Archive for the ‘Newsletters’ Category

Improve Your Business Process

Posted on: June 30th, 2021 by jiml | No Comments

The point of business technology is to either increase revenue or decrease costs. We advise our customers to debate that point when evaluating technology to see if it is a good fit for their business.  If it is not clear how the technology will benefit the business in this manner, think carefully about whether that technology is right for you.

One way in which technology can decrease cost is by improving efficiency.  For example, faster computers allow for the faster completion of tasks and less labor time spent on the tasks. This is a common justification for periodic upgrades which is widely accepted. Beyond hardware, we are in an age where automation can make a significant impact on efficiency. Tasks that can happen automatically do not require human interaction and the associated labor costs. If you are a Colden Company customer you are already benefitting from automation and you may not realize it. One standard piece of automation we run is cleaning up of temporary files on workstations.  As computers are used to do daily work temporary files build up on your computer.  Over time a large number of files can build up causing your computer to have to sift through those large number of files to find what it needs. We use automation to clear out those files to keep our customer’s systems running optimally. We use automation for alerting us to potential problems on your system so we can address before the problem occurs.

In your business, automation can improve business process.  The question is how? The answer to that comes from you.  You know your business and your business process better than anyone.  It pays dividends to examine those processes periodically and do so with automation in mind.  What processes could be automated using tools like Microsoft Power Automate to speed up or better organize your business process. Power Automate is a powerful tool that can speed up your business process by automatically routing certain emails with attachments to a SharePoint site as an example.  Power Automate has a nice approval process for tasks like invoice approval that automatically route invoices via email with approve or deny buttons inside the email. You can configure text notifications of certain emails if you like as another example.  Microsoft has a library of commonly used “flows” as they call them that other businesses are using for automation. Can your business benefit from automation?  If you would like to have a discussion about your business process and how tools like Power Automate can help, please give us a call at (888) 600-4560 or email us at info@coldencompany.com and we can schedule a discussion.

What is a Business Email Compromise Attack?

Posted on: May 31st, 2021 by jiml | No Comments

What is a Business Email Compromise Attack?

Phishing emails have a purpose. That purpose is the get information which hackers can monetize or directly monetize their hack in the case of ransomware attacks. One of the more effective attacks is called a Business Email Compromise Attack. All managers and staff of any organization should know what this is and how to defend against it. Here is a common attack:

Hackers will send a phishing email that purports to come from one of the major email providers like Microsoft or Google. They know that if they send out a million emails, a good percentage of those targeted users will be running one of those email systems and therefore more likely to believe it is a legitimate email.  The email may state that you have unread emails in your quarantine, or that you need to reactivate your account. This is a lie. A link in the email will prompt the unsuspecting user for their email password which, when entered, is sent back to the hackers with your email address. Now the hackers have your email address and password. 

The first thing the hackers will do once they have this information is to go to www.office.com for mail.google.com and log into your account and download all of your email. They do this as quickly as possible so that they have all this information in case you or your IT staff discover the breach and change the password, locking them out. The hackers will scour your email and discern who the management is in your company, who the accounts payable people are, who sends you money, who you send invoices to and more.  They are looking for opportunities. 

The attack can go in two directions from here. If they have been locked out by now, they will use this information to spoof the email addresses of key people and as an example, send an email to the Accounts Payable person from the spoofed CFO address asking them to wire money to an account.  This is not a legitimate request obviously.  Or they may send an email to your customer asking them to send an ACH payment for fake services. Perhaps they will contact your payroll company and ask them to send a 1099 check for a contractor that doesn’t exist. The hackers will use whatever information they get from your downloaded email to craft attacks.

Notice that the people being targeted by the second email asking for payment had nothing to do with the breach.  It could have been a lower-level employee that was hacked but the Accounts Payable person is being targeted with a spoofed email that purports to be from a CFO or other C-level executive.

The other direction occurs if the hackers have not yet been locked out of the account they compromised.  In this case, once they determine their targets, they will set up email rules in the compromised person’s account that direct email from their target to them and then immediately deletes the email from the inbox. This way the hackers can have a direct conversation with their unsuspecting target without the compromised person even knowing.  Note that the hackers are sending email from a legitimate account and the target will have no way of knowing it is not legitimate.

In either case, it just takes a few moments of weakness from ANY employee to click on a link and enter their password.  The horse is out of the barn so-to-speak and there is no way to undo that act. Your business, your vendors, and your customers can expect to be targeted, sometimes for months or years into the future.

What can you do to prevent this type of attack?  There are two main deterrents. The first is user education.  Users should know to NEVER enter their password into a link in an email. It is important to have regular and repeated efforts to educate users on the risks and how they should respond to emails they are unsure of.  The second deterrent is multi-factor authentication. Having this enabled for your company email provides a second layer of protection so that in this scenario, when the hackers try to login with the stolen password, the user will receive a prompt to approve the login.  A properly trained user will notice that they did not try to login and deny the login. Note here, that an improperly trained user who just approves every prompt, will just allow the hackers in and the multi-factor authentication did nothing to stop the hackers.

Business email compromise attacks are devastating because the hackers can continue to attack for quite some time after the initial breach.  They can attack your customers and vendors which is not a good look for your organization. As Ben Franklin famously once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. That is especially apt in the case of Business email compromise attacks.

Is your organization implementing the two deterrents mentioned above? Contact us today at (888) 600-4560 or via email at info@coldencompany.com to get started.


Technology Onboarding

Posted on: April 29th, 2021 by jiml | No Comments

Your business employs various technologies and business processes that make your company unique. Every business is different in this respect. This, of course, makes sense as different technologies are required to solve different problems.  A business with mobile employees would benefit from mobile devices like laptops and tablets more than a business that operates solely inside their facility. A restaurant would need Point-of-Sale technology where a Funeral Home would not.  Every business has differing needs.

The point of technology is to either increase revenue or decrease costs. If an emerging technology catches your eye if you cannot answer the question of how that technology will do one of those two things, it may be wise to pass on it until that answer becomes clear.

Presumably, if you are following the above principle, the technology deployed in your business is the technology suited for your business.  New employees coming from different businesses might not have been exposed to the technology that makes your business tick. That makes for a learning curve and an inefficient new employee for a period of time while they get up to speed.

According to an article by Sapling HR, 88% on companies do not onboard new employees well. Other interesting statistics include:  Employee retention is improved by 82% by having a strong onboarding process. So, the question is “what makes a strong onboarding process?”.  A comprehensive process, that includes technology onboarding is part of the answer.

Colden Company can provide that technology onboarding component. We can tell you from first-hand experience that new employees are happier and more productive when properly taught how to use the tools at their disposal.  Colden Company customers that utilize our expertise to train their new employees on the technology they use are pleased with the result.  New employees hit the ground running more quickly, are more satisfied and more productive.

Are you interested in working with us to formulate a technology onboarding plan for your business? Contact us at (888) 600-4560 or via email at info@coldencompany.com to get started.


Ransomware is Still a Threat

Posted on: March 31st, 2021 by jiml | No Comments

The news is no longer filled with stories of ransomware holding business data hostage. With increased political coverage last year and of course COVID-19 coverage, it has been relegated to the back burner.  That does not mean, however, that ransomware is no longer a threat.  On the contrary, the ransomware business is alive and well as many organizations are finding out the hard way.

According to the most recent Datto State of Ransomware report, ransomware is still the number one malware threat to the small and medium sized business market.  Phishing emails are still the number one attack vector (and most successful attack vector).  Unfortunately, it is very easy for a hacker to setup a new domain and start sending out ransomware-infected emails from it.  It makes minutes to do. They just have to fool one unsuspecting user for havoc to ensue. While user education has improved over the last few years, the attacks are becoming more and more sophisticated requiring a more sophisticated end user.

The pandemic economy has actually increased the risk to businesses and more as more employees are working remotely, outside of the well-protected walls of the corporate office.  More data has been made mobile-accessible because of the pandemic giving the attack surface a greater area for hackers to exploit.

The Datto report shows a serious disconnect between MSPs (IT companies) and other businesses in how they view the threat of ransomware. When asked if they are very concerned about ransomware, the MSPs (the people who deal with ransomware and its fallout) responded at 84% very concerned.  Other non-IT businesses answered the same question with only 30% are very concerned about ransomware.  If I could scream this from the rooftop, I would: “Ransomware is still a threat”. It is a serious threat that requires a serious response.

Here at Colden Company, we have taken the threat of ransomware seriously from the start.  We, as well as our customers, sleep well at night knowing we have strong security measures in place specifically to guard against ransomware.  There are several layers to a comprehensive ransomware protection plan.  This includes solid backups as well as solid layers of security. Are you confident that your business has the necessary layers? Are you confident your business could easily recover from a ransomware attack?

If you are interested in speaking with our team about how we protect our clients, please call us at (888) 600-4560 or email us at info@coldencompany.com. The old adage “Better safe than sorry” was never more applicable than in this case.


 

Planning a Post Pandemic Business

Posted on: February 23rd, 2021 by jiml | No Comments

We are approximately one year into the COVID-19 pandemic depending on when you classify the starting time. (over a year since the first case or less since the official declaration of pandemic) Regardless of how the start time is classified, today vaccines are rolling out and new cases are on the decline.  This is certainly very welcome news.  It is safe to say that many businesses look different than they did a year ago. Adjusting to the pandemic required flexibility, innovation and in many cases technology to survive or perhaps even thrive. Obviously the vertical your business works in had a large effect on your ability to survive and/or thrive, but even in the hardest hit verticals, some businesses adapted and thrived. It is hard to think of an example that did not involve technology.  Now, another change is on the horizon as we prepare for post-pandemic business. Does your business have a plan?

The business plan for a post-pandemic world may look very different from business to business.  Some will return to the way they operated prior to the pandemic.  Some will never go back, and many will adopt a hybrid model of the two.  There is no right or wrong answer to how your business should respond to the coming end of the pandemic.  What works for one business may not work for another. One thing that is universal is that businesses should be planning for how they will respond and the time to do that planning is now.

Our advice is to keep options open and strive to flexibility. This is sometimes called optionality. The future is unknown to us all and it is reasonable to consider the possibility of a variant strain of COVID-19 that sets us back. It is reasonable to consider an economic slowdown, while hoping it does not occur. Our role here at Colden Company is to assist in setting your business up with the right technology solutions to give you the flexibility you are looking for while keeping our eye on data security for you.  We have a saying that there is a balance between usability and security.  The more usable something is, generally the less secure.  An example would be having a password of “cat”. It is very usable, but not very secure.  The most secure server is one that is turned off in a locked safe, the data will never get stolen in that scenario, but it is completely unusable.  The balance is somewhere in the middle of those extreme examples.  Our role is to help your business find the appropriate balance between the two.

Colden Company is here to help.  We assisted many businesses in transitioning safely to a remote worker program and can assist businesses in transitioning again as we move closer to a post-pandemic world. The planning starts with you. Think about your options and give us a call to discuss.  Once we understand your goals, we can assist in implementing the right technology to accomplish your goals and position your business for success in a post-pandemic environment.  Call us today at (888) 600-4560 or email us at info@coldencompany.com and let’s get started!


CJL Technology Joins Colden Company

Posted on: January 29th, 2021 by jiml | No Comments

Colden Company with offices in Saint Augustine, Florida and Ballston Spa, NY and CJL Technology of Jonesville, Michigan have merged under the Colden Company brand.

CJL Technology will adopt the Colden Company name and bring their extensive expertise in information technology and data security to Colden Company. CJL Technology’s experience in IT regulatory compliance will strengthen the current services offered by Colden Company.

“There is a lot of consolidation going on in the MSP space.” said James Lapointe, President of Colden Company. “We are very happy to be adding CJL Technologies as they share our commitment to customer service first and foremost. In addition CJL utilize many of the same best-in-class technologies as we do, making it a natural fit. We couldn’t ask for a better partner to help us improve for our customers.”

What does this mean for Colden customers?  Colden Company customers will not see many changes, only improvements. The addition of CJL Technologies means we have more resources at our disposal.  CJL Technologies and Colden Company have been partners for many years and have a familiarity with each other’s business practices dating back fifteen years. We will continue to place emphasis on keeping up with new technology and bringing that technology to you to improve your businesses. We continue to focus on utilizing those new technologies while making sure our core services like helpdesk support remain best-in-class.  We know our customers love our fast response times and we aim to continue that going forward.


 

Questions?  Please feel free to call us at (888) 600-4560 or email us at info@coldencompany.com .

Another Case Study in Value

Posted on: December 31st, 2020 by jiml | No Comments

In past blog posts we have spoken about getting the value out of Microsoft 365 subscriptions. We would like to share another case study with you to show how partnering with Colden Company can help solve business problems.

Case Study #2

The Business Problem: Hays Service in Macon, GA, was using Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) and other ancillary products to support its business. Hays Service made the decision to migrate to Microsoft 365 and use the wide range of business tools included in a Microsoft 365 subscription to consolidate, simplify, and enhance business processes that previously required multiple tools from multiple vendors.

The Colden Company Solution: Colden Company started by migrating Hays Service email from G Suite to Exchange Online, one of the cornerstone workloads of the Microsoft 365 cloud and a typical entry point for most new Microsoft 365 customers. Once email was migrated, the next step was to expand the use of Microsoft 365 tools and applications. Microsoft 365 is much more than email, yet many customers do not take advantage of the full suite of applications. Hay Service was not going to make this mistake.

Microsoft Teams was next to be rolled out to all Hays Service employees – both in the office and in the field. Hays Service started with a basic Teams implementation – one-to-one and one-to-many chat, a few basic teams and channels, meetings and calls, etc. But armed with the knowledge that Teams is a platform for business improvement and not simply a messaging and meetings tool, Hays Service took its use of Teams much further. Hays Service’s goal was to consolidate as much as possible into Teams to fully realize Microsoft’s vision of Teams as the “hub for teamwork” and not force employees to switch between multiple application throughout the day.

Over the next several weeks, Hays Service and Colden Company collaborated (often using Teams, of course!) and implemented the following business enhancements:

· Using a proven Colden Company methodology, Hays Service created a solid foundation for a Teams rollout by using Azure Active Directory Premium P1 to control team “sprawl” and implement governance, policies, and security around Teams.

· Using Power Automate integration with Teams, a flow was implemented to remind field employees to check in and provide status on projects, keeping the flow of information between the field and the office regarding projects current.

· Using Microsoft Planner, tabs are added to channels to keep work on track, accountable, and consistent from job to job. Integration of Tasks in Teams allows employees to track work assignments without leaving Teams – whether that work is stored in Microsoft To Do or Planner.

· Using Microsoft SharePoint – another cornerstone workload of Microsoft 365 – a secure shared company-wide calendar was implemented to keep all employees updated regarding employee personal time off, birthdays, holidays, and other notable events.

· Using a combination of Microsoft Lists (SharePoint), Microsoft Forms, Azure Active Directory, Power Automate, and Teams, an end-to-end leave/time-off request and approval workflow was implemented with Teams as the front-end. Employees request leave using a form added as a tab in Teams; Power Automate picks up the request, queries Azure Active Directory for the employee’s manager, and sends an approval request to the manager; Power Automate routes

the approval response back to the employee and the result is recorded in Microsoft Lists for record keeping and visibility to Human Resources.

The Result: Hays Service chose to reimagine work and take full advantage of the Microsoft 365 platform, providing its employees with the tools to achieve more with innovative apps, intelligent cloud services, and world-class security. From the office to the field and back again, Hays Service is using Microsoft 365 as the foundation for a new way of working – and they’re only just getting started.

Hays Service Says: Colden Company made our transition into Microsoft 365 very easy and relatively painless. They took our ideas and suggestions about the needs we had for streamlining our office processes and developed a solid plan of action. M365 makes communication within our company so much easier and the possibilities for the future enhancement limitless.” -Alyssa Mathews, Service Coordinator, Hays Service

Are you interested in seeing how Colden Company can propel your business forward? Contact us by phone at (888) 600-4560 or email us at info@coldencompany.com and let’s collaborate!


 

A Case Study in Value

Posted on: November 24th, 2020 by jiml | No Comments

In past blog posts we have spoken about getting the value out of Microsoft 365 subscriptions. We would like to share a case study with you to show how partnering with Colden Company can help solve business problems.

The Business Problem:  The Diabetes Foundation in Hackensack New Jersey implemented a remote worker program due to COVID-19 like many businesses around the United States and the world. Many of the essential programs for providing diabetes care to participants in need had been managed out of their main office. Remote working was a significant challenge to the way their staff had always done business. Meeting with participants in person was no longer a viable option, sitting around the conference table to discuss fundraising events or plan operations was no longer an option. 

The Colden Company Solution: Colden Company implemented Microsoft Teams as a first step to improve communications remotely between staff, key partners and participants needing diabetes counseling.  Next, we implemented a Voice over IP phone system to replace their analog system which did not lend itself to remote working.  Their old system had no method of reaching staff members at home. The new phone system allowed staff to take their phone home and be available at their normal extension regardless of location and dramatically improve phone communications with participants as well for care calls.

The next challenge after solving the communications component was solving the operations component. The Diabetes Foundation was an organization used to sitting around the conference table to strategize.  Colden Company implemented specific teams and channels inside of Microsoft Teams for their various operational needs and linked Microsoft Planner to the newly created Teams to help them manage their various ongoing projects. These tools, like Teams and Planner, were already owned by the Foundation through their Microsoft 365 subscription, so there was no out of pocket expense.

The Result: Remote workers now have all the tools they need to effectively maintain their programs.  The new systems are allowing them to be even more organized than pre-COVID-19. Communications with participants, suppliers and donors are seamless even with the main office still closed from COVID-19.

Diabetes Foundation Says: “When COVID-19 forced us out of our main office, we honestly didn’t know how we were going to be able to continue providing the kinds of programs and services that our participants need from us. Colden Company contacted us and foresaw the problems ahead for us and came to us with a solution.  Their plan for us has been a miracle. We are operating more efficiently and helping more people than ever before. We can’t thank Colden Company enough!” – Ginine Cilenti, Executive Director, Diabetes Foundation.

Could your business benefit from some business process improvements? Contact us today at (888) 600-4560 or by email at info@coldencompany.com and see why Colden Company was selected as an MSP of the Year by Channel Partners!


Are You an Investor?

Posted on: October 31st, 2020 by jiml | No Comments

Would you consider yourself an investor? Do you put some money away so that it can accrue value over time to be there for you down the road? It is a wise strategy. If you want to be successful down the road, invest now.

Business is no different.  If you want your business to succeed, you must invest in it.  Investments of time, human capital, software and applications as well as equipment are all necessary to be a successful business.  Businesses that stay static lose market share. We have a saying at Colden Company “If you are running your business the same way you were three or four years ago, you are not staying the same, you are falling behind”. This is because your competition is not standing still. The hungry competition is evaluating the tools on the market that can make their business better and grab market share. Do you have a process in place for keeping up with technology?

At Colden Company, our job is to do just that and help our customers succeed. We spend a lot of time evaluating technology tools with an eye out not just to improve our own business, but to improve our clients’ businesses.  Not every tool is going to be a game changer.  New software, as an example, might add some efficiency to your business and reduce cost. Using automation can improve the speed in which work gets done. We use automation as a tool here at Colden Company to solve repetitive problems and auto-respond to certain types of issues to help our customers stay working and as efficient as possible. This allows our technicians to focus on other things besides repetitive tasks. After all, there is so much to learn and stay on top of in the technology field, it takes time and effort.

That is the Colden Company difference. Whether it is bringing Power BI to a customer to streamline reporting and allowing managers to make better decisions with real-time data, or showing clients how they can leverage their Microsoft 365 subscriptions to cancel other third party subscriptions, we are here to help. How did we know these things would be valuable to our customer?  It took a two-way conversation and engagement. Our most successful clients are those that engage with us on their business and technology. We partner together to solve their business problems and drive their business forward.

Are you looking for a technology partner you can engage with? Contact Colden Company at (888) 600-4560 or via email at info@coldencompany.com and find out why we were selected one of the MSPs of the Year by Channel Partners.

Underutilized Features in Microsoft 365

Posted on: September 29th, 2020 by jiml | No Comments

The two largest competitors in the corporate email and office suite spaces have been Google and Microsoft for many years now. Microsoft has been steadily eating into Google’s market share with Microsoft 365 and continues to do so by adding value to is subscription service. If your business is just using Microsoft 365 as an email service, you probably are not getting the full value from your subscription.

It is important to note that there are many different types of subscriptions of Microsoft 365, each containing different components, so it is imperative to start by understanding the licenses you have.  What does not help is Microsoft propensity to continual rebrand not only products but also licenses. What used to be called Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium, as an example, is now Microsoft 365 Business Standard and the product formerly known as Office 365 Business, is now Microsoft 365 Business Premium.  So, what used to be called Business Premium is now a completely different license than today’s Business Premium license. (Microsoft rebranded the entire product line from Office 365 to Microsoft 365 as well to make matters even more confusing)

Once you understand what licenses you have, you can see what products are available to you.  Almost every subscription has Microsoft Teams.  Certainly, this product has been gaining traction rapidly and the remote worker push from COVID-19 only accelerated that curve.  We would argue that Teams is still under utilized by many businesses. It is not just an instant messenger and meeting platform. It can perform those functions surely, but its value is in the collaboration components, the Teams and the channels. We have found, here at Colden Company, that simply downloading Teams for users is not a recipe for success. Success comes with a planned rollout with a project champion on site who can help make the business case for the tool. Find a project where Microsoft Teams can be of value to the business and roll out a pilot program. Make sure your pilot users are using the tool (Take away other options if need be) and see the value it brings.  A successful pilot will be a starting point for future Teams within the organization.

Beyond Teams, another component utilized but perhaps not as effectively as it could be is OneDrive for Business. This tool can be utilized in a few different ways one of those ways being a desktop and document backup for users. For those users with simple needs, this may be a great way to backup important files without increasing your costs.

There are many other components, some also recently renamed.  Flow, which is now Automate or Power Automate, is a handle tool for automating workflow.  Power BI is part of the Power Apps and is a highly rated business intelligence tool.  (See our webinar on the topic in case you missed it)

Microsoft Planner is a free application that can help organize and manage tasks.  It ties in nicely to Microsoft 365 by sending email reminders of due and overdue tasks and can even be integrated into Microsoft Teams as a tab on a Team site. Microsoft To Do is a simplified version for personal to-do items as well.

A newly released app is called Microsoft Lists. This can be a great checklist type app for your organization. This can also be integrated into Teams which many will find handy.

You can see the central theme here with Microsoft. Teams is becoming the hub for where employees will go to work. Microsoft is heavily invested in Teams and continues to make improvements as they compete with Slack and Zoom.

Not getting the full value out of your Microsoft 365 subscription?  Contact us today at (888) 600-4560 or email us at info@coldencompany.com.