Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses

CYBERSECURITY FOR SMALL BUSINESSES 

The idea that only large companies or governments are attacked by hackers is a misconception. The latest studies show that 22% of small businesses were attacked cybernetically in 2020. Most hackers are opportunists. Large companies have a much larger budget more complicated to access. Small businesses on the other hand are the perfect target for hackers.

The positive part is that investing in cybersecurity protection strategies will help keep hackers away from your business.

Impacts of cyberattacks on small businesses:

A cyber-attack can have a great impact on a small business. In fact, 60% of the small businesses that suffered an attack closed their doors within 6 months after. Some consequences of a cyber-attack on your business might be:

  • Financial losses – because they have accessed your accounts.
  • Financial losses – because you must halt core business operations while addressing other impacts, and while fixing your security.
  • Upfront costs to security experts to help secure your IT infrastructure in the short term.
  • Losing your database/s.
  • Damage to your reputation by compromising your customer data, forcing you to disclaim your vulnerabilities and failings to protect their data.

Cyber Security Solutions for Small Businesses

Some solutions that can improve your security are:

Identify your vulnerabilities

Determine what your vulnerabilities are in order to know where to focus. Identify the most important data your company keeps. that might be your client database, your intellectual property, inventory, or financial information, etc.

Analyze your processes

Look at your workflows, including yours and that of your staff. Think about how you collect your information, where you store it, and how you delete that data. List all the points through which this data travels and each point where it could be leaked or stolen.

Analyze the consequences

Consider the results of a cybersecurity breach for you, your employees, your customers, and your partners. This is more to understand the risk.

Protect your equipment and devices

The second question is… Where do you store this data? The computers, mobiles, tablets, and other devices likely contain or access that important information. However, since these devices are connected to the Internet and a local network, they are vulnerable to attack.

Here are our guidelines to improve your security across the entire spectrum of your company’s IT systems.

Keep your software updated

A simple and safe way to keep your equipment safe is to regularly update the software of the systems you use.

Microsoft and other software companies are always looking for vulnerabilities in their software. When they find one, they release an update that fixes it for their users. Make sure you download these updates whenever they are released.

Protect yourself from viruses

Install anti-virus software on all computers in the office. Antivirus programs scan incoming email messages, as well as all files on your computer, and delete or quarantine any viruses that are found. Hackers are always creating new viruses, so you should update your antivirus frequently.

Accessing the Internet using a VPN is also a security enhancement. VPNs make tracking your computer or decrypting your data extremely difficult for hackers. A good VPN provider will also send you a security warning when you try to access suspicious URLs.

Set up a firewall

Most likely, your office devices are connected to a broadband Internet connection that is always active. Hackers are always probing these networks and looking for vulnerabilities to gain access to your computers.

Installing a firewall is the best way to avoid hackers. Firewalls allowing only authorized traffic into your network. A good firewall examines every packet of data that enters your network, makes sure it is legitimate, and filters out packets that it considers suspicious. Installing a firewall is a complicated process that should only be done by a qualified professional. This makes your job easier; all you need to do is talk to your system administrator and make sure your network is protected.

Precautions for laptops and mobiles

Laptops and mobiles are easy to access, as they are intended to be used outside the office. The risk information on these devices is high. Because you use these devices on public networks. We recommend a series of measures to protect your data; including using strong passwords and backing up data.

You must be prepared for a company mobile to be stolen or lost. If you use a cloud solution, look at the mobile device management features of your provider. The main cloud computing providers allow you to delete the account of a device that is lost.

Protect your data

No matter what type of business you run, your data is the core of the business. Without your customers’ contact information, your inventory, confidential information, and everything else, your business simply won’t be able to operate. Your data can be lost in a thousand ways: hardware can be damaged or broken, hackers can break into your system and take over, or you can suffer a natural disaster. Your objective, therefore, should be to insure yourself against a possible data loss by taking precautions against the worst consequences that it would have.

Online Payments

Recently we have begun the process of moving our customers into WisePay, a third party payment provider that will also give our customers historical easy access to their invoices and accounting with us, as well as plenty of payment options. Such a solution requires a bit of legwork to bring customers on board, but it’s certainly safer and potentially time-saving in the long run. Once up and running, it’ll take a load off the accounts team too.

Backups and backups

There are two types of backups. The first is a full backup of all the selected data, saved on another device or transferred to a different medium. The other is a gradual backup, which means adding new data to an existing backup.

The simplest and most efficient method is to combine the two. Perform a full backup periodically and a gradual backup every day in between. Another option is to do a full backup every night after business hours. It is crucial to check that your backups work and to understand how to restore the data.

There are many ways to back up your data. You can store them on a physical device such as a USB drive or secondary hard drive or store them in a shared folder on your network; you should also keep backups in a secure offsite location.

Unfortunately, storing your data in a specific physical location will not help you if a natural disaster or theft occurs there. The safest thing is to invest in a backup system in the cloud.  At KeyTech we have a SAS Backup Service that allowing cloud-based collaboration with total security.

Encrypt your information

Most small businesses store their information in a cloud. Some can be a platform like SAAS (Software as a Service) or in a Storage System like Dropbox. When choosing where to store your business information you must examine its security measures.

There are measures to ensure that your data is even more secure in a cloud. For example, encrypt your data. Several programs can help you do this.

Protect your passwords

The most common way to authenticate the identity of whoever accesses your network or your important data is through a password. Unlike other high-tech authentication systems like smart cards, fingerprint scanners, or iris recognition, passwords are useful because they cost nothing and are easy to use. However, they are always susceptible to brute force attacks.

Hackers have developed sophisticated automated tools that allow them to crack simple passwords in a matter of minutes. Another way to access your passwords is to use fraudulent methods like phishing. Pishing is a method in which hackers pose as an official entity (for example Google or Amazon) to trick people into giving them their passwords. It is important that you keep updating your passwords, that you do not keep them in sight, and that you try to create a strong password that is not easily accessible. Creating a stronger password is not that difficult. Use a password tool like this one, which tells you how secure your password is and how long it would take a hacker to crack it.

Set access levels and permissions

You must take steps to restrict access to your System. For example, determine access levels and only give people access to what they need, such as installing software – the top level being your systems administrator.

If you’re using Windows, you can assign different permission levels to users based on their roles within the company, and if a staff member is absent for a long period or has left the company, remove their access and permissions as soon as possible.

Be careful when browsing the Internet

When you and your staff surf the Internet, activities are tracked in various subtle and unnoticeable ways. The activity is usually recorded by third parties without any consent. Your employees could browse dangerous web pages that steal your company information. Your personal or business information could be compromised if it is entered on web pages through an unencrypted connection. Set a web use policy that restricts web browsing for personal purposes. Using a good firewall will also help reduce this risk.

Protect confidential information created by remote workers

Many small businesses work with freelancers who work remotely. Remote workers can pose a risk to your cybersecurity. You must know that the networks they use for their work are secure. For example, they can log into your office network and work from there, using remote tools such as Windows’ remote desktop connection feature.

Employee training

Employees can leave your business vulnerable to an attack. Research shows that 43 percent of data loss stems from internal employees who either maliciously or carelessly give cybercriminals access to your networks.

Many scenarios could result in employee-initiated attacks. These can be an employee losing a work tablet or giving away login credentials. They can also include opening fraudulent emails, which deploys viruses on the network.

To protect against threats from within, invest in cybersecurity training for your employees. Educate them what they should do if they get for example a suspicious email.

It is important to encourage a culture of cybersecurity within your company since a single breach could cost your company millions. It should also be a priority for all departments within your organization, not just IT, although your IT experts must be given responsibility and authority to identify and minimize risk. When everyone takes cybersecurity seriously together, you’ll have a much higher chance of success.

Investing in Cyberseciruty

Cybersecurity is a preventative strategy: The fact is, all small businesses face a relatively high risk of being attacked. But even with a modest investment in defenses, you should be able to avoid and/or minimize most attacks in 2021 and keep your business moving on up as it should be.

Everything you need to know about Windows 11

Everything you need to know about Windows 11

Microsoft does not want to lose its, position over Apple and Google. The company has been preparing the launch of Windows 11 for 6 years. In the words of Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, they are facing “one of the most important updates to Windows of the last decade.”

Microsoft’s top priority is to offer an agile, competitive, and up-to-date system. You’ll find a new interface and several new features aimed at enhancing productivity, particularly as more of the world works between home and the office.

What are the biggest new changes? 

For tablets, Microsoft has aimed to improve the experience for touch, with more space between icons on the taskbar, and adding gestures. Windows 11 also adds haptics to your digital pen, so you can hear and feel vibrations as you use it for taking notes or drawing. Finally, the OS introduces voice typing and commands across the system.

Windows 11 touchscreen

What stands out the most is the more modern interface that looking for. The changes, however, go beyond the surface.

More apps, mobile apps

This update also introduces more variety that can be found within the traditional PC ecosystem allowing, the use of Android apps without the need for a mobile device. A touch-optimized experience will allow you to spend more time in front of your computer.

Those are the changes that stand out to us, but here are some other updates that have people talking:

The New Start Menu

Visually, Windows 11 is going to be different from Windows 10. The old start menu, which for years has been located in the lower-left corner, changes position and format at last (let’s just forget Windows 8 for now). The start button and the access to the main applications will now be on the century screen. This change reminds us of the MacOS Dock. However (and thank goodness), if you don’t like it here, you can change it right back.

The next change is that when you click the start button, the taskbar is not “stuck” to the bar but will desktop. The corners are rounded, which seems a significant departure from the almost brutalist square shapes we’re used to.

Thirdly, there are no more animated tiles in the start menu. Microsoft has populated it with recent applications icons, and below shortcuts to recently accessed and suggested documents and files.

Windows 11 menu

Another improvement is in multitasking. Alongside the old Window, snapping is the new “Snap Layouts”, which is a lot more flexible and dynamic.  When it comes to positions and proportions. To avoid having to organize the windows every time you reconnect a monitor, “Snap Groups” allow you to save groupings of windows and reuse them whenever you want.

A related change that really allows you to get more out of the operating system comes with the Windows 11 implementation of virtual desktops. Windows will let you set up virtual desktops like Macs, toggling between multiple desktops at once for personal, work, school, or gaming use. In Windows 10, this was harder to set up and use.

Iconography

In this new Window iconography changes remarkably. There are changes to the Windows logo, which is now without perspective and sports on-theme rounded outer corners. Windows also change the design for application icons and important folders such as Documents, Downloads, or Pictures.

Teams integration

Now we can use Teams natively. Windows has decided to go all-in banking on its messaging platform, relegating Skype even further to the background. Teams get a facelift and are integrated directly into the taskbar, making it easier to access (and a bit more like Apple’s FaceTime). So it sounds like Windows might be a bit of a smoother experience for Teams users, but don’t worry, you’ll be able to access teams on, Mac, Android, iOs, and the rest.

Teams Windows 11

Windows Widgets

The Windows Widgets will allow a much more personalized experience within the new Windows. Powered by artificial intelligence, these widgets will offer us content according to our preferences or our user experience. We’re keen to see just how much more this offers us compared to the current News and Interests feed we know from Windows 10.

Gadgets Windows 11

Moving Games Forwards

But it’s not all about productivity, of course. With Windows 11, games will get a visual boost. Innovations such as Auto HDR support promise a heightened experience.

Games Windows 11

Keyboard and Input

With Windows 11 you can have an on-screen keyboard including direct access to emojis, GIFs, clipboards, handwriting, or Word suggestions. But a few features from the Windows 10 on-screen keyboard, including the ability to show a numerical keypad, are missing.

Keyboard Windows 11

Variable Refresh Rate 

This new feature will help windows users on mobile devices and laptops save battery and work or play longer. Most computers and screens have a fixed refresh rate. That’s how many times per second that the display shows a new image the standard being 60hz (interestingly, gamers love 120hz plus but movies typically run at 24hz). Running at a higher rate can quickly consume power. If you have a supported device, you can turn on the new dynamic refresh rate setting that can will reduce the number of screen refreshes in scenarios where the image being displayed doesn’t really change that often, such as when doing emails.

Better Updates

The roadmap for Windows 11 makes it clear that from now on Microsoft will offer a single major update per year and not two as happened until now. Hopefully, this will mitigate the stability issues that have plagued the biannual release of Windows 10 updates.

Additionally, there will also be improvements in the rest of the “normal” updates, which according to Microsoft officials will be up to 40% smaller in size, which will reduce download and installation time.

Reasons to Upgrade

As we get more details on Windows 11, some doubts begin to arise as to whether it is worth upgrading to the new version from Windows 10, which in retrospect has been one of the best Windows releases ever. Here are a few improvements that have us convinced we’ll be upgrading to the new version, at least to try.

Improved Productivity

Windows 11 will improve user productivity. For example, being able to resume what you were doing after an interruption, even between computer shutdowns. It will also allow sessions to resume on a different computer. For devices with removable screens, Windows 11 will notice when the keyboard is attached, or not, and adjust the input methods, allowing you to continue what you were doing.

Better Security

For years Microsoft has been developing new hardware to power high levels of protection. The company claims Windows Hello that a combination of Windows Hello, device encryption, virtualization-based security, hypervisor-protected code integrity (HVCI), and secure boot, have been shown to reduce malware by 60 percent. That sounds good to us, especially when your computer is mission-critical in your business.

Reasons not to Upgrade

 

Goodbye to Timeline and Cortana

One of the things we’ll miss will be Timeline, even though Microsoft Edge will have similar functions. We’ll also be sad to say goodbye to Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana, who will be gone from the taskbar, although those who use her daily will still be available through an application for those who need her.

 

Higher required storage capacity

To be able to install Windows 11, you’ll need at least 64GB of space, and a computer with a 64-bit CPU with at least two cores at 1 GHz, and here comes the kicker: there will be no support for older 32-bit processors. Although for years most processors have supported x86-64 / AMD64, having no 32-bit option in Windows 11 is a clear step into the future.

You’ll also need at least 4 GB of RAM. For the installation it is also necessary to have a Microsoft account and internet connectivity: it seems that it will not be possible to create local accounts in this new edition which is also a leap forward that is bound to bothersome.

Another key requirement is the need for TPM 2.0. This standard is designed to ensure hardware security through cryptographic keys, and although it has become a common component among PC and laptop manufacturers in recent years, this could pose limitations for many users who bought their computers, even as recently as 2019.

One way to test if our computer has the requirements for the update is through tools such as Microsoft PC Health Check.

How do I update? 

The good news is that for all original licensed Windows 10 users, Windows 11 will be a free upgrade. However, the new version has certain requirements.

It is noteworthy that the current version of the Windows 11 released on June 28, is a beta version that will only be available through the Windows Insider program. The digital trends portal warns that this version still contains bugs, so they suggest waiting for the most stable version to come out. According to Microsoft, this version will be available by the end of this year.

Our advice is not to install this beta release on a business or production machine – only on a computer used for less critical operations.

Windows 11 Date and Availability

Microsoft has indicated that Windows 11 will be available as a free update on new PCs and some existing PCs starting next Christmas.

6 tips for understanding notifications in Teams

6 tips for understanding notifications in Teams

Did you know that if you use Teams, you can control its sounds and notifications? In this article, we are going to teach you 6 techniques for personalising teams.

1. Where are the notification settings?

Access your notification settings by selecting your profile photo in the upper right corner of Teams, then Settings> Notifications.

2. Enable or disable notifications

To choose whether to play a sound with each new notification, select the three dots next to your profile picture in the top right corner of Teams, then Settings> Notifications> toggle between off and on.

In this state, the notification sounds are on.

Note: Currently only Android mobile devices can choose what type of sound is played for notifications.

3. Default settings

By default, you’ll receive desktop notifications and activity feedback alerts for @mentions, direct messages (chat), and all-new conversations and @mentions on the channels and teams shown in your list.

All of these defaults can be changed.

4. Ways to be notified

The activity feed

You’ll find it in the upper left corner of Teams. This is where we’ll let you know what’s happening on your teams and channels.

Then there is chat

This is where group and one-on-one conversations happen. As you receive multiple messages, we will count them for you.

Desktop, also known as Banner, notifications

In Windows, they will be displayed in the lower right corner of the screen and then moved to the Action Center.

On Mac OS, they are displayed in the upper right corner of the screen and then moved to the Control Centre.

Note: If you use Teams on the web, some browsers will only display notifications in the browser tab where you are running Teams.

Windows

 

Mac

5. Email

If you want to use email to keep track of Team conversations as they happen, use the missed activity email. You can choose how often you get them.

For a summary of the day’s activity, please use the summary email. You will receive this email at the beginning of each day.

6. How notifications work in the mobile app.

One of the first things you’ll want to do is choose whether to send notifications to your phone always, or only when you’re not active on the desktop. (you are considered inactive after 3 minutes of desktop inactivity.)

The other thing you’ll want to set up is your quiet hours. To do this, go to More in the upper left corner of the mobile app, then Notifications > Quiet hours. Then, set a specific time of day when you want Teams to hold your notifications. You can also choose full days.

Need more help? More Info.

If you need to know how each of the notifications work step by step, we recommend you read this guide from the Microsoft support blog.

How to suppress noise in calls

A great feature of Teams is AI based noise suppression. This eliminates unwanted background noise from your surroundings. It works by using deep neural networks to analyse audio sources and separate human speech signals from unwanted noise.

How to turn on noise suppression

  1. Click the three dots next to your profile picture in the upper right corner and then select the Settings option.
  2. Choose Devices on the left and then under Noise Suppression, select one of the following options: Automatic (default), Low or High.

It is important to note that your processor must support Advanced Vector Extensions 2 (AVX2) to opt for the “high” setting. Users will be able to change this setting at any time, and once changed, the setting should be retained for the next meeting or call. Alex Eggers, Microsoft MVP, created a video that delves into its inner workings with the settings.

The advent of AI-based noise suppression is important step for Microsoft Teams. This should help limit distractions in a remote work setting. Although Microsoft says the feature will be generally available to desktop users in mid-December, there is no news on whether it will be rolled out on iOS and Android.

7 key steps to redesign your website

7 key steps to redesign your website

If you are thinking about changing your digital strategy, your actions may include the redesign of your website. You’re probably asking yourself whether it makes sense to invest money in redesigning your website. Will this help you attract new customers? What you must do so that people spend more time on the site?

Your website is your digital showcase. Having a good design and easy navigation will not only let customers reach you, but it will also help you position your brand as one that cares about its customers and is on top of usability trends. In this article, we give you to consider as you think about your website.

1. SIMPLE AND MINIMAL 

As a rule, when someone visits your website, they may not spend more than a few minutes browsing it – often as short as a few, seconds. At this time your client must find what they are looking for. So, if your main page is saturated with filler text. Take some time to consider how your key value proposition. Could be better highlighted.

Similarly, think about what you want people to do on this page. This is your call to action. Many websites don’t have a clear call to action or have many conflicting ones, meaning they will be confused. Think about what the one most important thing you want your potential customer to do is.

2. EASY TO CONTACT

That could be as simple as making contact. Whether your business is B2B or B2C, your customer must find an easy way to get in touch with you. That is why tools such as chatbots or calls to action that led to contact pages or phone/email details will give the customer the confidence to do that.

3. COMPLETELY RESPONSIVE

Times have changed and now people will visit your website with their mobile devices. Is yours ready for this? If you haven’t touched it in a while, it may not be. Test it and find out.

This is why it is super important your new design follows a responsive structure and is fully adaptable to the mobile experience. Any website needs to work brilliantly no matter the device used.

In short, if your website is “not responsive”, your competition already has a significant advantage, as Google now gives precedence to websites that.

A great way to check how your web page looks on the different devices is responsinator. If you want to do a quick check, Mobile Friendly will also give you the gist of the mobile experience you provide.

4. SPEED DOES MATTER

Website load speed is a key factor in various aspects of your digital presence, including SEO. If your website is slow, there is a good chance it’s either poorly built or using a slow hosting platform, so maybe it’s time for a change. Internet users are not patient: they expect immediate results, just at the click of a button, so we’d better be giving it to them.

If you want to check the speed of your website, you can use Google’s PageSpeed ​​Insights or GTmetrix.

5. Build and follow a brand

It is important that the visuals, whether video, photography, or graphics, reflect the personality of your business. If one thing gives the impression that you have no brand, it’s inconsistent visual. In general, most people want to seem “cool” or new things. Users who are visiting your website are doing so to obtain more information before making a purchase decision. Whatever that decision, your visual resources can make your brand more human and build a real connection with the user.

To have a visually attractive website, you do not need to spend a lot of money or resort to boring stock images. Photos from your own phone will often do, and customers may appreciate the personal approach. Consider bringing in a professional photographer to capture your workspace.

Don’t be afraid to show your office as it is, your staff as they are, or your products (used by real people). These will have manifold more impact than a stock photo that any company around the world could use, and customers can tell.

6. UPDATE YOUR CONTENT

The internet is full of content that used to be relevant, but as the years went on has become out of date. Your content must get updated to suit the era. Businesses change over time too, so it’s even more important that your content is adapted to your current customers by reflecting what matters to them.

For example, imagine that you create a giving SEO positioning advice. Some of these techniques won’t change, but others will become outdated as the search engines change their methods. New techniques will have also emerged.

If you don’t update that content, it becomes irrelevant or even misleading. Google and other engines value this negatively, so you’re your website will lose its hard-won search engine ranking and ultimately provide you less leads, and revenue.

You must also bear in mind that your content needs, internal and external links, proper use of keywords, etc. If you are missing these elements, it’s time to update it. Link’s a change or disappears over time, so even if you do have them, it’s worth making sure they’re up to date!

7. SEO OPTIMIZATION

One of the most constant and lasting marketing strategies that you will have is your SEO strategy. It is very important to work on your keywords and adapt the content of your website to your SEO strategy. This will bring you organic (free!) traffic and improve your position with the search engine, otherwise known as your ranking. This is how you get to that prized ‘page one’.

Without a doubt, the SEO optimization of your website is vital for it to be a productive part of your marketing strategy.

Here’s a breakdown of the key elements of SEO:

  • The loading speed of the pages.
  • The use of friendly (human-readable) URLs.
  • The inclusion of metadata, especially titles anddescriptions.
  • The addition of an intuitive and navigable sitemap with content that can be easily indexed in search engines.
  • Good site usability achievable with the redesign of web pages, especially the navigation.
  • Optimization and updating of all content.
  • Fixing of possible broken links (these are seen by the search engines and will drag down your ranking).

Considering these tips, these would be the steps you have to take to meet your goals when redesigning your website:

1. Be clear about your goal

Your first step will be to work on your goals. Ask yourself a few questions: What services or products do you want to highlight. What is your target audience? Which pages get the most visitors currently – are these the right ones? What are your competitors doing that you can do better?

2. Step into your customer’s shoes

Now that you’ve thought about what customers use your website for, consider how they’re going to use it. Is it easy for them to visit pages with the information they’re looking for?

3. Information architecture

This will lead you to a review of your information architecture. Typically, websites, follow a classic inverted pyramid structure. That means first showing the most important information first and breaking that into various levels of detail so that a user can follow the thread that matters to them.

4. Find a balance between text and images

Renew images, videos, and photos, making sure they’re up to scratch and on-brand. It is important that all content adds value and isn’t acting as filler. All this really does is make your calls to action weaker.

If the visuals aren’t consistent, it might be better to not have any at all, to protect the integrity of your brand identity.

Remember, less is more on a website. Always look at content from the perspective of your customer. Is it helping?

5. Optimize navigation

Website navigation must be clear, concise, friendly, and simple. Make it easy for a user to jump around your website is how you’ll doubt and convince them you really do have the solution to their problem.

6. Take care of your SEO

Make sure your pages load quickly. Under 5 seconds is a conservative target. Ensure all content is quality and reflects the right keywords. Check and update your sitemap, make sure it adheres to best practice and makes sense. Ensure all pages have the right metadata in their titles, tags, descriptions. Make sure URLs are human-readable (but ensure they redirect to new URLs if you change them).

7. A/B Test 

A/B testing is next-level, but if you’re up for it it can provide invaluable insight into your market.

For example, if you’re not sure which colour, call to action, image or copy is right, run an A/B test. You can run these as long as you like and collect data that will help you understand your customers better and optimize the website for them.

Graphic that explains how to redesign your website.

If you’re still not sure… 

If after reading this article you’re still not sure what to do with your website, please that, redesigning your website is to invest in your most important digital asset.

In essence, a website is a communication tool. If your potential customers cannot communicate with you through your site, you’re missing out on revenue.

We’re here to help. If you need a professional eye on your site, we’d be happy to take a look and let you know what needs attention.

Teams Transition Tips

Teams Transition Tips

Like all businesses, we don’t change our IT infrastructure every year. We upgrade and improve it over time. Even while providing the latest infrastructure to clients, including cloud-based systems, there was no ‘cloud’ switch to flick built into ours, and we were a very office-centric business.

That said, a move to Teams has been on our radar for a while. It makes business sense: Teams makes it easier to collaborate, share, and it means assets are accessible from a variety of places and devices. It means we can save on equipment and be more responsive and dynamic as a business.

To be real, we’d been dragging our feet on this change. Any major change to operations means some interruption to how we work. But recent developments helped us make the move. Here’s what we discovered in the process, and some tips on your own transition to Teams.

Teams tip #1: flatten your folder structure.

When your files are sitting on a drive, you can organise them however you like. But in Teams, file paths being too long is a common issue. You might need to flatten your information architecture a little, by bringing the contents of some subfolders into their parent folders, for example. And it’s best to do this before moving files, cos frankly, it’s easier to move files on the desktop.

Teams tip #2: use search and naming conventions.

Nesting files under too many subfolders should be avoided in general because it makes things hard to find. In teams, finding files is a bit easier than searching. Rather than using folders, consider using naming conventions for files.

Teams tip #3: slow and steady wins the file transfer.

Teams is getting hammered right now as many businesses are moving their files into the cloud. It can take quite a long time to upload files, particularly when OneDrive times-out. It’s especially problematic at the moment with so many people trying to migrate to Teams at once.

Teams tip #4: you still need to backup!

Having files hosted by a managed cloud service will definitely boost the security of your data. It means they are invulnerable to any insecurities with your local network.

There are still reasons to backup your data though. What if for some reason or another you are deined access by the host? It’s also possible to accidentally (or on purpose!) delete files that you still need.

It is possible to backup Teams data. Our Keycloud Backup service is the best way we know of. We can draw down your cloud data and make sure a copy exists somewhere local, and accessible to you.

6 Essential WordPress Plugins for 2021

6 Essential WordPress Plugins for 2021

We use WordPress because it’s a perfect blank canvas for any website. But out of the box it’s fairly basic.

We start each new site by adding a set of plugins that have proven to work for many of our customers. Without further ado…

1. SMTP Mailer (aka Postman)

By default, WordPress uses our hosting server to send mail. That is find in many cases, but for professional use it’s ideal to use your own mail server, which means for our clients, their Microsoft Exchange account. It’s not a big deal unless your website is generating and sending emails to clients, as an ecommerce site will do. Postman configures WordPress to send all mail from your own account via the SMTP protocol.

2. Yoast SEO

There are only really two main SEO plugins that have stood the test of time and we choose Yoast because it provides the most insight, and guidance, into a site’s SEO performance. We can see at a glance when our pages and posts aren’t setup the way they should be for maximum exposure to search engines. This allows people who are not the web designer to add content with confidence.

3. LiteSpeed Cache

There are a few good cache plugins freely available for WordPress and LS Cache is the one that works best with our hosting environment. You can try that one for yourselves, or give W3 Total Cache.

4. Really Simple SSL

Having a valid security certificate setup on your website is really important these days. Not only is it a non-optional for ecommerce, it lends trust to your content-only site as well. While many web-hosts give SSLs to their customers automatically, WordPress does not automatically use a SSL address. Really Simple SSL ensures that not only your site’s URL, but all locally linked content such as images, resolves to a secure URL. It won’t give you a SSL certificate, but it will make sure your site is setup to work with the one you already have.

5. Wordfence

While seeing overactive due to the amount it is doing for your website, Wordfence is last but not least. It prevents almost all predictable malicious activity on your site. While the free tier is generously capable, we suggest businesses invest in the premium tier for the most up to date protection.

6. Limit Login Attempts Reloaded

Limit Login Attempts Reloaded will lockout users who use incorrect credentials more than a certain number of times.

Bonus WordPress tips!

  • turn of comments in settings if you don’t really want them, you’ll avoid some spam
  • Use a username other than “admin” for greater security.
  • activate the pre-installed Akismet with a wordpress.com license – it’s an easy process.
Does your business really need branding?

Does your business really need branding?

In this business world we’re often told we need this and that, but let’s face it, you’re already putting in too many hours each day. The last thing you need is another item in your todo list. 

Branding is one of those things that truly, not every business needs. You might already have a great, clear brand that you and your customers agree on.  

Branding, you see, is not your logo or brand colours 

What’s in a Brand? 

A brand is what people think about your business. Branding, as a verb, is your effort to influence this. Everything affects your brand, for example, the tone of your voice in your communications, the look of your site and materialsright down to the font and amount of whitespace – things like that.  

To get that right, you need to know and understand your customer. It’s easy to feel that focusing on one type of customer is limiting. Limiting your market is the last thing you want to do, right?  

But narrowing down a little makes it easy to be consistent and target the people who will be most receptive to your message. And having an angle also only makes you more attractive to people who not only have the problem you want to solve, but also think the way you do.  

As an example, here at KeyTech, we know we’re just one of a few managed IT and communications service providers in town. We think we’re the best, but being the best isn’t really the only thing we value ourselves on. We know it’s listening to our customers, and our dedication to solving their real problems that brings in (and keeps) customers. But not just any customers: customers who value good service and understand that it will save them time and money. Now that’s not every business. But by not being for everyone, we can be a better partner for you 

Our brand is when you know that’s what we’re about. If you don’t’ know it, then we need more ‘branding.’  

Why would anyone need branding? 

The truth is that every business has a brand. Think about in terms of people: whether we like it or not, people’s actions and words paint a picture of that person. That’s this person’s brand. Everyone you interact with is forming an impression of you that could change how they interact with you in the future 

So in terms of your business, there is a huge of opportunity to project a memorable and unique version of your business, even if it’s something you aspire to rather than something you are. And ideally, again, there is an opportunity to craft a brand your customers can relate to (it’s no surprise that any branding process starts with your customers).  

If you don’t think you have a brand, there’s a good chance that your brand is not the best it could be in terms of consistency and impact. 

Who needs branding? 

Branding happens every time a customer interacts with your business, whether you know it or not. If you haven’t got a welldefined brand, the way you present yourself might not be very consistent, and people might be getting mixed messages about your business.  

Now that we know a little about what branding is and how it works, take a look at these questions for yourself: 

  • Do you know what people think about your business? 
  • Does your business have a personality? 
  • If your business had a voice, what would it sound like? 
  • Do your website, printed material and other touchpoints look the same? 
  • Do you have a mission, and have you told your market what it is?

If you struggled with one or two of those, you probably need to put a little effort on your branding.  

Who doesn’t need branding? 

But there are some businesses who really don’t need branding. You might be in this category. These fall into two types: 

The first is a very small business where the brand reflects the strong personality of the founder 

For example, a fellow named Quentin makes coffee up in Paddington, serving throngs of customers all on his own. He’s often scrambling to keep up, but always makes a great cup and asks about your life as much as he can between taking orders. I’ve been there often, but I couldn’t really tell you the name of his business, because to me it’s all about Quentin.  

The second would be any business, but usually a larger one, that has developed a brand and consistently applies it whenever they interact with customers, and ideally, always. The reason these are usually larger businesses is it takes a switched-on marketing department to create a good, lasting brand. Otherwise, it takes enough of a marketing budget to engage branding professionals.   

Google Rolls Out Search Update (December 2020)

Google Rolls Out Search Update (December 2020)

Google has just updated the way their search engine ranks websites, which they do a couple of times a year. While the results are generally not drastic, this does mean that your site may gain or lose traffic. We’ve noticed that some of our clients have gained traffic for content on their site that is particularly useful for searchers.

What is Google looking for in terms of content that will rank highly for you?

  • Write content that is relevant to your audience and addresses their specific problem. Be natural and write for people, not a search engine. Ideally, it should be content that others will want to link and share.
  • Include graphics and video when relevant and when it adds value to your readers.
  • Make sure the page title, headings and sub-headings are relevant, but don’t try to stuff them with keywords.
  • Use internal links, such as linking new pages link to important pages of your site when relevant.

While the new update may not have caused big shifts in your web traffic, it’s a reminder that the game of getting traffic and ultimately business online doesn’t stand still, and you need to keep monitoring your results and improving your site.

If you have decided it’s time to up your SEO game and would like a hand, give us a call. We can put together and help implement a strategy to grow your business through SEO and digital marketing.