Benefits of Working from Home

Pre-pandemic there were many employers who didn’t understand the benefits of working from home. To the benefit of the company, employees report they accomplish more in less time when they can work from home, even just one or two days a week. We offer more benefits below.

Benefits of Working from Home

  • Ditch the Commute. Workers commute to and from work for an hour or more each way. Imagine if you had the time back, even a couple of days a week. You could get more rest, spend more time with loved ones, go for a walk, or go to the gym with a block of time at the beginning and end of the workday.
  • Eat Healthier. Make a healthy lunch and eat healthier snacks instead of heading to the vending machine. Couple that with a walk and you’re starting healthier habits!
  • Ditch the business clothes. Wear comfortable clothes has become a staple for many who work at home. Two of my friends say they wear leggings with blouses on the days they Zoom meetings. If you don’t get up, you could wear pajamas on the bottom instead of business attire!
  • Flexible Schedule. There are employers who allow their employees to work from anywhere if the work is getting done. That means a flexible schedule where you can work when your mind is most focused, like the afternoon or early morning, instead of working to a 9-5 schedule.
  • Focused Work Time. 77% of workers surveyed said they complete more projects and tasks when they work from home, even for just a few days a month. Some said they get the same amount of work done in less time because there are fewer distractions.
  • Safe and Healthy Environment. Working remotely means you can work from the safety and health of your own home. This is especially important for people who have compromised immune systems or loved ones that do.
  • Get Household Work Done. For this writer, working from home means writing or attending a meeting, then taking a break to fold laundry or sweep the floors, then back to work. It’s a terrific way to complete household tasks that would otherwise have to wait for the weekend and a focused way to get up from my desk and move.
  • Reliable Internet. With so many people working from home full-time or part-time, it makes sense that you have reliable residential internet services. At Stimulus Tech, we offer packages that make working from home easy with reliable internet that can be bundled with other services. If you have fast internet at the office, you should have the same at your home office.

We can’t replace workplace confidantes and water cooler gossip, but we think the benefits of working from home may outweigh that for many of you!

If you’re looking for residential internet services for your home office, Stimulus Technologies is here to support you. Call us today.

What are the 5 Components of a Business Continuity Plan?

What happens to your business in case of manmade or natural disaster? Who will be contacted and what steps do they need to take? How much downtime can your business afford? We will answer these questions and more when our team supports you in developing a business continuity plan. In other words, a plan of how business will get back online in the event of a disruption.

In today’s world, there are any number of reasons you need a plan in place. From data center downtime and hackers to natural disaster, downtime can cost your business in revenue and reputation. At Stimulus Technologies, we are dedicated to making your business efficient with as little downtime as possible.

5 Components of a Business Continuity Plan

Collaborating with your team, we discuss the what-if scenarios. What if the servers go down? What if there is a fire? What if data is compromised? Then we discuss how we get operations back online. Without a plan, it is likely your team would be scrambling to find the right professionals to fix problems. Working with us, you already have a plan for the what ifs.

The components of a business continuity plan are as follows.

  1. Threat analysis. We begin by analyzing the likelihood your business would experience a threat that would impact, or stop, operations. Understanding this, we can move forward with a plan that makes the most sense.
  2. Threat scenarios. We’d then develop strategies to manage various threat scenarios including ransomware attack, data center hack, and storms. In this way, we can plan for what needs to happen within your business.
  3. Key contacts. We’d like to know who the key people are at the business. Who would we need to talk to in case of emergency? That’s the business continuity plan contact. They will function as project manager to coordinate communications from our team to yours for vital messaging.
  4. Phases of recovery. Depending on what happens, we will map out the phases of recovery. For example, in a hurricane, you may lose your physical space and data centers may need to be relocated. That takes more coordination and time than a smaller event.
  5. Testing. A business continuity plan isn’t just to have in theory. It is a real solution to address manmade and/or natural disasters. In doing testing, we can work out glitches and get key players comfortable with solutions in the what if scenarios.

Once we’ve created the business continuity plan, we encourage you to share widely with your staff. This will ease their minds in case of emergency and let them know their role when and if disruptions occur. Ready to get started? Contact Stimulus Technologies today to learn more.

Downtime Costs Money. Here’s how Managed IT Services Helps.

We get it. Your neighbor’s nephew wants to be your tech guy. You love technology and have been running IT since the inception of your business. It’s time to consider that your neighbor’s nephew isn’t as skilled as he said and that you need to focus on the business, not technology. The reality is that hackers are getting more sophisticated in how they breach data, so your Managed IT Services need to be updated as well.

Downtime Costs Money.

The network that was set up two years ago is probably not as secure as it could be. Workstations for your growing business aren’t all up to date with the latest firewalls and antivirus software. Confidential business information is being transmitted through personal emails and isn’t housed on a secure server or cloud service. As a result, systems go down and business is halted.

Downtime is costing money. Not only that but it’s making you and your team stressed. You’re not sure what to do.

We’re here to tell you that it’s time to call Stimulus Technologies.

Our team of Managed IT Services professionals is experienced in supporting businesses just like yours. We’re a growing company too so we understand that you can’t rely on your neighbor’s nephew or your own technology knowledge. It worked for when it worked but now the business has reached a new level.

Managed IT Services

When you work with us, we begin with a conversation. What are the biggest challenges? What’s on your wish list related to technology related operations? Where do you see gaps in security? How can we help you streamline systems and processes? We’re here to guide you through these, and other, questions, to identify the pain points, create solutions, and streamline how you do business. We do this in the following ways:

  • Upgrade hardware and software.
  • Update firewalls and antivirus protections.
  • Secure cloud services and ensure everyone is working on the same systems.
  • Set up VPN so data is shared on a secured and monitored network.
  • Update, upgrade, and secure servers.
  • Protect, secure, and monitor data 24/7/365
  • Flat rate fee so you never have to worry if a call to the help desk is going to be added to your bill. You will always know what your package includes.
  • Ability to change Managed IT Services as your business changes. Whether you need additional storage for new projects or less storage for the slow season, we’re here for you.

There is so much to keeping business data safe and secure. If you’re feeling like you’re over your head, we’re here to help! Contact us today!

The Benefits of Switching to VoIP

Communication is a crucial component of any successful business. Whether that’s communication with clients, vendors, or coworkers it’s important to have the tools, technology and infrastructure in place to make communicating seamless. VoIP services can help integrate convenient communication abilities into your company’s workflow.

What Is VoIP?

VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol is a system that allows users to make and receive calls by utilizing an internet connection. Instead of using copper lines like traditional phone lines with VoIP sound is converted from an analogue sound wave into a digital voice signal that can then be shared and routed as data. 

What are the benefits of VoIP?

Switching to VoIP from traditional phone lines has several benefits for businesses such as cost, scalability, and accessibility.

Cost

VoIP services can save businesses money since it is flexible and can be scaled to match the specific demands of an individual company. Service and maintenance cost associated with VoIP are generally cheaper than landlines. Depending on the VoIP provider users have access to features such as unlimited calling minutes and a fixed flat rate for long distance calls. If you’re just adding phones to your company VoIP setup can be significantly cheaper than the cost of setting up an on-premise phone system.

Scalability

The size of a company and their tech needs can change dramatically from year to year. Small businesses can grow into a large business and larger businesses can downsize or expand into an even larger business. VoIP has the ability to match a company’s needs and workload even if the needs fluctuate over time. One can easily scale up or down the numbers of users or the features necessary to their business. 

Accessibility

Work doesn’t always take place in office or in front of a computer anymore. Unlike traditional landlines that link you to a specific location VoIP has the ability to evolve with the ever-changing idea of the workplace. VoIP allows workers working remote, abroad or in different parts of the world to stay in touch. With VoIP you’re not just limited to accepting calls on your phone or even your desktop. Using a hosted business phone system and an App you’ll be able to make and receive calls on any internet capable device.

How do I keep my VoIP network secure?

Since VoIP can be used as a way for cybercriminals to access your network it’s important to keep your VoIP network secure.  Cybercriminals can use what’s known as voice hacking as a way to gain access to your network. Once on the network they can steal sensitive information or use your VoIP service to make unauthorized calls.  Some of the best practices for keeping your VoIP network secure are common digital hygiene practices such as using strong passwords, enabling MFA and enabling NAT.

Many VoIP phones come with default passwords, it’s best to change these passwords immediately after first receiving the device and each time the device goes through a factory reset. In today’s cybersecurity landscape strong passwords aren’t enough. Enabling multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security and will help even if you’re password is compromised. Multi-factor authentication or MFA requires a user to use two or more types of verification. NAT, Network Address Translation, is a built-in feature on routers used to assign private IP addresses to endpoints on the network. Having an IP address that’s only visible on the local area network will help prevent cybercriminals for being able to manipulate the phone remotely.

Want to talk to us about VoIP? Call us today! 877-464-9996.

 

 

Do You Need Redundant Internet Services?

Imagine your business just lost internet access. Maybe you don’t have to imagine, maybe it’s happened to you. If it hasn’t, visualize your business’s dependency on connectivity and internet services. What would you miss?

  • License activation
  • Offsite backup
  • Email and other group communications
  • Transfer of funding and signed agreements
  • Security updates
  • Remote office connections
  • More?

Networking has become so invisible in our day-to-day that we forget how woven these services are into our operation.

Redundancy Defined

At Stimulus Technologies we offer internet services through our fixed wireless Metro Ethernet Network. In comparison to traditional wired services through cable or fiber, our network travels wirelessly to your business. We deliver a completely separate reliable connection to the internet.

Redundant network services are common in the healthcare, financial, hospitality, and professional services industries. All rely on the high availability of internet access and services. Interruptions in connectivity are costly, can bring your business operations to a halt, and can freeze customer confidence and trust.

The Problem with Just Adding a Second Line

Perhaps you connect to the internet through a cable-based ISP. That’s a good first step. Now add another internet connection through a fiber-based ISP. This certainly accounts for a single type of failure (service provider down). This is not the most likely scenario and does not offer true physical diversity of connections. When connectivity fails, the cause is rarely that the ISP has gone down. It is more feasible that there has been a line failure for many reasons including nature, human error, or backhoe,  or some other kind of structural damage. While lines can enter a building from different locations, through diverse conduits or varied powerlines overhead, often they don’t. Many telecommunication providers deliver their services through the same lines underground.

What’s Enough Uptime?

We’ve been talking about redundancy in internet services. We want your business and your customers to experience 100% uptime. When a business claims 99% uptime over a year, you may pause when you realize this still means 3.5 days a year of downtime. Yikes! How reliable are internet services through Stimulus Technologies? Our internet uptime may surprise you. You can anticipate 99.999% uptime, which is less than 6 minutes of downtime per year.

This is such a high degree of dependability for your data, voice, video IP, or TDM traffic that like many of our customers, you may decide to use us as your primary internet provider and use your wired line as the backup.

Let Stimulus Technologies help you design and implement the best solutions for your businesses.

Lone Pine Communications Joins Stimulus Technologies

On July 1, 2022, Lone Pine Communications, Inc. merged with Stimulus Technologies. Over the next few months, Lone Pine’s combined team of engineers and technicians will begin providing services as “Lone Pine Communications Powered by Stimulus Broadband.” Lone Pine Communications can still be reached by calling (760) 876-5461 or by email at cs@lonepineisp.com. The Lone Pine Communications’ staff are staying with Stimulus Technologies to ensure a smooth transition and continued growth in the service area.

Stimulus Technologies shares the same values in customer service and teamwork as Lone Pine Communications. Current clients can count on the same excellent service they have always received. “I’m excited to be able to serve the communities of the Owens Valley. I have personally grown to love the area and look forward to bringing new technologies and services to the area,” says Nathan Whittacre, CEO of Stimulus Technologies.

“We are excited to join the Stimulus Technologies’ family. We know Lone Pine Communications will be able to offer better performance and more responsive service to our customers with the expanded resources and experience that Stimulus brings,” says Liz Branson, Owner and General Manager of Lone Pine Communications.

Lone Pine Communications (LPC) was founded by Donald Branson in 1956 with the goal of providing television to areas that had no reliable service. LPC has grown considerably over the years in both service offerings and areas of service, expanding to offer Internet and Voice over IP phone service to many communities in the Owens Valley. As the owners of LPC strive to offer excellent service to their customers, they determined this merger would expand that opportunity.

About Stimulus Technologies: Stimulus Technologies began operations in 1995 as a family business by brothers Nathan and Brett Whittacre and their father, Jarrard. The first headquarters were in their garage. The company has since expanded to 4 states, offering the expertise of a regional company, but with still family values.

Stimulus Technologies provides IT, Internet, VoIP services along with Cloud Computing and Cyber Security offerings, to over 7,000 business and residential clients in the greater Las Vegas Nevada metro area, Southern California, Jefferson City Missouri, and the Esapañola Valley New Mexico. Stimulus Technologies is dedicated to helping residential customers and small- to medium- businesses achieve their technology goals through services that are tailored to meet their specific needs. Stimulus Technologies prides itself on providing friendly and outstanding service from a combined team of experienced, trained IT professionals.

Have questions? Please visit our contact us page.

Doing More Than They Hired You To Do

You interviewed for a specific business role. You landed the job. You showed up and exceeded everyone’s expectations. You were offered extra opportunities and special projects and you nailed them all. You earned the reputation of an employee who manages the unknown and thrives in the unfamiliar. Did I describe you or someone on your team? If this is you, read on, you may see yourself in a new light. If this is someone that works for you, here are a few helpful tips.

Their motivations are different

Yes, this individual works to get paid, but her motivation and high achievement come from the satisfaction of overcoming the challenge. He may not approach you as other workers do seeking annual increases. Remember, praise and reputation are powerful. Recognition reinforces positive patterns of taking on fresh challenges and pushing the business forward into new places.

They can feel forgotten

A term I haven’t used yet is “generalist”. This is a word that may carry a connotation of somebody that isn’t good at any one specific thing. On the contrary, a generalist has the broad capacity to complete connections between gaps. They can manage projects between siloed teams. They have the capacity and ease to expand in areas of the business where they may not be well known. This can be a lonely place. Do them a favor and pave the way for them. Explain their role to other workgroups in the business. Your oversight and touchpoints will preserve this worker’s sense of meaning and value.

They will do anything you ask (within reason)

This employee is not accustomed to saying no or considering the possibility that they are beyond their capacity. There is little they could [not] do for your business. But these high achievers, while relentless learners, still have to learn, gain experience, and make mistakes. If you assign them to a project, they [will] do it. But it will take time. Be selective in assigning them to projects and roles that will truly accelerate your business. Don’t use them up on tasks or side-gigs that you could hire out. Resist the urge to use this person for projects others can’t or won’t do. A recurring example of this is information technology.

As tempting as it is to manage loose ends or “extra hats” with generalists and high achievers, you may consider partnering with a Managed IT Services partner. Let a professional partner take care of your tech and free your internal consultant up to take your business to new places.

Are Cookies A Cybersecurity Threat?

If you’ve visited a website lately then you’ve most likely seen a pop-up asking about your browser cookie preferences; whether you’d like to accept or deny. But what are cookies? Are accepting cookies safe or is it safer to deny all cookies?

 

What are cookies?

In the tech word cookies aren’t the delicious desert that we all know and love. Instead cookies or HTTP cookies are small text files that store bits of data like a password or username that can be used to identify your computer on a network. Cookies help make internet browsing seamless by keeping track of data to provide a more personalized experience for each user’s session.

 

Types of Cookies

Not all cookies are the same and though there are similarities how they’re used depends on the type of cookie. The most common type of cookies are session cookies. Session cookies are temporary and should disappear when you close your browser after a single session. Permanent cookies are used to identify you over multiple different sessions. These cookies are not deleted automatically and are actually stored on your hard drive. They’re used anytime you enable the “keep me logged in” or “remember me” feature on a website. Finally, there’s third-party cookies or marketing cookies. These are the cookies that are responsible for following you from site to site and generating personal ads based on your browsing history and geographic location.

 

Are cookies safe?

While cookies are not inherently dangerous, they can still be a potential cybersecurity risk. Cookies can be hijacked by an attacker to gain unauthorized access to a computer or network. There are several types of cybersecurity attacks that are based on exploiting cookies. For example, cross-site scripting and cross site request forgery are two types of attacks that aim to steal a user’s cookies in order to impersonate the user or steal sensitive information. In cross-site scripting attacks an attacker attaches malicious code onto a legitimate website. Once the user loads the legitimate website the malicious script forwards the user’s private information to the attacker. Now the attacker can use the cookies to impersonate the user on that particular website. Cross site request forgery attacks work similarly to cross-site scripting in the sense that they both take advantage of a user’s authentication on a website. Cross site request forgery targets functionality such as changing the user’s password or login credentials. Since cookies help with website performance it would be impossible to deny all cookies and have the same online experience. It’s better to be aware of the kinds of attacks associated with cookies and manage your cookies regularly to stay safe.

 

Cookies and digital hygiene

Staying safe from cookie-based attacks can be relatively simple. Taking simple steps like keeping your browser up to date and taking the time to periodically delete your cookies can help you avoid cybersecurity attacks. Periodically deleting your cookies should be a regular part of your digital hygiene.

 

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How To Encrypt an Outlook Email Using Barracuda

Encrypting an Outlook Email

Have you ever wanted to send a sensitive document through Outlook, but weren’t sure if was secure?

If you are an Outlook user you can use the Barracuda encryption add-in to encrypt your message, ensuring the document only ends up in the hands of the person you intended it for.

In this video we’ll be showing you how to easily encrypt an Outlook email using the Barracuda add-in. If you don’t have this add-in, be sure to contact Stimulus Technologies support for help.

 

Video Transcript:

Narrator:

Welcome.

Today we’re going to go over how to encrypt an email with the Barracuda add-in for Outlook.

Here we have an email that’s almost ready to send.

We just need to add encryption to ensure the attachment is sent securely.

Your window may look a little different, but the process should remain the same when adding encryption.

Here I have attached a sensitive document to this email.

Let’s add encryption by clicking Encrypt Message in the top right-hand corner of the email window.

You’ll see a new section on the right-hand side with the option to enable encryption.

You can click this button to add or remove encryption.

If you don’t see this button in your email, you should contact Stimulus Technologies support for assistance with installing it.

Our email is now encrypted.

Hit the SEND button to send the encrypted email.

In a couple of minutes, the recipient will get an email letting them know they have an encrypted email that’s ready to be viewed.

They can follow the link in the email to access Barracuda’s website and the encrypted document.

If this is their first time using Barracuda, they’ll be promoted to create a password.

Once the password is set, they can access the email and the document.

 

Thank you for watching this video and please don’t hesitate to contact Stimulus support with any questions about encrypting with the Barracuda add-in for Outlook.

 

Contact Stimulus Technologies support at 855-564-3166 or by visiting: https://www.stimulustech.com/support-center/

Download video transcript: ENGLISH      SPANISH

6 Top Cybersecurity Threats Facing Your Business

Since larger companies such as Target and Twitter dominate the headlines whenever there’s a data breach some small to medium size businesses are left with the false impression that hackers only go for the big guys. In reality, smaller and medium size businesses are arguably at a higher risk, especially with the rise in popularity of third-party attacks and supply-chain attacks. The 2020 SolarWinds breach is a perfect demonstration of the dangers of a supply-chain attack. But in today’s world there’s no shortage of cybersecurity threats facing businesses, these ten should be on any business owner’s radar.

Ransomware

Ransomware attacks can pose a serious threat to the livelihood of a company. Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents the user from accessing their data either by locking the computer or encrypting the data until a ransom is paid. Even when the ransom is paid it’s not always guaranteed that the cybercriminal will unlock the computer or unencrypt the data. 

Patch Management

Poor patch management can easily give a threat actor access to your network or data. Since a patch or update is usually meant to address a problem in the software leaving software out of date and unpatched leaves your network exposed and full of vulnerabilities. A vulnerability is a weakness that a cybercriminal can exploit to gain access to your network. Cybercriminals constantly take advantage of unpatched software therefore having a patch management plan in place will help keep your business safe.

Phishing Attacks 

Unfortunately, phishing attacks are common and often successful. According to Cisco’s 2021 Cybersecurity Threat Trends report, phishing attacks are responsible for 90% of data breaches. Since this type of attack relies on human error companies of all sizes should invest in educating their employees on the dangers of phishing attacks and how to successfully identify a phishing attack.

Social Engineering Attacks 

Social engineering attacks aim to manipulate people into giving up sensitive information. Social engineering attacks pose a unique threat since they are exploiting human emotion and weaknesses in your physical defense instead of computer software or hardware. Regularly testing the parameters of your physical security along with employee training and education are the best ways to avoid falling victim to a social engineering attack. 

Third-Party Exposure 

A third-party breach is when an attacker gains access to your network through a third-party vendor or when the third-party vendor’s network is used to gain access to your network. The now infamous Target breach is an example of a third-party breach since the cybercriminals first infiltrated a third-party vendor which then allowed them to hop into Target’s network.

End Point Security 

As remote work, bring your own device (BYOD) and the use of cloud services increase end point security will be an important part of maintaining the integrity of your network. This means making sure every desktop, laptop or mobile device that accesses your network is secure.

Insider Threat

Sometimes an insider threat can be a disgruntled employee abusing of their power to harm the company. On the other hand, an insider threat can be an employee who unintentionally compromises the company by clicking on a phishing email or falling victim to another social engineering attack. Whether intentionally or accidentally insider threats could cause severe damage to a company’s network.

Staying safe from cybercriminals and knowing how to protect your business involves following all cybersecurity best practices. Employee training, enabling multi-factor authentication, performing regular network audits and staying informed on current cybersecurity threats are a few steps any company can take to help protect their network and sensitive data.

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