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Happy Spreadsheet Day!!!

What Are You Doing for Spreadsheet Day?

Spreadsheet Day

Spreadsheets: some people love them, some people hate them, and some people are a little afraid of them. No matter which category you may currently fall into, you probably know that spreadsheets are vital to the inner workings of organizations ranging in size from massive Fortune 500 companies to small, locally owned businesses. At this very moment, millions of spreadsheets are probably open all across the world – and it seems fitting that there is a day to celebrate the birth of the modern digital spreadsheet.

VisiCalc, the First Spreadsheet Program

October was chosen for the month in which Spreadsheet Day would occur for a very simple reason that not many people are aware of: it was October 17 of 1979 when the first spreadsheet program was released. It was called VisiCalc, for those of you who may not have been alive then, and it ran on the Apple II computer. With the release of this software, the often overwhelming task of organizing massive amounts of numerical data not only became streamlined but, for some of us, actually became enjoyable.

VisiCalc (whose name means Visible Calculator) was the brainchild of Dan Bricklin of Software Arts. It functioned much like a paper spreadsheet, hence its classification as a spreadsheet program. But unlike a paper spreadsheet, you didn’t need a pencil or an eraser. And the calculations could be performed automatically and with incredible accuracy.

By running on the Apple II computer, the power of spreadsheets became accessible not just to corporations and large organizations but too small businesses and homeowners, too. There are other things that set VisiCalc apart from previous attempts to develop electronic spreadsheets, such as the instant recalculation of values when the value in a dependent cell was changed, or it’s interactive WYSIWYG interface that still resembles what we use today. In short, VisiCalc was the starting point for the modern spreadsheet that we know today.

The Ubiquity of the Spreadsheet

You might be surprised at the multitude of applications there are for spreadsheets. We know spreadsheets are used for tasks such as accounting, sales, business intelligence, and finance. Professors, instructors, and teachers use spreadsheets to track class performance and assign grades. Engineers and scientist alike use them to perform simulations, create complex models, and analyze massive sets of data. Homeowners use them to track expenses and set up budgets. Small business owners use them to keep track of inventory and sales. Large companies use hundreds of different spreadsheets for just about everything imaginable — from simple tasks that require a small portion of a worksheet to massive workbooks with thousands of calculations and complex visualizations.

When it comes to data, spreadsheets can model, manipulate, sort, organize, visualize, and process large sets of both numerical and non-numerical data. Spreadsheets can be used to perform what-if analysis, make predictions based on existing data, inform decisions, and perform extremely complex calculations. They can be used for optimization, curve fitting, and solving simultaneous equations. And one of the benefits of spreadsheets, to quote an old professor of the author’s, is that if you can do it once, and do it right, you may never have to do it again.

Modern Spreadsheet Packages

We aren’t limited to VisiCalc in modern times, however. We’ve got a wide variety of options when it comes to spreadsheet packages, including:

  • Microsoft Office Excel (which is available both as desktop software and online)
  • Google Sheets
  • Corel Quattro Pro
  • LibreOffice Calc
  • OpenOffice.org Calc
  • iWork Numbers

There other less well-known options available, too, but Excel is what most people think of when someone says “spreadsheet.”

Modern packages offer numerous types of formulas and functions, including those for finance, accounting, mathematics, statistics, probability, and string manipulation, just to name a few. And the visualization capabilities of spreadsheets are constantly evolving to enable users to give even more context and meaning to data. How spreadsheets process massive sets of calculations is also growing, with some packages supporting multi-threaded processing. The types of data that can be processed within a spreadsheet are rapidly expanding beyond floating point numbers and characters, and some packages such as Excel are including aspects of artificial intelligence among new capabilities.

How Can You Celebrate Spreadsheet Day?

There are quite a few ways to celebrate Spreadsheet Day. One of the best ways is to expand your knowledge of spreadsheets. It’s always a good idea to increase your skill set when it comes to computer applications, but especially so when it comes to spreadsheets. Spreadsheets can make your work much easier if you learn how to make the best use of them. Take our word for it – spreadsheets can do so much more than you realize.

That’s why we think the very best way to celebrate the birthday of the modern spreadsheet is to register for free online Excel training at SpreadsheetsTraining.com. Sharpen your existing skills, learn something new, and find out new ways to put spreadsheets to work for you!

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October 16th Is Steve Jobs Day

Steve Jobs Day Sheds Light On Apple Founder’s Legacy

In today’s modern world, the name “Apple” has become synonymous with technology. It’s no wonder then that Steve Jobs, the company’s late co-founder, has become such an influential figure in American history. His contributions are well documented in motion pictures, books and an authorized biography.

Steve Jobs Day

October 16 is known as Steve Jobs Day, which was declared in 2011 by the Governor of California. The day brings forth the opportunity to reflect on the life of the famed innovator and how his contributions have helped advance the human race. From iPhones to iPads and every single app in between, one could argue that humanity would not be as technologically savvy without the work of Steve Jobs.

In August of this year, Apple achieved what no other company in history has done. It became the first publicly traded U.S. company to reach $1 trillion. Not only is this historic in terms of branding, but it brings to light the incredible ingenuity the company has displayed throughout the years. Along with his partner Steve Wozniak, Jobs’ innovations have helped solidify an incredible legacy likely to stand the test of time.

The Early Years

Jobs grew up in the San Francisco bay area in the 1960s. By the age of 10, he had developed a fascination with electronics, likely due largely in part to time spent with his father building crafts. This hobby paved the way for Jobs’ establishment of Apple in 1976, along with his co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Jobs sat at the helm of Apple’s operations until 1985, when he broke ties with the company and established NeXT computers. Apple later purchased NeXT and paved the way for Jobs’ return to the company in 1997.

Apple Computers

While Jobs can’t be credited for inventing the first computer, his founding of Apple paved the way for its widespread use. The computers that came before Apple was expensive and typically used only for business purposes. The introduction of the Apple II, the brainchild of Jobs and Steve Wozniak, changed this concept forever. Marketed as the world’s first mass-market personal computer, the Apple II meant users could now access the technology from the privacy of their own homes.

More than two decades later, in 1998, Apple released the iMac, an all-in-one computer. One of Apple’s lesser-known inventions is the iBook, which was introduced in 1999. The laptop came equipped with Wi-Fi technology and a few upgrades to its design. People today may remember it for its tangerine and blueberry color options and clamshell design.

The Apple iPad, introduced in 2010, has made the Internet even further accessible. This tablet computer was built more for entertainment than previous devices, making it a staple in many households, utilized by children and adults alike. The product was deemed so successful that Apple sold more than 15 million of these devices in its first year.

The iPhone

Of all Apple’s products, none is as influential in the tech world as the iPhone. Apple’s introduction of the iPhone marked a paradigm shift for the traditional mobile phone. Apple’s version, like the majority of its most revolutionary products, boasted a sleek, simple design that helped further uncomplicate technology for the masses.

Introduced in 2007, the phone has undergone a radical series of redesigns over the years, each year presenting more opportunities for productivity than the last. Prior to the invention of the iPhone, mobile phones’ primary purpose was to access chatting and emailing. Today’s version is utilized for web-surfing, Facetiming, social media and the utilization of an endless stream of apps available for download at users’ fingertips. Frequent updates and new designs ensure Apple users are getting the best product possible, which has helped the brand amass its own population of loyal followers.

The iPod

One of Apple’s most significant inventions to date remains the iPod. While mp3 players had been on the market for several years, Apple’s version was seen by many as far superior, and so it began to dominate the market. Able to store thousands of songs, the iPod grew in success with the help of other products, such as Apple iTunes, which was released in 2001. The new technology allowed users to organize their digital library on both their personal computer and through their devices. The iTunes Music Store went live in 2003.

Not all of Jobs’ best inventions were technological. The innovator is also credited with inventing the world’s first glass staircase. The design, which was awarded a patent in 2002, has been used across some of Apple’s flagship stores and has since been adopted, in some sense, by both commercial and residential properties the world over.

Steve Jobs Day is a day designated for honoring the Jobs legacy, but his impact is seen daily, in the hands of millions. While Apple, as a company, has certainly carried on without him, Jobs is one innovator unlikely to ever be forgotten.

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What Are The New Changes in Microsoft Outlook?

New Calendar, Mail, and mobile Outlook features help you get things done, was the title of the April 30th, 2018 blog from Microsoft’s Outlook team, about the newest features. Since then, Outlook has received more modern additions, from mobile management to enterprise information protection all designed for user simplicity. So, let’s step inside and see what new changes Microsoft Outlook has.

What’s New Inside Outlook Calendar?

With the familiarity of Outlook and making it easier to get things done, and customizable, so you stay in control, it couldn’t be any simpler than Bill Pay Reminders. That’s correct, inside Calendar you can automatically track these events.

At the top of your email, you’ll get a summary card (See Fig 1.), just like you do when your package delivery information or any travel reservations is presented in Outlook at the top in your Email Today.

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Fig 1. Summary Card inside Microsoft Outlook

Outlook will identify the bills you receive in your email. At the top, it will show you a summary, and automatically add a calendar event on the due date. Two days before the due date, you’ll receive an email reminder so you won’t forget to pay your bills on time.

Suggested meeting rooms and event locations—Adding a meeting or event location just got faster and easier inside Outlook. Similar to a virtual assistant Outlook will offer suggestions for your meeting location. Just start typing in the location field. Based on Bing, Outlook suggests options and then autocompletes your meeting location with the information you’ll need.

Outlook’s rich location feature adds the full address for public locations into your calendar event. Based on your current location, your destination address, and traffic updates a notification is sent when it is time to leave.

Also reserving a meeting room, from your mobile device continues getting more accessible and faster as Outlook learns your preferences. Let’s say you must find a conference room. Outlook will show you what your organization’s room availability is so that you can choose what option is best for your meeting, and it’s all done with just a tap.

Meeting RSVP tracking and forwarding—The key to time management is keeping track of events you’ve plan to attend, or organized. However, managing who is participating is more useful to you also. Inside Outlook, you can now see all tracked meeting responses and RSVPs. (See Fig 2.)

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Fig 2. Person’s Name, who are attending, and their responses are shown for easy tracking.

But let’s say you have to plan a meeting, and you are required to keep complete control of the attendees on the list. Inside Outlook, you have a new option to prevent or allow your calendar invitation from being forwarded without your knowledge. Under Response Options, click New Meeting and then check or uncheck Allow Forwarding. (See Fig 3.)

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Fig 3. The Response Options’ drop-down menu shows where to check or uncheck.

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Fig 4. Below recipient’s photo is a message alerting them, they cannot forward this invitation.

Multiple time zones—Managing events, inside Outlook, across various times zones, is no longer complicated. Go ahead and define the start and end times, across all time zones, for your meetings and appointments. Set up that travel event from the departing time zone to when you arrive at your final destination, in another time zone. (See Fig 5.)

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Fig 5. On the main calendar grid, you can display multiple time zones in Outlook.

Simplified Ribbon— is adaptable and easily customizable. That single row of commands you rely on can be quickly and easily personalized. You can either pin the controls or remove them from the ribbon anytime. Should you want to go back to the classic, full-ribbon, just click back anytime. (See Fig 6.)

  • Simplified Ribbon is adaptive
  • Adjusts icon labels
  • Moves commands out of the way
  • Scales up or down to fit different window sizes
  • Accessible through new ellipses and menu drop down experiences.

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Fig 6. Ribbon shows customized commands.

“Coming Soon”— in Outlook for Windows, the Outlook team introduced a new feature called “Coming soon.” Coming Soon is about making it easier for all users, to discover and learn more about significant updates. With this feature, you just turn it on or off. When it’s on, you can see upcoming visuals that are coming to Outlook. Your overall core experience is now cleaner, simpler and more modern. (See Fig 7.)

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The updated Outlook for Windows experience is more straightforward and more customizable. You will work faster and get back to the things that matter most, your free time and user experience. Outlook helps you connect, organize and get things done.

[1] New Calendar, Mail, and mobile Outlook features help you get things done

[2] Your favorite email app, Outlook mobile, adds new enterprise information protection and mobile management capabilities

Did you find this article informative? If you liked this one, check out our other content we think you’ll find interesting.

 

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Digital Transformation: Is Your Business Ready?

“Digital transformation” is a term likely circulating around IT departments everywhere. The vast majority of businesses today, no matter how big or small, will likely need to further digitalize their operations in order to keep up with competitive markets and an ever-growing list of digital trends.

Digital Transformation

There are endless components associated with digital transformation. Late last year, tech company MuleSoft conducted their annual Connectivity benchmark for 2018, which surveyed more than 600 ITDM across a variety of industries. The results shed light on the importance of digital transformation, the issues that stand in the way of these transformations, and what ITDMs (Information Technology Decision Makers) believe to be the future of IT.

According to the survey, the stakes are high. The vast majority of ITDMs surveyed admitted their business’s revenue would be negatively impacted if digital transformation didn’t take place, and soon. Companies simply can’t afford to let their IT operations fall to the wayside.

Digitalizing your business operations is no easy task. Creating an online portal or creating new online processes doesn’t mean you’ve digitalized. You’ve got to have clear goals before you begin this undertaking. More often than not, the top goal of businesses is to streamline their operations to run more efficiently.

Analyzing The Data

The vast majority of ITDMs understand the importance of upgrading their digital enterprises, with only 3% of organizations surveyed revealing they had no intentions of a digital revamp. In fact, approximately three quarters (74%) of those surveyed said they were currently undergoing digital transformation initiatives. Another 23% revealed plans to do so over the next three years.

Establishing Clear Goals

Digital transformations are futile without an end goal. Therefore, in order for ITDM to effectively transform their digital operations, they need to know both what is at stake, and in which ways they’d like a revamp to serve the organization.

Of ITDMs surveyed, more than 83% cited increasing IT’s operational efficiency among their top priorities. Other areas of high importance include improving business efficiency, and introducing new products and faster services. Digital transformations can help enhance a number of aspects of your company, rendering them vital in today’s business landscape.

The MuleSoft survey revealed that ITDMs intend to focus on a few specific initiatives to achieve their IT goals. These include modernizing their legacy apps, integrating SaS apps and investing in mobile apps. Other areas of focus include migrating apps to the cloud and establishing an e-commerce platform.

Enhancing The Customer Experience

One other major goal for businesses undergoing digital transformation is to improve the customer experience. This means improving the customer experience by connecting customer-facing systems. The vast majority, 92% of ITDMs, revealed that forging a connected experience for both customers and employees is a priority for their respective organizations. As of December 2017, only 39% of those surveyed revealed their organizations offered a completely connected user experience. These figures are in line with a previous MuleSoft survey, which found that over half of consumers believe they are receiving a disconnected experience when dealing with businesses like retailers, banks, insurers, and other public services.

Common Roadblocks

IT departments face a number of issues that hinder the potential for successful digital transformation. In addition to time constraints, there are other factors at play, such as misalignment between business and IT, problems within legacy infrastructure and systems, and a lack of resources and budget.

For today’s businesses, there is often a disconnect between what IT professionals must do, versus what their departments can realistically handle. While it’s commonly the responsibility of IT to implement development projects and focus on innovation, much of their workload involves helping the business run. In fact, the survey data shows that 63% of IT departments’ time is spent on business operations, rather than exploring new ways to drive profits through technology.

Integration Issues

Of all the roadblocks between IT departments and their goals, integration seems to be the largest barrier. Nearly 90% of ITDMs revealed challenges with integration, with 81% saying point-to-point integration creates the biggest headaches. Not only is this an issue for efficiency, but it presents financial repercussions, with organizations spending almost one-quarter of their yearly IT budgets on integration.

The Benefits Of APIs

It’s common knowledge in the IT circle that APIs make life easier for developers. They’re also critical for success in today’s digital landscape. Not only do APIs expand a business’s capabilities, but they also make it easier for employees to consume data in a simple, standardized way. According to MuleSoft’s Connectivity survey, organizations have both increased IT-self service and decreased their operational costs by leveraging APIs. And the results can be seen in revenue, as well. More than 35% of ITDMs surveyed through the Connectivity survey revealed that more than one-fourth of their revenue was the result of APIs.

Digital transformations are a fact of life for many businesses today, and if they’re not yet, they soon will be. From managing operations to improving customer and employee experiences, digital transformations are just one-way businesses are further embracing the power of the internet age.

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How To Ensure A Secure Home Network

Most homeowners and renters understand the importance of home security. In fact, in today’s world, it’s not uncommon for homeowners to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on home protection. But while securing your belongings is considered good common sense, homeowners don’t as often consider the concept of data security. This is understandable, but in reality, it’s just as important to ensure that your data is protected as well.

Home Network Security

Unbeknownst to many, your home’s security system and its surrounding technology may even leave you susceptible to a data breach. These have the potential to wreak havoc from a personal data standpoint. Paying close attention to the technology you are using to protect your home can help you avoid the ever-growing risk of a cyber breach.

Here are a few things homeowners can do to keep their networks protected.

Strengthen Your Wireless Security

Securing your wireless router is paramount to effective data security. Your wireless networking security will depend heavily on the health of your router.

One useful tip?

Don’t leave your Wi-Fi on unless it’s necessary. This means that if you and your family are planning a long trip, don’t forget to turn your network off.

Other precautions include disabling your Wi-Fi Protected Setup, or WPS. The WPS is intended to make it easier for those within your household to join the central Wi-Fi network. However, it can also be used by hackers to gain unauthorized access.

Configuring your Wi-Fi’s signal strength is also important. Casting too wide of a net can leave you susceptible to outside hackers. As a security measure, configure it so Wi-Fi is only accessible to those within your home’s area. You can also disable your network’s remote management, and be on the lookout for any unknown devices or connections showing up on your network.

Update Your Software

Keeping your security systems up-to-date is important in ensuring nothing falls through the cracks. Applying updates and patches ensure you are running the most recent technology available for your device.

Your work doesn’t stop at updates, though. Installing an anti-virus solution built to detect, prevent and clear your system of viruses ensures a strong line of defense against hacking. While antivirus solutions won’t protect your system from, say, zero-day exploits, they can be helpful in preventing malware from entering your devices.

Install A Network Firewall

Firewalls are extremely useful in maintaining the security of your systems. This type of solution blocks unauthorized users from acquiring access to your private data. Installing a firewall is a solid step toward keeping your data safe. These can be installed via software, hardware or a unique combination of both.

Back Up Your Data

Computer users understand the frustration that comes with a hardware failure. In the event that this happens to you, it’s best to be prepared. Keeping a solid backup solution will give you peace of mind in the event of an accident. Test your backups thoroughly and regularly by creating dummy files and deleting them, or scheduling a day to unplug and determine how long it takes to get your system up and running. All this can help you form a legit plan of action to help you recover from a hardware failure.

Maintain Strong Encryption

Configuring your router improperly can pave the way for a data breach. You should use the strongest possible encryption methods for your device. Some of these protocols may include Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2), Temporary Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP), and Personal Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).

Here are some tips to help you create a strong line of defense against a breach.

Update Your Router Password

It can be tempting to begin using a new router fresh out of the box, but be cautious. While your router has a set password, it may be easy to guess, or worse, printed right on the router itself. Changing your router’s password to something safe and known only by you is necessary if you’re hoping for optimal protection. The same goes for your Network name. While these typically come standard, you’ll want to change yours, though be careful not to include personal information such as your last name or address.

There are some things you can do to ensure a strong password. First, avoid using the same one for all of your accounts. If your password is stolen from one site, all other accounts for which you use it may be put at risk. You also shouldn’t share passwords with anyone or divulge them to anyone.

Approach Email With Caution

You may have taken all the necessary precautions to keep your home network secure from hackers, but often it’s not the technology that’s to blame for a breach. While it’s true that cyber criminals take advantage of unencrypted data, an inadequate firewall or out-of-date software, they also frequently target individual users. E-mail, for instance, is one of the most frequently used platforms by hackers. And while these attacks can hit suddenly and without warning, there are still things you can do to protect yourself.

If you receive an e-mail from someone you don’t know, don’t answer right away. Always first verify the person’s identity before responding. If you suspect an email from an organization may contain malware, first contact the company directly before replying. One giveaway is a misspelling in the URL of a malicious website. Also be sure to never share personal or financial information via e-mail or telephone.

Don’t leave your data security up to chance. All of these steps combined can help you form a solid plan for preventing a cyber breach.

 

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Implementing Data Security For Your Small Business

Today’s small business owners are tasked with managing operations, employees and a wide range of things pertaining to the modern day business. It’s no surprise, then, that amid the hustle and bustle, some areas of importance are thrown to the wayside. Cybersecurity is often one of them.

Small Business Computer Security

According to studies, the majority of small business owners don’t believe their businesses are at risk of a cyber attack. This mindset is dangerous for business owners because they will not be prepared for a cyber-attack. In the event of an attack, it can wreak havoc on a small business that hasn’t yet armed itself with proper security protocols.

According to the Ponemon Institute, cyber-attacks cost small and medium-sized businesses an average of $2,235,000 in 2017. In order for small businesses to form a strong line of defense against cyber attacks, they’ll first need to evaluate their risk, and what’s at stake. Here are a few things small businesses should consider when preparing to amp up their data security.

Securing Your Data

Implementing solid data security for your business is a complex task that requires manpower. And although it can present quite the conundrum for small business owners, it’s something that, according to the FCC, must be done.

First, you’ll need to evaluate your current system. Which data do you actually need? While keeping customer data is important, it’s just as important to only ask for customer information that will actually be utilized. For instance, don’t ask for a social security number if you don’t need it.

The same notion applies for how long to keep this data. Don’t store your customers’ data longer than needed. The longer you keep it, the longer you are liable in the case of a data breach. And if you don’t have a retention policy in place, it’s time to implement one. Don’t forget that hand-in-hand with a retention policy is a process for how to delete the data. Do keep this in mind.

Strengthening Your Passwords

Implementing a strong password policy can make all the difference in keeping your data protected. Complex, unique passwords are paramount to data security, but how can you be sure those you’re using are really up to par?

You may want to look to the NIST for a list of digital identity guidelines that can help clarify what you should and shouldn’t be doing when setting new passwords. From two-factor authentication to the inclusion of symbols and capital letters, there are plenty of ways to strengthen your passwords to minimize the risk of an attack.

Establishing Network Segmentation

While, yes, one of the main goals of a small business should be to have a reliable network set up for operations, there’s a lot more to be done to ensure adequate data security. If your office frequently has customers traveling through your space, it’s best to implement a separate network that will prevent access to your data by just anyone. Doing this both minimizes the impact on your employees’ network and keeps internal data safe.

Don’t Ignore Updates

A constant bombardment of update notifications is annoying, and can even hinder productivity. And although it’s tempting to ignore these and push on with your work, updates are important in keeping your systems working properly. This is why it’s so important to stop ignoring them. In fact, small businesses should adopt a policy for updates and scheduled maintenance to ensure things aren’t falling through the cracks. A service provider can help you keep all your devices inline with the most current standards, and ensure updates are carried out accurately and within the proper timeframe.

Training For Success

If your business is one that employs mobile workers, data security becomes a bit more complicated. You’ll need to ensure these mobile workers’ devices are as secure as those within your office. Keep in mind that deleting company information in the event of a lost or stolen device is crucial.

A company may have the very best security in place to protect their data, but all it takes is one employee incident to destroy the reputation you’ve built. If your company’s salespeople do not require access to secured customer ddatabases don’t authorize them to use it. Giving access to crucial data only when it’s needed can help you minimize the chance of a cyber-attack.

You may be doing a fantastic job at training your employees for proper data security, but human error will always be an issue. This is not something you can prevent entirely, but you can teach your employees what to look out for. You can also help them understand the negative consequences associated with data breaches and the true impact of failing to be alert.

Data security for your small business is definitely not something you want to ignore. As an entrepreneur, you are likely both excited and weary of what’s to come. Don’t let a data breach put an end your empire before it starts.

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October’s Featured Training: The ABCs Of Cyber Security

October Is Cyber Security Awareness Month
Tune In At Any Time To Watch Our 15 Minute On-Demand Training

Cyber Criminals Have A 6 Month Head Start.

Is Your Business Protected?

Find Out.

Tune Into Our October Free Online Training By Clicking Here.

Cyber Security Training

Every 39 seconds, a hacker is attacking someone. 

Are you next on the list?

You can’t afford to miss October’s free online training.  Why?

Beanstalk Computing takes cybersecurity seriously. This is why we have put together this free online training for everyone.  During this online training, our cybersecurity trainers will share how your business can defend itself from becoming another statistic.

During this 15-minute on-demand training we’ll show you many quick and very important tips you and your team must know in order to protect your business from cyber threats and how employees can keep all your confidential and critical information secure.

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Google Shutting Down Google+

Google+ Social Media App Will Soon Move Off Into The Sunset

Google+ has never really been a popular social media network. In fact, most people say they’ve never used it and don’t know how it works. So it’s not too surprising to hear that Google has finally decided to pull the plug.

Google+ Shut Down

Google just announced a ten-month sunsetting period, which begins now and will end in August of 2019.

Besides the site simply not being popular, Google has had serious security issues. Project Strobe discovered a bug in Google+ that may have leaked the personal information of thousands of users. Though Google says the vulnerability was not discovered by hackers and that no profiles were compromised, their senior executives felt that rumors of a breach would likely trigger “immediate regulatory interest.” So they simply didn’t tell anyone.

Other Social Media Data Breaches

For several years, Facebook has been under scrutiny for allowing the data firm Cambridge Analytica to access their user information. This data was in turn used to create targeted social media ads that eventually swayed the presidential election of 2016. Since that incident, Americans have become much more aware of the effects and dangers of data breaches and social media manipulation.

Given the fact that almost no one was using the Google+ app and the high risk for potential data leaks, Google execs said they simply felt that it was best to discontinue Google+. Users will have 10 months to migrate their data before the platform is officially dissolved in August of next year. However, the company has decided to continue supporting the Enterprise version of Google+ so businesses using that app will not be affected.

More About the Google+ Security Breach

Last March, Google discovered a privacy breach, which allowed third-party apps using their programming interface to access the personal data of users. This data includes usernames, addresses, email addresses, birth dates and other bits of personal information.

The Wall Street Journal reported some details about the security breach and said that Google executives had been informed about the breach soon after it occurred. These executives made the decision not to disclose the breach to its users for fear of tarnishing their reputation.

Reporting Security Breaches

In a blog post, Google said that it decides when and if the organization should notify users of data breaches. They take into consideration the type of data that was leaked, whether there’s evidence of misuse and whether there’s anything that users can do about it.

According to security breach laws, any organization that experiences a data breach must inform those affected. And they only have a specific amount of time to do so. This varies by state but there are severe penalties for not correctly reporting a security breach.

Executives at Google say that the gap has been fixed and that users do not need to worry about any further data leaks. However, there is ample evidence that Google did not follow the law once they learned of the data breach. This can result not only in penalties from the federal government but also users can file individual lawsuits if they believe their personal info has been compromised.

How Data Breach Laws Are Changing

With the new European Union GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), more countries and organizations are implementing stronger security measures. The GDPR affects anyone who does business with an entity that resides within the European Union. This has caused many business owners to revamp the way they collect and store personal information from their users.

Once a company has collected an individual’s personal information, they have a legal responsibility to keep that data as secure as possible. In spite of these advances in data security regulations, hackers seem to be one step ahead. Their tactics change, improve and evolve making it necessary for all organizations to be more cautious.

Senate and House Committees Get Involved

This past year, many social media and technology companies have come under scrutiny due to their data and privacy practices. Executives from Twitter, Facebook and Google have testified before various Senate and House committees. Under fire are their security measures, but also their political biases. The government is considering types of regulations that would prevent these companies from meddling in important things like the elections.

Now that everyone is fully aware of how easy it is to sway voters in one direction or the other, there is a very real fear that future elections may be manipulated by these companies. They not only have the knowledge, but they have the resources to influence the way people vote. And this ability holds within it a great deal of potential power to change our society in ways that can only be speculated about at the moment.

What Should Google+ Users Do?

In the meantime, if you are a Google+ user, it’s best to go ahead and make copies of any content you have on the site, then delete your account. Once it has been deleted, you’ll no longer have to worry about losing it to hackers who have found yet another weakness in the site’s security protocols.

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Facebook Data Breach

Are you aware of a potentially serious data breach involving Facebook? 

According to many top news outlets, 50 million users accounts may have been impacted and Facebook now faces potential huge fines in the EU.

Read more at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/oct/03/facebook-data-breach-latest-fine-investigation.

Facebook Data Breach

Need steps to protect your Facebook account? Here’s an interesting article containing steps to protect your personal information and security. https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/facebook-data-breach-how-to-protect-yourself/

We are continuing to follow this news and will update more on our blog as we learn more.

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5 Important Features You’ll Find In iOS12

Apple’s newest software update has arrived, and it’s already making an impact in how effectively users manage their smartphones. iOS 12, which comes preinstalled in the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, is equipped with a number of shiny, new features sure to delight iPhone and iPad users, old and new models alike. From stronger battery performance to significant upgrades to maps, notifications and passwords, iOS 12 is robust in its delivery. Here, we’ll explore some of iOS12’s most anticipated new features, and how they can help you achieve more with your iPhone or iPad.

Battery Performance And Battery Life

Mobile phones are designed to help users achieve everyday tasks with ease. However, with this great power comes a need for great battery life. Luckily, iOS12 delivers on this front. The new update offers significant upgrades in both battery life and performance, helping you operate your device for longer and with more speed than ever before. What’s more, owners of older model iPhones are reaping the biggest benefits. In terms of the newest update, the older your iPhone model, the better. According to Apple, older models can expect to see speed boosts of up to 70% faster.

Earlier versions of iOS allowed users to see how much battery their favorite apps were using, and for how long. In efforts to help users further understand the extent of their usage, iOS 12 offers users charts that display battery use in great detail. The charts are broken down by Screen On usage and Screen Off Usage. Also, now users are able to see how fast their battery was depleted, as well as how these levels were during any part of the previous 24 hours. There is also a long-term overview to help users evaluate their usage over time.

Instant Tuning

An onslaught of notifications can be annoying and distracting. The new software update seeks to remedy the inconvenience of too many notifications. Now, ioS offers instant tuning, which means users can now edit notification settings on the notification itself. They can even set specific apps to deliver notifications silently, meaning they’ll show up on the display, but without vibrations or sound alerts.

Some other changes to notifications? The Do Not Disturb feature on your phone just got a whole lot more effective, allowing you to further manage the time frames in which you do not want disruptions. You can set your phone on Do Not Disturb for a certain time frame, for a certain location, or pretty much whatever time you choose.

Grouped Notifications

A common complaint among iPhone users is the barrage of notifications they receive on their screen after they’ve been inactive. Instead of receiving one notification for text messages, they were forced to scroll through endless notifications, which made it hard to easily locate priority alerts. Now, with grouped notifications, users will instead see one notification for each app, leaving more room for prioritizing tasks.

Redesigned Maps App

The modern day smartphone user relies heavily on map apps to help them reach their destinations. Glitches in the map apps are highly inconvenient for users, and the new iOS update helps to alleviate this. Other improvements include more detail like foliage, buildings, pools, pedestrian pathways and the ability to see into buildings. Currently, this feature is only available in certain areas, such as the city of San Francisco. The upgrades are expected to be available in a growing number of cities over the next year. You’ll also find improvements to traffic, construction notifications, and real-time road conditions — all intended to make your driving experience more safe and efficient.

Improved Password Management

Given the outstanding popularity of smartphones and their capabilities to manage so many aspects of everyday life, security is always a concern. While Apple devices have typically operated with their own password systems, now users are able to access their own much more easily. The latest iOS update offers an AutoFill setting that allows your chosen password manager to be available everywhere. This means password managers like OnePass and Dashlane are fair game.

Improved QR Code Reader

QR codes haven’t quite caught on for iPhone and iPad users. This may be because of several reasons. One reason may be that, prior to iOS12, scanning QR codes required a special app, making it sometimes difficult to quickly capture QR codes in passing. The newest software update comes equipped with a QR scanning shortcut that can be accessed through iPhone’s lock screen. You can do this by adding a new widget to your device’s Control Center.

ios 12 update

Smartphones, in their bid to deliver everything users hope for in a device and more, require sporadic updates to run at their optimal performance. iOS12 is just the latest to bring a new range of benefits to iPhone and iPad users everywhere. No telling what the future holds.

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