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Monthly Archives

June 2016

Why Is The Internet Running So Slowly?

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

1606-CYBER-4You pay premium prices for business class Internet, and it winds up leaking through the Ethernet like honey off of a spoon. In 2016, you need high speed Internet in order to run a successful business, so getting it back up to speed when it starts to slow down is a top priority. Here’s a quick troubleshooting guide to help you determine whether you can apply a quick fix, or if you might need to make a phone call:

Boosting Your Wifi Signal

The issue might not be your Internet connection, but your Wifi signal. It doesn’t matter how fast your web connection is when you’re too far away from your Wifi router or it’s putting out a weak signal. Plug directly into your Internet with a wired connection. If it runs fine, you may simply need to buy a more powerful router, switch to wired connections, or rearrange your office space so that your router can reach everyone who needs it.

Someone’s Doing Some Heavy Downloading

Let your employees know that business-class internet doesn’t mean “Go ahead and do all your bit torrenting at the office from now on.” Downloading twenty eight movies at once while uploading fifteen others is going to slow you down.

Do a Security Check

Your network may be infected with a worm. More so than most viruses and malware, worms can really drag your connection down to a crawl. A network scan will be able to help you root out the intruder if this is the case.

See if Someone is Stealing Your Wifi

Places of business are an easy target for Wifi thieves. You can check your router device list to see if someone is connecting without permission. If so, you can change the password, and/or switch your security settings to WPA2-AES.

Call Your Provider

Call your provider and ask there are any issues in your area. It may simply be a temporary issue that they are already hard at work rectifying. And if that doesn’t work…

Start Shopping Around for a New Provider

Your provider might just not be up to the task of providing you with top-notch business grade Internet. If there are competing ISP’s in your area, don’t hesitate to get some quotes and compare download speeds. Brand loyalty is all well and good, but you don’t owe it to an ISP that isn’t providing.

Wiping a Device

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

1606-CYBER-3So you’re selling your old iPhone, or maybe you bought some used laptops in bulk for the office, or you just want to cover your bases by getting every scrap of sensitive data off of your PC. Whatever your reasons, you need to completely wipe down your old device or computer and restore it to factory settings. So, how do we do that, in the simplest way possible, and without having to watch one of those Youtube tutorial videos where a guy sloooowly types the instructions into notepad? Read on:

Step 1: Get backups of whatever you need to keep

When you wipe a drive, there’s no going back. The data that’s deleted is deleted forever. So if there’s anything you’d like to keep, anything that you can’t just download again off the Internet, back it up. Get a USB stick, upload it to the cloud, whatever you have to do to keep it.

Step 2: Clear your bases

Remove your SD cards, your SIM cards, and log out of anything you’re logged into. Finally, write down the serial number on the device and keep it somewhere safe, just in case.

Step 3: Reset and restore

Most PC’s and laptops are easy to restore to factory settings. Go to change PC settings, click update and recovery, go to recovery, and then “remove everything and reinstall windows,” and follow the instructions from there. Portable devices usually have a very simple means of restoring itself to factory conditions. For iPhones, go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings, and then remove your phone from your Apple ID, if you registered. iPhones are easy. Androids have a factory reset option. However, this will only remove data at the app level, and may retain chat logs and so on, so you will need to…

Step 4: Encrypt

Encrypting your device before you wipe it will scramble the data so that even if the wipe isn’t complete, the next user will need a special key in order to see what you were up to. Stock android phones let you encrypt from the security tab under settings.

Alternative Option: Surgery

An easy way to back your computer up and wipe it down at the same time: Just take out the hard drive and replace it with a new one, and then reinstall Windows. You can plug your old drive right into a new computer and you’re good to go.

Famous Data Spills

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

1606-CYBER-2In some fields, such as medical data entry, hackers have actually surpassed accidental data disclosure, or data spillage, in terms of responsibility for data lost. However, this is a fairly new trend. By and large, more data has been lost due to accidental leaks than due to cybercrime. Here are some of the more well-known cases in recent memory.

Uber

In late 2015, Uber accidentally dropped the personal data for hundreds of their drivers. The leak included social security numbers, copies of drivers licenses, vehicle registration numbers and much, much more. Even drivers who had never actually taken a job from the service, but simply signed up, saw their taxi certification forms and W-9’s being spread across the internet. 674 drivers in total were affected by the leak.

The good news is that damage was minimal, and the company’s security team took only a half-hour to patch the leak.

Google

Here’s an interesting statistic: In the UK, less than five percent of around 220,000 requests made to Google for the removal of online information come from criminals, politicians or public figures. 95% of the requests for the removal of sensitive information come from private citizens who just want to keep their private information private.

Of course, Google reveals personal data about people all the time simply  by nature of being a search engine, why is this a story? Well, the story is that we shouldn’t actually know who’s requesting the removal of their sensitive information, but Google accidentally leaked the intel on their “right to be forgotten” requests. Rather than this information simply vanishing without a trace, Google released information on individuals making these requests.

Menulog

Menulog is an Australian food and beverage ordering service where users can log in and book their meal for delivery. They suffered a major leak just last month wherein customers were able to see what other customers had ordered through their phone app. Users logged in only to see other peoples’ histories and data, rather than their own. In previous newsletters we’ve talked about how hackers aren’t as smart as they seem, that almost anyone can guess passwords until they get it right, well, apparently you can be a hacker completely by accident, too.

Menulog quickly shut down their website and patched the security flaw in their system, but not before the email addresses and names of over one million users had been leaked to the public.

How To Keep Your Warranty

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

1606-CYBER-1It can be tricky to know what will and what won’t void the warranty on your phone, your PC, your tablet or your laptop. You probably have a manual laying around somewhere that can lay this out in more detail, but feel free to rely on this as a quick FAQ on some of the more common questions on what will and won’t void a warranty on an electronic device:

DIY Repairs

Some do-it-yourself repairs will void your warranty, some won’t. As a general rule, repairing cosmetic damage almost never voids your warranty. If you have to replace the screen on your phone, for instance, then your warranty will remain valid as long as you let them know that you’ve replaced your own screen. Replacing the entire shell casing, on the other hand, might be a bit of an issue, but luckily, your warranty probably means that you can go have your casing replaced for free.

ROOTing Your Phone

If you take a ROOTed phone in for repairs, they’re going to tell you to hit the bricks. Here’s the good news: you can just unROOT your phone. There’s an app called Universal Unroot that can do the job for you quick and easy.

This applies to a lot of mods and hacks for your phone or tablet: they’re reversible. You may be able to bring your phone in for repairs by simply restoring it to factory conditions and collecting on your warranty.

Customizing a Desktop or Laptop Computer

Even though they’re built as all-in-one units, if you have a Mac, you’re probably going to wind up adding more RAM to it. It varies from brand to brand, model to model, but most sellers and manufacturers will honor the warranty even if you’ve added some bells and whistles to its hardware within certain limitations.

Cosmetic Modding

A general rule of thumb for cosmetic modding of a phone or a PC is: If you need more than a screwdriver to crack the casing open, then you’re probably voiding your warranty. They sell stickers and decals specifically for cosmetic modding of your devices, and you can go ahead and put your PC in a custom case, but once you’re peeling open the parts that weren’t meant to be exposed, you’re doing potential damage that will definitely void your warranty.

We’ve provided some general guidelines here, but some companies are more or less strict than others. When in doubt, shoot them a quick email and see what’s covered.

Benefits of Diverse Ages in the Workplace

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

1606-EM-4Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of their age. Multi-generational hiring has benefits beyond legal ones, though. Understand these benefits as you find the right talent for your company.

Appreciate a Range of Skill Sets

Employees in different age groups approach work with different skill sets. Mature employees who have been working in their field for years have learned a variety of tricks and tips. Young employees are typically skilled with new technology. Together, they offer a well-rounded wealth of skills that benefit the company.

Embrace all Aspects of Technology

Young employees grew up with electronics and know how to use social media platforms, webcasting and iPhones. Mature employees may not be as well versed in modern technology. Your diverse workforce can teach each other the benefits of being online and going offline once in awhile, and they have the capability of reaching a diverse audience of customers, including those who are tech savvy and the ones who are not interested in using a computer of any kind.

Share Different Traditions

Your business may have customers who value a personal visit or don’t get online. Mature employees grew up in that generation and understand the needs of those customers. Likewise, today’s generation values being part of social change, and your young employees understand this outlook. Together, your workforce expands their reach and values the traditions of all your customers.

Ensure Company Continuity

Reduce the risk of becoming obsolete, running out of skilled workers or losing your company’s history when you employ members of several generations. Older employees can train younger employees and pass down their years of experience. They also prepare the next generation to keep the company in business and to honor the values on which the business was founded after the older generation retires.

Develop an Effective Mentoring Program

Mature and young employees need each other. They can learn a number of skills from each other and will grow as employees and individuals. By pairing two generations of workers, you start a mentoring program that benefits your workers and company.

Stay Competitive

Every day, your company faces stiff competition for your customers’ attention and dollars. To stay competitive, you need a multi-generational workforce. They combine their experience, talents and skills to reach a wider range of customers, offer unique customer service and use the newest technology. Enjoy a competitive edge with a diverse employee base.

Tips for Improving Posture and Ergonomics in the Office

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

1606-EM-3The way you sit at your desk affects your health. You could end up with chronic neck or back pain or spinal damage depending on how you sit. Follow these tips as you improve your posture and ergonomics at work.

  • Be Aware of Back Pain  Certain back pain is a sign of poor posture. If you experience these symptoms, check the way you sit.
  • Sudden back pain that starts when you start a new job or get a new chair.
  • Back pain that continues over time.
  • Pain that goes away when you switch positions.
  • Pain that starts in your neck and moves down into your back.
  • Increased pain during certain times of the day or week but not on weekends.

 

    1. Keep Your Body Aligned  When you sit in your chair, make sure your ears, shoulders and hips remain in a straight vertical line. Your feet should be flat on the floor, and your elbows should rest at a 90-degree angle to your desk.Try not to sit with your legs crossed or your shoulders hunched forward. Also, avoid leaning to one side of your chair or tilting your head as you maintain an aligned posture.

 

    1. Invest in Ergonomic Furniture  Your desk, chair and computer should all be ergonomic and encourage you to sit straight. They should adjust to ensure comfort.

 

    1. Sit on a Balance Ball  Because your pelvis rocks gently toward the front of the balance ball and forces your shoulders to slightly arch, this seating option encourages proper posture. Use it at various times during the day to help you align your body.

 

    1. Use Props  Several posture-friendly props reduce strain on your spine and ensure you sit straight. They include a:
        • Footrest to keep your feet flat
        • Small pillow or towel for lumbar support or to prevent you from bending your neck as you talk on the phone
      • A stack of books under your computer monitor so that you can see it clearly without bending your neck

 

    1. Use Good Posture When You Move   Whether you’re standing up from your chair, answering the phone or reaching for a pencil, keep posture in mind. Try not to stretch out of alignment or move in an unnatural way. Stiff movements can actually cause more pain.

 

    1. Stand Up and Move Frequently.   Tired muscles are more likely to slump and slouch. Stand up and move for two minutes  least once every half hour as you keep your body aligned.

Maintaining proper posture in the office reduces shoulder, back and hip pain as well as injuries. Starting today, follow these tips as you ensure proper posture and ergonomics during your workday.

What Jobs Don’t Require Overtime Pay?

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

1606-EM-2Most companies are required to pay employees overtime. However, there are several jobs that are exempt. If you work in one of these jobs, know the guidelines before you demand overtime pay.

    • Salaried employees

      Certain white collar employees who are paid a salary and work as an executive, administrative or computer professional do not receive overtime pay.

    • Outside sales workers who are paid on a salary basis
    • Volunteers for a government agency or profit or nonprofit charitable, educational or religious organization
    • Individuals who reside or sleep at their place of employment

      This category includes people who are on call for significant time periods.

    • Agriculture workers

      Employees on a farm, ranch, horticulture or any agriculture business may be exempt from overtime. In general, the business must grade, pack, package, store or deliver products.

      Commercial ag businesses are also exempt if they cultivate, raise, harvest, can, freeze, process or deliver their own products or a mix of their own and someone else’s products.

    • Newspaper vendors or carriers
    • Casual laborers in private residences

      Babysitters and adults or kids who mow lawns or remove snow do not receive overtime benefits. However, if individuals work for a company that provides these services, they will receive overtime pay.

    • Public officials who are elected or appointed to their offices
    • Youth camps workers, including YMCA, Scouts and church camps
    • Seasonal agriculture fair employees who work less than 14 days a year per fair
    • Forest protection and fire prevention personnel
    • Inmates, residents or patients of any state or local correctional, detention, rehab or treatment center
    • Seaman on American or foreign vessels
    • Air carrier employees whose work volunteer hours while shift-trading
    • Motion picture projectionists who work under contract or a collective bargaining agreement
    • Washington State ferry crews who work on vessels operated by the DOT

In addition to these jobs that do not require overtime pay, four jobs do pay overtime but allow workers to receive an alternative form of overtime payment. They include:

    • Firefighters and police officers who work certain tours of duty
    • Commissioned salespeople who receive time and one-half of the minimum wage for the hours they work
    • Retail or service establishment workers whose commissions equal more than half of their weekly wages
    • Truck or bus drivers with a “reasonably equivalent” overtime compensation plan that’s approved by the Department of Labor and Industries

Signs That You Have a Great Job

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

1606-EM-1It’s easy to become dissatisfied with your job. Maybe long hours, a personality conflict or burnout make you long for greener pastures elsewhere. Before you spend hours wishing you were elsewhere or checking out the classified ads, look for these signs that indicate you have a great job.

Salary

Are your monthly bills covered with extra for emergencies or fun? Consider your salary, any bonuses and free professional association memberships as perks since some companies do not provide adequate financial earnings for employees.

Benefits

Is health insurance, paid vacation time or dental coverage part of your benefits package? Maybe your company offers tuition reimbursement, direct deposit or on-site childcare. Count these benefits as you consider the perks of your job.

Flexibility

Are you able to take time off, come in late or leave early for doctor appointment, sick kids or occasional home repairs? That flexibility is a perk that’s not available in all jobs.

Autonomy

Does your boss give you freedom to organize your work day and workload? That freedom can increase your creativity, morale and productivity. Be thankful that you are trusted to get the job done rather than micromanaged.

Relationships

How well do you get along with your co-workers and clients or customers? Those relationships can make your work fulfilling, easier and more pleasant.

Opportunities

Do you have opportunities to cross train or learn new skills? Maybe you’re next in line for a promotion or are trusted with training new employees. These perks allow you to broaden your job horizons and can be invaluable if a different position opens up.

Promotions

What positions might open up in the future? Start making contacts in your organization that could eventually help you land those positions. Networking now typically takes less time than finding a new job, and you may already be well on your way to attaining the position of your dreams.

Recognition

Are you praised for a job well done? Whether it’s verbal recognition or a bonus, consider the recognition and appreciation you receive as a job perk.

Work Satisfaction

Is your work satisfying, fulfilling and challenging? If so, it might pay to stick around rather than move somewhere that doesn’t provide work that meets your needs.

Value

Do you feel like you and your contributions are a valued part of the team? Be thankful that you are appreciated.

9 Things to Plan Before You Retire

By Employment Resources | No Comments

1606-ER-4Retiring isn’t something you do at the spur of the moment. It requires careful planning as you ensure you have adequate resources to cover your expenses. Consider these nine tips that help you plan a successful retirement.

    1. Build Your Emergency Fund

      Ideally, you should save three to six months of living expenses into an emergency fund before you retire. This money gives you peace of mind in case your income is delayed, you face a medical crisis or another emergency occurs.

    1. Write an Income Timeline

      Pensions, social security and retirement accounts may all be accessed at different times. Write the details on an income timeline as you manage your cash flow.

    1. Write a List of Expenses

      It’s easy to underestimate the amount of money you’ll need after you retire. Get accurate figures when you create a list of your expenses. Remember that some expenses change. For instance, your commuting expenses will disappear, but your home electric bill might increase.

    1. Use a Social Security Benefits Calculator

      With a social security benefits calculator, you can figure out when you should start taking distributions. This tip allows you to maximize your income and reduce any tax penalties during your entire retirement.

    1. Ask About Retirement Income Taxes

      Your retirement income will be taxed at varying rates. Take time to figure out the tax details to ensure you get an accurate view of your income. You don’t want to count on a certain amount and fall short because of your tax obligations.

    1. Research Health Insurance

      Many retirees rely on Medicare, but it doesn’t kick in until you turn 65, and it only covers half of your medical expenses. That means you need to research other options and calculate them into your budget.

    1. Create a Budget

      Once you know details about your retirement income and expenses, create a budget. It assists you in determining if you need more income or fewer expenses as you fund your entire retirement.

    1. Make an Investment Plan

      Even though you’re retiring, you still need to manage the money in your 401(k) and other accounts. Learn about your options as you decide how much to invest, when to take distributions and other details of your investment strategy.

    1. Interview Retirement Planners

      A professional retirement planner assists you in managing the details of your retirement. Look for one that will take time to understand your needs and shares your vision for your retirement.

Retirement is something to anticipate. For more details on how to plan your retirement, talk to your HR manager or financial advisor. Plan now to ensure your retirement is the best it can be.

Uncommon Employee Benefits

By Employment Resources | No Comments

1606-ER-3Your company probably already offers employees a variety of benefits. However, there are also several uncommon employee benefits that are appreciated and affordable. Consider offering them as you attract and retain top talent and improve morale.

Common Employee Benefits

A 2003 small business poll found that several benefits are commonly offered by employers. These benefits and the percentage of small businesses that offer them include:

    • Paid Vacations: 75%
    • Health Insurance Plan: 61%
    • Paid Sick Leave: 59%
    • Disability Insurance: 41%
    • Education Reimbursement: 39%
    • Pension Plan: 30%
    • Life Insurance: 29%
    • Dental Insurance: 24%

Uncommon Employee Benefits

Take care of several uncommon needs when you offer these atypical employee benefits.

Parking Privileges: Designate spaces near the office for employees or pay for a parking garage or city transit pass.

Company Discounts: Allow employees to buy products at a discount or offer employees first access to new products.

Education Plan: Most employees welcome the opportunity to learn new skills and improve their ability to do their jobs well. Offer tuition reimbursement or schedule free classes.

Direct Deposit: Funds clear faster and are thus available sooner when they’re directly deposited into your employees’ bank or credit union account. You typically save money when you offer this benefit, too.

Wellness Program: Encourage your employees to make health changes when you offer fitness opportunities and challenges, nutrition classes, smoking cessation tips and stress reduction advice. Employee productivity and satisfaction will improve, and you’ll cut health care costs.

Child-Related Assistance: In addition to maternity leave, consider providing adoption assistance, breastfeeding or pumping accommodations, on-site childcare and an on-site family room with kids’ toys and activities.

Sabbaticals:
Offer both paid and unpaid sabbaticals based on years of service. With this benefit, employees can pursue advanced education, take mental health breaks or care for an aging parent.

Computer Loan: Let your employees take home their laptops or set up a payment plan that allows them buy their computers interest-free. You can arrange for automatic payroll deductions and sign a formal agreement to ensure you recover the full cost of the computer.

Community Hours: Reward employees who choose to volunteer with regular pay that covers the community hours. You can also pay the entrance or sponsorship fees for community events in which your employees wish to participate.

Title and Business Cards: A level of professionalism and pride is associated with a formal title and business cards.

Religious Holidays: When employees wish to observe religious holidays that fall on a work day, offer to provide a day off with pay.

Your employees work harder and smarter when they receive a healthy benefits package. In addition to the common benefits, consider offering unusual benefits that raise morale and retention.