Should We Be Using Office 2019?

Should We Be Using Office 2019?

What Are The Advantages of Microsoft Office 2019?

As an IT Services Company, we get asked these questions almost every day.  Now that it’s available, everyone wants to know what Office 2019 is all about. Office 2019 provides a subset of features that Microsoft has been adding to Office 365 over the past three years.

Office 2019 is a local version of Office software, rather than cloud-based. It’s a perpetual release, meaning that you purchase the product once and own it forever instead of paying for a subscription or subscriptions to use it.

Who Will Benefit From Using Office 2019? 

Although anyone can purchase Office 2019, this version has been designed for business users. It comes with volume licensing and is best for companies that don’t want to use the cloud-based version of Office. You can also install the Office 2019 app on all your mobile devices, where you’ll have access to its basic features.

Are The Any Specific Requirements for Using Office 2019?  

It’s supported on all devices that run Windows 10 or the three most recent versions of macOS. If you are still using Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 (hopefully you aren’t) you’ll have to purchase a subscription for Office 365 to use Office 2019. It supports macOS, macOS Sierra (10.12), Mojave (10.14), and High Sierra (10.13).

What Are The Advantages Of Using Office 2019?

With Office 2019 you can use Microsoft’s latest versions of:

Word – Word has a new look and is black themed. However, it has all the features that you’re used to. Plus, Word in Office 2019 has incorporated learning tools, a new text-to-speech feature, and sounds that you can personalize.

Outlook – You’ll like Outlook’s improved user details, its support, and the look of the inbox. Some new features include:

  • Updated contact cards
  • Office 365 Groups
  • @mentions
  • Focused inbox
  • Travel package cards

Excel – The 2019 version of Excel brings in some great new functions like Power Pivot, 2D maps, and Power Query enhancements. You’ll have access to new formulas, new charts (like funnel charts and 2D maps), and you can publish your work from Excel to Power BI.

PowerPoint – The new version improves the way you can manage images. You can even turn them into 3D views. And PowerPoint now comes with enhancements like Zoom and Morph for a more sophisticated and dynamic presentation.

OneNote – This is an entirely new release in Office 2019. It can replace OneNote 2016 (but the 2016 version is still available and supported until 2025). OneNote now has ink-to-text support. This means that you can convert your handwritten words into a typed text.

You’ll like these new features: 

Inking – You’ll enjoy the new inking capabilities across all of Office 2019’s apps, such as pressure sensitivity, and the tilt effect that adjusts the ink’s thickness depending on the angle of the pen. It even has a roaming pencil case to store and organize your favorite pens, pencils, and highlighters to roam with across your different devices.

Easy Sharing – The new version of Office makes sharing easier. Office 2019 comes with a share button located on each application in the upper right corner of your screen. A document can be shared with just one click. This lets you share documents in different departments and throughout your organization.

Smarter Attachments – In the earlier versions of Office, you had to attach a document to an email to send it to others, and you had to go searching for the file you needed. Now, if the document that you want to share was recently worked on, it will be displayed when you click on the share button in Outlook along with other recently worked on docs.

Improved Version History – Now, Office 2019 comes with a History Section on the File Menu to make sure files are easily accessible.

Delve – This is a new tool that was integrated into Office 2016. It ensures that you have access to every aspect of your stored data. It includes documents shared or created in Office. This makes retrieving documents much easier.

As mentioned, Office 2019 is a standalone program for business users who either don’t want to use the Cloud or cannot access it. Because of this, most of the features included in Office 365 aren’t in Office 2019 such as the collaborative real-time editing features.

Microsoft advises that whether you move to Office 2019 or decide to go with Office 365, you shouldn’t delay.  This is because Office 2016 cloud support will be dropped in 2020. And Office 2016 installs will barred from connecting to Microsoft’s cloud-based services, including hosted email (Exchange) and online storage (OneDrive for Business), after Oct. 13, 2020.

Are You Still Using Windows Server 2008?

Are You Still Using Windows Server 2008?

Notice For Businesses: Support Is Ending For Windows Server 2008 

Microsoft will be stopping mainstream support for Server 2008 on January 14, 2020. This is a popular technology solution, so the end of support creates concern for many. Read on, and we’ll explain what this means and what you should do. 

What Does Windows 2008 Server End of Life Mean for Your Business? 

Windows Server 2008 end of life means that Microsoft will no longer update this product unless a warranty compels them to do so. January 14, 2020 marks the End of Support for Servers 2008 and 2008R2.

Unfortunately, many businesses in the US are still not ready. The reasons vary, but many company owners stay busy running their day-to-day operations. They just don’t have time for issues like this. And yet, this is a crucial server EOL that could cause many disruptions to your business if not dealt with promptly. 

How Soon Should You Get A New Server?

You need to change over from the Windows 2008 Server and Windows 2008R2 to a supported server by January 14, 2020. That’s the very last moment you’ll have before support is no longer available.

However, most IT support companies believe that companies should already be working on this. Migrating all of your data, applications, and other IT solutions to new servers is a time-consuming and complicated process. What if there are issues?

By waiting, you place your technology assets in danger, and you could pay more for last-minute service. Think of this as an auto repair problem. The sooner you get it fixed, the less it will typically cost. Avoid extra costs and issues by upgrading your servers now.  

What Other Problems Can Happen?

An end to bug fixes and those all-important security updates may be the ultimate deal breaker for you. Data managers will tell you that not having these fixes makes your data vulnerable to access by unauthorized parties.

Cybercriminals are on the look-out for ways to infiltrate your systems and steal sensitive data, and they know about the EOL for Windows Server 2008. Since Microsoft will no longer offer security updates and bug fixes for this server, this creates numerous loopholes in data security that could be exploited.

These security breaches can be avoided by installing a newer generation server with supported security updates.

What Should You Do Before Windows Server 2008 End of Life? 

There are many reliable servers available on the market today. This new generation of servers offers better efficiency, virtualization, faster speeds, and many other good attributes. Do some research to ensure that you get a proper replacement that will address all the functions that your organization requires.

How Do You Get Ready for The Upgrade? 

Installing new servers can be challenging. You have to plan out the process so that everything is done correctly and during off hours, so it doesn’t disrupt your daily operations. The sooner you start, the better.

To plan for an infrastructure upgrade, rewrite and migrate all applications based on Server 2008 to a safe storage place. The new server may require some troubleshooting. Databases can be hosted on the Windows Server 2008 hardware as you install the new system.

During the transition, put a data protection infrastructure in place that will eliminate risks during the server upgrade. This will protect your data from problems with the old server and risks associated with the new system. While this will cost extra, the fines associated with a data breach are often far more expensive.

What Should You Do? Work with Your IT Professionals 

If your business is running Windows Server 2008, you can look at these three solutions based on your business needs when its time to upgrade:

  1. Migrate to the Cloud with a product like Azure server from Microsoft.
  2. Upgrade your on-premise server to a Window 2016 Server.
  3. Choose a Hybrid solution that uses what’s best from both solutions. 

In most cases, it can be highly beneficial to give the entire project over to your IT services company.

Do You Have More Questions About Upgrading? 

Every Windows operating system has a life-cycle. Stay informed about essential End of Life dates. Join mProactive to always stay up-to-date and see what mProactive may be able to do for your business. Call Today! (724) 261-3034


Do We Need To Budget For IT?

Do We Need To Budget For IT?

No matter what type of business you run, the answer to this question is “Yes.” And now we’ll ask… What is your budget for information technology? Is it well thought out and fiscally responsible?

If you have a CFO, he or she is likely doing this for you. But many small and mid-sized businesses are on their own when it comes to devising an IT budget. In this case, your Technology Service Provider is your best reference, because they know about your business, the latest trends and security needs in technology, and IT solutions coming down the road.

Why Do We Need A Budget For Information Technology?  

Budgeting is obviously essential as it provides what you need to run your company. Without the proper appropriations, you could end up short on what you need to meet your customers’ demands and your business goals. You budget for other expenses like office rent, utilities, and supplies, right? Beyond this, you need to identify how you’ll need Information Technology to operate your business and execute your initiatives.

Just like you should have an IT roadmap that aligns with your business plan – one that takes you from where you are to where you want to be – your IT budget provides direction and details for your funding requirements to ensure that you have the technology to meet your business goals.

Consider your budget as a validation and support tool for your overall IT strategy. It will be the benchmark and cornerstone for your overall strategic IT management. A good IT budget will give you the ability to manage technology costs for both the short and long term. It will also give you the agility you need to adjust IT expenditures when changes come about.

Is IT Budgeting Difficult To Do?

Companies of all types and sizes struggle with IT budgeting. This is because the financial side of the business doesn’t always understand the technology that employees need to do their jobs efficiently, securely, and productively, and the IT team and employees don’t always understand the process of budgeting. The common ground, however, is when both parties look at the IT budgeting process as an investment in your organization’s future.

What’s Involved In IT Budgeting?  

It’s the process of allocating money to various IT services and solutions. These could be recurring expenses like Managed IT Services, where you pay a monthly fixed fee for an all-inclusive service plan. It should also include the hardware and software you’ll need to either purchase or lease on a monthly, per-user basis.

For most companies, IT budgeting is an annual process.

However, if unexpected IT projects come up, you may need to revisit your budget. Some view IT budgeting as a wish list of funding for every possible scenario. They see it as one big pool of money. When in fact, an IT budget comprises many components including capital, operating and project categories, and other types of expenditures such as hardware, software, subscriptions, and services.

A good IT budgeting process is similar to personal financial planning. Both processes establish short and long-term goals. It considers account spending and other constraints. It examines the “human” impact and analyzes strategies to determine the approach that aligns best with business goals while minimizing risks.

How Do We Get Started? 

Start by establishing various categories depending on the complexity of your operations and the extent of your requirements. Here’s a very basic example of some of the categories you should consider:

  • IT Service & Support (in-house and/or outsourced) Be sure to include recruiting and salary/benefit costs if you employ IT staff
  • Hardware: computers, servers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, network infrastructure, cabling, IP phones, video surveillance cameras, maintenance contracts, etc.
  • Software: licenses, subscriptions, support, maintenance contracts
  • Projects: IT consulting expenses, hardware, software, dedicated staff, cybersecurity training

If you run a mid-sized business and you have various departments, you may want to allocate various elements of your IT budget to these departments. In this case, you’ll have charge-back costs for each department. This is a bit more complex so your accountant should be consulted.

What Would Happen If We Didn’t Have An IT Budget? 

Without a budget, how will you justify your IT expenditures? These costs would go into your overhead, and you wouldn’t have a proper accounting of what you’ll need both short and long-term. Smaller businesses should also have an IT budget. Simple expenditures can expand into significant IT spending that you can’t account for.

Plus, your IT budget keeps your spending in check. It lets you know whether you’ve over-committed in one area and need more in another. It also allows you to compare what you’re spending in one department versus another.

Your IT budget lets you quickly identify areas where you may be overspending. For example, you might be wasting money on outdated or unused equipment or software licenses. Without an IT budget, you can get caught short and not have the resources you need to meet customers’ demands or comply with deadlines.

What Are IT Budgeting Best Practices? 

Align your IT budget with your organization’s strategy. If you don’t have an IT strategy, you should ask your technology service provider to help you design one. At the very least, develop a basic strategy that you can use as the basis for your IT budget. 

Consider all levels of your organization. Set aside the time and effort it takes to create a holistic and comprehensive budget. It will be the financial manifestation of your overall IT strategy and direction over the coming year. Use it to compare budgets year after year. Once IT initiatives have been determined and incorporated into your budget, take a step back from the details and look at the big picture.

Consider the human element. This is often overlooked when developing technology budgets. Look at how any changes you make will affect your employees’ ability to do their jobs efficiently and productively. Will they be able to work remotely with mobile solutions and cloud computing? Make sure that you account for any training they will need, including training to use new software or hardware solutions, as well as Security Awareness Training to prevent being victimized by phishing and ransomware.

Take measurements to ensure it makes financial sense. Assess your IT budget’s impact on three areas: financial key performance indicators (KPIs), financial statements and cash flow. Your accountant can help you with this. Account for your spending against the previous year’s budget so you can account for any deficiencies and variances that you’ll need for the future. 

Assess the impacts of your IT budgeting for the long term. Several months before your budget is due to be approved, review last year’s budget and this year’s expenses. This will help you detect areas where you need to reduce costs or reallocate them. You can cut the “fat” from your budget in one area (like hardware purchases or software licenses) that you can apply to a more cost-effective resource (like Hardware-as-a-Service or Software-as-a-Service).

A long-term outlook is best in any case. Assess your IT budget’s financial impact not only for the current or upcoming year but also for future years where IT initiatives might be affected. You don’t want to “balance the budget” for this fiscal year, only to run into unintended consequences in years to come. A good IT budget balances both short-term and long-term requirements.

In Conclusion

When you employ a strategic approach to IT budgeting, you’ll have a planning and decision-making tool that will ensure you maximize the benefits of your technology investments.

What is your budget for IT? In the final analysis, a good budget for information technology will give you a competitive advantage because, along with your IT roadmap, it will provide you with a strategy to achieve your goals. Your technology solutions provider can play a supportive role in helping develop an IT budget that meets your needs today and tomorrow.

What are the newest phishing attacks?

What Are The Newest Phishing Attacks?

Phishing is a term adapted from the word “fishing.” When we go fishing, we put a line in the water with bait on it, and we sit back and wait for the fish to come along and take the bait. Maybe the fish was hungry. Perhaps it just wasn’t paying attention. At any rate, eventually a fish will bite, and you’ll have something delicious for dinner.

How Does Phishing Work?

This is essentially how cyber phishing works: Cybercriminals create an interesting email, maybe saying that you’ve won a $100 gift certificate from Amazon. Sound too good to be true? Find out! All you have to do is click the link and take a short survey. Easy enough, right?

Once you click the link, guess what happens? A virus is downloaded onto your system. Sometimes it’s malware, and sometimes it’s ransomware. Malware includes Trojans, worms, spyware, adware, and rootkits. These malicious programs each have different goals, but all are destructive and aimed at harming your computers.

Ransomware encrypts all your files until you pay a ransom, but even then, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your database restored. Malware is all about stealing credentials, passwords, and other valuable information from your company. Sometimes it’s just about destroying your data.

As cyber thieves continue to steal from people all over the world, they create new ways to do this. After all, many people have become familiar with some phishing scams so they may not work as well. The solution is to come up with new scams that are enticing—things that users may not have heard about before. The more convincing hackers can make their scams, the more successful they will be.

How Has Phishing Changed?

The entire landscape of cybercrime is changing. It used to be mostly young guys sitting in their parent’s basement, trying to find clever ways to pass the time. Unfortunately, this crime has become so successful that the governments of countries are now involved. A vast majority of ransomware schemes originate in Russia. The government employs hundreds of hackers, and have teams of IT experts who work around the clock to create new and more effective hacking scams.

When hackers are backed by a government like China, they have practically unlimited resources. This makes them even harder to stop. If they were merely individuals committing crimes for personal gain, the authorities could track them down and put them in jail. But today’s cybercriminals are well-organized agencies that are part of a large foreign government, so stopping them is almost impossible.

What Are Some Of The New Types Of Phishing Scams?

Below, we discuss some of the most notorious cybercrimes and some new ones that are making the rounds:

Sextortion: Have you ever sent nude photos to someone? Are there any lewd or compromising photos of you floating around? Sextortion is all about locating embarrassing photos of you. If you own a business, then this can be a crime that pays well for thieves. They send the business owner a little sample of the erotic photos, then demand money or else they’ll publish them on the Internet. The problem with this crime is that there’s no guarantee you’ll get all copies of the photos back. You may pay the criminals and still not be sure.

Gift Cards: This scam is highly successful because typically the thieves don’t ask for very much money. Many victims will go ahead and pay even if they suspect that it’s a trick, just because there are only a few hundred dollars at stake. You may get a phone call from someone saying they’re from a creditor or the IRS. They will speak in hostile threatening tones. They’ll claim that if you don’t pay up immediately, terrible things will happen—maybe your car will be repossessed. Next, they instruct you to go to a local store like Walmart and buy gift cards in the amount you owe. Once you buy them, you call the thief back and give them the numbers found on the back of the cards. Once they have these, they can use them online to make purchases.

Phishing/Ransomware: Phishing crimes have become so successful that now there are variants like spear-phishing, vishing, and smishing. These are all forms of the same ruse. A hacker will send you a very convincing email. It may say something like, “Congratulations! You’ve just won $100 from Amazon. Click on the link below to claim your prize.”

You click on the link and guess what? A malware or ransomware virus is downloaded onto your computer. If you’re a business owner, this virus can spread quickly to other computers on your network. In many cases, all your computers are locked, and you’ll get an ugly message saying that if you want your files restored, you must pay a ransom. Sometimes business owners follow the instructions on the screen, and they get their files back… but, sometimes not. There’s no guarantee. Ransoms are always demanded using cryptocurrency because this form of payment is untraceable.

Wire Fraud Scam: Hackers are targeting the human resource functions of businesses of all types with phishing. They’re convincing employees to swap out direct deposit banking information to offshore accounts. A nonprofit in Kansas City (KVC Health Systems)said that there were numerous attempts each month involving scammers who were trying to convince their payroll personnel to change information about where to send employee pay. The IRS recently released a warning about an uptick in a wide range of fraud attempts involving payroll information. 

What Can We Do To Stop Phishing?

You may have spent years trying to build up your company. You have a huge amount of time and money invested, and yet one cyber attack could bring your company to its knees.

The first thing you need is knowledge. Knowledge is still power in our world. You need to know how cyber attacks occur. What are the latest phishing scams? How does ransomware work?

You also need to train your employees so they’ll know as well. Just one careless employee can open the door to thieves and cost you thousands of dollars. It’s much cheaper invest in training your employees. Make sure your employees get regular training to remind them how to recognize a phishing email or malicious website.

Unfortunately, cybercrimes won’t stop anytime soon. They’ve been too successful, and there’s almost no chance of getting caught. What you have to do is protect yourself and your data with the best security software. If you’re not sure whether your cybersecurity program is strong enough, hire a managed IT provider. They can perform penetration testing to assess your level of security.

A great managed IT service provider will do a full assessment of all your security protocols and let you know whether you need to add layers of protection. When you have the best cybersecurity platform in place, you can sleep better at night.

5 Steps for Implementing a Successful HIPAA Compliance Plan

5 Steps For Implementing A Successful HIPAA Compliance Plan

We’ve all heard about HIPAA compliance and what we need to do to ensure our use of technology meets up-to-date regulations. But with the healthcare industry continually evolving, this means that rules and regulations are as well.

With these constant changes, every healthcare-related organization must have a game plan in place to remain compliant. Here are five ways to create, adjust, and implement a HIPAA Compliance Plan. 

  1. Designate a Privacy and Security Officer – This can be your IT Managed Services Provider (MSP) or an employee who ensures your company remains compliant. This is a foundational building block for your compliance success. Hiring an individual or Managed IT Provider who has a track record of success is critical for HIPAA compliance.
  1. Perform a Risk Assessment – This is an overall review of both macro and micro levels to ensure your electronic protected health information (ePHI) is secure. This is a mandatory aspect of any healthcare organization’s compliance endeavors. Not only is it mandatory, but it’s the foundation for implementing safeguards to better protect your organization.
  1. Implement Policies and Procedures – You must provide your employees, and anyone who handles your sensitive information, a blueprint explaining the do’s and don’ts when it comes to HIPAA compliance. Your blueprint must continuously be updated and adjusted as you implement your compliance planning. For example, encryption is necessary to protect electronic protected health information (ePHI). This is an extra layer of security, comparable to an unbreakable password. Other standard procedures like locking a laptop when it’s not in use should be included in your policies and procedures. There are other examples where policies and procedures will help ensure HIPAA compliance.
  1. Train Your Employees – Security Awareness Training for your employees should be implemented to ensure everyone in the organization understands your policies and procedures. The best plan in the world can be ruined by an employee who doesn’t understand what they can or cannot, should or should not do.  Take the time to train them on best practices for handling sensitive information and what constitutes a HIPAA violation. This is also a mandatory aspect of HIPAA compliance.
  1. Develop and Implement an Incident Response Plan – What if you’ve done everything that you should? Everything is in place – you’ve “checked all the boxes” but you still experience a breach? Report it! — Have a plan in place to identify and respond to a threat. Once the source is identified, stopped, and documented, it must be reported. From this point on, you should have a prevention plan in place to ensure a breach doesn’t occur again.

What Can You Take From This?

Healthcare organizations are exposed to daily dangers and threats to their HIPAA compliance status. With the right plan in place, you have a chance to protect your practice or business from security threats and violations.

Create a HIPAA Compliance Plan, and most importantly, train your employees about IT security best practices. Remember to always report incidents and regularly evaluate your organization’s HIPAA compliance regulations and practices to consistently improve your IT security posture.