Calendars, task lists, and project planning are important business tools. Many people use Microsoft’s apps to power these processes including Planner, Microsoft To Do, and Project for the web.

 

These tools help keep processes on track and enable task accountability. But they’re separate apps. Switching between apps can be cumbersome. It adds more complexity to a workflow.

 

On average, employees switch between 22 different apps 350 times per day.

 

Microsoft is putting a dent in app overload. The company is rolling out a brand-new version of Microsoft Planner in early 2024. It’s packed with exciting features designed to simplify your project management journey.

 

What apps does the new Planner include?

 

The new Microsoft Planner combines:

 

  • The current Planner’s collaboration features
  • The simplicity of Microsoft To Do for task management
  • The capabilities of Microsoft Project for the web
  • The automation of Microsoft Copilot (the company’s AI companion)

 

The new Planner promises to be a powerful tool for staying organized. As well as boosting collaboration and achieving your goals with more ease.

 

Unifying Your Workflow: Tasks, Plans & Projects in One Place

 

Say goodbye to juggling several apps and hello to a streamlined experience. The new Planner goes beyond basic to-do lists. It seamlessly integrates tasks, plans, and projects under one roof.

 

This means you can manage everything from large to small. Including simple daily tasks to complex multi-phased projects. And do it all within a single, intuitive interface.

 

Image source: Microsoft

 

You can use the new Microsoft Planner from within Microsoft Teams or via a web browser. Here are some of the exciting things you will be able to do with it.

 

Enhanced Collaboration: Working Together Made Easy

 

Collaboration is key in today’s fast-paced world. Working remotely has become the new normal. Meaning tools need to keep people coordinated wherever they are.

 

The new Planner empowers teams to work together seamlessly. Real-time updates ensure everyone stays on the same page. Features like shared task ownership and comments foster clear communication and efficient collaboration.

 

AI-Powered Insights: Your Smart Copilot for Success

 

The new Planner incorporates the power of AI with Microsoft Copilot built in. This intelligent assistant helps you stay on top of your work. It can suggest relevant plans, tasks, and goals based on your needs and context. It can even analyze your progress and suggest adjustments to keep you on track.

 

Scaling with Your Needs: From Simple Tasks to Enterprise Projects

 

One size doesn’t fit all. The new Planner understands that. It offers flexibility to cater to both individual needs and complex enterprise projects. Microsoft Planner can adapt to your specific requirements. It’s flexible for use to fill big or small needs. Use it for managing a personal grocery list. Or to plan and deploy a large-scale company transformation.

 

Pre-Built Templates: Get Started Fast & Save Time

 

You don’t have to start from “square 1,” unless you want to. Microsoft Planner provides several ready-made templates. You can use these to get started on a new project or goal quickly.

 

You’ll see templates for things like:

 

  • Project Management
  • Software Development
  • Sprint Planning
  • Marketing Campaign
  • Commercial Construction
  • Employee Onboarding
  • and more

 

Image source: Microsoft

 

Here’s a sneak peek at some key features of the new Microsoft Planner 2024:

 

  • Improved Navigation: A redesigned interface makes finding what you need faster and easier.
  • Enhanced Task Views: It has different views, like grid and board views. These let you customize how you see and organize your tasks.
  • Microsoft App Integration: Planner integrates with many Microsoft tools including, Power BI, Teams, Microsoft Viva Goals, Power Automate, and more.
  • Customizable Fields: Add custom fields to tasks. Use them to capture specific information relevant to your project needs.
  • Goal Setting: Define clear goals and track progress visually within your plans.
  • Critical Path: Identify the essential tasks needed to complete your project on time.
  • Improved Search: Find the information you need quickly and easily. The app has powerful search functionality.

 

Access and Availability

 

Mark your calendars! The new Planner will be available in preview in early 2024. It will become generally available soon after. Some features will roll out later in the year. You can visit Microsoft’s site to sign up for updates and see a feature roadmap.

 

The Future of Tasks, Planning & Project Management

 

The new Microsoft Planner 2024 is an example of a trend we’ve seen in the digital world. Less is more. Meaning, fewer apps to juggle and more streamlined interfaces.

 

Planner’s powerful features make it an invaluable tool. One that both individuals and teams alike can leverage to streamline workflows. It also has an intuitive interface and AI-powered assistant to drive productivity.

 

Get Expert Business Software Support & Management

 

Managing both legacy and new cloud tools can be complex. Features often go underutilized. And security can be a big problem if it’s not done right. Our team of business software experts is here to help you.

 

Contact us at Oak MSP in Nottingham today to schedule a chat.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Image of a man at desk with phone and pens

QR codes are everywhere these days. You can find them on restaurant menus, flyers, and posters. They’re used both offline and online. QR codes are convenient and easy to use. You just scan them with your smartphone camera. You’re then directed to a link, a coupon, a video, or some other online content.

 

With the rise in popularity of QR codes comes an unfortunate dark side. Cybercriminals are exploiting this technology for nefarious purposes. Scammers create fake QR codes. They can steal your personal information. They can also infect your device with malware or trick you into paying money.

 

It’s crucial to exercise caution when scanning QR codes. This emerging scam highlights the potential dangers lurking behind those seemingly innocent squares.

 

The QR Code Resurgence

 

QR codes were originally designed for tracking parts in the automotive industry. They have experienced a renaissance in recent years. As a result, they’re used as a form of marketing today.

 

They offer the convenience of instant access to information. You simply scan a code. They’ve become an integral part of various industries, including retail and hospitality.

 

Unfortunately, cybercriminals are quick to adapt. A new phishing scam has emerged, exploiting the trust we place in QR codes.

 

How the Scam Works

 

The scammer prints out a fake QR code. They place it over a legitimate one. For example, they might stick it on a poster that advertises a product discount or a movie.

 

You come along and scan the fake QR code, thinking it’s legitimate. The fake code may direct you to a phishing website. These sites may ask you to enter sensitive data. Such as your credit card details, login credentials, or other personal information.

 

Or scanning the QR code may prompt you to download a malicious app. One that contains malware that can do one or more of the following:

 

 

The code could also direct you to a payment page. A page that charges you a fee for something supposedly free.

 

Here are some tactics to watch out for.

 

Malicious Codes Concealed

Cybercriminals tamper with legitimate QR codes. They often add a fake QR code sticker over a real one. They embed malicious content or redirect users to fraudulent websites.

 

Fake Promotions and Contests

 

Scammers often use QR codes to lure users into fake promotions or contests. When users scan the code, it may direct them to a counterfeit website. The website may prompt them to provide personal information. This can lead to potential identity theft or financial fraud.

 

Malware Distribution

 

Some malicious QR codes start downloads of malware onto the user’s device. This can result in compromised security. Including unauthorized access to personal data and potential damage to the device’s functionality.

 

Stay Vigilant: Tips for Safe QR Code Scanning

 

Verify the Source

 

Be cautious when scanning QR codes from unknown or untrusted sources. Verify the legitimacy of the code and its source. This is especially true if it prompts you to enter personal information.

 

Use a QR Code Scanner App

 

Consider using a dedicated QR code scanner app. Use that rather than the default camera app on your device. Some third-party apps provide extra security features such as code analysis and website reputation checks.

 

Inspect the URL Before Clicking

 

Before visiting a website prompted by a QR code, review the URL. Ensure it matches the legitimate website of the organization it claims to represent.

 

Avoid Scanning Suspicious Codes

 

Trust your instincts. If a QR code looks suspicious, refrain from scanning it. Scammers often rely on users’ curiosity. Be careful when scanning QR codes that you see in public places. Don’t scan them if they look suspicious, damaged, or tampered with. Exercising caution is paramount.

 

Update Your Device and Apps

 

Keep your device’s operating system and QR code scanning apps up to date. Regular updates often include security patches that protect against known vulnerabilities.

 

Be Wary of Websites Accessed via QR Code

 

Don’t enter any personal information on a website that you accessed through a QR code. This includes things like your address, credit card details, login information, etc.

 

Don’t pay any money or make any donations through a QR code. Only use trusted and secure payment methods.

 

Contact Us About Phishing Resistant Security Solutions

 

QR codes can be useful and fun. But they can also be dangerous if you’re not careful. Always scan them with caution. Protect yourself from scammers who want to take advantage of your curiosity.

 

This scam falls under the umbrella of phishing. Phishing is one of the most dangerous modern risks for individuals and organizations. If you need help ensuring your devices are phishing resistant, just let us know.

 

Contact us at Oak MSP today to learn more.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

In the digital age, data is the lifeblood of businesses. It fuels operations, decision-making, and customer interactions. But there is a dark underbelly of this data-centric landscape. It’s the persistent threat of data breaches.

 

Oak MSP is fully aware of the repercussions of a data breach extend far beyond the immediate aftermath. They often haunt businesses for years. Only 51% of data breach costs occur within the first year of an incident. The other 49% happen in year two and beyond.

 

We’ll take a look at the long-term consequences of a data breach. As well as examine a real-world example. You’ll see how a single breach can have enduring implications. Ones that impact a business’s reputation, finances, and regulatory standing.

 

The Unseen Costs of a Data Breach

 

Introduction to the First American Title Insurance Co. Case

 

The 2019 cybersecurity breach at First American serves as a stark illustration. It reminds us of the far-reaching consequences of a data breach. In this case, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) imposed a $1 million fine. Cybersecurity sites announced the fine in the fall of 2023. The company’s fine was for failing to safeguard sensitive consumer information.

 

The breach exposed over 880 million documents. These files contained personal and financial data. The breach represented a significant violation of data protection standards.

 

This is one example of how costs can come long after an initial breach. Here are some other ways security incidents can haunt businesses for years.

 

Lingering Impacts of a Data Breach

 

Financial Repercussions

 

The financial toll of a data breach is significant. Immediate costs include things like:

 

  • Breach detection
  • Containment
  • Customer notification

 

Beyond those, businesses face long-term expenses. These relate to legal battles, regulatory fines, and reparations. Regulatory penalties are just one facet of the financial repercussions. Others include potential legal actions from affected individuals. As well as class-action lawsuits adding to the monetary strain.

 

Reputation Damage

 

The impact on a business’s reputation is arguably the most enduring consequence. Customers lose trust in a company’s ability to protect their sensitive information. This loss of trust can result in a decline in customer retention. As well as acquisition difficulties and long-lasting damage to the brand image.

 

Rebuilding a tarnished reputation takes time. It also takes concerted efforts. These may involve public relations campaigns and enhanced security measures. These actions help assure stakeholders of renewed commitment to data protection.

 

Regulatory Scrutiny

 

Regulatory bodies increasingly hold businesses accountable for safeguarding consumer data. A data breach triggers regulatory scrutiny. This may lead to fines and ongoing compliance requirements.

 

Regulatory authorities take a stringent stance on data security. As well as on companies that fail to meet cybersecurity standards. The fallout includes financial penalties. As well as increased oversight and mandatory security improvements.

 

Operational Disruption

 

The aftermath of a data breach disrupts normal business operations. Companies must take remediation efforts and put in place enhanced security measures. These can divert resources away from core business functions.

 

The company feels the impact across departments, affecting productivity and efficiency. The ripple effect of operational disruption can extend for years. This impedes growth and hinders the organization’s ability to adapt to market changes.

 

Customer Churn and Acquisition Challenges

 

A data breach often leads to customer churn. Individuals lose confidence in the business’s ability to protect their data. Acquiring new customers becomes challenging. Potential clients are wary of associating with a brand that has suffered a breach. The prolonged effects on customer acquisition can hinder the company’s growth. As well as its market competitiveness.

 

A Cautionary Tale for Businesses Everywhere

 

The repercussions of a data breach extend far beyond the immediate incident. They can impact the financial health and reputation of a business for years. As well as its regulatory standing.

 

The frequency and sophistication of cyber threats continue to rise. Proactive cybersecurity measures are not just a necessity. They are a strategic imperative for safeguarding the long-term success of businesses.

 

The true cost of a data breach is not always immediately evident. It’s a complex interplay of things like:

 

  • Financial penalties
  • Reputation damage
  • Regulatory consequences
  • Operational disruption

 

These impacts can persist for years. It’s important to learn from real-world examples. As well as focusing on robust cybersecurity measures. This helps businesses mitigate the risks associated with data breaches. As well as safeguarding their immediate interests and their long-term viability.

 

Need a Cybersecurity Assessment to Prevent an Unexpected Breach?

 

There are many ways that hackers can breach a network. From endpoints to cloud tools, you must run a tight security ship. Need some help?

 

Schedule a cybersecurity assessment at Oak MSP today. This is the first positive step into understanding and addressing your risk. As well as avoiding the consequences of a data breach.

 

Give us a call today to schedule a chat.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Are you a small business owner or a freelancer who offers services online? If so, you might be wondering how to get paid by your customers in a fast and convenient way. You might have tried different payment platforms. But they often require you to switch between different apps or websites. This can be time-consuming and confusing.

 

There is now another option to streamline the payment process. Microsoft has launched the Teams Payments app. This is a new feature that allows you to request and receive payments from your customers. You do it within Microsoft Teams meetings.

 

The Teams Payments app is currently available in the United States and Canada. Subscribers to Teams Essentials and Microsoft 365 business get it at no charge.

 

 

How Does the Teams Payment App Work?

 

The Teams Payments app is simple to use. You can get the app from the Microsoft AppStore. You add it to your Teams account and connect it to your preferred payment service. You can choose from:

 

  • Stripe
  • PayPal
  • GoDaddy

 

Once you have set up the app, you can start requesting payments from your customers in Teams meetings.

 

How Do You Send a Payment Request?

 

To send a payment request, you just need to open the meeting chat. Then, select the Payments icon from the messaging extensions. Then, you can fill out a simple form. It includes the amount, currency, description, and recipients of your request.

 

You can send the same request to several people if you want. The app will generate a card that shows the status of each payment, whether it is unpaid or paid.

 

Your customers will see the same card in their meeting chat. They can click on the Pay Now button to complete their payment. The system will redirect them to the payment service that you have connected to the app. There, they can enter their payment details and confirm their transaction.

 

Once they have done that, they will see a confirmation message in the chat. You will receive a notification that your payment has been processed.

 

 

Benefits of Using the Teams Payment App

 

The Teams Payments app has many benefits. Both for small businesses and freelancers who offer online services. Here are some of them:

 

It saves time and hassle.

 

You don’t need to switch between different apps or websites. You can easily request and receive payments from your customers. You can do everything within Teams meetings. This makes it more convenient and efficient for both parties.

 

It increases customer satisfaction and loyalty.

 

Your customers will appreciate the ease of paying you through Teams meetings. They don’t need to create an account or download an app to pay you. They can complete their transaction in a few clicks right inside the meeting.

 

It boosts your revenue and cash flow.

 

You can get paid faster and more securely by using the Teams Payments app. You don’t need to wait for invoices or checks to clear. You can receive your money within minutes of completing a service. Either directly into your bank account or PayPal account.

 

It enhances your professional image and credibility.

 

You can show your customers that you are using a reliable and trusted payment platform. One built by a well-known company that has been a technology leader for decades. You can also add a seller policy to your payment requests. Here you can specify your terms and conditions, cancellation policy, refund policy, etc.

 

It helps you keep track of payments.

 

Keeping track of payments is crucial for financial management. With the Teams Payments App, you can track transactions in real-time. You’ll receive instant notifications for successful payments. It will help you maintain a comprehensive record of your financial interactions.

 

It’s seamlessly integrated with Microsoft 365.

 

The Teams Payments App seamlessly integrates with Microsoft 365. You can leverage the power of Microsoft’s ecosystem. Using it to manage your communications, collaborations, and payments together. No need for more logins or complicated setups – it’s all within one platform.

 

It increases productivity.

 

Efficiency is the key to productivity. You reduce the time spent on payment-related tasks by integrating Payments into Teams. This efficiency translates into increased productivity. It allows you and your team to focus on core business activities and driving growth.

 

The Teams Payments app marks a significant leap in digital business transactions. By leveraging this powerful tool, you’re simplifying payments. You’re also enhancing customer experiences, ensuring data security, and boosting productivity.

 

We Can Help You Get More Out of Microsoft 365

 

The Teams Payments app is a great way to simplify and streamline your payment process. It can help you save time, increase customer satisfaction, and boost revenue.

 

Need help with this or other Microsoft 365 tools? Our experts can work with you to help you make the most out of your Microsoft subscription.

 

Give us a call today at Oak MSP in Nottingham to arrange a chat.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

 

 

Here at Oak MSP we are seeing technology reshape the world of work at an unprecedented pace. From artificial intelligence to web3, from the metaverse to the hybrid work model. We are witnessing a series of technological revolutions. They are transforming how we communicate, collaborate, create, and innovate.

 

Let’s explore some of the most impactful technology trends that are changing the way we work in 2024 and beyond.

 

1. Artificial Intelligence

 

AI and Generative AI are not just buzzwords. They are transforming the workplace. These technologies enable automation, allowing teams to handle mundane tasks more efficiently. They free up human resources for more creative and strategic endeavours.

 

AI is not a new concept, but it has become more powerful and accessible in recent years. This is thanks to advances in computing power, data availability, and algorithm development.

 

Artificial intelligence is now augmenting and automating various aspects of work. This includes data analysis, customer service, image creation, product design, and more.

 

But AI also poses significant challenges and risks. This includes ethical dilemmas, social implications, and workforce displacement. Thus, it’s essential to adopt responsible and human-centric approaches to AI. As well as ensure that workers have the skills and support to adapt to the changing nature of work.

 

2. Remote Collaboration Tools

 

Advanced collaboration tools have facilitated the rise of remote work. These include video conferencing, project management software, and cloud-based document sharing platforms.

 

This technology empowers teams to collaborate seamlessly from different corners of the globe. These tools break down geographical barriers, allowing for efficient teamwork and real-time communication.

 

3. Hybrid Work Model

 

The hybrid work model is a term that describes the combination of remote and in-office work. This is not a new concept, but it has become more prevalent in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

The hybrid work model offers many benefits, such as:

 

  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced costs
  • Improved work-life balance
  • Enhanced employee satisfaction
  • Improved employee retention

 

The hybrid work model is transforming the way we work. It requires workers to have new skills, tools, and strategies. For example, hybrid work requires workers to have several capabilities to work effectively. These include strong digital literacy, communication, collaboration, and self-management skills.

 

4. Web3: The Decentralized Internet

 

Web3 is a term that refers to the next generation of the internet. An internet based on decentralized technologies, such as:

 

  • Blockchain
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • Smart contracts
  • Peer-to-peer networks

 

Web3 aims to create a more open, transparent, secure, and democratic internet. One where users have more control over their own data, identity, and digital assets. 

 

Web3 also enables new forms of collaboration and value creation. This includes:

 

  • Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs)
  • Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
  • Decentralized finance (DeFi)
  • Social tokens

 

Web3 is transforming the way we work. It’s creating new business models, platforms, and communities. These are designed to be more inclusive, participatory, and innovative.

 

Web3 has the potential to generate $49.10 billion in economic value by 2030.

 

5. Internet of Things (IoT) in the Workplace

 

IoT devices are creating smart and optimized workplaces. This includes smart thermostats that adjust office temperatures based on occupancy. As well as wearable devices that track employees’ health and productivity. This connectivity enhances efficiency and reduces energy consumption. It also provides valuable data for informed decision-making.

 

6. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

 

AR and VR technologies are revolutionizing training, design, and customer interactions. In the workplace, AR and VR offer immersive training experiences. These allow employees to learn complex tasks in a simulated environment. These technologies are also used in product design. This enables professionals to visualize and modify prototypes in real time. This drives faster innovation cycles.

 

7. Cybersecurity Advancements

 

As digital technologies advance so do cybersecurity threats. Businesses are investing in advanced cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive data. As well as ensuring the privacy of employees and customers.

 

These innovations include biometric authentication and AI-driven threat detection. Cybersecurity advancements are crucial. They help companies safeguard digital assets and maintain trust in the online workspace.

 

The Impact on the Future of Work

 

These transformative technology trends are not just fleeting novelties. They are shaping the future of work. Businesses like yours in Nottingham, Derby and Leicester, that adapt and embrace these technologies gain a competitive edge.

 

Remote collaboration tools foster flexibility and work-life balance, appealing to the modern workforce. AI and automation enhance efficiency, reducing errors and operational costs.

 

IoT creates intelligent workspaces, enhancing employee well-being and environmental sustainability. AR and VR drive innovation, offering new ways to engage both employees and customers.

 

Challenges and Considerations

 

While these technologies bring immense benefits, they also pose challenges. Workforce training is essential to ensure employees can leverage these tools effectively. Additionally, there are ethical considerations about data privacy and security. As well as the impact of automation on employment. Striking a balance between technological advancement and human welfare is crucial. Especially in this transformative era.

 

Let Oak MSP Guide You Successfully Through Digital Transformation

 

Navigating new technologies can be complex. There are pitfalls that can waste time and money. Avoid this by working with our team of experts in Nottingham. We can help you customize your transformation to fit your business goals.

 

Give us a call at Oak MSP today to schedule a chat.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Oak MSP in Nottingham realise that breached or stolen passwords are the bane of any organization’s cybersecurity. Passwords cause over 80% of data breaches. Hackers get in using stolen, weak, or reused (and easily breached) passwords.

 

But passwords are a part of life. Technologies like biometrics or passkeys haven’t yet replaced them. We use them for websites, apps, and more. So, companies need a secure way to share passwords with employees. As well as help them manage those passwords more effectively.

 

Cybersecurity threats are rampant and safeguarding sensitive information has never been more critical. Properly managing passwords securely is a top priority. At the same time, employees deal with more passwords than ever. LastPass estimates that people have an average of 191 work passwords.

 

Since you can’t get around passwords, how do you share them with employees safely? One solution that has gained popularity in recent years is using password managers.

 

Let’s explore the benefits of password managers next. We’ll also delve into why it’s one of the most secure ways to share passwords with employees.

 

Why Use a Business Password Management App?

 

Password managers give you a secure digital vault for safeguarding passwords. The business versions have setups for separating work and personal passwords. They also have special administrative functions so companies never lose a critical password.

 

Here are some of the reasons to consider getting a password manager for better data security.

 

Centralized Password Management

 

A primary advantage of password managers is their ability to centralize password management. They keep employees from using weak, repetitive passwords. And from storing them in vulnerable places. Instead, a password manager stores all passwords in an encrypted vault. This centralized enhances security. It also streamlines the process of sharing passwords securely within a team.

 

End-to-End Encryption

 

Leading password managers use robust encryption techniques to protect sensitive data. End-to-end encryption scrambles passwords. It turns them into unreadable text when stored and transmitted. This makes it nearly impossible for unauthorized users to access the information.

 

When sharing passwords with employees, encryption provides an extra layer of security. It helps ensure that the data remains confidential even during transmission.

 

Secure Password Sharing Features

 

Password managers often come with secure password-sharing features. They allow administrators to share passwords with team members. And to do this without revealing the actual password.

 

Instead, employees can access the required credentials without seeing the characters. This ensures that employees do not have direct access to sensitive information. This feature is particularly useful when onboarding new team members. As well as when collaborating on projects that require access to specific accounts.

 

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

 

Many password managers support multi-factor authentication. This adds an extra and important layer of security. MFA requires two or more forms of verification before accessing an account.

 

MFA significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access. According to Microsoft, it lowers the risk by 99.9%. This makes it an essential feature for businesses looking to enhance password security. Especially when sharing sensitive information with employees.

 

Password Generation and Complexity

 

Password managers often come with built-in password generators. They create strong, complex passwords that are difficult to crack. When sharing passwords with employees, employers can use these generated passwords. They ensure that employees are using strong, unique passwords for each account.

 

This eliminates the common practice of using weak passwords. As well as reusing passwords across many accounts. This feature mitigates the risk of security breaches.

 

Audit Trails and Activity Monitoring

 

Monitoring is a valuable feature offered by many password managers. It provides the ability to track user activity and access history. Admins can track who accessed which passwords and when. This provides transparency and accountability within the organization.

 

This audit trail helps in identifying any suspicious activities. It also allows companies to take prompt action. This ensures the security of the shared passwords.

 

Secure Sharing with Third Parties

 

Password managers offer secure methods for sharing credentials with third-party collaborators or contractors. Companies can grant these external parties limited access to specific passwords. They can do this without compromising security.

 

This functionality is particularly useful for businesses. Especially those working with external agencies or freelancers on various projects. It keeps control of the passwords within the organization.

 

You also never have to worry about losing a password when the only employee who knows it leaves.

 

Ready to Try a Password Manager at Your Office?

 

Password managers offer a secure and convenient way to share passwords with employees. They’re an indispensable tool for businesses aiming to enhance their cybersecurity posture.

 

By adopting password managers, businesses can protect their sensitive information. They also promote a culture of security awareness among employees. Investing in password management solutions is a proactive step toward safeguarding valuable data.

 

Need help securing a password manager? Give us at Oak MSP in Nottingham a call today to schedule a chat.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

There is no escaping the relentless march of AI. Software companies are rapidly incorporating it into many business tools. This includes tools like Microsoft 365, Salesforce, and others.

 

Oak MSP know that many people are still concerned about where AI will go. But there is no denying that it makes certain work more efficient. It can generate custom images on demand. Or write a company device policy draft in seconds.

 

Staying ahead of the curve often means embracing cutting-edge technologies. Even if you’re a little wary about what the future holds.

 

Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) is unique from the AI of a few years back. It can create, innovate, and optimize. These functions have become a game-changer for businesses of all sizes.

 

Leveraging Generative AI, small businesses can unlock a world of possibilities. This includes everything from enhancing customer experiences to streamlining operations.

 

Have you felt bombarded with AI tool options? Unsure where to begin with leveraging it for your business? Let’s explore some smart and practical ways to incorporate GenAI.

 

1. Personalized Customer Experiences

 

Generative AI algorithms can analyse customer data and preferences. Using these, it can create personalized experiences.

 

48% of customers expect specialized treatment for being loyal to a company.

 

Some of the ways AI can help you improve customer experience include:

 

  • Tailored product recommendations
  • Customized marketing messages
  • Custom coupons
  • Proactive engagement

 

These things help small businesses enhance customer satisfaction, fostering brand loyalty.

 

2. Presentations & Graphics Creation

 

Generating a great sales presentation can be time-consuming. AI tools can automate this process. Microsoft Copilot is one of these. It can take meeting notes and prompts and create a presentation. Including images!

 

Have you ever had trouble finding a promotional image? Tell Bing’s new AI tool what you need. You’ll get several options, tailored to your description.

 

Example from Bing powered by DALL-E3 in Edge

 

AI-driven platforms can produce relevant and engaging graphics. This frees up valuable time and saves money for business owners.

 

3. Chatbots for Customer Support

 

AI-powered chatbots on websites and social media platforms are becoming commonplace. This is because they enable small businesses to provide instant customer support. Which is exactly what people expect these days.These chatbots can handle frequently asked questions. They can also assist with product inquiries and customer transactions.

They help small companies provide round-the-clock help for customers. But without having to pay for extra staff hours.

 

4. Data Analysis and Insights

 

Generative AI can process vast datasets to extract meaningful insights. Small businesses can use AI algorithms to analyze important data.

 

Such as:

 

  • Market trends
  • Customer behavior
  • Operational data

 

These insights can inform strategic decision-making. Which helps businesses refine their offerings and marketing strategies.

 

5. Product Design and Prototyping

 

AI in product design process allows businesses to explore many design variations rapidly. AI algorithms can generate prototypes and simulations. They do this based on specified parameters. This enables small businesses to visualize products before investing in physical prototypes.

 

6. Supply Chain Optimization

 

AI can optimize supply chain operations. It can predict demand, identify inefficiencies, and suggest inventory levels. It takes away the human error component. As well as fees up teams from tedious administrative work.

 

Small businesses can reduce costs and improve efficiency. AI automates a lot of the supply process. This helps ensure products are readily available when customers need them.

 

7. Dynamic Pricing Strategies

 

AI-driven pricing algorithms can help companies make better pricing decisions. Pricing your products and services can be tricky. You don’t want to go too low or too high.

 

AI helps businesses quickly analyze:

 

  • Market trends
  • Competitor pricing
  • Customer behavior

 

These data insights help companies optimize pricing strategies. Small businesses can also dynamically adjust prices based on demand. This maximizes profits while remaining competitive in the market.

 

8. Human Resources and Recruitment

 

Generative AI can streamline the recruitment process. The hiring process includes a lot of work reviewing resumes. Many candidates don’t make the interview stage.

 

AI can help by analyzing resumes and screening candidates for you. It can even help with conducting initial interviews. Small businesses can find the best talent to drive their growth faster.

 

9. Predictive Maintenance

 

Downtime on a production line is costly. Proactive maintenance is vital. It’s another area where Generative AI can help.

 

The technology can predict maintenance needs based on data analysis. It helps businesses avoid costly downtimes. It proactively addresses maintenance requirements. As well as helps to ensure smooth operations.

 

Unsure How to Get Started with AI at Your Business?

 

Generative AI opens a world of opportunities for small businesses. It can also add to the complexity of a technology infrastructure.

 

We at Oak MSP in Nottingham can help you use it effectively and affordably. Give us a call today to schedule a chat.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Smart Speakers

In the age of smart living, our homes are becoming increasingly intelligent. They’re designed to cater to our every need. Smart gadgets are transforming how we turn on the lights, home security, and more. They even help us feed our pets from afar.

 

But with the rapid evolution of this technology, it’s crucial to make informed choices. To know what to adopt and what to avoid. Every smart technology isn’t as helpful as another.

 

You also must be careful of things like security and oversharing. Some devices will spread your data far and wide without your realization.

 

Here are some tips on what smart home tech to adopt and to avoid.

 

Tips to Make Better Smart Home Device Choices

 

Adopt: Smart Lighting Systems

 

Smart lighting systems have proven to be both energy-efficient and convenient. They allow you to control the ambiance of your home. As well as schedule lights to go on and off. You can even change colours to match your mood.

 

These systems offer seamless integration with voice assistants. There are also many brands to choose from. Smart lights can enhance your home’s aesthetic and energy efficiency.

 

Avoid: Cheap, Unbranded Smart Devices

 

There is a definite allure to low-cost smart devices. Yet these unbranded alternatives often compromise on security and functionality. You have to ask yourself, “Why are they so cheap?”

 

They may also be selling your data. And who reads those long user acceptance policies? You risk a lot by choosing a cheaper, unbranded device.

 

Investing in reputable brands ensures several benefits. Including:

 

 

Cutting corners on unknown brands may end up being costly. This is true for both security and performance.

 

Adopt: Smart Thermostats

 

Smart thermostats, like Nest and ecobee, learn your habits. They adjust your home’s temperature accordingly. They contribute significantly to energy savings. They do this by optimizing heating and cooling based on occupancy patterns.

 

There is also the convenience of using smartphone apps and voice control. These devices offer convenient climate management while reducing utility bills.

 

Avoid: Overcomplicating Security Systems

 

Robust security systems are essential. But overcomplicating them with unnecessary gadgets may lead to confusion and inefficiency. The more devices you add to a security system, the more exposure for your network.

 

Focus on key elements like smart locks, security cameras, and motion sensors. Opt for systems that offer user-friendly interfaces. Look for straightforward operation. You want to ensure effective home security without unnecessary complexities.

 

Adopt: Smart Home Hubs

 

Smart home hubs are popular. Brands such as Amazon Echo and Google Nest Hub serve as the central smart command centres. They give you one place to manage all your smart devices.

 

These hubs enable seamless communication between various devices. As well as simplify control through voice commands or smartphone apps. Investing in a compatible hub ensures a harmonious smart home experience.

 

Avoid: Ignoring Privacy Concerns

 

The convenience of smart home tech should not come at the expense of your privacy. Be cautious about devices that constantly record audio or video. Especially if done without clear user consent. Regularly review privacy settings. Limit data collection. Choose devices from reputable companies that focus on user privacy and data security.

 

Be sure to watch for announcements about changes. For example, Amazon recently opted users in automatically to Amazon Sidewalk. This is a shared neighbourhood Wi-Fi. Unless you were aware, you may have known to opt out if you wanted.

 

Adopt: Smart Home Security Cameras

 

Smart security cameras provide real-time monitoring and remote access. They also enhance the safety of your home. Look for cameras with features like motion detection, two-way audio, and cloud storage.

 

Many brands offer reliable, user-friendly security camera systems. These help you keep an eye on your property and keep your family safe.

 

Avoid: Impulse Buying Without Research

 

The excitement of new gadgets can lead to impulse purchases. Before buying any smart home device, conduct thorough research. Read reviews and compare features. Also, assess compatibility with your existing devices.

 

Take the time to check out a device before buying. This helps ensure that you make informed decisions tailored to your smart home’s needs.

 

Keep Your Smart Home Efficient & Secure

 

Smart home technology is rapidly multiplying. Our homes now look like something from Back to the Future II or The Jetsons. A well-informed choice today can pave the way for a smarter and safer home tomorrow.

 

Oak MSP would love to help you keep your smart home efficient and secure. Give us a call today to schedule a chat.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Cybercriminals can launch very sophisticated attacks. But it’s often lax cybersecurity practices that enable most breaches. This is especially true when it comes to small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs).

 

Small business owners often don’t prioritize cybersecurity measures. They may be just fully focused on growing the company. They think they have a lower data breach risk. Or they may think it’s an expense they can’t bear.

 

But cybersecurity is not only a concern for large corporations. It’s a critical issue for small businesses as well. Small businesses are often seen as attractive targets for cybercriminals. This is due to many perceived vulnerabilities. 

 

Fifty percent of SMBs have been victims of cyberattacks. More than 60% of them go out of business afterward.

 

Cybersecurity doesn’t need to be expensive. Most data breaches are the result of human error. But that is actually good news. It means that improving cyber hygiene can reduce the risk of falling victim to an attack.

 

Are You Making Any of These Cybersecurity Mistakes?

 

To address the issue, you need to first identify the problem. Often the teams at SMBs are making mistakes they don’t even realize. Below are some of the biggest reasons small businesses fall victim to cyberattacks. Read on to see if any of this sounds familiar around your company.

 

1. Underestimating the Threat

 

One of the biggest cybersecurity mistakes of SMBs is underestimating the threat landscape. Many business owners assume that their company is too small to be a target. But this is a dangerous misconception. 

 

Cybercriminals often see small businesses as easy targets. They believe the company lacks the resources or expertise to defend against attacks. It’s essential to understand that no business is too small for cybercriminals to target. Being proactive in cybersecurity is crucial.

 

2. Neglecting Employee Training

 

When was the last time you trained your employees on cybersecurity? Small businesses often neglect cybersecurity training for their employees. Owners assume that they will naturally be cautious online.

 

But the human factor is a significant source of security vulnerabilities. Employees may inadvertently click on malicious links or download infected files. Staff cybersecurity training helps them:

 

  • Recognize phishing attempts
  • Understand the importance of strong passwords
  • Be aware of social engineering tactics used by cybercriminals

 

3. Using Weak Passwords

 

Weak passwords are a common security vulnerability in small companies. Many employees use easily guessable passwords. They also reuse the same password for several accounts. This can leave your company’s sensitive information exposed to hackers.

 

People reuse passwords 64% of the time.

 

Encourage the use of strong, unique passwords. Consider implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible. This adds an extra layer of security.

 

4. Ignoring Software Updates

 

Failing to keep software and operating systems up to date is another mistake. Cybercriminals often exploit known vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain access to systems. Small businesses should regularly update their software to patch known security flaws. This includes operating systems, web browsers, and antivirus programs.

 

5. Lacking a Data Backup Plan

 

Small companies may not have formal data backup and recovery plans. They might mistakenly assume that data loss won’t happen to them. But data loss can occur due to various reasons. This includes cyberattacks, hardware failures, or human errors.

 

Regularly back up your company’s critical data. Test the backups to ensure they can be successfully restored in case of a data loss incident.

 

6. No Formal Security Policies

 

Small businesses often operate without clear policies and procedures. With no clear and enforceable security policies, employees may not know critical information. Such as how to handle sensitive data. Or how to use company devices securely or respond to security incidents. 

 

Small businesses should establish formal security policies and procedures. As well as communicate them to all employees. These policies should cover things like:

 

  • Password management
  • Data handling
  • Incident reporting
  • Remote work security
  • And other security topics

 

7. Ignoring Mobile Security

 

As more employees use mobile devices for work, mobile security is increasingly important. Small companies often overlook this aspect of cybersecurity.

 

Put in place mobile device management (MDM) solutions. These enforce security policies on company- and employee-owned devices used for work-related activities.

 

8. Failing to Regularly Watch Networks

 

SMBs may not have IT staff to watch their networks for suspicious activities. This can result in delayed detection of security breaches.

Install network monitoring tools. Or consider outsourcing network monitoring services. This can help your business promptly identify and respond to potential threats.

 

9. No Incident Response Plan

 

In the face of a cybersecurity incident, SMBs without an incident response plan may panic. They can also respond ineffectively.

 

Develop a comprehensive incident response plan. One that outlines the steps to take when a security incident occurs. This should include communication plans, isolation procedures, and a clear chain of command.

 

10. Thinking They Don’t Need Managed IT Services

 

Cyber threats are continually evolving. New attack techniques emerge regularly. Small businesses often have a hard time keeping up. Yet, they believe they are “too small” to pay for managed IT services.

 

Managed services come in all package sizes. This includes those designed for SMB budgets. A managed service provider (MSP) can keep your business safe from cyberattacks. As well as save you money at the same time by optimizing your IT.

 

Learn More About Managed IT Services

 

Don’t risk losing your business because of a cyberattack. Managed IT services can be more affordable for your small business than you think.

 

Give us at Oak MSP a call today to schedule a chat.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

As technology continues to advance, so does the need for heightened awareness. As well as proactive measures to safeguard sensitive information.

 

Cybersecurity can seem like an insurmountable task for everyday people. But it’s not only a job for the IT team. Everyone can play a part in keeping their organization’s data safe. Not to mention their own data.

 

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. It serves as a timely reminder that there are many ways to safeguard data. Following the basics can make a big difference in how secure your network remains.

 

What Is Cybersecurity Awareness Month?

 

Cybersecurity Awareness Month (CAM) is an annual initiative held every October. It promotes cybersecurity awareness and education. It aims to empower individuals and organizations by giving them knowledge and resources. It helps people strengthen their defenses against cyber threats.

 

CAM started as a U.S. initiative, National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Then, it quickly spread around the globe. It’s led by two agencies:

 

  • National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)
  • Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

 

This collaborative effort involves various stakeholders. Government agencies, industry leaders, and cybersecurity experts all come together. The goal is to raise awareness about cyber risks and best practices

 

This Year’s Theme

 

This is CAM’s 20th year. To celebrate, the theme revolves around looking at how far cybersecurity has come. As well as how far it has to go. This year, CAM focuses on four key best practices of cybersecurity.

 

These are:

 

  • Enabling multi-factor authentication
  • Using strong passwords and a password manager
  • Updating software
  • Recognizing and reporting phishing

 

Let’s take a closer look at these four best practices of good cyber hygiene.

 

 

Essential Cyber Hygiene: 4 Keys to a Strong Defence

 

Central to Cybersecurity Awareness Month is the promotion of essential cyber hygiene practices. We follow good hygiene to maintain physical health. For example, we brush our teeth every day.

 

Cybersecurity also requires ongoing good hygiene practices to secure the online environment. These practices form the foundation of a strong cybersecurity defense. They help both individuals and organizations.

 

Enabling Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

 

Implementing Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) adds a vital layer of security to all logins. In most cases, a hacker can’t breach an account protected by MFA. This is the case even if the cyber crook has the password.

 

According to Microsoft, MFA can block 99.9% of attempted account compromise attacks. With that strong track record, everyone really should be using it. And using it on every login they have.

 

Strong Passwords & a Password Manager

 

Passwords remain a critical aspect of securing online accounts. Despite the increased use of biometrics, passwords still rule. Encourage your team members to use strong, unique passwords for each account. Avoid easily guessable information like birthdays or names.

 

Companies can help by setting strong password enforcement rules. This requires a strong password before it’s accepted in a system. For example, you may set up a policy that requires a password to have:

 

  • At least 12 characters
  • At least 1 upper case letter
  • At least 1 lower case letter
  • At least 1 number
  • At least 1 symbol

 

Updating Software

 

Outdated software creates vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can exploit. Regularly update operating systems, applications, and firmware. This ensures the latest security patches are in place.

 

Automating updates is a good way to ensure they’re done promptly. Companies can use endpoint device managers to handle updates across all employee devices. Managers like Intune simplify the process and enhance endpoint security.

 

Recognizing and Reporting Phishing

 

Phishing attacks are a common vector for cyber threats. Train your team to identify phishing emails, suspicious links, and unsolicited attachments. Encourage them to verify the sender’s email address. As well as never provide sensitive information unless certain of the recipient’s authenticity.

 

It’s also important to educate employees about phishing beyond email. Phishing via text messages has been increasing significantly. Some criminals phish via direct messages on social media platforms.

 

Another important aspect of phishing awareness is to report phishing. If it’s reported, then other employees know to avoid that phishing trap. The organization’s IT team also needs to know so they can take action to mitigate the threat. Be sure to let employees know how they can report a phishing email when they suspect one.

 

We Can Help You Put the Best Cyber Hygiene Practices in Place

 

CAM offers a valuable opportunity to refocus on the significance of cybersecurity. As well as prioritizing essential cyber hygiene practices. Building a culture of cybersecurity awareness within your team is important. It can be the difference between vulnerability and resilience.

 

Need some help ensuring a more secure and resilient future? Our IT experts at Oak MSP in Nottingham can get you going on the basics. Once those are in place, your organization will be more productive and much more secure.

 

Give us a call today to schedule a chat.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.