• Ransomware: A Growing Threat

    20 Jul 2017
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    Ransomware: A Growing Threat, AOS Group, Grimsby, ON

    It seems that every day, more companies are falling prey to cybercriminals. Reaping a record $24 million last year, ransomware attacks are on the rise, locking companies out of their computers unless they pay a fee. Fortunately, you can take steps to avoid becoming a victim and to ease your recovery if you do get attacked.

    An Ounce of Prevention

    Preventing ransomware attacks involves both software and human intervention. First off, your software systems should always be kept up to date. As security threats are recognized, manufacturers will release patches to secure your system. Installing these patches reduces your risk of becoming infected with ransomware or other malicious software. Anti-virus software also provides a valuable barrier against attacks.

    Additionally, many attacks are done via phishing emails or malicious ads. It’s important to train employees to not automatically click on attachments, links, pop-ups, or banner ads, but rather to look for signs that they may not be legitimate. Hovering over URLs, checking return addresses and other techniques take only seconds, but can save your company the time and money associated with a ransomware attack.

    A Pound of Cure

    No matter how diligent you are, you could still become the victim of a ransomware attack, so it’s essential to take steps to ease the recovery. Experts recommend that you do not pay the ransom – instead, you should unplug your system and restore it to factory settings, deleting everything – including the ransomware.

    To ensure a smooth recovery, you should make backups of all of your data frequently; every day if possible. Backup copies should be stored offline or on a cloud server, to insulate them from your network. While it will still take time to recover, all your data will be safe. Storing essential data separately from other data may help you speed the recovery process.

    Ransomware attacks are extremely profitable and are becoming one of the most frequent types of malware attacks. Taking the time to secure your system and to prepare for an attack can help you avoid becoming a victim or recover more easily if you do.

    To learn more, ask us about our no-obligation technology assessment service.

     

     

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  • Using Technology to Help Your Business Work Smarter…Not Harder

    29 Jun 2017
    Matt Nash, South Niagara Account Manager, AOS Group
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    As the saying goes, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! If you’re a small to medium-sized business finding it hard to stay competitive, relevant and more productive in this fast pace digital world, maybe it’s time to start using technology to your advantage. If going digital scares you and your staff don’t worry, transitioning can be painless and easy to do for even the technologically-challenged. Using technology to help with your office’s inefficiencies will allow you to work smarter and not harder, giving you more time back in your day and more time to be profitable.

    For starters, social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube will give your business 24/7 visibility outside of your normal operating hours. For example, Facebook’s sophisticated online marketing platform is a great way to promote your business’ latest offerings, sales and events. For as low as $4.00 your Facebook advertisement can reach as many as 1,400 potential customers locally within your target demographic. Facebook makes scheduling your posts for certain days of the week at prime time hours easy to do. Only 10 minutes of work on this social media website will give you the most bang for your buck, giving your company more visibility, generating more sales!

    Another way to get you and your business up-to-date with the times is by upgrading your office technology. I have helped many of my clients see the light with the new Xerox VersaLink and AltaLink series of multifunctional devices. Gone are the days when a printer is only used as a printer. Xerox’s ConnectKey platform (operating system) gives users more productivity and customizability than ever before. Take advantage of the Xerox App Gallery and download, scan and print from Dropbox, Office 365, Google Drive and more!

    Tired of manually archiving files and documents? Spending too much time and money on retrieving documents offsite? The Xerox App Studio allows you to create customized apps to meet your workflows needs. Using document management software you can now scan and digitize records using a Xerox ConnectKey-enabled device. Employees now gain immediate, secure access to digital documents using their IDs. Multiple users can now access the same updated document simultaneously, streamlining workflow. Records are replicated in the cloud for disaster recovery, offering 99% uptime and access anywhere in the world. Office technology now makes improving what once used to be a daunting task to something that is time-effective and effortless.

    This is the future of work. The digital world is not going anywhere, only increasing everyday. Start allowing the technology to work for you, not you working for it. The truth is, change won’t happen overnight. However, this short-term learning curve will provide you and your office increased productivity, profitability and peace-of-mind.

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  • Scanning Can Change Your Business

    1 May 2017
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    Paper can cost your business significant amounts of money each year. Today’s improved scanning technology can help you reduce your reliance on paper, increase your productivity and reduce your costs.

    Change the Way You Scan

    Scanning has changed dramatically in recent years, and now can be used to leverage your business to the top. With tools such as a Xerox ConnectKey-enabled multifunction printer, you can scan directly to email, allowing the recipient to open, view, and save the document. Other options include scanning to network folders or the cloud, allowing for one-step sharing of your documents to anyone, anywhere across the world.

    With as much as 50% of employee time spent on finding documents, scanning can save you time and money by translating hardcopy documents into easily searchable pdf files. This makes finding the document you need as easy as typing a few keystrokes.

    Scan on the Go

    Scanning is no longer tied to the physical machine in your office. With the Xerox Mobile Link app, your phone or tablet can act as a scanner and fax machine, transmitting your data to the cloud or a printer while you’re out in the field. This also means you can travel with just your phone or tablet without sacrificing productivity.

    Turn Workflows into Apps

    Paper-heavy tasks such as invoicing can really take a hit on your bottom line. These workflows can be easily streamlined with an app accessed on your ConnectKey MFP. These custom-created workflows can be as simple or complex as your business requires to get the job done.

    Scan Securely

    Security must be a top priority for businesses today. ConnectKey technology provides built-in encryption for all your scanned data and documents can be further protected by passwords. With security protocols in place, scanned documents become even more secure than their paper counterparts.

    Scanning can change the way you do business. From sharing, to security, to one-touch workflows your employees can spend more time doing their jobs and less time looking for the necessary materials. With the increased productivity and decreased costs, scanning can be just the solution your business has been searching for.

    Does your business rely primarily on paper-based processes?  Your documents could be in jeopardy!  Play our Documents in Jeopardy gameshow and test your document knowledge.  You could win an iPad PRO!

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  • Managed Print Services: How to Get the Right Provider for Your Business

    23 Feb 2017
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    Have you been thinking about partnering with a Managed Print Services (MPS) provider? Businesses of all sizes are turning to Managed Print Services (MPS) to help them gain control over their print costs and streamline their print environments and processes. Finding the right MPS provider for your unique business needs is key to a lasting and beneficial relationship.

    Measure of Success

    A good MPS provider will conduct a full analysis of your print environment giving you insight into your current state. They will also provide easy-to-use and understand metrics for reporting costs, performance and improvements. Don’t be afraid to ask for references. Past clients will be able to tell you a lot about how their partnership worked for them.

    Growth and Change

    Over time, your business will grow and change. Will your MPS provider change with you? Make sure you are working with a provider that will make it easy and affordable to add additional services over time. With the ever-changing pace of business, you’ll want your MPS provider to keep up. Mobile solutions, digital conversion, digital workflows, and other changes can help keep your business up to date with the help of your MPS provider. Your provider should also be on top of the latest security risks and protections to help safeguard your business.

    Getting Started

    When you make the decision to partner with an MPS provider, you want to see your investment pay off. By asking the right questions upfront, you can be sure you’re getting the services you want and need. When you find an MPS provider that aligns with your business goals and desires, you can reap the benefits of improved productivity, reduced costs, and a future-proofed business.

    Are your documents under control…or are they in jeopardy?  Take two minutes and test your knowledge, and you could win and iPad Pro!

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  • Is Managed Print Services Right for Your Business?

    27 Dec 2016
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    Managed Print Services (MPS) is a solution that can help businesses of all sizes save money, reduce their impact on the environment, and increase productivity. Although defining MPS may not be as simple as you think, the results are crystal clear—enhanced visibility, and greater control over office printing.

    The Printing Realm

    Printing accounts for a great deal of time and expense, with experts estimating the average business spends up to 15 percent of their annual operating budget on printing. Managed Print Services facilitates management and optimization of your entire print fleet, including print output and all supporting processes. It also encompasses:

    • Consumables and other supplies.
    • Print equipment, including networked and non-networked printers, scanners and high volume print equipment.
    • Documents produced by in-house staff and mobile workers.
    • Maintenance, technical support and other print-related requests.

    Choosing the Best Managed Print Services Provider

    Selecting the right MPS provider will yield the best results. In addition to managing your printers, an experienced, knowledgeable partner can perform a number of other vital functions, including:

    • An initial assessment to determine the current state of printing within your organization. The assessment includes a cost analysis, inventory, and printer mapping to identify areas of waste, and highlight any necessary improvements.
    • Streamlining your printer fleet, eliminating printers that are inefficient or ill-placed, and adding or replacing equipment to better suit your needs and budget.
    • Tracking supply inventory, in order to replenish stock of consumables before they run out.
    • Digitizing processes that are unnecessarily time consuming, such as approvals, or routing.
    • Shrinking your carbon footprint through reduced energy usage, rules based printing, cartridge recycling and energy efficient equipment.
    • Provide secure access to printing for mobile workers.
    • Steadily monitor your print environment, updating processes as needed to reduce print costs, and improve productivity.

    The benefits of Managed Print Services reach far beyond your printer. Choosing the right MPS provider is the key to your success, allowing you to focus on your business, knowing your print infrastructure is streamlined and operating at peak efficiency.

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  • 6 Key Areas to Address In Your IT Security Policy

    16 Dec 2016
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    6 Key Areas to Address In Your IT Security Policy, AOS Group, Grimsby, ON

    As a business owner in today’s day in age, you know that you needed to take proactive measures to protect your business from a security breach. An effective way to accomplish this is by creating an IT security policy for your business that clearly outlines acceptable use of digital assets, the repercussions for misuse, and how your policy will be enforced.

    While most major corporations have an in-house IT staff that possess the skills to write a thorough IT security policy, many small business owners are stuck writing this policy themselves. To help you get started, here are six areas you’ll want to keep in mind when writing your own IT security policy:

    1. Define Acceptable Use – When employees are unsure about what separates acceptable use of digital assets and misuse, you are creating major gaps in your organization’s security. Explain in detail how employees are allowed to use technology in the workplace, what is not allowed, and the consequences for violating the policy.
    2. Determine How Password Security Will Be Governed – You can allow your employees to create their own passwords using established parameters or set passwords for your employees. Whichever option you choose, be sure to clearly state in your policy how password security will be governed by your company and how employees will be trained in this area.
    3. Offer Real World Scenarios Regarding Security Breaches – To help your employees best understand the repercussions that a security breach could have on your organization, offer real world scenarios and explain how those could be a threat to your company. This can help your employees to better understand the role that they play in your security process.
    4. Have a Recovery Plan in Place – Clearly state which employees will be responsible for implementing recovery procedures in the event of a security breach. Being proactive with a plan can help to minimize the impact of a disaster.
    5. Offer Training – You should clearly state the type of training that will take place and how often it will occur to keep your organization’s information protected. This could include computer modules followed by a quiz with a minimum score requirement.
    6. Enforcement – Make it clear to your employees how your IT security policy will be enforced.

    Contact an AOS Group Representative today to learn more about what you need to include in your IT security policy to protect your business from unnecessary threats and liabilities.

    Have you taken our SMB Office Challenge yet?  Take it today and find out how you compare with other SMBs just like you!  You’ll also receive a free copy of our exclusive Office Print Policy Guide!

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  • How to Prepare for Disaster With a Recovery Plan for Your Business

    29 Nov 2016
    admin
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    How to Prepare for Disaster With a Recovery Plan for Your Business, AOS Group, Grimsby, ON

    If your business is like most, you need access to various systems, applications, devices, and documents each day to successfully operate. If one – or all – of these go down due to a disaster, your business would be unable to function, costing money, harming your reputation, and possibly resulting in lost clients. Developing a disaster recovery plan can help mitigate the effects of an outage.

    IT Failure and Recovery

    For IT solutions to be effective, you must plan in advance. Paper documents that cannot easily be backed up are very difficult to recover. By converting key documents to digitized files, you significantly increase the chances for a quick and full recovery.

    You must also identify which operations are most critical for your business. While you may be unable to function without your phone system, older archived files may not need to be recovered quickly. You should work with your IT team to develop a protocol establishing priority for essential systems and outlining a timeline for recovery for all your systems.

    Non-IT Solutions

    When systems fail, it’s not enough to have IT protocols in place. You must also have planned for the non-IT side of disaster recovery. First and foremost, you need to be able to access the contact information for those who can aid in fixing the outage. If you only store this contact information digitally, you could be in trouble. Keep a current list of all important contact information for IT teams, providers, and employees printed and accessible.

    Work with your staff to delegate tasks that can help facilitate accurate and successful communication to those who need to know how the outage will affect them, and the estimated timeline for recovery. Protocols should be developed for both short-term and long-term outages for full coverage in any situation.

    Disaster recovery plans are essential to keep your business running. Early planning can help avoid long-term ramifications of a service outage.

    Have you taken our SMB Office Challenge yet?  Find out how you compare to other SMBs just like you and receive a FREE copy of our 2016 Office Print Policy Guide full of money-saving best practices you can start using today!

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  • Are You Overlooking These Common Mistakes in Your Print Environment?

    16 Nov 2016
    admin
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    aos_print_mistakes

    If your office is like most, you may be making common mistakes in your print environment without even knowing it.  They are easy to overlook but not addressing them can have an impact on your office security, efficiency and environmental footprint.

    Let’s look a little closer at three of the most common mistakes:

    1. Security: Printing confidential information, such as payroll data, can be risky. If you get distracted before picking up your document at the printer, this confidential information may be accessed – intentionally or unintentionally – by someone not authorized to view it. This security risk occurs frequently in many offices, but is easily prevented. Employees should make it a habit to proceed directly to the printer to pick up their print jobs, or software can be used to delay printing until the employee arrives at the printer.
    2. Environmental: Printer cartridges are made of non-biodegradable parts. When employees throw these in the trash, they can take centuries to decompose in a landfill. If you do not have a recycling program in place, your disposal practices will have a negative and long-lasting impact on the environment. A Managed Print Services provider can easily help implement a recycling program into your office. Doing so will reduce the amount of waste your office produces.
    3. Reliability: A frequent cause of paper jams is misloaded paper in the tray. Seems simple enough, but it’s important that all staff are aware of proper paper loading techniques. Reams of paper (500 sheets) should always be loaded according to package instructions, minimizing the curling effect that paper can go through during the printing process.

    Taking the time to educate yourself and your employees about these common print oversights can greatly reduce the chances of them occurring in your office print environment. This will increase your security and reliability, while reducing your carbon footprint.

    Have you taken our SMB Office Challenge yet?  Find out how you compare with other SMBs just like you and receive a complimentary copy of our 2016 Office Print Policy Guide full of money-saving best practices you can start using today!

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  • Do You Know What Differentiates One MFP from Another?

    31 Oct 2016
    admin
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    mfpdifferent

    Many of today’s multifunction printers look the same and offer the same functionality. However, it’s important to keep in mind that buying an MFP is not just about what the machine can do, or the price. There are many factors to consider in an MFP — including service and support.

    If you’re considering a multifunction printer, here are four things to consider:

    • System Security
    • Mobile Capability
    • Print Engine
    • Warranty

    Let’s take a closer look.

    System Security Level

    What level of security does the system come with? Modern multifunction printers are more like computers than printers. They do it all: print, scan, fax, and even connect to the Internet. These multiple capabilities make the printer valuable, but can also open up your company to security threats. You need to be sure any multifunction printer you choose maximizes system security.

    There are two types of security commonly offered: single sub-system security, which may or may not be included in the monthly lease and doesn’t cover all components of the printer.  Or full system security that covers the whole system, all areas being certified as secure from outside threats.

    Mobile Printing Capability

    If you have a mobile workforce, it is worthwhile considering a multifunction printer that allows for mobile printing. But with mobile printing it’s important to ask about security and if there are additional charges to activate it. Ask first before making a decision that can cost you later.

    Type of Print Engine

    In the multifunction printer space there are two engine types: cartridge based and drum based. Cartridge based printers usually require less maintenance while drum based require a service technician for regular maintenance. Consider which one would be more convenient for your office needs.

    Equipment Warranty 

    While no one expects a printer to break down, it’s smart to know everything about your device’s warranty. Who provides it? How long does it last? What does it cover? For example, all Xerox multifunction printers come with a 3-year Total Satisfaction Guarantee that allows you to replace your printer with the same or a comparable model if you are not satisfied with the device’s performance.

    Be sure any printer you choose gives you the same peace of mind. For more advice on what multifunction printer would best suit your office’s needs, contact an AOS Group representative today and we would be happy to help you find the perfect MFP for your needs and your budget.

    Take our 30 second pop quiz “How Smart is Your MFP?” and see what grade your multifunction printer gets!

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  • Is Your Wireless Printer Secure?

    14 Oct 2016
    admin
    708
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    copier_security_aos

    Today, it’s common for a business to have a wireless printer or multifunction device in the office. Wireless technology offers many benefits like the ability to share workloads using fewer physical resources, saving time and reducing per-page printing costs. Unfortunately, unprotected wireless devices pose an increased risk.

    Wireless printers have drives that store copies of the data they receive. Hackers can access your company’s sensitive information through this hard drive or install malware if your device isn’t protected. Here are four ways you can protect your wireless printer:

    1.  Install a Firewall:  An extra layer of protection, a firewall will protect your network from attack. If hackers gain entry to your wireless device, the firewall will prevent them from having full network access.
    2.  Erase Your Drives:  Your printer has an internal hard drive. Erase if frequently; daily if possible. This way if the device is compromised the thief will get little or no information and move on.
    3.  Use Encryption Within Your Network:  Encryption protects data as it moves through your network. Strong encryption like SSL ensures that even if access is gained, the data will be undecipherable.
    4.  Limit Access at the Device:  Control your network. Make sure any device granted access is protected and secure. Do not allow unauthorized users access. Personal devices like smartphones can harbour malware or viruses unbeknownst to the user.

    Wireless printers offer countless benefits. However, like any technology, it’s important to take the necessary steps to secure your device. Taking a proactive approach to security is a smart business decision that can protect your entire network.

    Have you taken our SMB Office Challenge yet?  Find out how your small business compares to others just like you and receive a free copy of our 2016 Office Print Policy Guide full of money-saving best practices you can start using today!

    SMB office challenge

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