Protect Your Business: How does Ransomware get in?

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7 Proven Strategies for Managing IT Security

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There is a very good chance that you have been affected by an IT security breach.  Perhaps you own a Sony PlayStation, or shopped at Target, or had an Ashley Madison account.  Even if you didn’t see any direct damage, it has business leaders and IT professionals worried.

“Security attacks are rising, but budgets aren’t. 59% of IT pros say their companies don’t invest enough in security.” —2016 The State of IT, Spiceworks

Here are our seven strategies for managing IT security.

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laptopGuyIf organizations like JP Morgan Chase, or even Revenue Canada, could be attacked, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before your business data and systems are compromised, no matter how careful and secure you think you are.

When you’re a leader in an organization that gets hacked, you’re looking at potentially serious damage to your credibility, your brand, and, of course, your bottom line.

Here is a look at seven proven strategies for managing IT security. (Bonus: some of them are easy to implement):

1. Be Mindful of Internal Threats

Surveys suggest that somewhere between 25% and 48% of all IT security breaches come from inside sources. It is likely to be inadvertent (vs. malicious), so have established workflows and systems in place that deal with:

  • Changing codes and passwords when an employee leaves
  • Document retention: what gets shredded and when (and what gets saved and how)
  • Access: which employees have access to what data

2. Educate

One of the best defenses available is to ensure that everyone understands what’s at stake, and understands the actions they can take to reduce risks. When an attack occurs, will your team be ready? Schedule regular meetings to ensure preparedness and deploy real-world testing to make sure.

3. Mobile Phone Security

Be more secure by insisting that all devices are password protected, and be wary of unsecured wireless networks.

A recent study stated that 57% of mobile phone users don’t know that security solutions exist for smartphones, so add another layer by checking that your team has anti-virus protection installed on all devices.

4. Monitor Rogue IT

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) increases the use of unsanctioned apps on the company network. This is often known as either Rogue IT or Shadow IT. For example, an employee may need to work on a task, but is frustrated with programs that are in place for your organization. Naturally, the frustrated employee may seek an outside solution, find something that looks good to them, and download it onto their device. This can give the IT department a massive headache. Ensure that a clear policy is in place related to downloading and installing software. On the flip side, also be open to employee suggestions if they’re feeling restricted by the company software on offer.

5. Validate Third-Parties

Around 76% of data breaches can be blamed on third-party providers, such as PoS system management. Keep a strong validation protocol in place for any contracted parties, and when it comes to accounts that are no longer active, make sure there is a process for revoking their access completely.

6. Update Software

As software ages, so does its ability to withstand attacks. New threats emerge almost daily, so never neglect an update patch when it becomes available, and make sure your employees are doing the same.

7. Secure Passwords

We’ve saved the best for last. Seeing as ‘123456’ or ‘password’ are still the two most common Internet passwords, there’s a lot more work to do here. Encourage your employees to use a unique password for every site, and use password management software such as True Key.

As Canadians de-centralize our workplaces, relying even more on cloud technology for critical network and data services, regularly evaluate your security practices and be ready when the attack comes.

 

Guest Post: 4 steps to prepare your small business for tax season.

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Here are a four quick tips you can use to prepare your company for tax season that will keep you from scrambling to do your small business taxes at the last minute. 

1. Save your receipts
Hold on to important files related to your company from previous years’ tax returns to receipts from this current filing year. Create an organized filing system to not only store your receipts and old tax returns but also your business’ payroll records, accounts receivable and payable along with any correspondence from the Canada Revenue Agency. In fact, to be on the safe side, make photocopies of all applicable business receipts that you’ll need whether you file your returns yourself or use an accounting service. 

Complete all the tasks on a basic bookkeeping checklist, and you’ll be well on your way to being prepared for filing taxes.

2. Keep personal and business funds separate
To avoid confusion and keep any possible problems from arising, keep your personal and business bank accounts separate. While you may deduct credit card debt that you accrued using a business payment card, you can’t do the same for your personal debt.

3. Account for company purchases
If you bought any high-ticket items for your company in the past year, then remember to account for them. Check with an accountant or with the CRA regarding the best time to buy expensive capital items for your business whether they’re new computers, software or desks and chairs. Either can give you advice about the tax benefits afforded to you and your company. The things you buy to keep your company running may prove to be valuable deductions.

4. Have your calendar ready
Make sure you keep track of your specific tax deadlines from federal to provincial due dates. Missing deadlines can have dire consequences for your bottom line as money owed can add up along with interest on top of it. Also, ensure your business doesn’t miss out on any credits or deductions it can get. Sit down well ahead of your tax due date to examine what kind of credits are applicable to your business. Your company could receive some federal, provincial or territorial tax credits if your business is in the tech or manufacturing sector.

Sage energizes the success of businesses and their communities around the world through the use of smart technology and the imagination of our people. Our software manages accounting, ERP, HR, payroll, payments, assets, construction, and real estate. Our solutions travel with you or stay where you want us—in the cloud, on-premises, or both—giving you the freedom to work where you want. Get started with Sage today.

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This guest post was provided by Sage. All Toshiba Business Notebooks come with a free 30-day Sage Accounting Software trial. Learn more about our notebooks at http://www.toshiba.ca/business-notebooks-laptops/

Guest Post: ExploraVision in the Classroom

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I am a High School teacher from Vancouver and have taught Science for over 15 years.  Since 2010, I have had my students participate in ExploraVision, which is a K-12 science and technology competition founded by Toshiba and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). It is open to students from Canada and the United States, and involves a group of students submitting a project where they imagine a technology twenty years from now. It requires planning, research, imagination, collaboration, and many other important skills. Since this is something that goes beyond the classroom, and is marked by real scientists, students tend to be much more engaged. Further motivation comes from the fact that every student who enters receives a prize, with the winners getting up to $10,000 in savings bonds towards their education. However, the greatest motivation comes from the opportunity that students have to work on something they are passionate about.

My first involvement with ExploraVision began when a colleague introduced me to what her students were doing for an ExploraVision project, and encouraged me to participate.  My first year was a learning process, and I had to create a few resources to help me deal with such a large project. However, ExploraVision now has a variety of resources for teachers, such as project checklists, sample classroom timelines, and lesson plans (http://www.exploravision.org/for-teachers). Once I had gone through the competition, I began to really appreciate what an amazing learning experience it was for students. In order to identify a technology or a solution to a problem, students implemented higher order thinking skills. I am continually impressed, and sometimes amazed, by the level and quality of work that students create.

Although I have had students ranging from grade 8 to grade 12 take part in ExploraVision, the majority of my experience has been with Grade 9 students. I typically approach the competition by assigning it as a class project in September, and making it due in November. I provide 20 minutes of group time every few classes, and book the computer lab for about 3 classes (for research and typing things out). Students meet outside of class time for any additional work that needs to be done. Although I know many teachers that tie the projects to the learning outcomes they are working on, I treat this more as a passion project. If nothing else, the skills that students pick up and reinforce while working on a project of this magnitude make it extremely worthwhile to do. One additional thing that I choose to do is collect the ExploraVision projects, assign a grade for their class mark, provide feedback, and return it to students for minor improvements. Once students have done this, I submit their projects to ExploraVision online.

My students routinely finish with Honourable Mentions (top 10%) because they find topics they are passionate about and put in a lot of work as a result. What I try to do is provide support and guidance, such as:

  1. Helping students narrow down and refine their topics
  2. Providing time guidelines
  3. Teaching students about research, taking notes, organization, time management, and periodic self-assessment
  4. Checking in with groups for updates, encouraging all the group members to be accountable, and helping groups to solve issues or problems that may arise
Dan Borges (far right) and his winning team from 2012.

Dan Borges (far right) and his winning team from 2012.

In 2012, a group of my students were the winners in the Grades 7-9 division. It was an amazing experience for all of us. The students, family, and teacher (that’s me!) were flown to Washington, D.C. for media availability and various events.

ExploraVision is a fantastic project for Science teachers that are looking for activities that tie into Inquiry, Project Based Learning, or STEM. I have found it to be a very rewarding learning experience for students and something that I highly recommend.

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 This guest post was provided by Dan Borges. You can follow him on Twitter @eduphystech. To learn more about ExploraVision, please visit http://www.exploravision.org/

 

2015 Business Class Survey Results Are In

A huge thank you to the 1,842 Canadian business professionals who completed our survey. We learned that over 65% percent of professionals are confident in the future of Canadian business. We also now know the most common worries facing Canadian business professionals are work/life balance (37%) and the pressure to do more with less (32%).

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Technology is a pervasive force in Canadian business and it’s a tough operating environment of networks and data. Professionals rated security as their number one IT concern. Not unsurprisingly, the respondents listed keeping employee devices managed and secure (BYOD), big data and cloud computing as the next most important trends impacting their business.

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Business in Canada is hard work but there’s a lighter side too. We all hate jargon and buzzwords, and our survey showed you hate “Giving 110%” the most.

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Finally, you told us which Toshiba laptop you like the best. (Oh, and we gave one away too! Dan K. from Oshawa, Ontario was the lucky recipient of a brand-new Portégé Z20t 2-in-1 Ultrabook powered by an Intel® Core™ M vPro™ processor).

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When you invest in Toshiba laptops, you’re not just getting “best-in-class,” you’re getting business class — you’re getting a machine designed for the real rigors of professional life. We’ve got laptops for every Canadian business from startup to enterprise. Check out our buyer’s guide for more details.

Understanding the increasingly complex job of managing your business’ crucial assets and information, we offer a suite of solutions and services to support your IT needs.

Our account teams work closely with customers to make sure we put the right solution in place. Our nimble approach and ability to offer flexible solutions are designed to meet the needs of Canadian business of all sizes. If you’re in the market for new notebooks or IT services, please drop us a line.

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When choosing a laptop for school the key is to look beyond the price tag

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Last week we covered what laptop styles and features are useful for students as they prepare for the new school year. This week we’ll go over how to make sure you get the best quality of laptop for your money. As a student you’re on a tight budget and your choice may often come down to price. But the old adage “you get what you pay for” may end up haunting you down the road.

When it comes to a laptop for school, you want to make sure you’re investing in a quality, reliable product. We all know the distress and inconvenience that can result from a laptop breaking down halfway through an assignment that’s due in the morning.  So while it may be tempting to settle for the more economical choice, consider the long-term value. A higher quality product may be a greater upfront investment but it will end up costing you less down the road if you don’t have to deal with constant repairs and downtime. It will last you longer, provide better value and include more useful features.

Another thing to consider is warranty options. You know you’re getting a better quality laptop if the manufacturer is willing to stand by their product with longer, more comprehensive warranty coverage.  As a student your laptop is always on the move with you—who knows when you might have that coffee spill on your keyboard or unexpected drop or break. For your own peace of mind you want to make sure you’re covered.

The Toshiba Back-to-School laptop lineup includes our cost-effective Satellite Pro series, super-slim and light Z-series, the detachable Portégé Z20t and Chromebook 2. Depending on the model, you’ll get 3-years of Accidental Damage Protection or a 2-year Extended Warranty free of charge.  They’re all jam-packed with all the wants and needs of a student.

Learn more here: http://www.toshiba.ca/education2015/

Business Laptop Buying Guide

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Visit Toshiba.ca to learn more about Toshiba business laptops, solutions and services.

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How to choose the right laptop that will meet your needs for the new school year.

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Alright, so summer is coming to an end and school is about to start up again. Feels like summer literally just flew by, doesn’t it? You’re realizing how little time you have left to figure out everything you need for the new school year. When it comes to your laptop, it’s important to make sure you have the best option that gives you maximum productivity and mobility. Toshiba has a great selection of products to meet all of your school computing needs.

Choose from the cost-effective Satellite Pro series, super-slim and light Z-series, the detachable Portégé Z20t or Chromebook 2 laptop models—all are packed with great features for any student’s needs. They are part of the Toshiba Back-to-School laptop lineup.

So what are some important features to look for as a student? Constantly going between home, class and the library means you’re always carrying around a bag full of heavy textbooks. You don’t want to weigh yourself down even more with a bulky laptop. Consider the screen size. Do you need a big 15- or 17-inch display or will perhaps a smaller 13- or 14-inch laptop do the job? Most laptops these days are pretty light and thin but you want to make sure that doesn’t come at the expense of durability. With your laptop on the move a lot it’s at greater risk of damage so look for strong, quality build. Toshiba’s Back-to-School lineup includes free Accidental Damage Protection for three years on select models—in case you have a drop, break or spill.

Tablets are becoming more and more popular. They’re easy to carry around and great for writing notes or doing online research on the touchscreen display. But a tablet alone won’t be enough for writing long papers or anything else that requires a keyboard for typing. The Toshiba Portégé Z20t 2-in-1 gives you the best of both worlds—a standalone tablet when you want it and a detachable keyboard when you need it.

So whether you’re looking for portability, versatility or just overall great style in your laptop, Toshiba has you covered. Because having the right laptop with all the right features will help you set the stage for a successful school year!

Learn more at http://www.toshiba.ca/education2015/.

The future of IT: how IT departments can better manage increasingly complex technology, security demands, shrinking budgets and end-user productivity.

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The IT world is continuously evolving. The pressure to manage increasingly complex technology and security with ever-shrinking budgets means IT departments are becoming less capable of providing their end-users with the same level and type of service as they did in the past. And you know it’s just going to keep getting more complex and time-consuming as technology changes. So where is this all going and what’s an IT department to do to keep up with the trends and ensure the success of their business?

The challenge is twofold as most traditional IT departments are made up of a frontend and backend infrastructure. The backend tends to be hardware heavy with huge investment in the equipment, management and security. The frontend, on the other hand, tends to be resource heavy with many IT staff needed to support the ever-changing technology requirements, software upgrades, procurement, deployment, training and end-of-life management.

To help cope with the demands, corporate IT departments are increasingly relying on the hardware manufacturers for their backend and frontend management. After all, they are the experts on their products and it saves precious time and resources for IT staff. Technology manufacturers, like Toshiba, are offering end-to-end solutions and services for both infrastructure and endpoint management.

On the frontend side of things, we offer a wide variety of services to take the burden off of your IT team. Our Configure-to-Order customizations include custom imaging, custom BIOS settings, data migration, HDD and memory upgrades, asset tagging and reporting, custom boot logo and on-site upgrades. All our customizations are performed by experienced Toshiba staff who can fully prepare your Toshiba laptops for deployment in as quickly as 24 hours and with superior technical accuracy while ensuring full factory warranty service. You also have access to technical support for ongoing issues to minimize downtime. This helps keep your end-users productive with minimal involvement from IT, freeing up your time for other business critical tasks.

Tracking of hardware and software assets as well as providing software and security patches for a mobile workforce can also be very challenging. Toshiba offers a simple solution with our Toshiba Cloud Client Manager (TCCM). In addition to asset and patch management, TCCM is capable of power management, software distribution, password reset, BIOS distribution and many other enhanced security related features. It is cloud-based, easy to use, vendor independent and does not require high upfront investment in hardware, software, consulting and training. Plus, endpoint devices can be added as needed.

On the backend side, we have partnered with IT Weapons, a true Canadian pioneer and industry leader when it comes to cloud services, managed IT solutions, data centre technology and client experience. Now we can provide a full-range of managed services, take over your entire infrastructure and virtualize it. Toshiba IT Services include cloud services, data protection, managed IT and security, all of which will allow our team to optimize your operations and manage the risk so you can spend time growing your business. You can reduce spending on non-essential commodity elements of IT and free up resources for investment in IT capabilities.

The IT department of tomorrow will gradually shift from a high-resource, escalating cost desk-side and network infrastructure support, to a slimmed-down team responsible for the setting, implementing and enforcing of organizational IT standards. The job of installing, moving, adding and changing of the infrastructure and endpoint devices will increasingly be taken on by the hardware manufacturer.

Multiple work devices driving you crazy? Simplify your life with a versatile 2-in-1.

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In today’s high-speed, mobile world most business workers are no longer chained to their desks from nine to five. We’re constantly on the go and juggling face-to-face meetings, late night conference calls and a never ending influx of emails. Technological advances have made all of this flexibility possible, but sometimes it feels like our numerous mobile devices complicate instead of simplifying our busy working lives. You need a business laptop for the office, a tablet for meetings and a couple of smartphones to top it off. It makes you wonder, how did people ever get any work done before these existed?

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It is with this in mind that Toshiba set out to develop a business laptop that offered the perfect balance between performance and mobility—a breakthrough productivity tool designed to deliver practical business applications. The Portégé Z20t 2-in-1 Ultrabook offers all the flexibility you need in one, sleek device. The removable display and reversible dock are great for face-to-face meetings and presentations. The Wacom technology and digitizer provide a superior and highly accurate handwriting experience which comes in handy for capturing signatures on-site. Your field and office work will be simplified with the use of a single device for both.

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All of this is matched by Toshiba’s signature engineering and build designed to deliver outstanding performance, reliability and security. The Portégé Z20t business laptop delivers up to 17 hours of battery life, Intel’s latest Broadwell processor for faster performance and less power usage, protection in the form of a security lock and spill-resistant keyboard, and EasyGuard® Technology for peace of mind.

This type of device is ideal for sales professionals, real estate agents or anyone else who spends a lot of time in the field with clients. The Portégé Z20t is also the recipient of Red Dot Award for high-quality and innovative product design.

Learn more about the Portégé Z20t here: http://www.toshiba.ca/Professional/PortegeZ20t/ or call 1-800-TOSHIBA.