St. Louis IT Company Anderson Technologies Launches Free Onsite Cybersecurity Training for Its Clients

St. Louis IT company Anderson Technologies is committed to educating its clients, as well as St. Louis at large, about cybersecurity and IT best practices. As part of that mission, it is offering free cybersecurity training workshops in which participants learn how to protect their computer systems from cyberattacks.

Small business owners have a lot on their plate. While it’s understandable that cybersecurity and other IT issues could fall through the cracks, there’s simply too much at stake to let that happen. Cybercrime targeting small businesses is on the rise everywhere, and St. Louis is no exception. By adhering to IT best practices, employees can mitigate their risk of being victimized by a cyberattack, including ransomware. In fact, it’s one of the smartest things they can do to help protect their business.

The team at Anderson Technologies strives to deliver clients the best managed IT services possible. It also wants to educate them. That’s why it recently unveiled a free Onsite Cybersecurity Training program to provide educational workshops about IT best practices. The IT company offers the sessions free of charge and holds them at clients’ offices for their convenience.

Mark Anderson, principal of Anderson Technologies, understands audience members have varying degrees of tech proficiency, so he designs his talks to resonate with non-technical staff members as well as those with deeper domain knowledge. Topics covered include:

  • Cybercrime and how it can impact you and your business
  • The importance of a multi-layered security approach
  • Creating reliable data backups and a strong disaster recovery plan
  • Why you need a hardware firewall and business-grade anti-virus/anti-malware software
  • Digital best practices all your employees should follow

Anderson also teaches participants how to recognize phishing emails and how to safely make company purchases online. After his presentation, questions from the audience are encouraged. He says the Q&A is one of the most valuable portions of the session.

The St. Louis cybersecurity and IT company ran its first free cybersecurity training seminar this April at Smile Station Dental, where Anderson fielded questions about password management and what to do if you think your computer has been infected with malware.

Even if a business has taken the proper precautions to protect its data from cyberattacks, an employee can unwittingly infect the network with malware by clicking a nefarious link or downloading a dangerous attachment. These scams have become tougher to spot as criminals get better at spoofing legitimacy. The increasing difficulty is what makes education even more crucial. By teaching its clients best practices and how to recognize red flags, Anderson Technologies believes it can help keep them safer online.

“Education is power,” says Anderson. “We want everyone to be as knowledgeable as possible, which is why we offer these workshops as a value-add for our clients, as well as to others in the St. Louis community. We believe educating users about cybersecurity best practices can save everyone trouble in the future and help limit the number of cyberattacks.”

As part of its mission to educate the St. Louis community about cybersecurity, the IT company has also produced an eBook, An Employee’s Guide to Preventing Business Cybercrime. Educating every employee, at every level of the organization, is an often-overlooked step of cybersecurity. This guide is specifically designed for small businesses and emphasizes that every employee has a role to play when it comes to keeping a business safe from mounting cyber threats. The eBook is available to download for free.

Anderson Technologies is a St. Louis cybersecurity company committed to providing quality IT services to St. Louis and beyond. If you’re interested in setting up a free cybersecurity training session at your office, contact Anderson Technologies by sending an email to info@andersontech.com or calling 314.394.3001.

Encryption: The Small Business Owner’s Secret Weapon

With small business cybercrime on the rise, business owners need to do everything they can to protect themselves and their data. Here’s how encryption can help.  

Encryption is a way to secure your data, either while it is stored on a system or device, such as a hard drive or smartphone, or while it is in transit, such as being transmitted across networks.

Encryption comes from the Greek word “kryptos,” meaning hidden or secret. When data is encrypted, it is transformed so only the intended parties can read it by utilizing a secret key. This is done automatically with the help of encryption technology, which uses an algorithm called a cipher to “disguise” your data and allows people with the right key to decrypt, or unscramble, the information and view the plain text. (For a more in-depth description of how encryption works, review this article from MakeUseOf.)  Encryption is used routinely in the digital realm to keep businesses and customers secure. For example, encryption protects your financial information at the ATM, or when you are making an online purchase if you are patronizing a site using SSL.

For small businesses, encryption is an underutilized form of protection. When your information is not encrypted, you make a hacker’s job easier. Should they infiltrate your network, they will be able to easily use the plain-text information they steal. However, if your data is encrypted, they won’t be able to interpret it, or you will have at least made it much more challenging for them to do so. (Cybercriminals can take steps to decrypt data, but it requires tools, expertise, and time, so you’re very likely deterring all but the most persistent ones.)

The Role of Encryption in Healthcare Cybersecurity

Cybercriminals target the healthcare industry more frequently than any other sector. IBM’s 2016 Cyber Security Intelligence Index, a survey of IBM’s Security Services clients, found that companies storing patient data experience 36 percent more security threats than organizations in other verticals. These companies are targeted frequently because of the high-value customer data they possess. People’s personal health and financial information are prime targets for thieves who use it for identity theft or ransomware attacks. While many businesses use some form of encryption to protect data in transit, too few use the strategy to protect data at rest. Healthcare data encryption is especially critical. Considering the increased role portable technology devices like laptops, mobile phones, and flash drives play in business operations, and the rise in data security threats, this is particularly important.

A security breach isn’t just bad news for your clients whose information has been compromised, it is also bad news for your organization. According to the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule, organizations must “provide notification following a breach of unsecured protected health information.” If the breach affects more than 500 individuals, the organization also has to inform the media. That is certainly not the kind of press anyone is looking for.

Here is where encryption comes in. The incident is not considered a breach if the individual’s information is protected and the business can prove that the data has a low probability of being compromised. This is assessed using a variety of risk factors. Encryption is cited as one of the technologies and methodologies for “rendering protected health information unusable, unreadable, or indecipherable to unauthorized individuals.” In short, encryption can protect your customers and your company in the event of a security breach. (More information about this rule is available here. Businesses should read and understand HIPAA rules in their entirety and work with their legal counsel to understand their ramifications.)

According to the latest healthcare cybersecurity report by Redspin, Breach Report 2016: Protected Health Information (PHI), there was a 320 percent increase in the number of providers victimized by hackers in 2016 compared to the previous year. Most of these attacks targeted smaller offices. This annual report routinely includes recommendations for reducing vulnerabilities, and year after year, encryption makes the list. The latest iteration acknowledges the growing role laptops, smartphones, and flash drives play in companies’ day-to-day operations and, in light of this, describes encrypting data “at rest and in motion” as a “sure-fire, but still often neglected, way to avoid the breach report.1

Encryption is a valuable protective measure for all small businesses regardless of industry segment. It is a proven way to help protect your valuable data and should be part of your small business’s approach to data security.

Do you need assistance with small business data encryption? Anderson Technologies, a team of cybersecurity specialists in St. Louis, has extensive experience working with small businesses to keep their organizations secure. To learn more, call 314.394.3001 or email info@andersontech.com today.


1Breach Report 2016: Protected Health Information (PHI), February 2017, by Cynergistek and Redspin, pg. 18

Is Your Company Wasting Marketing Dollars? The 7 Billion Dollar Ad Fraud Problem

Too often, advertisers pay for digital ads that weren’t actually seen by a human. Here is what your small business needs to know before investing in paid digital marketing. 

Digital marketing encompasses the tactics businesses use to raise awareness about their offerings and drive sales online, from social media advertising to search engine marketing to mobile and video ads. While small businesses aren’t spending as much or as often in this realm as their larger counterparts, digital marketing spending has increased across the board. Seventy percent of small to medium-sized businesses said they will increase their digital marketing budgets in 2017, according to research from GetResponse as reported in Entrepreneur.

Digital marketing is so popular because it works. Marketers use cutting-edge technology to target their audiences with increased precision and with increasingly personalized messages. They can monitor their efforts in near real-time and make changes based on data to optimize their results. But it is not just advertisers who are interested in digital marketing. Cyber criminals also recognize an opportunity.

What You Need to Know about Bots

Let’s say you own a local dental practice and decide to invest in digital advertising to connect with residents in your area. At the end of the campaign, you are told your ad was seen 500,000 times, a fraction of which generated clicks. But what if you learned that some of the ads you paid for weren’t seen by real people, and that even some of those clicks were fake?

It is estimated that $7.2 billion ad dollars were wasted globally as a result of fraudulent traffic last year, according to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), which conducts in-depth studies on ad fraud in partnership with the digital security company WhiteOps. Most ad fraud stems from bots, computer programs that masquerade as real people and can even scroll and click. Bots can be used to spread malware and harvest personal data, and they are disrupting the digital advertising ecosystem.

The tech company Zvelo offers a nice summary of how this works: “Ad fraud happens when a bot attempts to imitate legitimate web traffic (acting like a real person visiting a website) and generate additional (but fraudulent) web page views (and therefore revenue) for the website publisher. The advertisers’ budgets are compromised, as their dollars are being wasted on ads being served to bots rather than humans. This results in the advertisers and the end users paying the price for this fraud, as well as being exposed to the risks associated with malicious and fraudulent bots.”

Most publishers do not knowingly charge their advertisers for fraudulent traffic, but ad fraud can be challenging to police. Just this past December, Russian hackers pulled off what has been dubbed the “biggest ad fraud ever.” They created domains and URLs which appeared to belong to real publishers, including ESPN and Vogue. Then they created a bot farm to generate fake traffic to these pages. Much of digital ad buying is automated. Computer programs determine where to serve ads on behalf of advertisers, based on the advertisers’ target audience. The fraudsters were able to trick these algorithms. Via automated buying, advertisers served their legitimate ads on these nefarious sites to fake visitors—the bots! Digital advertising often uses a pay-per-click pricing model, which means advertisers pay every time a user clicks their ad. Well, these bots did a lot of clicking, so the hackers were getting paid big bucks — $3 million to $5 million a day!

What Small Businesses Can Do to Protect against Ad Fraud

Before you go swearing off digital marketing forever, know that members of the advertising ecosystem have teamed up in the fight against ad fraud. For example, the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) was created by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) to find ways to eliminate fraudulent traffic and combat malware.

For small business marketers, the first step is awareness—you must realize this problem exists. Then you need to find partners you can trust. Reputable companies like Google go to great lengths to protect advertisers. When choosing a digital advertising partner, ask them about the steps they take to identify and prevent ad fraud, as well as about their approach to viewability, which refers to how they determine whether or not an ad was seen and counted as a billable impression. Facebook is another fantastic tool for small business marketing in part because of its easy-to-use, self-serve platform, but also because it is vigilant about sniffing out fraudulent traffic.

If you will be doing extensive advertising, consider investing in a third-party solution that can help track your ads and monitor for ad fraud. White Ops, Integral Ad Science, FraudLogix and Forensiq all offer these types of solutions. Simply visiting their sites will help you learn more about the fight against ad fraud. Additionally, observe your traffic during the length of your campaign, and if something seems suspicious, reach out to your partner. Warning signs include stats that seem too good to be true, i.e., suspiciously high click-thru rates and abnormal patterns, like every impression served to a particular site generating a click.

Digital ad fraud is complicated, but the bottom line is simple. You need to choose your partners wisely and take education into your own hands. Doing so allows you to take advantage of digital marketing’s tremendous potential while mitigating wasted spending.

Cybercrime extends far beyond advertising and can affect every area of your business. Are your employees in the know? Anderson Technologies, a team of cyber security specialists in St. Louis, helps small businesses educate their employees about effective cybersecurity practices. For more information on our cybersecurity training services, email info@andersontech.com or call 314.394.3001 and check out our free eBook, An Employee’s Guide to Preventing Business Cybercrime.

7 Reasons Why Your Business Should Consider Managed IT Services

There are reasons why more and more businesses are opting for managed IT services, as opposed to break-fix—reasons that include proactive management, cost-savings, quality, breadth of service, and peace of mind.

As small business dependence on technology increases, so must the focus on IT-related issues. Most companies cannot function without reliable, secure internet and computer systems. Many are storing increasing volumes of data digitally, which makes IT security even more important for themselves and for the customers they serve.

Managed IT services is commonly likened to automobile maintenance. You take your vehicle to the mechanic routinely in an effort to get ahead of issues that could affect its performance and longevity. Not to mention that failing to do so could cost you a fortune. A growing number of small businesses are approaching IT in a similar way, opting for ongoing, routine maintenance, rather than only calling the experts when something breaks. Let’s compare the break-fix approach with managed IT services and consider how a long-term, strategic approach to IT could benefit your business.

Break-Fix: As the phrase implies, in this reactive approach IT vendors only engage with clients when something is broken and needs attention.

Managed IT Services: With the managed services model, clients pay monthly to retain ongoing, proactive IT support. This typically covers everything needed to make sure business technology runs smoothly.

The benefits of managed IT services include:

  1. Proactive Approach

With the managed services model, your IT partner takes a hands-on approach to preventing technical issues that interrupt productivity and cost your business time and money. Everyone is incentivized to get ahead of problems and to create the most secure and efficient systems possible for your business. Together, you’ll avoid potential IT hiccups, rather than just scrambling to fix them when they occur.

  1. Reliability

The break-fix model locks you into always putting out fires. The atmosphere can be stressful and frantic. There’s no time to discuss long-term goals or ways to help your business run more smoothly. With managed services, the goal is to avoid those fires in the first place. You can trust the outsourced IT services partner is doing everything it can to help your business.

  1. Ongoing Protection Against Cyber Threats

Cybercrime is projected to cost businesses an estimated $2 trillion by 2019. No company can afford to ignore this. Criminals unleash new strains of malware all the time. The number of zero-day threats discovered has been steadily rising, according to research from Symantec. Businesses must monitor and update their layers of protection continually. With managed services, IT specialists do this for you and work to minimize the chances that you will become one of many businesses that lose time, money, and data to cybercriminals.

  1. Aligned Goals

For the most part, when IT firms work on a break-fix model, they are not incentivized to help clients avoid future problems. Of course, a reputable, trustworthy IT partner should still do its best to provide exemplary services, but there is something to be said for the alignment of goals that the managed IT services model creates. Both parties work together to create and maintain the best systems possible—systems that run smoothly and at optimum speed while remaining malware-free.

  1. Breadth of Offering

If you are only calling your outsourced IT services provider when something stops working, you probably aren’t taking time to discuss all of the other ways that it can help your business. Managed IT service providers can do so much more than preventing fires, including handling IT security, backups and disaster recovery, network and computer performance, remote access, the IT needs of new employees, and compliance-related issues.

  1. Cost-Effectiveness

A managed services approach can prove more cost-effective, especially long-term, than break-fix because the client and the outsourced IT services partner work together to stay ahead of what otherwise might develop into more costly problems if left unmanaged. The right outsourced IT services partner can also drive cost-savings by helping you make smart purchasing decisions about things like equipment, software, and storage.

  1. Peace of Mind

With IT, the stakes are high. It is easy for someone who isn’t an expert to make a mistake of consequence. One of the biggest benefits of managed services for busy professionals is peace of mind. They can check “IT” off their to-do list and rest assured their company’s IT needs are being handled professionally.

With the managed IT services model, your business gains a dedicated team that is constantly thinking about your company and its interests. Anderson Technologies, a St. Louis IT consulting company and managed IT services provider, is invested in its clients’ success and takes an active and ongoing approach to ensuring it. To learn more, call 314.394.3001 or email info@andersontech.com today.

A Guide to Employee Cybersecurity Training

When it comes to small business cybersecurity, you could be doing everything right, but it just takes one wrong click from a well-meaning employee to undo all your hard work. Here’s what to cover during business cybersecurity training for your team.

One of the most overlooked steps to small business cybersecurity is employee education. Cyber criminals are stepping up their game and increasingly targeting small businesses. Every employer must find the time to educate its team members about digital safety. The global cost of cybercrime is projected to reach more than $2 trillion by 2019. It’s worth taking the time to provide thorough cybersecurity training to your employees.  While doing so, make sure to include the following topics.

  1. Spear Phishing Emails Are on the Rise

Spear phishing is a more sophisticated form of phishing in which criminals target a particular victim rather than a wide audience. These emails often appear to be sent by legitimate sources, such as a colleague or trusted vendor, and are designed to trick the recipient into providing personal information, like a credit card number or password.

Spear phishing emails targeting employees increased by 55 percent in 2015, according to research from Symantec. Warn your team to:

  • Be skeptical every time they’re asked for personal information.
  • Hover over links and email addresses to ensure target URL credibility.
  • Refrain from downloading attachments unless they’ve verified the sender.
  • Ask you or your outsourced IT services provider for help when in doubt.
  1. The Art of Password Management

Cybercriminals use software that helps them guess people’s passwords. Do not make their job easier. Teach your employees the importance of creating effective passwords. You can also consider implementing a password management tool for employees to use as an added security measure. Your cybersecurity training should include the following tips:

  • Do not use the same password for everything.
  • Do not use real words that can be found in the dictionary or obvious things like the name of your business.
  • Use a combination of numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and symbols.
  • Change passwords on a regular schedule.
  1. The Web Can Be a Dangerous Place—Get Out of Autopilot

It’s easy to be lured into a false sense of security as you browse the web. It’s so familiar, and you may have been using it without incident for work and personal purposes for some time.

Business owners must teach their employees that the internet can be a dangerous place. In fact, nearly 75 percent of legitimate websites have security vulnerabilities that could put users at risk. Business owners need to:

  • Create guidelines for appropriate digital behavior. Seedy content breeds seedy behavior, so keep your employees off inappropriate sites at work.
  • Teach employees that legitimate sites can have vulnerabilities.
  • Install and maintain an enterprise-level firewall coupled with safeguards such as a subscription for content filtering and intrusion protection.
  • Use anti-virus and anti-malware programs that include “safe search” features that help flag sites that have been compromised.
  • Consider partnering with a managed IT services provider who can make sure your business implements these steps correctly.

These tips are just the beginning. Cybersecurity training for every employee, even administration and management, proves itself to be invaluable in the event of a potential threat. For more information on what your employees need to know about small business cybersecurity, including what to do when they click a link they shouldn’t have, check out An Employee’s Guide to Preventing Business Cybercrime.

Anderson Technologies is a St. Louis IT consulting company that can help your small business educate its employees about effective cybersecurity practices. For more information on our cybersecurity training services, call 314.394.3001 today.

Build a Small Business Website That Exceeds Expectations

The right web development partner can help bring your vision to life and show you ways to make it better.

A company website is an important representation of your business and a mark of credibility. It’s a resource for potential clients who want to learn more about your offerings and a way to generate new leads and sales, thanks to the power of search engine optimization (SEO).

But creating a small business website is not without challenges. It can be time-consuming, costly, and frustrating. If you do not properly optimize your web design and backend configurations, you could create an exasperating experience for your users and limit your organic traffic.

With the right partner and strong communication, you can build a digital presence that does your small business justice and even have a little fun along the way. Just ask Bruce Honts, division manager at Missouri Valley Environmental of Texas, a full-service industrial water treatment company.

Web Development That Is “Almost Too Much Fun”

When Honts and his team connect with potential clients, they want those prospects to be able to go online to learn more. He knew his business needed help developing a “robust” website that could confirm its legitimacy and create a digital footprint. “Our goals were to show the professional nature of our business and to explain our capabilities,” he said.

Honts was referred to Anderson Technologies, a St. Louis IT consulting company that provides full-service web design and web development, as well as other services. Honts came to the table prepared with a clear idea of what he wanted but also with an openness to expert insight and an eagerness to learn about web development best practices.

Farica Chang, Director at Anderson Technologies, explained that Anderson Technologies is more collaborative and hands-on than many website development companies. “We’ll execute the client’s vision in a way that is well-designed and considers the user experience while keeping business goals in mind,” she said. “We strive to do the best possible job, even if it takes a little longer, so our clients enjoy the collaboration and ultimately take pride in the end result.”

Honts described the web development process as easy and almost too much fun. “It was hard to go back to my regular work when the project was over,” he joked.

Advice for Small Business Owners Outsourcing Web Design

To make sure your small business website development process goes smoothly, Honts recommends providing details on what you want, including screenshots and images to illustrate your intent, but also trusting the expert’s input.

“I was pleasantly surprised and pleased each time I saw how my ideas became reality,” said Honts. “Every step of the way, I went, ‘Whoa—that is better than I imagined.’ [Anderson Technologies] took my ideas and magnified them. The end result was even better than what I was envisioning.”

Strong communication is also critical to an effective partnership. Just as you should strive to clearly articulate goals and preferences, your web development partner should be prepared to share constructive feedback on an ongoing basis. This open dialog will help ensure you produce the best small business website possible.

For the development team, one of the greatest testaments to a job well done is a referral. Missouri Valley Environmental of Texas is a division of AECSI Corporation, and after seeing the new website, AECSI Corporation reached out to Anderson Technologies to discuss a partnership.

Anderson Technologies is a St. Louis IT consulting company that offers a breadth of services, from managed IT to web development, web hosting, and ongoing web support. If you are looking for a professional (and fun!) small business web development partner, call Anderson Technologies at 314.394.3001 today.

The Small Business IT Checklist for New Hires

Make sure your new employees are productive from day one by checking all the boxes on this IT to-do list.

Finding and recruiting the right talent is one of the most challenging and crucial components of running a small business. Once you’ve welcomed new members to your team, it’s important that they can hit the ground running, not only because it’s good for productivity, but also because their onboarding experience is a reflection of your company.

Show new employees you are organized and committed to providing an environment that breeds great work by taking the following actions—and do it before they walk through the office door, not while they wait awkwardly for their workstations to be ready. These tips will also help you preserve your small business network security and ensure your recruits adhere to cybersecurity best practices.

Checkbox   Determine how every new hire’s job function affects IT needs

Hopefully, you have clear ideas of your new hires’ responsibilities before you made offers. Now consider how these duties affect IT requirements. The nature of their roles will help you assess the following:

  • Should they use a PC or a Mac?
  • What size monitor do they need?
  • How much memory do they need?
  • What software programs do they require?
  • How mobile are they? Will they be traveling frequently and/or need the ability to work from home?

The answers to these questions will help you choose the right computer and hardware for the position. If you work with an outsourced IT services company, the experts there can do this for you. They can also make sure you do not overspend or throw money away on a low-quality machine.

Checkbox   Set up the computer

An outsourced IT services partner will set up the new computer with the particulars of the job function in mind. Whether you’re hiring a vendor or doing it yourself, consider how your office is wired, and be sure to get the computer on the network before the employee arrives. If he or she will primarily work from an office desk, use a hardline connection to the server room (rather than relying only on Wi-Fi) to minimize connectivity complications and reduce network security issues.

If your new hire will use an existing computer, make sure your IT partner migrates data from the previous user to the appropriate parties before creating a new user ID.

Checkbox   Connect to the printer

Set up and test the connection to the printer. If new employees will be handling confidential information, such as HR documents or company financial information, consider if they need a dedicated printer, rather than printing to a shared device.

Checkbox   Create an email address

Before creating new email accounts, make sure you or your outsourced IT services partner thinks about whether employees need to access email remotely; if so, be sure their configurations can securely accommodate this. Remember to tell new hires to change their passwords, and share password security best practices.

If appropriate, you or your IT partner can help your employees set up email on their mobile phones and walk them through remote access guidelines once they have started.

Checkbox   Determine permissions level

If you have a file server, determine which directories the employees need access to. Anderson Technologies recommends providing access to folders and files on a need-to-know basis and limiting administrator privileges to curb the ramifications of a potential cyberattack.

Checkbox   Set up relevant software applications

Install and create accounts for all necessary software programs. Be sure to track all software license keys in a central place so you’re prepared for a potential software audit. An outsourced IT services partner can do this for you and keep track of when software was purchased and when subscriptions need to be renewed.

Checkbox   Prepare for any necessary IT training

Create a user training plan so your employees feel comfortable with your technology, software, and approach to IT security. Provide education from the onset so they know exactly what to expect. If you’re working with an outsourced IT services provider, ask the provider what level of training it can provide to your staff.

Checkbox   Ask the new hire to review and sign your policies on confidentiality, email and web use, and business network security

Make it clear from the beginning that all employees are expected to abide by strict cybersecurity rules and best practices. This especially includes password security. Are social media sites or personal email prohibited during the work day? Now is the time to share any restrictions. Present them in writing, ideally as part of your new employee handbook.

Don’t have an existing employee guide to cybersecurity best practices? Our Anderson Technologies’ eBook, An Employee’s Guide to Preventing Cybercrime, a comprehensive educational resource for small businesses, is coming soon. Check back in January!

Anderson Technologies is a St. Louis IT consulting company that provides outsourced IT services, including employee onboarding, IT security, cloud services, hardware and software acquisition, and more. Call Anderson Technologies at 314.394.3001 today for your IT needs.

St. Louis Cybersecurity: Viking Style

Happy Halloween! Axes and swords aren’t enough to keep your network safe these days. It takes a lot to fight for your network security, so Mark and Amy came prepared in their best Viking garb this Halloween to flaunt their St. Louis IT consulting muscles. Don’t worry! They have more than battle axes in their armory to combat the cybersecurity threats your company faces. And if anything is too hard for them, BB-8 is right there to help them out.

Let us fight for your IT security! Call the St. Louis IT experts at Anderson Technologies today at 314.394.3001.

Mochi-Halloween-BB-8-2016

 

Thinking About Skipping a Software Update? Think Again!

A vital part of any IT support program is managing software updates. It’s all too tempting to choose “Remind me later,” but as every IT support team knows, these updates are meant to fix problems, improve functionality, and make your device more secure. The inconvenience of downloading and installing essential software updates is far less than what could happen if you leave your unpatched devices vulnerable to security threats and software bugs.

Though it takes time, the benefits of keeping up with your devices’ software updates is immeasurable. Updates are usually produced and distributed by developers free-of-charge. You’ve already purchased the program; the developers want to make sure you can continue using it in this ever-changing digital environment. Software testing prior to product release only goes so far. Some software problems, as well as many malicious cybersecurity threats, are often discovered after launching the product. Keeping up with software updates helps minimize downtime.

Before you hit the “Remind me later” button one more time, listen to the wisdom of your IT support team and choose to install that update instead. There is no simpler, cheaper, or more effective way to get the most out of your programs and electronic devices.

Updates Are Not the Same as Upgrades

Software developers routinely produce new versions of their programs and operating systems. Unlike software updates, which help your program or device function more securely, these upgrades often offer a revised layout or design, enhanced user functionality, and new or improved features.

Upgrading your software usually is not free, but there are many advantages to remaining up-to-date. Older programs eventually lose compatibility with new software and may no longer be capable of receiving security updates. This can reduce the effectiveness of your devices and your business. Software companies often offer discounts or other incentives to convince you to upgrade software when it is released rather than waiting to buy it later. However, every business should carefully evaluate and decide what the right time is for them to upgrade software.

The best thing to do is discuss your needs with a professional IT support team, such as Anderson Technologies. Based in St. Louis, Anderson Technologies has over 25 years of experience providing IT support to businesses across the country. They are available to help you assess the current status of your operating system and software and will make recommendations for updates and/or upgrades to provide the best computer, wireless, and IT Security for your business. You can reach an IT support professional at 314.394.3001 or by email at info@andersontech.com.

Buying Pre-Owned Computers with Used Software: Know Before You Buy

Buying a used computer can seem extremely cost effective. However, it’s helpful to know what problems may arise. Used computers often come with preloaded software, a tempting way to save money and time. Some programs have non-transferrable licensing agreements that place you in breach of contract situations when they run secondhand. Before buying a used computer, be sure to ask the following questions to avoid potential software licensing infringements.

What type of software license does the preloaded software fall under?

There are many software license types and understanding the agreement associated with each application is important. Is the software licensed as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), Individual, Volume, Client Access License (CAL), Node Locked, Subscription, Trial, or Free (to name a few)? Can the preloaded software legally transfer to you as the new owner?

OEM software can be especially tricky if you are buying secondhand. OEM software is sold with the original hardware it was installed on. It is important to ask the seller about the software provided with the computer and if all the hardware, such as the motherboard, is from the original computer. In some cases, such as with Microsoft, replacement of the motherboard in any way other than through the manufacturer counts as non-original hardware, and a new license needs to be purchased.

The experts at the St. Louis IT company Anderson Technologies recommend getting answers to these questions before you buy. Many computers are preloaded with automated End User Licensing Agreements (EULA) requiring acceptance of terms and conditions before using the computer and the software on it. If the EULA is signed by a different person (possibly from a different state or country), you could be flagged for a software audit.

What installation media is provided in case it needs to be reinstalled?

This is a precautionary measure in case the computer crashes. If the hard drive failed on a pre-owned computer, how would you restore it? Depending on the type of backup you have, fixing a crashed computer involves replacing the faulty hardware, re-installing the operating system, downloading all drivers, and re-installing the used software. You might have to go back to the computer manufacturer and prove you are the legitimate owner of the computer in order to reload and activate the operating system. “Even when you are the original owner this can be a time consuming process,” says Mark Anderson. “It can be even more daunting when you are missing crucial original purchase information.” Make sure the computer comes with all software license keys and system documentation and keep it handy.

Are software license keys provided and validated?

Some license keys included with the purchase of the computer may only be valid for the original purchaser. While the legality of this type of transaction is under review, it is still prudent to be aware and make sure the used software and any licensing agreements are transferrable to the new owner.

In this increasingly global environment, it is also important to know the differences in laws between countries. Vernor v. Autodesk, Inc., which involved the resale of pre-owned licenses of AutoCAD software on eBay, potentially set a precedent in the United States that software licenses are not resalable. However, this is not the case in other countries. According to Jennifer Baker at PCWorld, the European Court of Justices ruled that, “The exclusive right of distribution of a copy of a computer program covered by such a licence [sic] is exhausted on its first sale.” Meaning once bought, anyone can sell a license in the same way one would sell a movie or video game they purchased.

Is the installed software updated?

Most software companies provide regular updates to their programs and expect owners to update them on a regular basis. If a used computer has preloaded software that hasn’t been updated in a long time, the software may have reached its end-of-life (EOL) and updates are no longer available. In this case, be prepared to spend more money purchasing new software and be sure to factor this into the overall cost of the used machine.

Knowing the answers to these questions eliminates some of the more common mistakes associated with buying pre-owned computers. Discuss your needs with a professional IT support team.

Based in St. Louis, Anderson Technologies has over 25 years of experience providing IT support to businesses across the country. You can reach an IT support professional at 314-394-3001 or by email at info@andersontech.com.

Anderson Technologies is a St. Louis IT company. The information in this article provides general information about computer licensing agreements and is not to be considered specific legal advice.