Blog | Biztek Solutions, Inc. - Part 12
Keeping Outlook Emails Safe and Secure

It never hurts to be too careful in the digital arena, no matter who you may be sending a message to. Unbeknownst to many, just because you send your emails via a secure wireless network or VPN doesn’t mean they can’t be intercepted by a third party. Sometimes this type of data breach can be quite innocent, but often enough it is not, so with a few simple steps, you can cryptographically sign emails heading out of Outlook – keeping your message private and safe.

An important thing to note is that these tips do not work with Microsoft Outlook on the website. To cryptographically sign from there, ask your administrator to specifically install the Office 365 Message Encryption plugin – or, complete the task yourself, if you have admin access.

To encrypt emails via the Outlook program, share our digital ID with another party, so that you can always trust emails when they go back and forth. If you don’t yet have a digital ID, visit File > Options > Trust Center > Email Security, and follow the instructions there.

To digitally sign each message manually, go to Digitally Sign Message, viewable from the Messages tab. If none of these options are available to you, simply go to the security settings, and “add digital signature to this message.”

To digitally encrypt each message, simply go to the button that says Encrypt Message Contents and Attachments. This is also viewable as an envelope with a lockbox. Again, if this option is not available to you visit the security settings. To encrypt all of the email messages that you send, go to Trust Center, from File > Options.

Having the right IT professional can help keep all of your data secure, all of the time. For more helpful tips and tricks, or for a consultation in Los Angeles County, give Biztek Solutions, Inc. a call at (800)353-5430 to speak with our professional staff. Let us help you find solutions for all of your data storage, security, and computer needs.

Protecting Mobile Medical Data

With the advent of the digital age, it’s become more important than ever to place heightened security measures on medical data. HIPAA has been in place for quite some time now, but when the laws were enacted, Internet and cloud security wasn’t much a concern. Patient’s private medical information is still just as protected under HIPAA digitally as it was when medical records were more prominently kept on paper, so it’s more important than ever to protect this data.

For the past several weeks, we’ve been discussing how to be at one with HIPAA compliance, while still taking advantage of cloud computing and storage, to also maximize efficiency with regard to how these records are stored. Let’s take a quick look back at what has been previously discussed:

It’s best to inventory protected health information (PHI) before even selecting a cloud provider. Get with your IT staff and decide exactly what this data is, what it relates to, and how it has been kept thus far before moving forward.

Arm yourself with a strong BA (Business Association) agreement before entertaining the thought of using cloud storage. Know the laws, and also make sure that your prospective company knows the laws.

Crack down on your own security, and carefully research where you are moving your data. When selecting a provider, interview them as if you were hiring a prospective employee. Run a background check, if necessary.

And finally, this week, we finish off with protecting mobile data. In lieu of locking down employee’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, choose a provider that knows the holes that are in mobile data. Internal security is a huge factor when it comes to protecting private information, and employees can easily unwillingly share precious data across networks. This still boils down to finding a cloud provider you can trust.

When you need data, business, and IT services that go above and beyond, look toward a company like Biztek Solutions, Inc. With all of your needs in mind, we protect your data with the highest level of security possible. To find out more about cloud storage or any other service we provide in Riverside, give Biztek Solutions a call today at (800)353-5430 to speak with a member of our staff.

We are proud to announce that our own President and CEO, Derek Anderson, was recently nominated for the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for 2016 from BEFA – The Business Excellence Forum & Awards. This event was attended by over 2,000 IT and professional business leaders from around the globe. Held in Orlando, FL, Biztek, Inc. is very honored to have Derek among the revered nominees.

BIztek President Nominated for Young Entrepreneur Award

The Business Excellence Awards began in the United States in 2011, to recognize industry leaders around the globe, for their excellence, leadership, and entrepreneurial skills within their company and with their competitors, clients, and colleagues. Finalists are selected by the top leaders and professionals worldwide, and are invited to come to the international event held in Florida.

A young entrepreneur, Anderson first founded Biztek in 2006, after receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Information Technology at California State University San Bernardino. He got his start helping his mother’s CPA clients with their computer issues and problems while he was still in high school. Soon after college, his fledgling company was formed, soon to be a success, with perseverance and hard work. Derek’s personal certificates include professional ones from Microsoft, Cisco and CompTIA, while Biztek, Inc. has grown to become a leader in the IT world, offering customized solutions to clients around the globe. A pioneer in the best technology and customer service, Biztek is fast becoming a worldwide leader in IT strategies and solutions.

To hear more about Derek’s story, and how Biztek Solutions, Inc. can help turn your IT problems into solutions, contact Biztek today via their website, or by calling (800)353-5430 to speak with a professional member of their staff.

Many IT service providers use remote monitoring tools to gather information and send reports about their clients’ computer systems. Almost anything can be monitored, from routers and firewalls to virus detection and email services.

Here are five benefits of using remote monitoring to keep an eye on your systems:

1. Reduce the Chances of Downtime

In order to operate smoothly, your company needs its computers up and running. If they stop working, you could end up losing a lot of money.

Remote monitoring can reduce the chances of such an event. Your service provider can set alerts that trigger when a problem starts to develop but before it impacts system performance. This early notification means the issue can be resolved before it develops into a crisis.

2. Respond to Problems Instantly

An IT service provider’s remote monitoring team can protect your computers around-the-clock. This 24/7 service means that providing a solution to your tech troubles doesn’t have to wait until the morning.

3. Handle Problems Anywhere

Because of remote monitoring, it doesn’t matter where you are, where your systems are, or where your people are. A remote monitoring team can contact you, find out how you want a situation handled, and then take care of it for you.

This means that you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your own home in order to take care of a problem. This aspect of remote monitoring is especially appealing to companies with facilities in distant or rural locations.

4. Track System Health

Remote monitoring collects system statistics over time. When viewing this data in monthly or quarterly reports, long-term trends can be identified, even before they reach levels that would trigger an alert.

Using these reports, you can address potential problems as they develop and prevent them from ever impacting your computer system. Trend analysis can also identify needs for system expansion and help with technology budgeting.

5. Monitor and Support Every Device You Use

Remote monitoring is comprehensive. Every device can be monitored and supported remotely, whether it’s a server, a desktop, or a mobile device.

Additionally, a remote monitoring service can provide for automatic updates. Configuration files and other changes can automatically be deployed without users needing to take any action.

6. Have Support Staff That Show Rather than Tell

If one of your employees ever has a computer problem, an IT expert can use remote control tools to take control of the employee’s desktop while they are watching. Remote control is different from remote monitoring, although the two are closely related. When it comes to IT support, remote control tools let technicians teach your employees about the issue at hand and explain to them how to address it in the future.

The Bottom Line

Businesses today rely on their computers. They need their IT infrastructure up and running at all times. They need to know about problems before they happen, and they need support regardless of their locations. Remote monitoring provides a cost-effective way for companies to fulfill these needs.

What is going to happen to the IT world in 2016? While no one knows for sure, it is possible to make a few educated guesses based on current industry trends. The following predictions offer both early warnings and potential opportunities for business owners, helping them chart the best course forward.

Here are four IT trends business owners should watch in 2016:

1. Ransomware and Other Types of Cyberattacks Will Be on the Rise

The number of cyberattacks will continue to increase in 2016, with ransomware being one of the biggest threats, according to McAfee Labs and Trend Micro. Besides increasing in number, ransomware attacks will be harder to detect. New ransomware variants will likely have stealth capabilities, allowing them to encrypt data silently in the background or even encrypt data on the fly, according to McAfee Labs. Plus, Trend Micro predicts that ransomware attacks will become more personalized, exploiting companies’ fears of losing their good business reputations.

In light of this prediction, you will need to keep abreast of security issues, vulnerabilities, and exploits — if you are not already doing so. There are many ways to track them, such as signing up to receive email alerts issued by the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), a division within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

2. Governments and Other Organizations Will Take a More Active Role in Fighting Cybercrime

Governments will take a more active role in protecting the Internet and its users in 2016, according to Trend Micro. Besides governments enacting legislation, the Internet security firm predicts that there will be more international cooperation between governments, similar to the 2015 agreement between the United States and Europe to share data during criminal and terrorism investigations.

Sharing data and resources will also become more commonplace among other organizations, according to Trend Micro. These organizations will likely try to emulate how the Cyber Defense Institute, INTERPOL, Kaspersky Lab, Microsoft, and Trend Micro took down the SIMDA botnet in 2015.

Even if these trends hold true, you should not rely solely on government and outside organizations to protect your business against cyberattacks. You will need to implement security measures to protect your business if you have not done so already.

3. The Wearables Market Will Rapidly Expand

The number of wearable computer-powered devices (e.g., smart watches, smart glasses) is expected to grow from 200 million in 2015 to 780 million worldwide by 2018, according to McAfee Labs. Besides growing in number, wearables will likely grow in sophistication, opening the door wider for business use. For example, PwC envisions a retail environment in which clerks use wearables to access information in real time to answer customers’ questions and customers receive sale notices on their wearables when they enter stores.

Although wearables have the potential to improve employee productivity, increase sales, and provide other benefits for businesses, they have a possible downside as well, according to McAfee Labs. Wearables can expose businesses to security vulnerabilities because they either connect to the Internet directly or connect to smartphones or tablets. So, if you want to take advantage of wearables in your business, you will need to ensure that the connections are secure. You will also need to protect any data you collect from wearables.

4. Companies Will Continue to Migrate to IT Infrastructures in the Cloud despite Fewer Cloud Vendors Offering This Service

The migration from onsite physical IT infrastructures to IT infrastructures in the cloud is expected to continue in 2016, according to cloud experts. The potential to save time and money will be fueling this migration. Companies will be able to run their business applications without having to buy or manage the servers, storage devices, networking equipment, and other items needed to host those applications.

However, starting in 2016, there will be a rapid consolidation of public cloud vendors that offer IT infrastructure services, according to Technology Business Research. It is predicting that four companies — Amazon Web Services, Google, IBM, and Microsoft — will account for almost half of this market by 2018. So, if you are contemplating running your business applications from an IT infrastructure in the cloud, you may have fewer cloud vendors to choose from.

Windows 10 has many new features, one of which is the ability to create virtual desktops. Although Microsoft offered this functionality in the past, it was only available as an add-on program. As a result, most Windows users are not familiar with what virtual desktops are and how to use them.

What Are Virtual Desktops?

So, what are virtual desktops? The best way to explain them is with an analogy. Suppose you are an avid do-it-yourselfer (DIYer), so you always have several projects in the works. Unfortunately, you have limited time, so you often work on several projects on the same day. This causes problems because you only have a small table to work on. When you switch between projects, you need to either stack the supplies for the other projects on various parts of the table or put the supplies away. Either way, switching between projects is a hassle and eats away at what little time you have to work on them.

A much better solution is to have multiple tables in your project room. That way, you can set up each project on a separate table or set up the tables for different types of tasks (e.g., painting, gluing). With multiple tables at your disposal, you will be more organized. More importantly, you will be able to easily switch between projects or tasks because the supplies will be at your fingertips rather than stacked or packed away.

Having virtual desktops is like having multiple tables. You can create a virtual desktop (table) for each project you are working on. In each virtual desktop, you can have the files (supplies) you need open and readily visible rather than stacked one on top of another. When you want to work on a different project, you simply switch to that virtual desktop, saving time and hassle.

You can even set up virtual desktops for different types of tasks. For example, you might run your graphics programs (e.g., Microsoft Paint and Paint.NET) on one virtual desktop and word processing programs (e.g., Microsoft Word and Notepad) on another desktop.

How to Use Virtual Desktops: The Basics

The new Task View feature in Windows 10 lets you create and view virtual desktops. To open Task View, click the Task View icon in the taskbar. Another way to open it is to press Win+Tab (press the Windows key and the Tab key at the same time). When Task View opens, you will see the “New desktop” option in the lower right corner of your screen. Click that option or press Win+Ctrl+D to add a new virtual desktop.

The current desktop will be considered a virtual desktop, so after you add a virtual desktop, you will see small images of two virtual desktops (Desktop 1 and Desktop 2) in Task View. To work in one of those desktops, click it.

When you want to switch between virtual desktops, click the Task View icon and select the desired desktop. A quicker way to navigate between virtual desktops, though, is to press Win+Ctrl+Left to go to the desktop on the left or Win+Ctrl+Right to go to the one on the right. (“Right” and “Left” are referring to the right arrow and left arrow keys, respectively.)

To close a virtual desktop, click the Task View icon and then click the close (the “X”) button above the top right corner of the desktop image. Pressing Win+Ctrl+F4 will also close the current virtual desktop.

Note that closing a virtual desktop does not close the programs running on it. Windows simply moves them to an open virtual desktop. You need to close the programs manually.

Be More Organized and Productive

If you usually have a lot of programs and files open, you will likely find the virtual desktops feature useful. Virtual desktops provide a way for you to work in a more organized and productive manner.

Getting new PCs for yourself and your staff every few years is usually a horrible waste of a technology budget. Still, letting your staff continue to use aging computers long after they stop keeping up with modern software is a fast way to kill both the morale and productivity of your employees. How do you solve this dilemma? The simplest way to balance cost and effectiveness for your office hardware is by performing routine upgrades on existing computers.

These routine upgrades can be significantly cheaper than purchasing new PCs, while still allowing you and your employees to keep up with the demands placed on your computers by modern software. Here are our recommendations for the five hardware upgrades that will do the most to stretch out the life of your office PCs in a cost-effective manner.

1. RAM

RAM, or Random Access Memory, stores the states of programs, and the instructions that go with them, while the computer is running those programs. It’s the juggler that keeps all your tasks in the air. The more RAM you have, the more you can multitask.

Because the cost of RAM has gone down so much, this is the most cost-effective upgrade you can perform. The only caveats are to make sure that your computer can take an upgrade (some older machines require older, outdated RAM, and some laptops don’t have expandable RAM), and that your operating system can handle additional RAM. As a general rule, you need a 64-bit system to handle more than 4 gigabytes.

2. Graphics Card

A few years ago, upgrading the graphics card would only help with performance on computers used for serious graphical applications like video or image processing or 3D modeling. These days, though, so many programs can benefit from video acceleration that it makes sense to upgrade in almost any computer. Even standard Windows will see a significant speed boost with an improved graphics card.

3. Hard Drive

Most people think that upgrading the hard drive will only add additional storage space to a computer. In fact, going from an older drive to a more modern one can make your entire system much speedier. This is true especially if you use a lot of memory-intensive applications that require a lot of reading and writing from the drive. Switching from an older magnetic-disk based system to a solid state drive, or SSD, can be an even more drastic upgrade. And with SSDs quickly approaching a similar price per Gigabyte as traditional hard drives, it can be a relatively inexpensive upgrade that makes a big difference.

4. Network Card

Most people completely forget the network card when upgrading their PCs, but this little component can make a big difference. Modern network cards can support much higher speeds and are much more efficient than older network cards, and can make browsing the web or your internal file server a much more pleasant experience.

5. CPU

Upgrading the main processor in your computer is no small feat, and should be a last-choice option. It can give you a noticeable boost in performance at a lower cost than an entirely new computer with a similar CPU chip in it. However, if you find yourself needing to upgrade the CPU and some other components, it may well be cheaper to simply purchase a whole new computer system.

Make More Use of What you Already Have

There is a lot you can do to an aging computer to keep it alive and useful for a little bit longer without having to shell out for a whole new system. One thing we would like to remind you of, though, is that before deciding to upgrade, make sure that you do a thorough cleaning of your computer, both physically and software-wise. Often, a good spring-cleaning can do wonders to speed up an aging machine, and save you the cost of an upgrade.

Windows 10, the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system, was released on July 29, 2015, and millions of people have already received their copies of the tech giant’s newest piece of software. While there are plenty of good reasons to upgrade, Windows 10 isn’t necessarily for everyone.

Here are a few issues to consider when choosing whether or not to get Windows 10:

1. It’s Free (for Most People)

Microsoft is offering free upgrades to Windows 10 for anyone with a genuine copy of Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows Phone 8.1. The free-upgrade promotion — which expires on July 29, 2016 — will entice a huge number of Windows users to make the switch.

However, the offer doesn’t extend to Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8.1 Enterprise, Windows RT, and Windows RT 8.1. That being said, Microsoft started selling Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education on August 1, 2015.

2. Improved Performance

Windows 10 features several performance upgrades. It boots up faster and its better hardware acceleration means that the operating system is a bit quicker when in use. The OS’s power management system has also seen some improvements that tend to extend the life of mobile devices’ batteries.

Additionally, the Refresh and Reset functions were reimplemented so that they work without the need for a recovery image. This reduces the amount of system resources that the OS requires, and makes it easier for users to remove any unwanted software that hardware manufacturers might have bundled into their copies of Windows.

3. Better Security

Security was clearly an important consideration for Microsoft’s developers when they were creating Windows 10. The new OS provides automatic updates, which can make things easier for some users. It also has a number of features designed to keep users and their data secure.

Its Device Guard tool blocks unauthorized applications from accessing Windows 10 computers or the networks that they are connected to. The OS’s Passport and Windows Hello features protect accounts by changing the way that people approach user authorization. Instead of relying on a password, these features let users launch Windows 10 devices by using biometric characteristics like their faces, irises, or fingerprints.

4. The Return of the Start Menu

One of the main criticisms against Windows 8 was the loss of the Start menu. This clear and easy-to-use menu was a staple of previous Windows versions, and many users were upset when they were unable to use it. Thankfully, Microsoft learned from its mistakes by bringing the Start menu back with Windows 10.

The new version of the Start menu will be familiar to Windows 7 users, but it also features a customizable side panel with live tiles similar to the ones used in Windows 8. You can reorganize this panel as you like, combine and resize live tiles, and create shortcuts to your favorite applications. Alternatively, if you don’t like the live tiles, you can delete them and go back to the basic Windows-7-style menu.

5. A New Web Browser

The release of Windows 10 also served as the debut performance of Microsoft Edge, the company’s latest web browser. Windows 10 users will still have the option to use Internet Explorer, though. This will help companies that need to keep using the 20-year-old web browser for compatibility reasons.

Microsoft Edge is designed to be faster, more secure, and more user-friendly than Internet Explorer. Users can customize the web browser by picking a background or choosing a set font size. It also has several new features, like the ability to convert to a streamlined format that removes sidebars and is easier to read. There is also a tool that lets you make notes on web pages, and then share screenshots of the pages through email or a social network.

6. A Universal Approach

Windows 10 is a universal operating system that works on every Windows machine, whether it’s a computer or a mobile device. Any app bought through the Windows Store will work on all of a user’s machines, and will feel familiar regardless of the device that it is being used on. Users can also switch from one device to the next without losing any of their work. If you start working on a document on your computer, you can easily switch to your tablet and pick up right where you left off.

Microsoft’s Continuum also facilitates this broader versatility. This feature changes the operating system’s interface based on the status of the device. For example, if you plug a keyboard and mouse into your tablet, the operating system will recognize the change and switch to desktop mode.

7. A Digital Personal Assistant

Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Google Now and Apple’s Siri. Originally connected to Windows Phone, the digital personal assistant can now be used on any Windows 10 device. Users interact with Cortana by speaking or by typing in questions. The digital assistant learns about users by keeping track of the things they like, and is integrated with Microsoft’s calendar and email clients. This means that it is able to answer more personal questions like “How long will it take me to get home?” and recognize specific issues that might affect you, like a traffic jam or travel delay.

8. Virtual Desktops

With Windows 10, you can create multiple different desktops and choose which apps to run on each one. This helps you keep your work life and your personal life separate, and allows you to share desktops with your colleagues.

A Few Words of Warning

Although Windows 10 does have a lot of advantages, there are a few things that you should be aware of before you upgrade. As noted above, Windows 10 users will get automatic updates. In some cases, this can be a good thing, but some users, and especially organizations that need consistent desktops for all staff, like to maintain more control over their updates. For those people, Microsoft has noted that Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise let you avoid this automatic updating process.

Additionally, the Windows Media Center is not part of the new OS, so if you use this application a lot — by watching DVDs, for example — then you will need to find a suitable replacement online.

Lastly, compatibility with existing, older software may be an issue. If you have applications that are only compatible with a certain operating system, check with your IT staff or service provider about the possibility of migrating to Windows 10. By the same token, if you have older hardware or peripherals that don’t have updated drivers, then Windows 10 could be a problem and it might be time to buy newer pieces of equipment.

Windows 10 has a lot of privacy and bandwidth settings that you may not want to have enabled. Many of these are automatically turned on by default during the installation process. As a precaution, be sure to look over the settings in case you want to change them. Talk to your IT provider if you have any questions on the effect of enabling or disabling a setting.

The Big Finale

The media has claimed that the new OS could be the last version of Windows. Setting aside the speculation, the basic premise behind this statement is that Microsoft may be moving to a so-called Windows-as-a-Service model in which it will push out frequent updates to its current operating system rather than release a new version every few years.

Regardless of the hype, the fact of the matter is that Windows 10 will be here for years to come. Microsoft has already committed to a 10-year support cycle for it. Windows users will, in all likelihood, have to adapt to it at some point. Deciding when that point will be is something that you can do with the help of your IT staff or service provider.

Cloud Computing Services in Costa Mesa

Over the last several weeks, we have been taking a look at how HIPAA has affected data storage as we know it today. Nearly every medical office has a vast amount of patient files, and they need to be stored somehow. Cloud computing is the norm in this digital age, but we always have to be sure that the cloud computing provider we select is familiar with and strictly adhering to HIPAA laws and practices.

Just as a quick reminder, we’ve gone over the fact that medical offices must first inventory their protected health information, or PHI, to see where they stand. In addition to this, a medical office should always safeguard itself with a data storage company with a business associate agreement. Also, information security must also be the focus.

There is also an important list of questions that a medical office or practice should ask a prospective data storage facility, and we will highlight some of the most important ones. First, ask a company what business they specialize in. If it’s not healthcare, how familiar with healthcare data are they? A very important question to also ask is how intense their security background checks are for employees. A common sense question to ask, but still a very important one, is if the company understands HIPAA and will adhere to it for the life of the business arrangement. Also make sure to find out where the company’s physical systems are actually located (where the data is actually being stored).

Basically, it is best to interview the company as if they were a prospective employee – find out what their strengths and weaknesses are, while being completely sure that they understand healthcare data and how to best store and handle it.

If you are looking for a completely secure, professional, and efficient cloud storage provider, look no further than Biztek Solutions, Inc. We will protect healthcare data to the utmost degree, and also help you find better IT solutions within your company. Feel free to give us a call at (800)353-5430 to speak with a professional member of our staff.

In the digital age, “the cloud” has become an easy fix and answer for those with data storage issues. Backing up a hard drive, storing data remotely, and keeping precious mementos such as photos and videos is now easier than ever before.

However, what happens when your information needs the utmost security? Storing medical data and information can also be incredibly easy with a cloud, but also comes with a handful of risks. We’ve been looking at how to protect medical information under HIPAA law over the past few weeks, stating important advice, such as inventorying the PHI and protecting with a strong BAA.

Now, we will look at actual information security. One of the most important tips that can be given when it comes to information security is the carefulness (or carelessness) of the vendor. Ensure that your cloud computing provider has the best credentials and security, so that all of your medical files and data is protected. In simple terms, the cloud can only be as secure as the company in charge of the cloud. Some sources say to use a cloud computing provider the specializes only in healthcare services, but this could go either way. You don’t want to pay for a top brand name on top of a service; you just want to know that the data is secure. Look for a company that is affiliated and certified by Microsoft, and take customer reviews into account.

Biztek Solutions, Inc. is a leader when it comes to managing healthcare data. With backup solutions for all types of businesses, we are partners with Microsoft and certified in all aspects of data storage. Learn how you can benefit from Biztek today services today by calling (800)353-5430 to speak with a member of our staff.