Are You Having A Technology Emergency?

True North Networks Blog

True North Networks has been serving the Swanzey area since 2002, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

True North Networks has been serving the Swanzey area since 2002, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Cybersecurity in the Workplace is Everyone’s Business

Working for a Managed Service Provider, our engineers see and deal with lots of “mistakes” that our clients make in the workplace. In honor of last month being Cybersecurity Month, read below to see common mistakes that you may be making that your MSP secretly wishes you wouldn’t make.

  1. Lock your computer

Plenty of people lock their computers when they walk away from their desks, but enough people don’t bother - that this one is top of my list. Remember to lock your computer! To lock your Windows computer10 16 2017 9 34 44 AM use CTRL+ALT+DEL and select Lock, or press +L. (That square character is the key with the Windows logo on it.)

  1. Loose lips sink ships

It’s easy to leak information by accidentally sending things to the wrong people, saying the wrong thing in the wrong place, mislaying printed documents or leaving meeting rooms without erasing whiteboards.

Re-read what you’re about to sending in emails, instant messages or texts, and make sure that what you’re about to send will go to your intended recipients. Review files before attaching them – it’s easy to leak sensitive information if it’s in a small section of a much bigger spreadsheet or document. Erase the whiteboard before you leave a meeting room to ensure nothing confidential will find its way onto the mobile phone of a camera-happy passer-by.

  1. Save regularly

Saving things regularly, to the appropriate place – such as network drives – ensures that the data you have is secure in the event that your laptop is stolen. Your MSP will make sure your work laptop is encrypted so that your data won’t end up in the wrong hands if your laptop is lost or stolen, but we can’t recover your data if you haven’t saved it somewhere safe and secure where we can keep an eye on it for you.

  1. Separate personal and professional

If you use your home email, personal messaging account, or anything else outside the reach of your IT’s policies, for work, then we can’t protect you and you’ll be answerable for the consequences. If you use your work computer, email or phone for personal stuff, for eBay, PayPal, pictures of your kids and pets, it won’t be there if you leave the company and can cause potential security issues as well.

The principle of least privilege applies – we don’t need access to your personal stuff so we shouldn’t have it.

  1. Tell us what happened (seriously, tell us everything)

Finally, if you have to report something to your MSP, please don’t cut down or amend your story. Something small and insignificant can drastically change the troubleshooting steps we need to go through and even a small detail missed can reduce our efficiency and effectiveness.

We want to know literally everything you can remember before and after an event to build a better picture of what happened. (We will find it eventually and be annoyed you didn’t share!)

We’re on your side, and we’d love to have you on ours – we’re all in this together.

Resources taken from: https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2017/10/09/how-to-do-cybersecurity-at-work/ 

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Beware: Spoofed Email From the SEC

Be aware of a NEW malware email campaign that is highly targeted in nature and uses spear phishing emails that are spoofed to make them appear as if they were sent by the Securities and ExchangeSEC compliance Commission (SEC) in an attempt to add a level of legitimacy and convince users to open them. The emails are pretending to be from the SEC Electronic Data Gathering Analysis and Retrieval (EDGAR) system and the authentic looking phishing email contains an attachment complete with logos, branding, and wording that would you would expect to see on documents received from the SEC.

When the attached Word document is opened, victims would be greeted with a message informing them that the document contains links to external files, and asking them to allow/deny the content to be retrieved and displayed. Should they agree, the malicious document reaches out to an attacker-controlled command-and-control (C&C) server which executes the first malware infection. Code is retrieved, obfuscated, and then executed, which kicks off persistence on systems, registry rewrites, scheduled task creation, and DNS requests are made. In this particular case, the malware features the capability to leverage scheduled tasks, as well as registry keys to obtain persistence making it more likely that subsequent attacks can fly under the radar for longer periods.

Please let your staff know to be extra careful with email that appears to be coming from the SEC, and in particular their EDGAR system, or with an attachment.

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What You Can Do to Protect your Personally Identifiable Information (PII) At Home

While no one can be completely protected from identity theft, there are things you can do to protect yourself against this particular approach. Read below to learn the variety of things you can do to safeguard your protect yourself at homePII in your home and minimize your exposure:

  • Minimize your exposure.Don’t authenticate yourself to anyone unless you are in control of the interaction, don’t overshare on social media, be a good steward of your passwords, safeguard any documents that can be used to hijack your identity, and consider freezing your credit.
  • Monitor your accounts.Check your credit report regularly, keep track of your credit score, and review major accounts daily if possible. If you prefer a more laidback approach, sign up for free transaction alerts from financial services institutions and credit card companies or purchase a sophisticated credit- and identity-monitoring program.
  • Manage the damage. Make sure you quickly get on top of any incursion into your identity and enroll in a program where professionals help you navigate and resolve identity compromises—oftentimes available for free, or at minimal cost, through insurance companies, financial services institutions, and HR departments.
  • Miniaturize your data. Not only is a mountain of paperwork hard to store, it is also increasingly unnecessary. Get into the habit of scanning or even photographing your documents and then shredding the hard copies. Create two or three copies of the digital files—and make sure one of them is stored somewhere other than your house, since fires and other cataclysmic events do happen.
  • Use encrypted external storage.Whether you choose a thumb drive, a cloud server, or an external hard drive, store your PII digitally in an encrypted form. And it’s always better to choose a device that offers rich security features, like biometrics or two-factor authentication.
  • Invest in a safe.Once the exclusive equipment of rich folks, safes are now very affordable. They are a great place to store all that miniaturized data. Get one that is fireproof and has a biometric element (like a fingerprint scan) to further protect your information.
  • Employ two-factor data management. Store your data in more than one place. An encrypted drive can be left with the most untrustworthy relative. Just make sure that you have a backup somewhere. If you have a safety deposit box, that’s probably the best bet.

Resources taken from: https://adamlevin.com/2017/08/28/steps-protecting-personally-identifiable-information-home/  

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7 Critical Skills For the Jobs of the Future

We live in a world of accelerating change. New industries are constantly being born and old ones are becoming obsolete. A report by the World Economic Forum reveals that almost 65 percent of the jobs 

jobs of the future

elementary school students will be doing in the future do not even exist yet. Both the workforce and our knowledge base are rapidly evolving.

Combined with the effects of technological automation on the workforce, this leaves us with a crucial question: What are the skills future generations will need?

Education expert Tony Wagner has spent a lifetime trying to answer this very question. Through investigating the education sector, interviewing industry leaders and studying the global workforce at large, Wagner has identified seven survival skills of the future. These are skills and mindsets young people absolutely need in order to meet their full potential.

1. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

We spend so much time teaching students how to answer questions that we often neglect to teach them how to ask them. Asking questions—and asking good ones—is a foundation of critical thinking. Before you can solve a problem, you must be able to critically analyze and question what is causing it. This is why critical thinking and problem solving are coupled together.

Wagner notes the workforce today is organized very differently than it was a few years ago. What we are seeing are diverse teams working on specific problems, as opposed to specific specialties. Your manager doesn’t have all the answers and solutions—you have to work to find them.

Above all, this skill set builds the very foundation of innovation. We have to have the ability to question the status quo and criticize it before we can innovate and prescribe an alternative.

2. Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence

One of the major trends today is the rise of the contingent workforce. In the next five years, non-permanent and remote workers are expected to make up 40 percent of the average company’s total workforce. We are even seeing a greater percentage of full-time employees working on the cloud. Multinational corporations are having their teams of employees collaborate at different offices across the planet.

Technology has allowed work and collaboration to transcend geographical boundaries, and that’s truly exciting. However, collaboration across digital networks and with individuals from radically different backgrounds is something our youth needs to be prepared for. According to a New Horizons report on education, we should see an increasing focus on global online collaboration, where “digital tools are used to support interactions around curricular objectives and promote intercultural understanding.”

Within these contexts, leadership among a team is no longer about commanding with top-down authority, but rather about leading by influence. Ultimately, as Wagner points out, “It’s about how citizens make change today in their local communities—by trying to influence diverse groups and then creating alliances of groups who work together toward a common goal.”

3. Agility and Adaptability

We live in a VUCA (Volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world. Hence, It’s important to be able to adapt and re-define one’s strategy.

In their book, “Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World,” Richard Paul & Dillion Beach note how traditionally our education and work mindset has been designed for routine and fixed procedure. “We learned how to do something once, and then we did it over and over. Learning meant becoming habituated,” they write. “But what is it to learn to continually re-learn? To be comfortable with perpetual re-learning?”

In the post-industrial era, the impact of technology has meant we have to be agile and adaptive to unpredictable consequences of disruption. We may have to learn skills and mindsets on demand and set aside ones that are no longer required.

4. Initiative and Entrepreneurship

Traditionally, initiative has been something students show in spite of or in addition to their schoolwork. For most students, developing a sense of initiative and entrepreneurial skills has often been part of their extracurricular activities.  With an emphasis on short-term tests and knowledge, most curricula have not been designed to inspire doers and innovators.

Are we teaching our youth to lead? Are we encouraging them to take initiative? Are we empowering them to solve global challenges? Throughout his research, Wagner has found that even in corporate settings, business leaders are struggling to find employees who consistently “seek out new opportunities, ideas and strategies for improvement.”

5. Effective Oral and Written Communication

A study by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills showed that about 89 percent of employer respondents report high school graduate entrants as “deficient” in communication.

Clear communication isn’t just a matter of proper use of language and grammar. In many ways, communicating clearly is an extension of thinking clearly. Can you present your argument persuasively? Can you inspire others with passion? Can you concisely capture the highlights of what you are trying to say? Can you promote yourself or a product?

Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson has famously said “Communication is the most important skill any leader can possess.” Like many, he has noted it is a skill that can be learned and consequently used to open many opportunities.

6. Assessing and Analyzing Information

We now live in the information age. Every day we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. As this infographic shows, this would fill 10 million Blu-ray disks.

While our access to information has dramatically increased, so has our access to misinformation. While navigating the digital world, very few students have been taught how to assess the source and evaluate the content of the information they access. Moreover, this information is continuously evolving as we update our knowledge base faster than ever before.

Furthermore, in the age of fake news, an active and informed citizen will have to be able to assess information from many different sources through a critical lens.

7. Curiosity and Imagination

Curiosity is a powerful driver of new knowledge and innovation. It is by channeling a child-like sense of awe and wonder about the world that we can truly imagine something even better. It takes powerful imagination to envision breakthroughs and then go about executing them. It is the reason Albert Einstein famously said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

We consistently spoon-feed students with information instead of empowering them to ask questions and seek answers. Inquisitiveness and thinking outside the box need to be treated with the same level of importance the school system gives to physics or math.

Transforming the Future of Education

There is a stark contrast between these seven survival skills of the future and the focus of education today. Instead of teaching students to answer questions, we should teach them to ask them. Instead of preparing them for college, we should prepare them for life.

Beyond creating better employees, we must aim to create better leaders and innovators.  Doing so will not only radically transform the future of education and the workforce, it will also transform the world we live in.

 

Information taken from: https://singularityhub.com/2017/07/04/7-critical-skills-for-the-jobs-of-the-future/?utm_source=Unsupervised+Learning+Subscribers&utm_campaign=20b44149ee-Unsupervised+Learning+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49fdb7d723-20b44149ee-448389901&mc_cid=20b44149ee&mc_eid=6f12c10161

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Why Every Leader Needs to Be Obsessed with Technology

Why is it difficult for leaders to see technological change coming and right the ship before it’s too late? Why did Tower go all out on expansion just as the next big thing took the stage?

This is one story of many. Digitization has moved beyond music and entertainment, and now many big retailers operating physical stores are struggling to stay relevant. Meanwhile, the pace of change is accelerating, and new potentially disruptive technologies are on the horizon.

More than ever, leaders need to develop a strong understanding of and perspective on technology. They need to survey new innovations, forecast their pace, gauge the implications, and adopt new tools and strategy to change course as an industry shifts, not after it’s shifted.

Simply, leaders need to adopt the mindset of a technologist. Here’s what that means.

Survey the Landscape

Nurturing curiosity is the first step to understanding technological change. To know how technology might disrupt your industry, you have to know what’s in the pipeline and identify which new inventions are directly or indirectly related to your industry.

Becoming more technologically minded takes discipline and focus as well as unstructured time to explore the non-obvious connections between what is right in front of us and what might be.  It requires a commitment to ongoing learning and discovery.

Read outside your industry and comfort zone, not just Fast Company and Wired, but Science and Nature to expand your horizons. Identify experts with the ability to demystify specific technology areas—many have a solid following on Twitter or a frequently cited blog.

But it isn’t all about reading. Consider going where the change is happening too.

Visit one of the technology hubs around the world or a local university research lab in your own back yard. Or bring the innovation to you by building an internal exploration lab stocked with the latest technologies, creating a technology advisory board, hosting an internal innovation challenge, or a local pitch night where aspiring entrepreneurs can share their newest ideas.

You might even ask the crowd by inviting anyone to suggest what innovation is most likely to disrupt your product, service, or sector. And don’t hesitate to engage younger folks—the digital natives all around you—by asking questions about what technology they are using or excited about. Consider going on a field trip with them to see how they use technology in different aspects of their lives. Invite the seasoned executives on your team to explore long-term “reverse mentoring” with someone who can expose them to the latest technology and teach them to use it.

Whatever your strategy, the goal should be to develop a healthy obsession with technology.

By exploring fresh perspectives outside traditional work environments and then giving ourselves permission to see how these new ideas might influence existing products and strategies, we have a chance to be ready for what we’re not ready for—but is likely right around the corner.

Estimate the Pace of Progress

The next step is forecasting when a technology will mature.

One of the most challenging aspects of the changes underway is that in many technology arenas, we are quickly moving from a linear to an exponential pace. It is hard enough to envision what is needed in an industry buffeted by progress that is changing 10% per year, but what happens when technological progress doubles annually? That is another world altogether.

This kind of change can be deceiving. For example, machine learning and big data are finally reaching critical momentum after more than twenty years of being right around the corner. The advances in applications like speech and image recognition that we’ve seen in recent years dwarf what came before and many believe we’ve just begun to understand the implications.

Even as we begin to embrace disruptive change in one technology arena, far more exciting possibilities unfold when we explore how multiple arenas are converging.

Artificial intelligence and big data are great examples. As Hod Lipson, professor of Mechanical Engineering and Data Science at Columbia University and co-author of Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead, says, “AI is the engine, but big data is the fuel. They need each other.”

This convergence paired with an accelerating pace makes for surprising applications.

To keep his research lab agile and open to new uses of advancing technologies, Lipson routinely asks his PhD students, “How might AI disrupt this industry?” to prompt development of applications across a wide spectrum of sectors from healthcare to agriculture to food delivery.

Explore the Consequences

New technology inevitably gives rise to new ethical, social, and moral questions that we have never faced before. Rather than bury our heads in the sand, as leaders we must explore the full range of potential consequences of whatever is underway or still to come.

We can add AI to kids’ toys, like Mattel’s Hello Barbie or use cutting-edge gene editing technology like CRISPR-Cas9 to select for preferred gene sequences beyond basic health. But just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should.

Take time to listen to skeptics and understand the risks posed by technology.

Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, and other well-known names in science and technology have expressed concern in the media and via open letters about the risks posed by AI. Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, has even argued tech companies shouldn’t build artificial intelligence systems that will replace people rather than making them more productive.

Exploring unintended consequences goes beyond having a Plan B for when something goes wrong. It requires broadening our view of what we’re responsible for. Beyond customers, shareholders, and the bottom line, we should understand how our decisions may impact employees, communities, the environment, our broader industry, and even our competitors.

The minor inconvenience of mitigating these risks now is far better than the alternative. Create forums to listen to and value voices outside of the board room and C-Suite. Seek out naysayers, ethicists, community leaders, wise elders, and even neophytes—those who may not share our preconceived notions of right and wrong or our narrow view of our role in the larger world.

The question isn’t: If we build it, will they come? It’s now: If we can build it, should we?

Adopt New Technologies and Shift Coursebusiness leaders photo

The last step is hardest. Once you’ve identified a technology (or technologies) as a potential disruptor and understand the implications, you need to figure out how to evolve your organization to make the most of the opportunity. Simply recognizing disruption isn’t enough.

Take today’s struggling brick-and-mortar retail business. Online shopping isn’t new. Amazon isn’t a plucky startup. Both have been changing how we buy stuff for years. And yet many who still own and operate physical stores—perhaps most prominently, Sears—are now on the brink of bankruptcy.

There’s hope though. Netflix began as a DVD delivery service in the 90s, but quickly realized its core business didn’t have staying power. It would have been laughable to stream movies when Netflix was founded. Still, computers and bandwidth were advancing fast. In 2007, the company added streaming to its subscription. Even then it wasn’t a totally compelling product.

But Netflix clearly saw a streaming future would likely end their DVD business.

In recent years, faster connection speeds, a growing content library, and the company’s entrance into original programming have given Netflix streaming the upper hand over DVDs. Since 2011, DVD subscriptions have steadily declined. Yet the company itself is doing fine. Why? It anticipated the shift to streaming and acted on it.

Never Stop Looking for the Next Big Thing

Technology is and will increasingly be a driver of disruption, destabilizing entrenched businesses and entire industries while also creating new markets and value not yet imagined.

When faced with the rapidly accelerating pace of change, many companies still default to old models and established practices. Leading like a technologist requires vigilant understanding of potential sources of disruption—what might make your company’s offering obsolete? The answers may not always be perfectly clear. What’s most important is relentlessly seeking them.

 

Information taken from: https://singularityhub.com/2017/07/12/why-every-leader-needs-a-healthy-obsession-with-technology/?utm_source=Unsupervised+Learning+Subscribers&utm_campaign=20b44149ee-Unsupervised+Learning+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49fdb7d723-20b44149ee-448389901&mc_cid=20b44149ee&mc_eid=6f12c10161 

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