Here at Guardian Computer, we frequently use SharePoint to consolidate company data, documents, and communication for our clients. In our experience, it is one of the best technologies on the market today to store, organize, share, and access information from any device.

Despite its numerous benefits, we’ve noticed that many businesses are unfamiliar with exactly what SharePoint is and what it does. Especially with more organizations engaging in remote work and telecommunications, there has never been a better time to learn how to use SharePoint effectively for your business.

Felecia Foy, one of our IT Support Specialists, is a big proponent of SharePoint and has plenty of experience helping clients set up and manage the platform. Keep reading to learn what SharePoint is, how it can help your company, and how Felecia and our experts can help you get started.

What Is SharePoint?

Before worrying about how to use SharePoint effectively, you should know the basics about what it is and what it does. In short, SharePoint is a collaborative platform that is integrated with Microsoft Office.

As Felecia puts it, “SharePoint is the amalgamation of all Microsoft services presented in one location. It creates a single accessible hub where people can share documents, collaborate on projects, share information throughout the company or with a subset of people within the company, and integrate with all of Microsoft’s other platforms.”

SharePoint can be customized, making it useful for a range of different needs, from storing information to supporting an organization’s internal communication. Many organizations use it to store, share, organize, and access information securely from various devices and as a platform to build intranet websites.

A laptop with SharePoint open on the screen, demonstrating how to use SharePoint effectively.

SharePoint in Microsoft 365

SharePoint in Microsoft 365 is a cloud-based application that allows users to use SharePoint technologies without installing SharePoint Server. Instead, your business can subscribe to a Microsoft 365 plan. Users can share information with employees, clients, and partners through sites they can create.

SharePoint is the backend for what Microsoft refers to as SharePoint as well as OneDrive. The distinction for us is that “SharePoint” is for company documents shared with others. In our opinion, “OneDrive” should be called “Personal SharePoint.” This is where you store your documents to make them easily available, no matter what device you are using.

To make life more confusing, the application used on computers to synchronize documents from both SharePoint and OneDrive is called OneDrive. With this application installed, you can easily sync folders and files used regularly to your computers for easy access. Having multiple computers and devices accessing the same files is no longer a chore.

With so many potential integrations and capabilities, SharePoint can benefit organizations of all sizes and industries. Below are a few features your company can use right now.

Check out this infographic or keep reading to learn 3 key benefits of SharePoint and how to use SharePoint effectively for your business.

Automating Workflows and Processes

One of the most useful ways we use SharePoint at Guardian Computer is as an integration tool to help you create automated workflows between your favorite apps and services to synchronize files, get notifications, collect data, and more.

“Power Automate can create workflows that automate business processes and cut down on competitive tasks and overhead,” Felecia explains. The Power Automate platform can connect to over 500 different services and applications.

“So in that way, you can really link SharePoint to just about anything you want, and you can do really anything you want with it—as long as you have the time and expertise to do so,” says Felecia.

Onboarding New Employees

Currently, Felecia and our other SharePoint experts are helping one of our clients keep up with rapid company scaling using SharePoint. We are using SharePoint’s integration capabilities to manage the onboarding processes for the client’s large group of new employees.

This includes managing their email accounts and Azure Active Directory (AD) information, as well as creating a new site on SharePoint that assists them in the onboarding process. Felecia describes the process like this: “We have a form that they can fill out with the new employees’ information. And then in the backend, we have a script that will automatically create the accounts, assign the licenses, and assign the correct groups.”

SharePoint’s vast integration capabilities help businesses consolidate tedious tasks into a simple automated process, allowing your workforce to prioritize the tasks that need more specialized attention. Knowing how to use SharePoint effectively when onboarding new employees can drastically reduce the amount of time and effort required by your team.

SharePoint Across Industries

Given its customizability and integration capabilities, SharePoint can be used effectively for a wide range of applications across industries. Industries like healthcare and finance in particular benefit from the strong security associated with SharePoint services. This allows healthcare professionals, for example, to share information and data while maintaining HIPAA compliance.

In addition, all data stored on SharePoint is backed by Microsoft’s servers. With this information automatically backed up to the cloud, nothing will be accidentally deleted and lost forever while in the middle of work. “It can really provide peace of mind for companies that everything will remain confidential and accessible to them,” says Felecia.

Getting Help from Guardian Computer

SharePoint can take significant time and expertise to integrate into the everyday functions of a business. But don’t let that intimidate you. At Guardian, we have the knowledge, experience, and resources to onboard your company with SharePoint services.

Not only that, but we can ensure your organization is making the most of SharePoint’s capabilities in pursuit of your business objectives. “What we offer at Guardian is that expertise, the willingness to put in the time and the effort so that businesses don’t have to,” Felecia says. “Our clients can focus on doing what they do best, and we’ll make it easier for them to do that.”

When setting up SharePoint for a client, we provide a stress-free experience with our thorough, streamlined process. After an introductory meeting to understand exactly what you want from SharePoint integration, we determine how to customize the platform so it’s tailored to your specific needs.

After setup, we walk you through how to use SharePoint effectively: what its capabilities are, how to use them, how to add services, and more. From there, Guardian will monitor your information and infrastructure to maintain its security and functionality. If you ever have any questions or experience any issues, our experts are only a phone call or email away.

Contact Us to Start Your SharePoint Integration

We know you’re busy running your company and keeping your customers satisfied. Incorporating SharePoint into your operations will only make it easier. Let our professionals handle this so you don’t have to.

Guardian Computer has been serving businesses across the U.S. since 1996. With knowledgeable IT professionals like Felecia, our team can help you navigate new technologies and challenges. Contact us today to get started.

In today’s age of digital transformation, new and sophisticated cyberattacks, adoption of VPNs for public Wi-Fi usage, and more, it can be hard to keep track of all the latest technology trends, challenges, and solutions. Viruses are one issue in particular that consistently receives attention but is plagued with myths and misconceptions.

The concept of the computer virus has transformed into a catch-all term for a variety of programs that could damage your computer. In reality, when most people say “virus,” they really mean anything with malicious code.

So what do you actually need to know about viruses today, and what computer virus myths can you disregard? To be able to protect your company computers and data, you need to be aware of the popular types of malware you might see, as well as warning signs that point to an infected device.

“The most common misconception is that it is not going to happen to me or that if it does happen, it won’t be that bad,” says Charles Andrews (better known as Andy), our cybersecurity expert. We’re here to share his insights and the critical information you need to know about computer virus myths, threats, symptoms, and solutions.

Different Types of Infectious Malware

Awareness is a critical component in combating viruses and malware. One harmful computer virus myth is that certain types of devices (namely, Apple products and mobile devices) aren’t susceptible to malware.

All devices can potentially be infected by malware, and there are many different types of malware that leaders and employees need to watch out for. That’s why it is essential to train all end users on how to avoid different types of malware, popular tactics used to infect devices, and how to detect when there is a problem.

The following are some of the most common types of infectious malware that could infiltrate your devices.

A computer screen with a malware notification. One of the biggest computer virus myths is that these malicious softwares are viruses, but actually they're malware.

Viruses

The type of malware with the most name recognition is the virus. A virus is a piece of code that is capable of copying itself, typically resulting in a detrimental effect on the screen of the infected computer.

Getting a virus can be as simple as a user opening an email or clicking on a link that executes a malicious program. From there, the virus will multiply and attack varying aspects of the computer.

Viruses often come from an infected webpage or a phishing email. It is important to remember that secure websites should have “https” at the beginning of the URL. If you just see “http,” think twice before visiting the site and do not enter any of your information.

Worms

Worms are able to replicate with incredible speed. Once they are inside your network, they’ll seek out any available weak computer system that’s online and try to infect it.

Worms work autonomously, and they can transfer themselves from one computer to another without any interaction from users. This makes them one of the more dangerous types of malware and very difficult to detect. 

Trojans

A trojan’s purpose is to get itself installed onto your computer via a seemingly innocuous download, email attachment, or ad. Once installed on your computer, the hacker will have remote access to your network via your device.

Trojans are named as such because they seem harmless and work hard to remain undetected on your computer. They want to remain inconspicuous so that they can be an anchor point to attack other devices, making them especially threatening for company networks with many connected devices.

Botnets

Botnets are a group of infected computers that respond to the call of a botherder or command-and-control server. Botnets’ end goal is to attack en masse against a target in what is referred to as a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS).

A DDoS attack involves one or more attackers attempting to make it impossible for a service to be delivered. The attackers will drown a server in requests so that it will cease to function. 

Ransomware/Crypto Viruses 

This type of attack is rapidly growing in popularity. With ransomware/crypto viruses, hackers will encrypt your data and then ransom it back to you for a price. There are many different ways that hackers will attempt this: sometimes they use botnets, while other times they may use a virus. 

Warning Signs of an Infected Device 

One of the most damaging computer virus myths is that antivirus software offers a complete solution to infectious malware. While antivirus software protects against viruses, it won’t keep you safe against trojans or botnets, for instance.

This is why widespread awareness and proactive prevention are crucial. The sooner you identify a malware infection, the sooner you can remove the malicious code and limit the damage it causes. “Early detection and prevention can’t be overstated in their effectiveness,” says Andy.

No one thinks it will happen to them, but cybercriminals know to target smaller businesses whose cybersecurity may not be as robust. Andy adds, “It’s much better to catch one of these issues early than it is to try and clean it up after.”

The signs of an infected device can differ depending on the type of malware that has infected it. Here are a few common warning signs to watch out for.

Prepare yourself against computer virus myths by reading about the common warning signs of an infected device in our infographic or in the rest of our blog post.

Blue Screen of Death

The Blue Screen of Death, or BSOD, is a name that’s been given to error messages that you will typically see on a Windows computer. If you see the Blue Screen of Death, it means your computer can’t continue with what it was doing and will likely shut down and try to restart.

Typically, a BSOD does not mean you have a virus. If it only happens once, it could be a hardware issue. But if it’s happening frequently, it is possibly the result of a virus.

Increased Overheating or Fan Speed

Is your device overheating during normal activity or inactivity? Is your computer’s fan running higher than normal, even though you don’t have any programs open? If so, this may be a sign that malware is on your device.

In this case, a virus or worm may be causing your device to work harder than it needs to, though it appears not to be doing anything.

Slow Performance

If you notice that your computer or smartphone takes a long time to start running or to open programs, it may be a sign that you have a virus. Before assuming that malware has infected your device, first check to see if you have ample space on your hard drive.

If you do have space and your computer is still running slowly, the culprit could be a damaged hard drive. If the hard drive is not damaged, however, it is highly likely that some kind of malware is infecting your computer.

Other signs of malware may include: frequent pop-ups, error messages, missing or damaged files, system crashes, or unprompted computer restarts. If you notice any of these problems or anything else unusual, Guardian Computer can help.

Guardian Computer: Your Computer Virus Myth Buster and Problem Solver

Our IT experts are here to tackle your technology needs, including everything from malware detection and protection, to Helpdesk support, to fully managed IT services. We are available to answer any questions or concerns you may have, solving issues with fast, friendly customer service. We also provide proactive monitoring to spot issues quickly and prepare for your future needs, so you can have peace of mind about your IT.

Contact us to get started with Guardian today and keep your data protected.

Are you frustrated by your company’s technology? Looking for quick, easy IT fixes that will make a measurable difference?

When you’re running a small business, IT problems should be the least of your worries. It’s critical to keep technology issues off your plate, so you can put your time and energy into the core of your business.

With an efficient IT infrastructure and a knowledgeable IT support team behind your business, you can keep tech issues to a minimum and help your organization run smoothly. Whether your staff is transitioning back into the physical office or still working remotely, Guardian Computer’s Helpdesk Lead, Ryan Prejean, has compiled 6 easy IT fixes to get you started.

Building the Right IT Infrastructure

The transition into a distributed work environment has led many small businesses to invest in IoT devices and update their tech without knowing what’s truly necessary for their business. IoT devices can provide ease and speed to assist in data transfer and accessibility, but the issue is that small businesses are often skimping on the things that matter most when they decide to upgrade their devices. 

According to Ryan, “It’s a firewall, switch, and wireless. Those are the three main things—firewall for protection and control, wireless to get everyone on the network, and the switch, which serves as a central hub.”

Make the most of your technology with these easy, practical additions to your IT infrastructure, or contact us for help managing your IT.

When looking for easy IT fixes for small businesses, consider the 3 key IT infrastructure purchases in this infographic: a firewall, a wireless system, and a switch.

1. Professional Firewall

While it may be a good decision for businesses to accommodate the use of IoT devices, it shouldn’t come at the expense of adequate security. The alarming 20% of small businesses that “plan to invest in cybersecurity software” is strikingly low, especially considering the variety of security concerns that demand companies’ attention today.

Fortunately, a good firewall goes a long way toward addressing many of these issues. Implementing a strong, professional firewall is one of the greatest contributions you can make to your IT infrastructure because it offers critical protection against cyberattacks and data breaches.

“We recommend the Cisco Firepower,” Ryan says. “Cisco Firepower can use AI technology to detect places where you’re likely to get malicious content and block certain websites or ads. We try to put as many walls as possible between users and potential threats.”

2. Seamless Wireless 

“Everyone has to get on the network,” says Ryan. No business wants to deal with the cost of network downtime, so you need a fast, secure, reliable network to make the most of your technology and workforce productivity. 

Ryan recommends using the Cisco Meraki wireless system. As a wireless mesh network, it has the advantage of establishing multiple nodes, offering better coverage and stronger performance than traditional networks.

An office with lines connecting different devices as a representation of seamless wireless, which is one of the easy IT fixes for small businesses to make.

In addition to providing seamless wireless access throughout your building, the system can perform automatic updates and alert you when there’s an issue with your network. “When your employees bring their own devices, having a sophisticated wireless system helps boost your security,” Ryan explains. 

3. Central Switch

“Your switch is the central point, where all your expensive pieces of equipment connect,” says Ryan. “It will communicate with your firewall and it goes out to every plug.”

As such, it’s worth investing in a solid switch, setting it up to properly communicate with your tech, and protecting it with a UPS (uninterruptible power supply).

4. Surge Protector

Speaking of UPSs, here’s a bonus tip for your IT infrastructure:

“You don’t need a fancy UPS for every computer,” says Ryan. “But if you’re getting your employees good machines that are going to last 5 to 7 years, then they’re probably $1,000+ pieces of equipment and you don’t want them fried if there’s a storm. Get a $20 surge protector on Amazon to protect them.” 

Keeping Everything Up to Date 

When you’re building a strong IT infrastructure, you have to make sure your software is up to date or you could run into security and performance issues. Today, keeping devices updated is more important than having the latest model.

“It used to be the case that if you got a laptop, 3 years later it would crawl compared to anything modern-day on the market. This is changing slightly as our field matures,” Ryan explains. “For desktops and laptops, it is not critical that the hardware be new but that the OS is up to date.”

5. Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Azure

It’s no secret that Microsoft is the industry standard. With most businesses already using Microsoft products (such as Outlook, OneDrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more), an easy way to keep tech up to date, streamline operations, and potentially cut redundant costs is to fully leverage the Microsoft ecosystem with 365 and Azure.

Some of the top benefits that Microsoft 365 offers include:

  • Easy integration with Microsoft apps
  • Automatically synced email, contacts, and calendar
  • Access to apps offline
  • Seamless login and authentication
  • Built-in compliance features
  • 5GB of free storage via OneDrive
  • 1 TB of storage via SharePoint
  • Sharing and collaboration features via SharePoint

As for Microsoft Azure, it’s the only way to establish a serverless business infrastructure that seamlessly integrates with the Microsoft ecosystem. If you put a virtual server on Amazon, for instance, it won’t integrate with Microsoft 365. You would have to tie it in manually.

A few of its other advantages include:

  • Application and device management
  • Threat detection and multi-factor authentication
  • Guest user accounts and sign-ins
  • Hybrid interaction with desktop and cloud-based applications
  • Identity governance to manage identity, audit, and verify its effectiveness
  • Reporting and monitoring

Learn more about the advantages of Microsoft 365 over G Suite from our co-founder, co-owner, and CEO, John Prejean, or read about more of Microsoft Azure’s benefits from Ryan.

6. Antivirus Protection

This might seem like a no-brainer, but up-to-date antivirus software is critical. Be sure to put antivirus protection on every company computer and keep it updated. Ryan recommends the professional package from Malwarebytes for most small businesses.

“Malwarebytes automatically blocks users from accessing malicious links and blacklisted websites. This program is installed on machines all over the world, and the free version is one of the most installed antivirus software ever,” Ryan says.

Make More IT Fixes with Guardian Computer

Need support on any of these IT fixes? Looking for more advanced services and solutions? Guardian Computer is here to help. Ranked among the world’s best 501 managed service providers, our clients come to us for trustworthy, expert services and outstanding customer support.

Don’t pay an upcharge, face confusion with IT word salad on your invoices, or be forced to modernize your technology where your business doesn’t need it. With competitive prices and straightforward services, we empower you to make informed decisions about your IT. Contact us today to learn more.

There’s a reason why you haven’t gotten started with cloud storage at your organization yet. Maybe you still have questions about how it would fit into your current infrastructure or security measures. Maybe you’re not convinced it will be worth the time and effort to set up, teach your employees, and maintain. Maybe you just have bigger fish to fry at the moment. But there’s still a nagging feeling that you should figure it out.

No matter what your reason is, the idea of migrating to cloud storage can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! Now is the perfect time to finally make the change and reap the benefits in an increasingly digital world. Every client migrated from local server storage to cloud storage was skeptical and did not like it initially. Then the benefits become glaringly obvious.

Learn how to migrate to cloud storage today in just 4 steps:

  1. Create a plan
  2. Decide what will be stored
  3. Transfer your data
  4. Train your employees

We’ll take you through each step, as well as how to avoid some common pitfalls.

Migrating to Cloud Storage in 4 Steps

Check out this infographic listing our 4 steps for migrating to cloud storage or keep reading for more information.

1. Create a Plan

The first step to adopting cloud storage is creating a plan. The more information, existing data storage, employees, and security requirements you have, the more complicated the process becomes.

Having a plan can help keep you on track, establish deadlines, maintain your normal business operations, and make sure nothing falls through the cracks. It also ensures you prepare for any costs, such as the cloud itself and any IT services required to set up, manage, or secure your cloud.

If you are lucky enough to have all data in a single location, your plan will be much easier. Collecting data from multiple servers, workstations, or cloud accounts requires much more planning. No matter what your situation, use this time to define structure and permissions that are easy to navigate and maintain.

2. Decide What Will Be Stored

Your next step is to decide what information will be going into the cloud. Do you want to store customer information? Company logins or financials? Business intelligence?

It may be tempting to skip this step and say you’ll just store everything on the cloud. Especially with remote work on the rise, it seems like it wouldn’t hurt to have everything accessible remotely. While we do not disagree with having all information available, files that are no longer needed or relevant should be deleted. Adding garbage could increase storage costs and will cause unnecessary clutter.

Visualization of a cloud and the many items stored on it, underlining the importance of deciding what to store when migrating to cloud storage.

As you compile the list of information to store on the cloud, note who needs access to it. Some information can be available to everyone in your organization. Sensitive information should only be made available to those who need it—and only for as long as they need it. Establish policies for granting, removing, and periodically reviewing who has access to the information in your cloud.

3. Transfer Your Data

Actually transferring your data is going to be the most significant step of this process. We have found that setting up a data sync is the best option, if possible. This gives you the ability to migrate users in phases as opposed to all at one time. A sync allows users to modify files in the original location and the cloud location without risk of losing data.

Allowing users to use the data from both locations helps to identify your power users. Power users can assist with user training and become cheerleaders for the change.

4. Train Your Employees

The last major step is to train your employees. Although it is often overlooked, this step is critical to implement cloud storage successfully in the long term.

Your employees are what keep your business running. If they are failing to save information, saving it incorrectly, or not following security procedures, it can cause big problems for your business.

Train employees on all cloud procedures, including:

  • What information should be stored in the cloud
  • How to save information to the cloud
  • How to make sure information is synced and backed up
  • How to search for information in the cloud
  • Who should have access to what information
  • How to request or grant access to information
  • What security measures they should take

Don’t rush this step! Cloud storage can increase your organization’s efficiency, but only if employees actually understand how to leverage the cloud. Schedule periodic refreshers to make sure everyone is following protocol and use the opportunity to share new tips and tricks for greater productivity.

The Risks of Cloud Storage

As with any technology, there are risks associated with cloud storage. Some of the risks include:

  • Information previously stored offline faces new cyber risks.
  • If you don’t monitor access and enforce policies for granting access, employees may gain access to information without permission.
  • With data backed up and synced across multiple devices, it can be harder to make sure something is truly deleted from the cloud.
  • At the same time, employees still might accidentally delete or alter information, spreading these faulty changes across all synced devices.

However, these issues don’t have to keep you from taking advantage of cloud storage. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce these risks:

  • Keep any information that is too sensitive off the cloud, and implement cybersecurity measures to protect data stored on the cloud.
  • Establish policies for access to data and regular reviews of employee access. Keep track of who has access to what as well as who granted access, creating more accountability.
  • Choose cloud services that allow you to completely delete information when needed and train employees how to properly delete information.
  • Choose cloud services that track changes to your information and allow you to easily restore previous versions.

By learning how to implement cloud storage with these risks in mind, you can be sure to guard against these issues from the very start. If there is anything you’re still concerned about or that your team needs help with, you can also outsource your cloud storage needs to a trusted IT provider!

Get Expert Help to Implement Cloud Storage Now

Having access to your information from anywhere is valuable, especially when employees are working remotely. Our expert staff can help execute this transition efficiently and seamlessly, so your organization can rest easy and simply reap the benefits.

Our team will set up and closely monitor your cloud, run regular performance checks, and apply updates as they become available. If you have specific requirements for keeping your data storage compliant with federal regulations, such as HIPAA, HITECH, the U.S. Patriot Act, CCAR, FINRA, CFPB, OCC, and more, talk to our team about incorporating this into your cloud setup, monitoring, and maintenance as relevant.

If you ever have a question about your cloud or run into an issue, our experts are available to provide direct support over the phone, online, or in person as needed.

Ready to take advantage of cloud storage? Give us a call at 866-488-4726 or contact us online today!

Mobile device management (MDM) software, such as Microsoft Intune, allows for visibility and management of the mobile devices accessing your enterprise’s network. As mobile threats loom large over organizations of all types and sizes, MDM is quickly becoming a critical part of protecting confidential business and employee data from a variety of digital threats.

But what exactly is an MDM software and what does it offer to businesses? Should small and midsize businesses consider adopting an MDM software for their network? What makes Microsoft Intune a standout option for MDM?

Not only does Guardian Computer provide clients with a variety of MDM services through Microsoft Intune, we also use this software for our own tech network. Jeremy Wirtz, our Senior Technical Engineer and in-house Intune expert, offers his expert opinion about the top benefits of Intune, as well as the reasons why your business should consider adopting an MDM solution.

What Is MDM Software?

MDM software is a key element to the emerging field of mobile device management within the business world. MDM softwares like Microsoft Intune, Scalefusion, and SOTI MobiControl are designed to provide an organization with a wide range of visibility and control features for in-office and remote network devices.

While not all MDM softwares are identical, many include similar features, such as: 

  • Device monitoring and remote configuration, which allow your IT team to track the activity and location of your business’ network devices, including laptops, PCs, tablets, IoT devices, or smartphones
  • Remote disconnection, which allows IT admins to lock or wipe certain devices in the event of a potential or confirmed data breach, theft, or loss
  • Regulatory compliance management features, such as activity and data logs
  • Application and OS management tools that can schedule and control device updates, as well as block certain device and application features that may threaten data security
Keep reading or check out our infographic to learn about the top benefits of mobile device management.

What Makes Microsoft Intune Stand Out?

Today, there is a massive global market for mobile device management softwares and strategies. According to Business Wire, the MDM industry is anticipated to grow by approximately 23% by 2023. This expansion is primarily driven by increases in smartphone usage across enterprises, as well as growing threats to corporate data across the business world.

So what makes Microsoft Intune a great MDM software? To start, Jeremy argues that Intune is a perfect solution for any business currently using Microsoft’s cloud services, such as Microsoft Azure. “It comes down to the tight integration that Intune has into Microsoft’s other cloud-based offerings, as well as their other products in general,” he explains.

If your business already uses Outlook, OneDrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint, Teams, Azure, or Active Directory, then the team that manages your IT will have a clearer understanding of how Intune works from the start. “That’s going to make it significantly easier for them to understand and implement Intune,” Jeremy says.

An open laptop on an employee desk, which could be monitored with Microsoft Intune.

Even if your team doesn’t already use Microsoft products, Intune may still be a great MDM software solution for your team, depending on your IT infrastructure. Intune does not currently support Chromebooks, which makes it an incompatible MDM software for any businesses with Chromebooks in their device network. 

However, this doesn’t prevent companies that rely on G Suite from getting the most out of Intune. “Even if you’re using Gmail or Google apps, you may still have all of your users on a Windows-based operating system, like Windows 10,” Jeremy says. “And that integrates into Intune.”

Any organizations that rely on Microsoft operating systems or products can have more granular control over the policies on the operating system itself by using Intune, rather than another MDM software.

Is Microsoft Intune Worth It?

Some business leaders may still be skeptical about implementing Intune into their network. They may fear the additional costs of maintaining this software or worry about the length of the implementation process. Others may believe that mobile device management software is too complex for their business’ needs. However, MDM software like Microsoft Intune offers many practical benefits to businesses’ everyday and emergency operations.

Cybersecurity 

Company-issued smartphones, tablets, and laptops, as well as some personal devices, have become essential items for many modern businesses. But these devices are often vulnerable to cyberattacks or employee errors, both of which can lead to major expenses, extended network downtime, or even compliance issues and legal troubles for an organization.

According to Jeremy, these threats are the top reason that any business should consider integrating an MDM software into their digital infrastructure. “The main reason companies would want to consider implementing an MDM solution is to protect their corporate data,” he says.

Lock symbols over a phone, document, computer, email, and cloud to represent cybersecurity, one of the benefits of mobile device management.

Data protection is especially important for small and midsize businesses. CNBC reports that over 50% of America’s small businesses experienced a data breach between 2018 and 2019, with an average cost of $200,000 for damages and fees associated with a single attack.

Long-Term Benefits

Jeremy recommends that business leaders also consider how their organization may grow in the coming months or years. “It’s much easier to get that MDM solution in place when an organization is still small,” he explains.

In addition, Jeremy notes that the initial costs of adopting mobile device management software for your business should pay off in the long term. “Once you do have a proper MDM solution in place, you can actually end up saving the company money by increasing the efficiency at which your internal IT—or your managed service provider— can manage those devices and keep track of them.”

Remote Device Management 

As personal devices become more commonly integrated into company networks, businesses will need to consider solutions to the visibility and privacy issues that personal devices can introduce.

Employees looking at each others' phones, which can be monitored with Microsoft Intune or other mobile device management.

2020 revealed the gaps in many companies’ data privacy and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) management policies. Jeremy points out that the pandemic has rapidly accelerated MDM software adoption due to the ways that they conveniently centralize data management and control for both in-office and remote employees.

Jeremy recommends that leaders carefully consider and develop bring-your-own-device strategies for their businesses before deciding what MDM software to go with. This way, they can ensure that the software options they’re considering are those that can best accommodate their company’s personal device policies and procedures.

Implement Microsoft Intune and MDM Solutions with Guardian Computer

Guardian Computer has years of cross-industry experience helping businesses manage and monitor their networks and the devices that access them. We’re experts in providing flexible, friendly, and comprehensive IT services to commercial clients both big and small.

Curious about Guardian’s MDM services and other technology solutions? Get in touch with us today and see how we can help your business.

Backing up your data is an essential business practice that should involve multiple backups stored in multiple places. This strategy allows you to store your data more efficiently and keep your information safe.

“With viruses, hackers, and phishing in today’s world, everyone should be using some type of backup solution,” says David Neil, one of our IT Support Specialists who specializes in backup solutions

Keep reading to learn more about why your business needs multiple backups, mistakes to avoid, and how the experts at Guardian Computer can help you establish an effective backup solution.

Why You Need Multiple Backups

According to David, cyberattacks pose the greatest threat to company data. In particular, phishing emails and malware have been growing in popularity and sophistication, and many businesses today remain unprepared.

“There are so many ways that hackers can get you nowadays,” David says. “They can spoof websites, emails, ads you can click on—there are just so many ways they can get in.”

Small businesses may think that hackers won’t bother targeting them, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, cybercriminals are counting on these smaller organizations to have fewer resources and less preparation, training, and security, making them enticing targets.

This brings up a critical concern for many companies: cost. It’s a common misconception that backing up your data will come with a hefty price. Most services charge by the gigabyte, and it may only cost a few extra dollars to get the multiple backups you need.

Not only that, but the potential costs associated with data loss and recovery, network downtime, and compliance issues are far greater than the costs of investing in security and backups. Having multiple backups gives you a safety net in case something goes wrong with any of your data backups or storage, whether it’s phishing attacks, malware, or even natural disasters. 

Phishing Attacks

As technology advances and hackers get smarter, businesses have to work harder to protect their data. David highlights phishing emails as a type of cyberattack that is especially effective against employees.

Spear phishing in particular can be very convincing and hard to identify without proper training. This type of phishing attack involves researching and targeting specific users. The emails sent to these users are tailored to them, often including their name, job title, and company. The sender of the email can also be spoofed so it looks like it’s the user’s boss or someone else they would trust.

A smartphone, a tablet, and a laptop displaying email notifications to represent phishing scams, just one threat underlining the importance of multiple backups today.

Whether it’s from a phishing email or another attack, a data breach can impact more than just your organization. Compromised data can affect your customers as well. Cisco’s 2017 Annual Cyber Security Report showed that 49% of businesses were under scrutiny after a cyberattack and 22% of businesses lost customers due to an attack.

While it’s important to shore up your defenses against cyberattacks, it is equally important to be prepared to handle a data breach. Having multiple backups enables you to restore your data quickly and efficiently, allowing you to resume normal operations faster.

Malware

Malware can take many forms, including computer viruses, worms, ransomware, spyware, adware, Trojan horses, and more. Even if a malware program isn’t strictly intended to damage your data, the damage it causes to your machine can still harm your data.

While there are antimalware and antivirus softwares that can be installed on company devices, they can’t guarantee your protection against every malicious program. Not only is it important to have backups in place to safeguard your data, but multiple backups.

According to David, companies sometimes don’t realize a computer or network has been infected with malware right away. It could take just a few days or it could take a month, depending on the malware’s effects, your team’s knowledge, and how your IT is monitored.

With multiple backups, you have a wider range of options for restoring your data. If malware has corrupted a more recent backup, you can choose an earlier one from days, weeks, or even months ago instead.

Natural Disasters

While no one can control when a natural disaster happens, your business can ensure you never lose your data when it’s properly backed up. Some data centers even store their data in multiple locations, making them a better choice for your backups.

“We worked with a data center that had locations on the East Coast and West Coast,” David explains. “Their backups were split in two locations. This is great because if there was a huge disaster, such as  a hurricane on the East Coast, the center doesn’t lose all of their backups. They have the data center on the West Coast to house all of their data.”

Mistakes To Avoid With Multiple Backups

When establishing multiple backups, there are a few common mistakes to avoid. “Often, people adopt a set-it-and-forget-it mentality, which is not the right way to maintain multiple backups,” David warns. “You shouldn’t set up backups for your machine and think you’re good to go from there.” 

There is always the risk that your software might go awry. “It’s just how computers work,” David says. “No software is perfect.” With monitoring, alerts, and image-level backups, you can stay vigilant and prepared for the issues that might arise.

Keep reading or check out this infographic with do's and don'ts for data backups.

Not Monitoring Enough

The most common mistake people make with multiple backups is inconsistent monitoring. It’s important never to trust the efficiency of technology without ensuring that the output is accurate.

“Whether it’s you or some type of automated system, it’s always good to monitor your backups,” David advises. A good practice is to check daily to confirm that the previous day’s backup was completed.

Failed Backups

In addition, many people don’t create alerts for failed backups. If you are not monitoring your backups every day, then it is crucial to have these alerts so you can react when something goes wrong.

Even if you do check your backups on a daily basis, you can benefit from having alerts for failed backups. Perhaps you’ll miss something and the alert will catch it for you. Whenever you receive an alert, you can also respond immediately rather than waiting until your next daily check-in, resulting in faster response and resolution times.

Image-Level Backups

Servers house everything you need to make your network run. Just backing up the files from your server won’t give you everything you need to get your network up and running again.

That’s why we recommend implementing image-level backups. Image-based backups create a copy of the operating system and all of the data associated with it. This backup is then saved as a single file called an “image.”

With image-level backups, you can transfer the images to the cloud and access your data from anywhere. When you do this, your computers can essentially run like normal, without any data loss. Image-based backups can also help you prevent network downtime if your server goes offline. They’re a valuable part of backup solutions, especially for bigger organizations.

How Guardian Computer Manages Multiple Backups

When you work with Guardian Computer, our team monitors your backups daily, sets up and responds to alerts for failed backups, and restores your data when needed. Instead of the simpler 3-2-1 method, we provide a more comprehensive 7-day daily backup, a weekly backup for 4 weeks, and a monthly backup for 6 months.

Daily backups are incremental, weekly backups are differential, and monthly backups are full backups. This backup system allows you to store several different versions of previously backed up data. If something becomes corrupted, you would still have access to the same information before it was corrupted. 

Contact us today to learn more about how our data backup and recovery services can benefit your business.

As technology has proliferated and advanced, it has opened up far more opportunities for businesses to improve their processes and operations, leading to better services and customer experiences. But digital transformation isn’t a one-and-done project or an initiative confined to the IT department. To truly keep your company competitive and adaptable, it is necessary to adopt a holistic approach to digital transformation.

Our IT Operations Manager, Wayne Speziale, specializes in planning, developing, and executing process improvement strategies to maximize overall business efficiency and profitability, making him an excellent resource for considering the wide-ranging implications of digital transformation. Read Wayne’s insights about how organizations should conceptualize holistic digital transformation, its benefits, and its implementation strategies.

What Is Digital Transformation, Really?

Digital transformation is a radical rethinking of how businesses use technology. It requires that organizations collaborate across departments to effectively pair business principles with agile implementation.

“A common misconception is that digital transformation only concerns IT,” said Wayne. “In reality, digital transformation is a holistic approach to improving the entire customer experience. It touches every part of the business and does not just focus on the technologies that are only a part of the equation.”

For digital transformation to be effective, it needs to align with and support your business’ strategic goals. Another misconception is that digital transformation means taking your business in a completely different direction that goes against its objectives. While digital transformation does involve change, these changes should be executed in service of a company’s long-term goals.

When considering digital transformation initiatives, it’s important to ask, “What business outcomes do you want to achieve for customers?” Digital transformation is a critical strategy for meeting and exceeding customer expectations as they change over time. The resulting changes to your organization’s technologies, processes, and operations are often far-reaching, requiring people throughout your company to adapt and rethink the way they work.

Advantages of Holistically Adopting Digital Transformation

By taking on a holistic approach to digital transformation, businesses can reap a number of tangible benefits. Wayne explains, “Digital transformation should lead to overall revenue growth and it should have a net positive impact on the efficiency and productivity of all operations.”

A few advantages of digital transformation include:

  • Gaining customer insights and creating an effective digital transformation cycle
  • Increasing overall profits, despite initial costs
  • Streamlining productivity and boosting employee satisfaction

Gaining Customer Insights

A digital web of customer personas, representing customer insight as a benefit of holistic digital transformation.

With more advanced technology comes more opportunities for data collection and analysis. A major component of staying ahead of the competition and better serving your customers is gaining more insight on their behaviors, experiences, and needs.

Often, as you learn more about what your customers need, as well as what is and is not working with your products and services, you identify areas to improve or innovate that can be supported by technology. Implementing this technology continues the ongoing process of digital transformation, creating an effective cycle for gaining insights, applying solutions, and enhancing your offerings and customer experiences.

Increasing Overall Profits

Business owners and leaders may worry about the costs of digital transformation. Adopting new technology and replacing old technology requires an upfront financial commitment. Not to mention, digital transformation takes time to strategize and implement, bringing with it the potential for network downtime and disruption to business operations.

Fortunately, businesses can avoid many of these issues with proper research, planning, and development prior to implementation. And what many companies fail to realize is the cost of not adopting digital transformation, which is often far greater.

Outdated technology puts your company behind the curve, limits productivity, and can result in suffering customer experiences. Meanwhile, research conducted by SAP Center for Business Insights and Oxford Economics found that 80% of business leaders whose companies have undertaken digital transformation report that it has increased their profits.

Streamlining Productivity

One of the greatest benefits to digital transformation is that it streamlines productivity. According to a study from Zensar that surveyed over 1,000 white-collar and higher-level professionals about digital transformation:

  • 76% of workers reported higher productivity.
  • 53% of workers reported they are more successful.
  • 28% of workers reported they are happier.

Digital transformation allows every aspect of your organization to run in sync and creates cross-department collaboration toward strategic objectives. When workers have the digital tools and processes they need to operate more efficiently, they can spend less time on menial tasks, better manage their work, and meet more of their goals. It’s not surprising that this leads to more productive, successful, and happy employees.

Implementing Holistic Digital Transformation

Digital transformation often demands widespread change, but it doesn’t have to mean complete disruption to your business. It calls for careful research, planning, and development before implementation. Yet digital transformation is also about adaptability, which is why it’s important to be prepared to pivot as needed.

A few considerations to keep in mind when you are adopting digital transformation include:

  • Assessing your current infrastructure
  • Collaborating across departments
  • Creating goals and a vision
Check out our infographic or keep reading for 3 tips for implementing holistic digital transformation.

Assessing Your Current Infrastructure

By assessing the current infrastructure of your business, you can take stock of everything that’s going right and where there’s room for improvement or innovation. Evaluate the processes and technologies of your workforce, as well as the experiences of your customers. These assessments will lay the foundation for your digital transformation initiatives.

Collaborating Across Departments

Collaborating across departments is essential in this process. Not only can you gain valuable insights by consulting with every department, but also you can anticipate their unique needs and potential issues, maintaining a positive company culture. In particular, organizations should be sure to plan accordingly for any employee training that will be required with new technologies.

Creating Goals and a Vision

It’s important to create specific goals and a vision for your organization’s digital transformation. Clarify what you hope to accomplish and make sure it aligns with the overall goals and vision of your company.

Choose Guardian Computer to Help with the IT Side of Digital Transformation

While there’s more to digital transformation than IT, it’s certainly a critical part of the process. At Guardian Computer, we provide custom solutions to IT digital transformation, allowing you to focus on your day-to-day business, new opportunities, and long-term goals.

Contact us today to learn how we can help!

When it comes to picking the best software as a service on the market, G Suite and Microsoft 365 are among the top contenders for businesses. But how do you know which one is right for your organization? And what if you end up wanting to switch from one to the other?

Fortunately, our co-founder, co-owner, and CEO, John Prejean, has plenty of expert insight and experience on the matter. Discover why he recommends Microsoft 365 for most businesses and how Guardian Computer can make the migration process as streamlined as possible for your organization.

G Suite vs. Microsoft 365

While we generally find ourselves recommending Microsoft 365 to organizations, as John said, “It just depends on how you work, what you need, and the apps you use.”

In fact, G Suite might better suit your needs if you are working from more minimal, less powerful computers or if you frequently need to collaborate on documents with users who aren’t using Microsoft products. But that may not be the case in the future, as Microsoft is already improving its online versions of apps and document collaboration.

Microsoft 365, on the other hand, facilitates easy integration with Microsoft apps, access to apps offline, seamless login and authentication, and much more. Not only that, but Microsoft has a platform that is constantly adapting to succeed in new markets with more advanced technology.

According to Forbes, Microsoft “continue[s] to produce hundreds of new products every year. They utilize thousands of developers and partners in their network.” It’s no wonder why Microsoft is the industry standard, claiming about 90% of the market share and remaining the top choice for most organizations.

The Microsoft Advantage

Consider some of the key advantages that the Microsoft suite has to offer, outlined below.

One-Stop Shop: Azure Active Directory

Azure Active Directory is Microsoft’s solution to a cloud-based, serverless migration that suits the needs of most companies, especially ones that have transitioned to more remote work.

Azure AD not only enables employees to access internal data and resources across multiple devices, but also offers features such as threat detection and multi-factor authentication, which make managing your business IT easier. By contrast, this level of security is much more difficult when using G Suite. Microsoft is a significantly more secure option that gears its features towards user efficiency and control.

Users need only one login to access all of the applications in the Microsoft suite. By changing the user consent, they can even use Azure AD to access third-party applications as well. From a management standpoint, Azure AD creates a central place to alter user permissions, create groups and attributes, and even assign licenses to certain users or entire groups.

“Login is huge,” said John. “Companies need to have more control of the logins and for their equipment, especially when it comes to HIPAA compliance.”

Consider the key features of Azure Active Directory in this infographic when deciding should your business migrate from G Suite to Microsoft 365.

Integration with All Microsoft Applications

Microsoft Office 365 applications are the industry standard across a variety of fields, making it necessary for most organizations to be able to integrate with these apps. By exclusively operating on the Microsoft platform, you can ensure that your email, contacts, and calendar sync automatically on all devices and all of your apps are tied neatly together. 

According to John, “Microsoft makes life so much easier for its users. You want Excel, you want PowerPoint, you want Word? The direction to go in is definitely with Microsoft. It’s all in one.” 

True Desktop Applications

With Microsoft, users can also download desktop versions of all the applications that Office 365 has to offer. For companies that need to work anytime, from anywhere, this is a major advantage. Employees can experience uninterrupted productivity while 100% offline, a feature that web-based apps simply can’t promise.  

“The web-based applications in general have fewer features,” adds John. “They just can’t do certain things. You can’t have all the bells and whistles that a full-blown desktop app can have.”

Microsoft 365 Compliance Center

Various devices and icons representing the complexity of compliance, just one reason to consider if your business should migrate from G Suite to Microsoft 365.

While migrating to Microsoft 365 can be beneficial to any business, those that must adhere to strict compliance requirements will find the most use out of Microsoft’s built-in compliance feature, the Microsoft 365 Compliance Center.

Often, one of the major pain points of compliance is keeping up to date with the constantly changing regulations, accountability standards, and demanding nature of cyber resilience. Through Microsoft 365, you can have a space to assess your current data compliance and manage your company’s privacy.

The Microsoft 365 Compliance Center allows you to institute policies to govern your data, set data retention parameters, manage user permissions, and so much more. For instance, John said, “You can set up a policy saying that if you type in the wrong password three times, the account or the document gets locked.”

The ability for companies to discern who has access to which data is vital in maintaining compliance. Another way Microsoft helps organizations remain compliant is by offering a means to encrypt data and communication. Companies can reduce communication risk with encrypted emails and file transfers and protect sensitive information within their organization.

Data Migration Made Easy

Even if you think there may be a better option for your business, migrating your data can be intimidating. Often, business owners find it easier to outsource at least some aspects of their IT, especially when it comes to data migrations.

In particular, there aren’t a lot of guides or advice for moving from G Suite to Microsoft 365. Yet the issues you could encounter are countless, most notably:

  • The cost of network downtime due to user disruption
  • Difficulty training employees on how to utilize new programs
  • Difficulty setting up Microsoft Authenticator on personal devices 

Employees who are accustomed to one way of doing things may be resistant to new software. When migrating from G Suite to Microsoft 365, it’s important to note that users should anticipate having to recreate their shortcuts, and there may be formatting issues with some files. Moreover, G Suite doesn’t allow the export of files from Google Drawings, Google Forms, Google Sites, or Google Maps from Drive, so users will need to have conversion or recreation steps in place.

Worried about tackling these issues yourself? The knowledgeable team at Guardian Computer has developed a streamlined, proven process for migrating from G Suite to Microsoft 365. “We have it down to a science,” said John.

Contact us today and find out how our migration process can help you!

Following the explosive growth of remote work, more and more businesses are implementing serverless infrastructures and cloud technologies into their operational frameworks. But with so many different types of cloud services available, how do you know which one is right for your business?

Ryan Prejean, our Helpdesk Lead, who specializes in Powershell, Javascript, PHP, scripting, networking, and endpoint monitoring, is passionate about the benefits of Microsoft Azure and why it’s the best fit for most businesses today.

“If you’re trying to develop a serverless business infrastructure, Azure is just the only way to go for modern-day business,” said Ryan. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of Azure, mistakes to avoid, and how to get started with Azure today.

The Benefits of Microsoft Azure

Azure is a cloud platform and service created by Microsoft to build, deploy, and manage applications. Its primary benefits include convenience, security, and cost. If you want a serverless solution that integrates with the Microsoft ecosystem (including Outlook, OneDrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint, Teams, and Active Directory), Azure is the only option on the market that can deliver.

Unbeatable Convenience 

Convenience is of the utmost importance when it comes to streamlining operations and increasing efficiency, especially for remote work. Employees need to be able to access their data and files from anywhere, at any time. Microsoft Azure offers the convenience that modern businesses need with Azure Active Directory. 

Previously, the setup for IT infrastructure has been an active directory server that acts as a focal point for a network where all accounts live. Azure Active Directory is a cloud directory that doesn’t require a server, because it’s tied to a Microsoft identity.

Once a Microsoft identity is created and you log onto it with your computer, the system recognizes your computer as a member of your work network and makes all files, your work email, and your data readily available. With Microsoft identity, your email password and computer login are one and the same. It’s essential to note that if you change your computer password, your email password will change as well.

“With Azure Active Directory, instead of files getting to people via a network drive on a file server somewhere, they get to their files through OneDrive for their personal information, or SharePoint to take the place of the shared drives that people used to have,” said Ryan. “Whether or not you’re in the home or you’re in the office, you can still get access to your work resources without the requirement of a VPN.”

Added Security

Microsoft Azure also provides more security than traditional servers. Many business owners are concerned about moving toward a serverless infrastructure because they fear they will be hacked. With the security of Microsoft Azure, this is less likely to happen. 

Traditional servers are rarely kept fully up to date. Not only is it costly to maintain them, but it is also difficult and expensive to replace a severely outdated operating system, such as a 2008 R2 server, with the most recent model. Hackers are well aware that many businesses utilize older programs, and they take advantage of the resulting ways to access your network without proper permissions.

For instance, a hacker will try to get a user to click on a link or an advertisement via email that could potentially infect the server. With Microsoft Azure, however, there is no server to infect. And as Ryan pointed out, “It is always going to be harder to hack Microsoft than it is to hack you.”

Microsoft routinely does secure monitoring and testing for Azure. In one of these exercises, they set up two teams, one attempting to hack the infrastructure and the other defending it. When the teams are finished with their testing, they take the information they’ve learned and implement it into the Azure operational security process. By doing this, Microsoft’s team stays continuously aware of the best ways to anticipate, detect, and respond to hacking attempts.

Cost Effectiveness

Implementing Microsoft Azure into your business is more cost effective than having a traditional server. Traditional servers have to be installed, maintained, updated, and protected. With Microsoft Azure, a simple overnight update will keep you up and running, avoiding the cost of network downtime.

“Azure reduces client costs, and it reduces our costs, because there is no physical server to maintain,” said Ryan. “Also, Azure doesn’t go down—it doesn’t have errors. If there’s a problem with it, there’s a problem globally with the Microsoft infrastructure, so Microsoft is going to take care of it.”

When server maintenance on Azure does occur, Microsoft is the one to pay for it, not users. This is especially beneficial for larger companies, which might otherwise be hosting hundreds of their own servers that could become obsolete over time. Ultimately, using a serverless infrastructure is the easiest, most consistent, and least wasteful option available.

Microsoft Azure Mistakes to Avoid

One mistake people commonly make when using Microsoft Azure is confusing their passwords. Microsoft Azure is created with your convenience in mind. This means that all of the passwords that you use in Microsoft’s ecosystem—including your computer login, email, OneDrive, and SharePoint—are the same. With Microsoft Azure, everything is connected to make your life easier.

Another common mistake people make after they’ve implemented Microsoft Azure is confusing where they should save their files. Personal files should be saved in OneDrive and files that have to be accessed by others should be saved in Sharepoint.

Keep reading our check out our infographic with tips for using OneDrive vs. SharePoint to make the most of Microsoft Azure and other products.

Using OneDrive 

Every user gets 5GB of storage for free in their OneDrive, but with Microsoft Azure, you’re upgraded to Office 365 and receive 1TB of memory. If you’re storing all of your shared files in that location, however, it’s going to get filled very quickly.

OneDrive should be used to store private business documents and other personal files. Documents in OneDrive automatically have a private default setting, which makes it harder to share documents saved in OneDrive with your team.

Using SharePoint

By contrast, SharePoint should be used to save collaborative documents. How much space you have in SharePoint is determined by your company’s Microsoft plan. You can learn about SharePoint limits by plan here.

When you make a SharePoint for a particular purpose or division of the company, it keeps everyone in sync on that select group of files. SharePoint gives you the ability to:

  • Require approval on documents.
  • Get notifications when changes are made.
  • View documents without editing.
  • Create workflows for moving or emailing documents.

Get Started with Microsoft Azure Today

Guardian Computer is adept in transitioning clients from traditional servers to Microsoft Azure. We were established to help businesses like yours make the most of their technology, so you can focus on the core of your business.

With seasoned IT experts like Ryan, we’re able to help navigate your cloud computing needs and even manage your entire IT infrastructure. Contact us today to get Microsoft Azure implemented into your organization or learn about our full range of IT services and support.

Cyber criminals have started targeting a new demographic within recent years: travelers. When preparing for a trip, cyber security is probably the last thing on your mind. However, not taking cyber security into account while traveling puts both vacationers and business travelers at a higher risk for a cyber attack while away from home.

Whether you find yourself waiting at an airport, working from a hotel room, or taking a road trip with your family, you should always consider the best cyber security practices for travelers. Ready to bring cyber security to the forefront of your travel plans? Follow our expert tips to help protect your data and digital devices while away from home.

Cyber Security Risks for Travelers

When people travel, they often think about everything but cyber security. You have to pack, make arrangements for house sitting, and plan for transportation, lodging, meals, activities, and more. But why isn’t device security also a top priority for travelers?

Traveling puts you in an unfamiliar environment where you often have less control over your surroundings, including your digital environment. You’re busy and distracted, and it’s easier to do what’s most convenient, even if it’s not as safe.

Not only do travelers often engage in risky behaviors, such as connecting to public Wi-Fi, but they also keep a huge amount of valuable data close at hand. Most people carry their smartphones with them wherever they go, and laptops are a necessity for today’s traveling business professionals. Travelers also often carry passports, credit card information, lodging details, and more.

Cyber criminals are taking advantage of these circumstances. Transportation was the second-highest industry for cyber attacks, according to the 2019 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index.

5 Best Cyber Security Practices for Travelers

The key to maintaining cyber security is to be vigilant about both the physical and digital safety of your devices, whether you’re at home or away. With a little effort and planning, you can follow these 5 best cyber security practices for travelers.

1. Be Cautious of Public Wi-Fi

The easiest way to keep from getting hacked is to limit public access to your phone. By simply not tapping into a public Wi-Fi network, you become the first line of defense to your own resources.

While public Wi-Fi is convenient and appealing for most travelers, these networks can put users at a higher risk for a cyber attack. Be vigilant when sleuthing out an encrypted network. Don’t shy away from asking hotel management questions about their cyber security in place for guest users.

Even private Wi-Fi networks hosted by hotels and other hotspots for travelers are susceptible to cyber attacks, since hackers know that there will be many people there. Hotel News Now reports that the Marriott International and the Drury Hotel were among the many establishments to suffer a data breach in the last two years. Millions of people had their contact information and credit card numbers stolen as a result.

Take precautions when accessing any networks while you’re away from home. If you decide to use public Wi-Fi, avoid logging into personal accounts that contain private data or accessing sensitive company information. If possible, always use public Wi-Fi with a VPN for added security.

2. Keep Your Tech Locked Up

One of the best cyber security practices for travelers is actually one of the easiest: lock up your tech! This advice considers two key parts of your tech’s security: its physical safety and its digital safety.

Physical Safety for Devices

Read this infographic or continue with our blog post to learn the best cyber security practices for travelers' devices.

Make sure all of your devices are securely fastened within your luggage. Be wary of slipping your phone into a side pocket, as it’s easy for someone to reach in and grab it. While you want to be able to access your devices easily, you don’t want to put them at risk for theft or unauthorized use.

Consider placing any phones, tablets, or laptops in zipper-close, opaque pockets and purchasing a backpack lock. An electronic organizer could be beneficial for keeping all of your electronic devices in one place and keeping you from digging through your luggage in a pinch.

Digital Safety for Devices

You also need to digitally limit an unknown user’s access to your devices. A vital step in protecting your privacy is to have some form of authentication for each device, if not two-factor authentication for even greater security.

Luckily, cellphones and computers typically have built-in authentication programs. These include Apple’s Touch ID feature, as well as the facial recognition features available on iPhones and some Android devices.

Even if your devices don’t have these specific features, there are several options for digital protection. Set an alphabetic, numeric, or patterned code to limit the access to your phone or tablet. Always create strong passwords for your computers and digital accounts.

Password Tips

Here are a few tips to help you come up with stronger passwords:

  • The longer, the better. A lengthy password can better protect your device or account. If possible, the ideal password will be at least 15 characters.
  • Use a mixture of characters. Try using a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Some devices or accounts require you only use certain special characters, so keep these rules in mind.
  • Don’t go the easy route. Avoid commonly used phrases, recognizable words, or any personally identifying information, such as your birthday or child’s name. Most hackers can do a quick social media search to find this information and play the guessing game when it comes to figuring out your password.
  • Consider using a password generator. This will contribute to the randomness of the password, making it more difficult to crack. Password managers often include password generator features, while also giving you a place to securely store these hard-to-remember passwords.

3. Disable Risky Features

Read this infographic or continue with our blog post to learn which features you should disable as part of the best cyber security practices for travelers.

Several of the features that may help you at home carry different risks on the road. As such, one of the best cyber security practices for travelers involves disabling these risky features during trips.

Auto Connect

Even if you decide to use public Wi-Fi, make sure you disable the auto connect capabilities on your devices. While auto connect is a convenient feature when using the internet at your house, it’s good practice to require a manual connection whenever a device has access to public Wi-Fi. This gives you the opportunity to investigate a public network before choosing whether or not to connect to it.

Bluetooth Connectivity

Disable Bluetooth Connectivity, as shown here, as part of the best cyber security practices for travelers.

Most devices have Bluetooth capabilities, yet many users are unfamiliar with exactly how Bluetooth works. While you’re thinking the Bluetooth feature is a great way to connect all of your devices together, a hacker sees it as an entryway into your phone or computer. Similar to the auto connect feature, Bluetooth connectivity is perfectly fine when you’re using all of your devices at home. However, when you’re traveling, it’s best to consider limiting Bluetooth usage and turn it off when not in use.

Location Sharing

It’s understandable that you may want your loved ones to keep tabs on you while you’re traveling. Maybe you just want to give your family and friends a peek into your on-the-road adventure. Although it is becoming commonplace to share your location through your phone or computer, it might not be the best cyber security practice while traveling.

Weigh the costs when sharing your location. This feature opens you up not only for a cyber attack, but also a physical one. Criminals can get information on where you are and where your hotel room is, leaving you vulnerable to theft or a physical attack. Limiting the amount of location sharing you do while traveling is an important step to keeping you and your belongings safe.

4. Install Antivirus Protection

This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but it can be all too easy to overlook in the hustle and bustle of preparing for a trip. Antivirus software is an added layer of defense that helps protect your device at all times, even while you’re away from home.

Evaluate the most powerful antivirus softwares on the market when making your decision. If you’ll be bringing work devices on a trip, check in with your company about providing antivirus software. Keep your devices up to date with the latest features from their antivirus software, and install any updates before leaving home.

5. Update Device Software Before You Go

No matter if you’re bringing a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, you want to keep the most current version of your software updated before heading out for your trip. Some devices are programmed to update once connected to a Wi-Fi network, which means your device would try to download new software the moment you connect to a public network outside of your home.

First, if possible, disable this feature to prevent any software updates over a public connection. This allows you to maintain more control over your device and prevent unwanted access. Next, install new versions of software at home before you leave for your trip.

If you are unable to do this, stop any software downloads before they start and wait until you return home to complete installation. A word of caution: not installing the most recent version of software onto your device might cause performance issues until the device is updated. You want your time away from home to be easy and effortless, and an update could strongly improve your experience with your devices.

Get the Best Cyber Security Anywhere with Guardian Computer

Whether your business needs IT services on premises or for remote workers, Guardian Computer is here to help. From cyber security to network configuration, cloud management, regulatory compliance, help desk support, and much more, our experts are available for one-off projects as well as ongoing management, maintenance, and support.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about the advanced protection, strategic digital transformation, and friendly IT support we provide.