Technology Advisor Blog

COVID-19 - Remote Work Tips

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 3/27/20 5:03 PM

COVID-19As everyone works together to "flatten the curve" via social distancing, many workers are scrambling to work from home on short notice.  We've been fielding a lot of questions and put together some of the answers here in one post.

If you're new to video conferencing, don't be intimidated.  Most modern laptops have a webcam and microphone built in, so you don't even need any extra equipment.  Here's a short video showing how to launch a GoToMeeting call - as you'll see in the two minute video, its very simple.  It may take a little practice, but after a few tries you'll be comfortable:

GoToMeeting is our recommended solution for conducting video and screen-sharing calls.  A couple of things to remember if you're new to video conferencing.   

  • Mute your microphone when you're not talking. This will cut down on distracting background noise especially in large groups.
  • Take care to set up in a location with an appropriate background
  • View your own video so you know what you look like
  • Keep your own video view-able, you do don't forget you're on camera. You may not want all your colleagues seeing you snack while on the call.
  • Get familiar with the audio and video mute buttons.  You may need to use them and its awkward to fumble on camera.
  • Remember to CLOSE the meeting when you're done!  Or you may be sharing your screen the rest of the day!
  • Keep your laptop camera covered when not in use.

Non-profits, municipalities, and healthcare organizations can get a 90 day remote work kit - Contact us if you'd like us to help you get access.  Please put "Emergency Remote Work Kit" in the subject line.

Always keep security and privacy in mind when you're conducting conference calls or video calls.  There are other great remote collaboration tools available, but please keep in mind that the free versions may not be appropriate for business calls.  Zoom has been in the news recently for some privacy concerns -

NIST has also put together an excellent list of security recommendations in an infographic:  Conference Call Security Graphic

Don't be intimidated by technology, and remember security and privacy as you adjust to remote work.

Tags: cybersecurity, remote work

Technology Tips and Advice for Remote Workers

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 3/19/20 12:16 PM

Home office - PCWorking remotely has become a necessity for many with the Coronavirus outbreak. The technology that enables many to work remotely is a great benefit to keeping many businesses operational, but it also poses many new risks for the security of your organization’s data. For example, if an employee-owned device (laptop, PC, etc.) is connected to the company’s network and contains a virus or malware, they could be spread to your company’s network. Additionally, it becomes more of a challenge to verify the legitimacy of emails (for example, you’re no longer right down the hall from your CEO who requested an unusual wire transfer), you may be unfamiliar with policies and procedures as they pertain to a work from home environment, and the list goes on.

We’ve developed a list of guidelines and tips to assist you as you prepare to work from home in a safe, functional work environment. Note, this list is intended for guidance and information purposes only. If you have any questions regarding these tips, please reach out to us for additional information.

Guidelines & Tips
  • Secure workspace
    • Ensure you have the ability to lock your devices (laptop, PC, etc.) and any business relevant information when not in use. Use the keyboard shortcut “Windows Button” + “L” to lock your screen when not in use.  Right at the moment, none of us are mobile, but in normal times, cable locks for laptops should be used when necessary. Laptops and devices should be locked out of sight and/or in the trunk if it must be left in a vehicle unattended
    • Avoid using your personal devices for work-related business.  Best case scenario is a company issued laptop with full security or a dedicated home office system with full security.  Use separate accounts if you have to share a computer in the case of an emergency.
    • Safely perform conversations without visitors eavesdropping or shoulder surfing, especially if you deal with protected information.  This is a bigger issue in “normal” times in a mobile setting like a coffee shop, but keep in mind that any regulated information has to stay protected ALWAYS.  
    • Protect the data you are accessing by using a VPN to log into the company network, and ensure you are protecting data visible on your screen with a screen protector. This is especially critical for employees who are required to be HIPAA compliant, PCI compliant, etc. 
    • Restrict the use of devices containing business-relevant information. Do not let family members, friends, or anyone but yourself use company-owned devices or personal devices used for business purposes
    • Use strong unique passwords on all your devices and accounts to prevent unauthorized access
  • Wireless Security
    • Change default Wi-Fi Router passwords
    • Enable WPA-2 or higher encryption 
    • Ensure your local router firmware is up to date
    • Limit the use of public Wi-Fi. Always use a VPN when connecting to public Wi-Fi. Never use public Wi-Fi to send sensitive information without a VPN 
  • Ensure all personal devices are secure with company-provided or personally owned antivirus and anti-malware software company 
  • Updated IOT Device firmware (smart thermostats, surveillance cameras, etc.) 
  • Ensure default passwords are changed 
  • Ensure the software on all devices within your home network is kept up to date (corporate laptop, IOT devices such as cameras and smart thermostats, personal laptops/tablets, etc.)
  • Review and follow corporate Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and other relevant policies and procedures
  • Remote Work Employee Awareness
    • Be extremely cautious of email phishing scams
    • Limit social media use
    • Don’t reveal business itineraries, corporate info, daily routines, etc.
So many of our normal schedules and routines are temporarily disrupted.  Sadly, cyber criminals are taking advantage of this, and fake Coronavirus maps are being circulated containing malware, and there have even been some reports of ransomware attacks at hospitals.  Please remind everyone on your team to “think before you click”.  
Also, something we’re thinking about a lot these days, is that we’re grateful for the ability to keep doing our work remotely, and we’re acutely aware that for many, remote work is a luxury out of reach, and the crisis has a much harsher financial impact.  We’re all in this together, and we’re here to help in any way we can.

Tags: cybersecurity, remote work

Technology Help for Remote Office Workers

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 3/18/20 1:27 PM

Working From HomeMany people have been asking us about remote access options to work from home with the evolving coronavirus headlines in the news.  

Being able to do work from home or other location may be as simple as taking a work laptop home, or using a home PC.  You should be able to access work emails either from a web browser, a smart phone or using your Outlook email application, and that may be all you require.  Also, perhaps other needed information is available to you from a web browser (banking, payroll, or other vital work information).

However, if you need to access information which is on a system in your office, such as perhaps your Quickbooks financial data, line of business applications, or shared files, then you need to use remote access technologies.  There are two basic alternative ways to be able to access the needed information.

  • Accessing a PC located in your office  Everyone with a support plan with us has a remote access license - LogMeIn Professional - already included in your support subscription with us.  If you're not already using this, you can call our office (978-692-4200) or email us at and one of the engineers will help set it up for you.  It's generally a very quick set up, and it may take a bit of training to get used to it.  We recommend that each business establish an acceptable use policy to set minimum standards such as antivirus protection for home systems.
  • Accessing information in your office when you take your work laptop home  If you don't have a work system to connect to and you need access to the office network (you may or may not depending on what applications you use in the cloud), we'll work with you to set up what's known as a VPN connection (Virtual Private Network).  Depending on what level of firewall you have, you will have at least one connection already available to use.  The VPN licenses are for simultaneous use, so multiple people can use a license, but not at the same time.  It can take around 24 hours for new license keys to be issued, so if you anticipate needing to accommodate multiple users working remotely, this will require some planning. 
  • Remote Office Phone Usage:  For clients on our Jive phone system, you can make and receive phone calls via an app on your computer or smart phone, or take your handset home.  Because its a cloud system, the phone works from anywhere, and you can make calls from home (or anywhere) with your office caller ID.  
  • Meeting Collaboration Tools (Video and Screen Sharing) 
    • The Jive phone system includes a free GoToMeeting license which enables video calls and screen sharing with the Jive system. This is already bundled for newer users, and requires activation for legacy users. Tony Marciello is the point person on our team for helping with that.
    • If you don't have the Jive phone system, but just want GoToMeeting, we can help expedite set up through our partnership with LogMeIn. Reply to this email if that would be useful for you. Municipalities, non-profits, and medical institutions may qualify for special 90 day free licenses.

If you have any questions, please let us know. We're here to help!  978-692-4200.

Tags: remote work

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