless router be used for protecting a computer. Is a Firewall Enough? While a firewall is important to the protection of your data, it is also important that you have an anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed on your computer. There are many protection packages that offer all three forms of protection and these are the best option to choose. Make... read more

The Importance Of Data Backup And Disaster Recovery Planning For A Disaster

Large and small disasters happen on a regular basis. Small disasters affect only a few people and may seem unimportant to most. These are the disasters that make or break companies. They are the reason every company needs to recognize the true importance of data backup and disaster recovery planning. Small Disasters Loom Large Small disasters turn into large problems without proper preparation. When a large disaster strikes an area, it is all over the news. Customers understand reasonable delays while recovery takes place. Small disasters may go unreported or receive little news coverage. A customer that is not local will not expect any delays in service. This is a case where data backup and planned disaster recovery is the best option for serving customers. Large Disasters When a disaster occurs over a large area, recovery takes time and effort. Customers still need the products or services a company provides. Keeping market share depends on the speed of recovery. After a company has their utilities restored, a disaster recovery plan is able to get them up and running faster. This allows for patching in data backups and getting employees back to work quickly. It further enhances customer retention. Data Backup And Restoration Information is a priceless commodity for a company and backup of that data is essential. Keeping a comprehensive database backup at another site makes sense for disaster recovery. It allows a company to quickly get hardware and recover their database after a disaster. A company needs a plan to acquire hardware and load the company database for quick recovery. We specialize in data backup and disaster recovery. We have developed the... read more

The Cost of Ignoring Computer and Network Security Cannot be Underestimated

Are you aware that your local hardware store, your favorite restaurant, and even your attorney’s office are potential targets for cyber criminals? Small and medium-sized businesses are at risk of hackers accessing money and confidential data as never before. According to the U.S. Congress’ House Committee on Small Business, the threat to American small businesses and the cost of ignoring proper computer and network security and maintenance is real and rising. However, there are steps that you can take today to minimize that risk: Implement a strong password generating program for your business and all employees Install next-generation firewalls and e-mail anti-phishing solutions Encrypt employee smartphones so data is secure if phones are lost or stolen Install a consistently monitored and updated anti-virus and malware system Put a system in place that will recognize a cyber threat or data breach and quickly respond as necessary Have a network security team in place ready to respond to an emergency Every small or medium-sized business needs a multi-layered data threat management program designed to stop today’s broad array of cyber attacks. The good news is, these technologies are now cost-effective and easily managed by a competent and reputable computer network security team. There are also the possible costs of lost business because of the lack of a sophisticated data security system. There is a growing divide between large organizations and small businesses when it comes to information security, and hackers know it. Cyber criminals are increasingly targeting small businesses because they can gain access to larger companies by breaching smaller, less secure enterprises. Thus, companies lacking data security protocols are potentially disqualifying themselves from... read more

Is Your Staff Putting Your Business at Risk or are You Managing an Effective Mobile Workforce?

There’s no doubt that mobile devices have changed the way we do business. We use our mobile devices to: Deploy our social media campaigns and posts Research company data Participate in business meetings View presentations Communicate with clients via text, email, phone call and social media Transport files and data to print it out; and to manipulate the data in other ways on larger devices And so much more Because of this, business owners must get a hold on mobile device security to keep corporate data and communications safe. Managing an effective mobile workforce means that you can experience the numerous benefits of incorporating mobile technology into your business practices, without experiencing any of the risks. To do this, you must determine whether workers will bring their own devices, (BYOD), or whether you will provide corporate owned personally enabled, (COPE), devices. And you must have control over what happens when your team loses a device for any reason, (including theft, misplacement or device malfunction). Do you have a protocol in place for when an employee loses a device? Have you put this policy in writing and trained your staff on how to carry it out? Are you sure they understand how important it is to follow the policy and asked them to sign a copy of it, acknowledging that they understand the consequences of not following your instructions? BYOD’s are historically harder to manage, so many owners and managers opt for COPE devices. COPE devices give you greater security control because you choose the devices and program them yourself. Do you require password protection on all devices your staff uses regardless of whether your... read more

Massive IRS Breach Underscores the Cost of Ignoring Proper Network Security

Between February and mid-May of this year, the personal information of over 100,000 American taxpayers may have been compromised in a massive security breach of IRS systems. John Koskinen, IRS commissioner, stated his belief that organized criminal syndicates were responsible for the breach, and that these criminal organizations are the same entities that plague the financial industry at large. Regardless of where such security threats originate, they underscore an important truth. Data security is a top concern for anyone using the web, from individuals to large government agencies. The cost of ignoring proper computer and network security and maintenance is incalculable in terms of liability for companies experiencing a breach and individuals who may become cyber victims because of company data breaches. Businesses with data security in mind do well to remember that hackers and cyber criminals are moving ahead with use of cutting-edge technology. If businesses fail to move ahead technologically at a similar pace, it is easy to see why cyber criminals will prevail. In the Information Age, data is a valuable commodity which must be protected proactively. It is imperative for companies to have a cohesive, comprehensive strategy for data breach protection. To form such a strategy requires an in-depth analysis of vulnerabilities in business processes and data management procedures. Risk management protocols must include rigorous testing of security measures in place, and ideally, will build upon current protection strategies by implementing new protections as they become available. Robust firewalls and virtual private networks (VPNs) can do much to limit the exposure of your sensitive data to cyber criminals by granting access only to network traffic that meets... read more

Starbucks Outage Punctuates the Cost of Business Network Failures

The coffee giant Starbucks brought the cost of ignoring proper computer and network security and maintenance to national attention when it suffered a major computer system failure. Thousands of its stores–actually, about eight thousand– across the United States and Canada closed early on a Friday in late April. Due to a network outage, cashiers were unable to accept payment. Some stores closed, others simply gave away their coffee. Signs on the counters at Starbucks retail vendors announced that debit was unavailable. Starbucks employees couldn’t access cash drawers during the outage either because they are computer-controlled. The company resolve the outage late that Friday night, after several hours of downtime. The glitch affected registers at 7,400 company-operated stores in the U.S. and 1,000 in Canada. Starbucks said “a failure during a daily system refresh” caused the outage. A company spokesman reassured the public that the problem was an internal issue that didn’t entail an external security breach, reported the Christian Science Monitor. It’s speculated that each store may have lost about 10 percent of its total daily revenue during the sales processing computer outage. If those rough estimates are correct, Starbucks lost around $3 million on Friday due to the computer problems, according to calculations published by GeekWire. It’s unthinkable to operate any business without the assistance and support of technology. But, the Starbucks incident reminds us all to review the questions: How secure is my computer system? Is my business data backed up? What’s my plan-of-action if a network outage strikes? Let us bring the latest technology to bear on your important business transactions. Our network support is award-winning. We hope you’ll contact us to review your computer and network security before an expensive and damaging outage... read more

Managing a More Effective Mobile Workforce

American industries are less dependent on brick and mortar establishments and being tethered to desks than ever before, however with these additional freedoms comes a lot of uncharted territory for managers, and project managers. Managing an effective mobile workforce comes with finding the balance between flexibility and productivity, and understanding what tools are perfect to make your staff as effective, efficient, and productive as possible. According to Forbes, “The key is to relinquish control and instead focus on cultivating teamwork, creativity, responsiveness, and, ultimately, productivity.” How to take your management tasks virtual: Engage with Virtual Meeting Platforms: Losing in person communication doesn’t have to hinder your business, or management capabilities in any way, virtual meeting platforms enable you to achieve that person-to-person interaction, and heightened levels of accountability from whatever distance is required. Platforms like Meeting Burner, UberConference, LogMeIn, and WebEx offer features like screen-sharing, chatting through the computer or phone, larger meeting and webinar capabilities, and organizing tools. Tools: In order to operate an effective mobile workforce employees need the right tools; reliable technology like new model smartphones, tablets, laptops, and pcs, mobile hotspots, in-home high-speed internet, reliable apps, and access to secure infrastructures. Hybrid, and private cloud computing platforms provide an optimal level of security, and enable employees to safely access confidential information remotely. Not only does cloud computing increase security, it greatly improves a company’s data storage capabilities as well. Reward: Just because your staff is out of sight, doesn’t mean they’re out of mind. According to Entrepreneur, “Every company needs a strategic reward system for employees that addresses these four areas: compensation, benefits, recognition, and appreciation.”... read more

The Importance of Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Planning

It is easy to under-appreciate the importance of data backup and disaster recovery planning. That is to say, everyone who runs a business understands the importance of data backup and disaster recovery, but may not place enough emphasis on the planning. So what is a data backup and disaster recovery plan? It is literally a detailed written plan which covers every requirement in every imaginable class of scenario to get you back online with your data intact as soon as possible. Let’s look at these elements in order. At a minimum a data backup and disaster recovery plan needs to specificy relevant policies, procedures, vendors and key personnel. A plan must be written for a variety of reasons. Your insurance, auditors or other stakeholders may want to see it and there may be questions of liability without it. A written plan will also help you spot gaps in the plan. For example, if you will “replace all of your computers” as part of a recovery plan, what if the disaster is widespread (for example a tornado) and every business in the area is also replacing computers? Will there be enough to go around? Who are your vendors? For data recovery, you need to consider where your data is stored. Is it in the cloud? From where will you connect to the cloud? What if electricity is intermittent? Where will you set up shop in the interim? What if the cloud provider itself suffers the disaster and you cannot access the provider? The scenarios are many and varied, and it is not until you start to write them down that... read more

The High Cost of Ignoring Proper Computer and Network Security and Maintenance

We’ve all seen the headlines about cyber criminals hacking into high-profile movie studios,major retailers and financial institutions, but private companies are also at risk to these types of network security breaches. You may think that won’t happen to your company, but according to the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), one in five small businesses falls victim to cyber crime every year. In other words, it is quite probable that your business may be hacked in one way or another. The costs of ignoring proper computer and network security and maintenance are high, and they are not only measured in financial terms, but also as losses to your business’ reputation. A 2014 study found the average cost of a cyber attack on a company with less than 100 employees to be just over one million dollars. Can your company withstand that type of financial hit? In addition to those financial losses, a data breach can mean stolen credit card information, client and company data, and the possible loss of network services for an unknown amount of time. Data breaches of that sort often result in the loss of customers and untold damage to the trust-factor and reputation of your company. The good news is a complete computer and network security support plan can keep those cyber wolves away from your door. There are also business advantages when you can confidently state to your clients and customer base that their valuable data and assets are protected by a full cyber security system. We are honored to have received the 2014 CARISMA Best of Bucks Mont Award for Computer Repair and Network... read more

Severe Thunderstorm Alert

It is that time of year again… It is a rite of spring for me, and should be for you too. Check and test the UPS batteries and power protection for the computer systems. Especially on a day like today when severe storms are forecast. When lightning and wind break power lines the results can be devastating to your sensitive computer equipment. Surges and voltage spikes can ruin your computer’s power supplies, network switches and network interface cards. The downtime can persist well past the blackout IF you’re unprepared. Here are some recommendations from the pros that will keep your expensive IT equipment safe. 1) Make sure your battery backup units are in good working order. 2) Be certain the proper management software for your battery unit is installed and running on your servers/computers and that the battery units and software are properly communicating with one another via the data cable(s). 3) Be sure you have enough run time in your battery unit to allow your computer systems to safely shut themselves down during a power outage. 4) Invest in surge protection for your network switches and routers. Voltage spikes can travel through network lines and damage network cards as well as power supplies. 5) Keep a spare network switch around. They are cheap and can save the day if you lose one to a power spike. The pros at CARISMA can help you with any / all of these recommendations and more. Best of Bucks 2014 for Computer Repair / Network Support. Give us a ring at 215-CARISMA or email us at... read more

Computer and Network Maintenance: Fix it Before it Goes Wrong

Importance of regular computer and network maintenance Regular computer and network maintenance often feels like more trouble than it’s worth.  After all, it’s not broken.  Why work on something that’s running just fine?  Unfortunately, failing to take care of basic computer maintenance can cause more problems in the long run than your business wants to deal with–including problems that can be very costly. Antivirus software should be carefully maintained to ensure the best possible performance.  This doesn’t mean that you have to pay a fortune for antivirus software, but it does mean that when your subscription expires, it should be updated.  Antivirus software that has gone out of date isn’t protecting your computers or network from new threats–and that means that your system is vulnerable. Data backup should be completed regularly.  How often you back up your data will depend on your individual business, but remember:  every time you lose your existing data, you also lose all the work that went into inputting it.  A single day’s lost work can have a dramatic effect on your company’s bottom line. Software upgrades:  You don’t always have to be running the latest and greatest version of every piece of software.  In fact, it’s often wise to let someone else shake out the “bugs” in a new piece of software before you use it across your business.  However, there are many programs that won’t run properly after a while if you don’t update them–and eventually, many companies will stop supporting old versions of their software.  Make sure that you’re performing software upgrades regularly and on schedule to make sure that everything keeps running... read more

Best of Bucks 2015 is coming !

  Wow, hard to believe a year has passed already.  Please help CARISMA repeat as THE BEST of 2014 for Computer Repair and Network Support. Mark your calendars, voting begins on Sunday May 3, 2015... read more

Importance of Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Planning: How Quickly Can Your Business Get Back to Normal?

A single aspect connects businesses of all shapes and sizes—technology.  Computers, networks, tablets, workstations, and so many more pieces of technology are common throughout businesses of every shape and size.  All those computers are used for a variety of tasks, but storing data is one of the biggest. The importance of data backup and disaster recovery planning is one area that many companies know they should be prepared for, but too often find themselves in a reactive position once the unexpected strikes.  The fact is when the computers are down, the business is not making any money and all that data could be gone for good.  Therefore, data backup and recovery is one area where every business should be proactive. Being Proactive Having a data recovery and disaster recovery plan in place means more than being ready for a computer virus event.  Bad weather, natural disasters, and other unforeseen situations can creep up at any time.  Businesses need to be agile to recover quickly and get operations back to normal.  The process might not be as simple as flipping a switch, but taking steps to simplify the process as much as possible could get the downtime reduced significantly.  Minutes and hours matter, it is as simple as that. Answer the Questions Up Front Businesses should be asking questions regarding their technology.  What data needs to be backed up?  What order do the machines have to be restored in?  Is there anything else needed in the event of a catastrophic situation?  Preparing for the unexpected is much easier to do before anything has happened, which means having a plan in place can... read more

Crypto Locker Mutates Again

We’ve seen yet another mutation of the crypto locker virus.  This threat is very real and virus and malware scanners are not picking it up yet. Is your data safe?  Crypto locker can attach to your server via network drives and destroy all of your corporate files. Are yours backed up daily? Hourly?  Not sure? Call us for a free consultation. We’ll validate your existing backup system and show you whether you can recover your data in the event of an emergency.... read more

Importance of Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Planning: How Quickly Can Your Business Get Back to Normal?

A single aspect connects businesses of all shapes and sizes—technology.  Computers, networks, tablets, workstations, and so many more pieces of technology are common throughout businesses of every shape and size.  All those computers are used for a variety of tasks, but storing data is one of the biggest. The importance of data backup and disaster recovery planning is one area that many companies know they should be prepared for, but too often find themselves in a reactive position once the unexpected strikes.  The fact is when the computers are down, the business is not making any money and all that data could be gone for good.  Therefore, data backup and recovery is one area where every business should be proactive. Being Proactive Having a data recovery and disaster recovery plan in place means more than being ready for a computer virus event.  Bad weather, natural disasters, and other unforeseen situations can creep up at any time.  Businesses need to be agile to recover quickly and get operations back to normal.  The process might not be as simple as flipping a switch, but taking steps to simplify the process as much as possible could get the downtime reduced significantly.  Minutes and hours matter, it is as simple as that. Answer the Questions Up Front Businesses should be asking questions regarding their technology.  What data needs to be backed up?  What order do the machines have to be restored in?  Is there anything else needed in the event of a catastrophic situation?  Preparing for the unexpected is much easier to do before anything has happened, which means having a plan in place can... read more

Virus Prevention, Removal and Secure Computing For The 21st Century

Virus Prevention Removal and Secure Computing When most of us think of computer viruses, we tend to focus on virus prevention, malware removal and secure computing for our home systems, but the recent expansion and sophistication of cyber crime has vastly raised the stakes for online security in the business place. A 2014 internet security report found 31% of all cyber attacks in 2012 happened to businesses that had less than 250 employees. Security has improved over the past decade, but cyber crime is evolving as well. Computer criminals are increasingly moving away from spam as a delivery vehicle for viruses and malware and are now using web and browser-based infections. They’ve discovered it’s very easy to infect insecure websites, thus enabling them to reach into entire company networks and everyone who visits them. Lucky for your business, there is good news. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)the first step in cyber security is to enact secure computing policies, keep them up to date, and to ensure your employees adhere to them. The next step – and one that is no less important – is to make sure your website and networking software are protected with comprehensive internet security that has multiple layers of security. Cyber crimes are not going away any time soon, and in fact, their reach is expanding. Businesses have a responsibility to themselves and their customers to keep their websites, networks and internal data secure from intruders. The bad guys may come knocking, but if you have a comprehensive security support system in place, they can be stopped. We are honored to have earned the 2014 Best of... read more

Importance of Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Planning: Downtime as the Enemy

Importance of Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Planning The importance of data backup and disaster recovery planning might sound like a repeated mantra to you if you’ve heard your IT team harping about it. Or, perhaps you’ve distanced yourself from IT technicians lately except when something goes wrong. Only then do you perhaps panic about what worse things might happen in the future. As we’ve seen in the media lately, anything can happen today in the world of technology. With your business welfare depending on this technology, you’re already living on the edge without safeguards. But with proper data backup and a disaster recovery plan, your risk goes down exponentially. The important thing is fighting off your worst enemy in business: Downtime. It’s easy to get complacent about data backup and disaster recovery plans in your budget if nothing has happened to you before. Yet, when you see the statistics about how much businesses lose when experiencing downtime, you might change your point of view. The Eye-Opening Statistics on Downtime from Disasters CMO Essentials reported earlier this year on the exact total it costs the average business when downtime occurs. Currently, it’s as much as $164,000 per hour, which is an astounding figure if you lose your data and have no business continuity plan in place. When you don’t, downtime has potential of going on for a full day, if not even several days. By taking a look at what happened to Sony Pictures late this last year, you see how downtime sometimes goes longer than you expect. With unpredictable scenarios from man-made or natural disasters, you never know... read more

New CryptoWall Attack Uses Malicious Help File Attachments

This threat is very real and businesses all around Bucks and Montgomery County are falling victim to it and losing critical business data.   We have seen three of these infections just this week, so I thought we might blog about it. A new CryptoWall attack  has hit end-users with phishing emails containing malicious .chm attachments that infect networks with the latest and most sophisticated file-encrypting ransomware. The latest take on this is a fake “incoming fax report” email looks to the user to come from a machine.  If the user opens the attachment  the malware encrypts the files of all mapped drives and demands about $500 in ransom to be paid in Bitcoin We recommend to add .chm files to the list of potentially malicious extensions in your spam filters if it is not in there already.   The best cure is prevention on this one.  Make certain you have good backups of your servers ever night. If you are not sure you do, contact us right away and we’ll make sure you... read more

Harness the Benefits of Scalable Cloud/Client Services, Grow Your Business

The Benefits of Scalable Cloud/Client Services A business profits when it makes decisions based on a clear understanding of the benefits of scalable cloud/client services. Consumer technology has boomed, and businesses that take full advantage of the benefits it offers can pull ahead of the competition. What benefits can scalable cloud/client services offer? Undoubtedly, using the cloud brings many advantages. Some of these include: Cutting costs. Scalable cloud/client services let businesses grow organically. This mitigates the need for increased spending on additional hardware, software and/or more memory to handle the data that mushrooms as your business increases. Increased Flexibility. Scalable cloud/client services move with your business. Rather than relying principally on hardware that can quickly become out-dated, working from scalable cloud services promotes the ability to respond to changing needs, changing times–fast. Improved Convenience. Using the cloud makes your important data available to you no matter where you are, all the time. All you need is a connection to the Internet. When you’re not tied to a desk, you can become more productive, working with greater ease, right on the spot. Direct access. Scalable cloud/client services streamline the work flow. Teamwork is easier when all team members can access the cloud, collaborate virtually and make shared decisions in a timely manner. Fewer people can accomplish more, faster. Networking across space. Scalable cloud/client services let you to overcome restrictions of geography and work with others across the miles, bypassing the expense and time-consuming effort of travel. Easier project supervision. Supervisors can monitor important business programs and projects with ease by using scalable cloud/client services. Knowledge is power; and, the cloud makes access to information easy. Supervisors stay appraised conveniently. We’re convinced that scalable cloud/client services have so much to offer. These are just some of the... read more

Hacking And Computer Security: Recent Data Breaches Should Put Companies On Notice

Hacking and Computer Security Most IT managers understand the importance of data security. Unfortunately, they sometimes have trouble gaining buy-in from senior management. It’s often the case the IT security is viewed as an unreasonable expense. However, if there is a data breach, then the cost of litigation and settlement for damages (especially if credit numbers were exposed during the incident) can far exceed the cost of sound data security. Management should view the cost of proper IT security as it views business insurance expense: annoying, but necessary. Beyond that, here are several examples of recent data security breaches that serve as anecdotal evidence that the threat of hacking is real and computer security is important. Senior Health Partners in New York City recently reported a data breach that affected about 2,700 patients. The breach occurred after a business partner’s cell phone and laptop were stolen. Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley, California reported a missing laptop that may contain the data of almost 8,000 patients who received dermatology and ophthalmology services. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee gained access to the names and addresses of 80,000 members of TRH Health Plan. The company inappropriately used that data for marketing purposes. St. Peter’s Health Partners, based in Albany, experienced a data breach that could have affected as many as 5,000 patients after a manager’s cell phone was stolen. Orthopedic device manufacturer DJO Global reported a data breach after a laptop was stolen from a consultant’s car. Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia reported that 12,500 members might have had their personal data accessed after paper records were inappropriately... read more

Hot IT trends for 2015

IT trends for 2015 Here are 6 Hot IT trends for 2015 : Accessibility of user-friendly computing is on the rise like never before. People from all walks of life are using technology at a higher rate.  Most are using or becoming more familiar with all forms of social media.  Hence it is only logical that the simplest way to encourage that trend would be to develop user-friendly processes in digital computing technology. Wearable technology has come a long way since the calculator watch back in the 70’s. There are watches that calculate how many calories you have burned, what your blood pressure is and what your heart rate is. This technology is really going to take off this year. Escalation of development of mobile and electronic device apps is inevitable. Electronic devices are upgraded practically daily so of course mobile app development must keep pace with the many upgrades. Computing security comes with the territory of such an incredible dependency on technology and threats of cyber attacks. The trend to save files or completely conduct business in the cloud has already begun and will only increase with time. Increase in money-saving computing technology services is on the rise this year. Business owners are investigating whether it is more profitable to hire an IT person or contract with an IT company to handle all of their computing needs. There will be more analytics tools this year. The definition of analytics is the method of logical analysis. The analytics process will become more automated. Businesses who have websites or any social media pages are interested in how those forms of marketing... read more

Protect your company with a cyber bodyguard

You may have heard the recent news about hacking and computer security scares and thought, “my company isn’t huge like Sony or Home Depot, so I am not a target”. That is exactly what hackers would like you to think. Anyone who is unprepared is a likely victim. The truth is, we are all susceptible. Financial institutions, news organizations, and even the U.S. Government have been infiltrated. Security breaches are expected to rise as we become more reliant on connectivity, and criminals are more aware of our weaknesses. Even if you have a data backup and recovery system in place, a security breach can cost your company valuable time until you are back up and running. Once detected, the average time to resolve a cyber attack is 45 days. If time = money, 45 days = a whole lot of money. Are you willing to risk that kind of loss because you think it’s “unlikely”? Even your own employees can unknowingly welcome an attack by falling for phishing traps, and every company has information that others want. CARISMA is like your personal cyber bodyguard. We not only protect you from attacks, we’re there to get you back on your feet when disaster strikes. We take care of your company’s computers and network security, so you are free to focus on what you do best: running your business. As the 2014 winner of the Best of Bucks Mont for Computer Repair & Network Support, you know you’re in the hands of trusted professionals. We provide outstanding customer service, and operate as consultants to help you find the best, most cost-effective solutions for your business. In addition to cyber protection and recovery, CARISMA specializes in: Computer repairs and upgrades On-site... read more

Hacking and Computer Security for Small Businesses

Hacking and Computer Security have dominated the news recently, with Sony making the front page of any “hacking” search, Germany receiving hacking flack for their support of Ukraine, and local news outlets being targeted by small operators. With all different actors, motives, and victims, these hacking occurrences demonstrate that any business can be targeted by someone with a motive and a smattering of cyber-security knowledge.  How can you protect your small business against situations like these? No one can be 100% safe from cyber-attacks, but building a system of prevention through internal and external means your organization can greatly reduce the probability of falling prey to hackers. Does your organization have up to date software and hardware? Does your organization have adequate internal security systems to prevent insider jobs? Are there adequate software and firewall protections in place to prevent casual hackers and malicious programs? Are there adequate system backups in case your data is lost to a successful hack? Out-of-date software and hardware are the most common entry points for hackers, malware or viruses. Companies update their programs regularly to patch holes that have been discovered, but after a certain amount of time, companies can become complacent and stop updating old software and hardware. The most recent of these is Windows XP, Microsoft’s longest lasting operating system to date. Many businesses are still using XP, although it is no longer supported by Microsoft, leaving the businesses vulnerable. The best plans for protection are vulnerable to people inside the organization who have systems access. Using 3rd party protection and keeping certain parts of security limited to key employees can help protect against an insider attack. In fact, using a 3rd party for key protection, servers... read more

Minimizing Business Computing Expenses For Greater Profits

Minimizing Business Computing Expenses Minimizing Business Computing Expenses is a big concern for any business. Here are some ways you can begin to operate your office at a reduced cost. Data Storage: Welcome to the Cloud Maintaining private servers at your business can add to your expenses. With cloud storage, maintenance expenses are minimized. You also have the added benefit of cloud storage being off site. No more lengthy back up procedures at the end of each business day or relying on employees to do the back up for you. Spam and Email Protection Sorting through email costs your business time and money. Investing in spam blockers and a reliable email server can make sure that more spam is blocked. Although it can be hard to block all of it, you can drastically reduce the amount you receive. A Healthy Business Computer System Malware and viruses can decrease the performance of your computer system. This can lead to data loss, more time spent on tasks, and your documents, records, and other information being stolen. It can be hard to judge if you have malware. If your computer seems slower than usual, you might need virus and malware removal to be performed. Carisma can scan your computer systems, remove harmful software, and add virus protection that makes sure your computer is not compromised in the future. Making sure your virus software is always up to date will save you money in the future since it takes more time and expertise to remove viruses and malware after it is already on a computer. Routine Maintenance Remember the old saying “an ounce... read more

Cloud-based computing for businesses: What it is, and what it isn’t.

Cloud-based computing for businesses Without a doubt, cloud-based computing for businesses comes with a lot of benefits. However, it also comes with a lot of myths. It’s not surprising, seeing how — to most people — the term “cloud” is new enough that they’re not sure what’s true, what isn’t, and what it even means. In a recent article, InformationAge covered some of those myths. One of the myths is that the cloud is less secure than on-premises capabilities. In actuality, there have been very few security breaches involving the public cloud. And, the article stated, those that have occurred have done so in on-premises data centers. Another myth is that the cloud is not for mission-critical workloads. The truth is, many new businesses were not only created in the cloud, but they’re run entirely in the cloud as well, the article noted. That said, is everything better in the cloud? Not necessarily, the article stated. Your overall cloud strategy should always keep in mind the cost savings. If you’re not going to realize a cost savings from moving a particular business application to the cloud, then why do it? Speaking of cloud strategy, another thing the InformationAge piece points out is that “the CEO said so” isn’t a strategy. An effective cloud strategy involves looking at your business goals, knowing the potential benefits, and mitigating the potential drawbacks. It’s about aligning your business goals with the benefits. CARISMA offers full service cloud computing options for your business. Whether you’re in need of Exchange-in-the-cloud email solutions, cloud-based desktops, or anything else cloud-based, we’re here to help. Contact us today... read more

Employees and Safe Computing in the Workplace: Why It Should Be a Priority

Employees and Safe Computing in the Workplace More than at any other time in recent history, companies are experiencing the devastation of having important data hacked from their computer systems and networks. If employees and safe computing in the workplace isn’t a priority for you now, we’re hoping that you’ll read on to find out why it should be. No one ever thinks this can happen to them but regrettably, it is a growing concern. Always being prepared with updated data reinforcement and antivirus and security services can make your computerized information as secure as possible. This should not just be a need when something unfortunate happens, but year round. “Security in the digital world is similar to security in your personal life,” says Art Gilliland, General Manager of Enterprise Security Products at HP. “Our lives are becoming more and more digital, and crime is just following that pathway.” In fact, according to the FCC, theft of digital information has ended up being so normal these days, it has surpassed physical robbery as one of the most obtrusive crimes to date. To help avoid this, keeping all of your business software current (including your Web browser) with upgrades and installing all security products your IT department recommends, is a first line of defense. Employee training can also help. In order to protect your company on the web, procedures need to be in place so they can help with keeping your computers and networks safe. The best security technology on the planet can’t help you unless employees understand their roles and responsibilities in protecting delicate information and securing company resources. With practices and policies in place that promote security and give them the capacity to recognize and avoid risks, this will be your second line... read more

Ensure Productivity with Proper Safe Computing Posture in the Workplace

Employees and Safe Computing in the Workplace Information technology has advanced at a rapid pace which means many people are using computers daily. Those involved in computer related professions are exposed to computers for long periods. The repetitive actions computers need make these professions vulnerable to strain and visual fatigue. To avoid this fatigue, adopting a suitable working position is key. This consideration provides reduced occupational health risk and will also increase the work efficiency. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, employees with disorders like carpal tunnel need a median of 11 to 16 days away to recover. To ensure the safety of employees, and safe computing in the workplace, an employer should consider seat and keyboard posture. Seat postures are tricky. Awkward seating position combined with long sitting periods increases the risk of injury. An awkward seating posture exposes a person to tightened muscles and an increased fatigue level. This extra tension increases the risk of injury and also reduces productivity and accuracy. One should always maintain a proper posture when working on a computer. This position includes having a 90 or more degrees angle at the hips and knees and resting the feet flat on either the floor or footrest. The angle between the hips and knees together with the employee seat posture should vary throughout. One should also keep the head and the neck in an upright position always even when on the phone. Keeping shoulders in a relaxed position, let elbows hang, and ensure 2-4 inches of clearance under the desk. An employee chair should have clearance behind the knees when seated against the backrest.... read more

Network and Computer Service and Support — in Almost No Time!

Network and Computer Service and Support How long does it take to fix problems with your computer network?  It may seem like forever. You know what it is like when persistent computer problems become unbearable distractions.  Perhaps you have a computer that is terribly slow in startup, processing, or downloading.  Maybe you have a connection that continues to drop at the most inopportune times, or a laptop that is repeatedly rebooting. Or how about when you can’t make it print, or you can’t access your email, or you have no connectivity to a particular server?  And then there are the uncertain security issues, like attacking viruses or vulnerable networks.  The list goes on. For those who have other things to do besides tinkering with recalcitrant computers, problem resolution can be taxing on your time.  The potential risks to your computer network are many and diverse, and unless you work with them daily as a specialist, the chances are that you will lose considerable time addressing them on your own as opposed to seeking professional assistance. Why trust your IT issues to in-house personnel with other specialties, when you can take advantage of the network and computer service and support of the experts at CARISMA Computer Services LLC?  Experienced, trained, and knowledgeable professionals at CARISMA can help turn your intractable dilemma into a quick fix. Time is money, and in the end you will find that it makes financial sense to put the best people on the job. Contact us today to find out... read more

Creating a Safe and Productive Remote Computer Access Office for Employees

Safe and productive remote computer access for employees In this world of easy internet connectivity the typical work day has changed considerably. Most companies are able to allow their employees to work from home either every day or a few days a week. It is a luxurious thought, to work from home, wearing your pajama’s, sipping coffee and listening to music or the TV. Sounds great, right? The reality of telecommuting is very different from the fantasy. In reality, working from home is just as challenging, if not MORE challenging, than working in an office. The big differences from working at home and working in an office is that yes, you could wear your PJ’s all day, you can take breaks when you want and you can listen to whatever you want. The difficulty comes in when you realize that you must stay completely focused and get the same amount of work (if not more) done in a day as you would in the office. Focusing can be a challenge at home, if you have your own office than you can close yourself off and focus but if you don’t have a great workspace, then focus can be difficult to attain. Below are some tips to finding a way to create a safe, productive remote computer access situation for employees. Safety is vital for any work space, whether it is at home or in an office. When you are working at home, it might be good to have your employer take a look at your work space to make sure that it is safe and able to foster productivity.... read more

Minimizing Business Computing Expenses: How Much Does that IT Employee Cost?

Minimizing Business Computing Expenses Congratulations on the success of your new business! It’s been expanding rapidly so that you’ve hired employees and bought them all state-of-the-art desktops. Although you like dealing with technology, you just don’t have the time anymore to install, maintain, and update the company computers. So maybe it’s time to hire a dedicated IT guy. Except, do you know how much one really costs? These figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics can clue you in. If you want somebody to handle general maintenance, a support specialist makes $47,130 per year in Pennsylvania. But you might be able to get away with paying under $27,970 for a low. If you want the very best, expect to pay $72,840 or more. Prefer someone with higher-level expertise who can set up and manage your network and overall systems? Administrators earn $76,280 annually, with a low of $45,870 and a high of $113,950. For a manager who can take charge of other computer employees, expect to pay a mean $133,480 with a range of $78,720 to $187,199. These are just salary figures. They don’t include what you’ll contribute in taxes, Social Security, and benefits. If these numbers are just a tad higher than what you have in the budget, you do have an alternative thatminimizes business expenses but still keeps your computers humming. Outsource your maintenance needs to us. We can come in on an as needed basis to do everything from installing new systems and designing networks to upgrading your software and repairing hardware. We also offer monthly retainers, which may be more cost effective. Why don’t you contact... read more