News From the Edge

Tech Tips and Advice from the Experts at Dynamic Edge

Do You Have The Best IT Support Team Members Working For You?

March 22, 2017 • 10:05 am

hire-the-best-it-support-staff

Several folks have asked me recently how we’re able to find good people to work at Dynamic Edge. How we can tell when someone is going to be a good fit. How we decide on who to hire, and who to pass up. I had described the outcome of our hiring process about a year ago, but thought it very fitting to revisit the topic of how to hire, specifically describing how we hire.

First, let’s recap the facts:

Dynamic Edge remains VERY selective when it comes to hiring high quality technicians. As we reported in 2015, we hire under 3% of applicants that apply to work at our company. To put this hiring rate in context, Deloitte (considered one of the toughest consulting firms to land a job) has a hiring rate of just over 3.5%— a number they consider being highly selective.

So, how do we find the best people to work at Dynamic Edge?

The answer is not surprising (if you’ve read some of our other posts, take our ticketing process for example). We follow an optimized hiring process that weeds out folks that (1) don’t have the capacity to perform the tech and (2) don’t fit our core values. Let me go into a little more detail:

Technical Fit:

Basic Tech—I expect all technicians to have a solid understand of how a network is set up and how to perform troubleshooting on a network. In our interview process, we first screen applicants based on general knowledge—do they seem to be up-to-speed enough on tech to have a basic understanding of how things work? We expect our new IT Support team hires to have a foundational knowledge to build on as they experience new challenges in working with your users. If you owned a restaurant and were hiring a chef, I’m sure you’d expect them to know different techniques (cutting, measuring, presentation) before stepping foot into your kitchen.

Problem Solving—I challenge prospective hires to solve real-world scenarios (some of which our users have presented us). When put in a situation where a user calls in with a problem, I expect new hires to think through how to resolve the issue. There are certainly more than one way to skin this cat. I simply am interested to see how they approach the problem. Do they ask questions? Are they looking for more detail? Are they sorting out and eliminating possible causes of the problem by systematically asking about symptoms (as a doctor would a patient) or are they merely shooting from the hip? Understanding how someone resolves an issue is a critically important part of knowing whether they’ll be able to consistently solve your users’ issues when the rubber meets the road.

Assessing for technical knowledge, experience and ability helps us understand whether a potential hire has the capacity to fulfill technical troubleshooting our business requires of them.

Cultural Fit:

Core Values—Our organization is deeply rooted in our core values. I expect everyone on our team to understand and internalize them as they work at Dynamic Edge. We are a diverse group of IT Support professionals, but we all hold common core values about our work, our users and our society. I expect new hires to understand and embody core values that have helped our organization to grow and create raving fans. We personally meet with every candidate that has shown a capacity for the tech. Note: many IT Managed Services companies end their evaluation at technical ability. If someone is a guru or master at certain areas of tech, they’re a great fit. While we appreciate folks that have a solid understanding and passion for technical work, we equally value people that are interested in helping our users, relate to them, and communicate with them as they resolve issues. That sets us apart—our technicians aren’t just in the game to do tech and do it well, they’re here to help. Our in-person interview is geared at understanding whether potential hires fit the bill of fitting these values.

Telling a joke— We ask all potential hires something to lighten the mood. I’m sure you can appreciate that interviews are quite stressful. To help understand who we’re hiring, we ask them to tell a joke to break the ice. This eases them a little and gives us an understanding of how a candidate might interact with your user base. We are interested in our team making human to human connection with users—not just trying to fix their printing issue or computer headache. Getting a sense of where a candidate’s perception of an appropriate joke tells us a lot about how they might engage with your users.

Goal-Driven Offers:

One additional step to hiring the right people for our organization—those 2.7% of applicants—is to give a goal-based job offer to candidates that are both technically equipped and that understand and embody our culture. We offer new hires salaries, of which a portion is dependent on completion of personal quarterly goals. These goals are self-selected by the team member and help give them a roadmap of personal growth throughout the year (in fact, all team members have goals they set up—we expect everyone on the team to fulfill them). The few candidates that get through our culture and technical evaluations that don’t want to grow pass by our job offer—a clear indication they will not grow into bigger and better positions within our organization.

In recap, we are able to hire the best because we have a process that helps us weed out ‘the rest’. DynEdgers (Dynamic Edge team members) ‘Get it’—meaning they understand the culture and strive to help users, ‘Want it’—they are goal-driven and engaged to learn new tech and ways of approaching technical problems and situations, and they have a ‘Capacity to Do it’—team members know the tech to resolve your issues quickly. We evaluate new hires on these three tenants (in fact, we have score cards that evaluate these 3 critical attributes for every job description in our company).

When I boast about Dynamic Edge having the best IT Support team, I mean we have people that not only have a deep knowledge of tech, but sincerely care about you and your team on a personal level. They get satisfaction knowing they are supporting and helping in the success of your organization.

Are you sure you have the right IT Support team helping your organization? Contact us TODAY to set up a FREE network support audit.

Will The Next Phishing Attack Lead To Your Business Being Hacked?

March 14, 2017 • 11:06 am

phishing-attempts-trojan-horse

Recent reports suggest Eastern Block European countries may start seeking Russia for security-related concerns. What these reports don’t underscore is that there may be implications for your business! I want to take a few moments to explain how Russian influence may increase your cyber security vulnerabilities.

What is all this about eastern block countries seeking Russian protection?

A recent Gallup poll of 4 NATO countries—specifically Bulgaria, Greece, Slovenia and Turkey—has suggested that popular sentiment is leaning TOWARDS Russian support and away from the US. People in those countries are feeling that Russian policies may be better in their self-interest than those of Americans.

Russian cyber security threats persist to riddle American businesses of all sizes A recent forensics report on ransomware identified that over 1.4 million businesses were hit by ransomware last year.  What’s startling is that over 75% of ransomware has been developed by Russian speaking cyber criminals.

What’s even more concerning is that Russia is ACTIVELY swaying eastern Europe

Russia has been campaigning to win hearts and minds of eastern European countries. It has already attempted to sway governments in Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Servia and Slovakia. Russian government even recently admitted that it has heavily invested in cyber warfare—that it has expanded its post-Cold War cyber espionage efforts.

If Russian officials are investing more in cyber warfare, don’t think you’re not a target!

With greater investment and recruitment to cyber efforts, don’t think that your data is safe. More Russian-leaning policies in European countries may mean increasing cyber threats from those countries on your business. Recent attacks—targeted at accountants and tax preparers—have been originating in eastern countries, like Romania, Ukraine, and Bulgaria. Phishing scams have gotten so sophisticated that even some of the more cautious professions—CPAs, accountants, and healthcare administrators, for example—have been falling for scams hand over foot.

Just to shed some light on a common attack hitting accountants in Southeastern Michigan:

The attack:  impersonating accounting software providers into stealing your credentials.

The “Access Locked” attack is aimed at getting access into your cloud accounting software (just having the cloud WILL NOT protect you from these attacks). One click on a bad link can give hackers complete access to your system.

The Internal Revenue Service is warning all tax professionals to be on alert. The scam comes with the subject line “Access Locked” and tells recipients that access to their tax prep software accounts have been “suspended due to errors in your security details”. You are asked to click on the “unlock” link provided within the email.

But the link is to a malicious website where many accountants have already given away their credentials to their cloud accounting accounts! Leaving their client data compromised to the point where IRS is not accepting it! For more info on phishing scam detection and how to completely avoid getting attacked visit our Avoid Scams.

And if you have any immediate concerns, please call us immediately so that we can put together a security plan for your business!

Why Politics Has Made Us Worse At Our Jobs And What You Can Do About It

March 7, 2017 • 10:14 am

How many times have you heard the word “Trump” today?

It doesn’t matter where your staff fall on the political spectrum. One thing is clear—EVERYONE (even people without a single political bone in their bodies) is talking about something related to politics. And it’s become strikingly clear that your staff are talking about politics too (ON THE JOB!). In fact, in a recent poll by Betterworks, 87% of workers read about politics on social media during the work day. 77% have conversations during the workday.

And guess what?

It typically takes 23 minutes to resume work at full mental capacity after distractions. So on top of having a workforce that is distracted more often than not by social media and the 24-hour news cycle blasting up-to-the-minute political news, every time a new announcement or post comes out, it is taking your staff an additional 20 minutes or more to get back to fully functioning?

The election might have ended on November 8th, but the office chatter about it—or other related political conversations—has been a non-ending chatter ever since. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier last month that employees read on average 20 Posts EVERY SINGLE DAY about the current political climate. The non-ending news cycle has also stimulated conversations throughout the workplace—it doesn’t matter their political views, your employees are likely wasting work time discussing and reading about the latest political news.

Is this something you’re okay with?

Let’s put these distractions into context… Just think about a 20 minute ‘break’ to discuss politics every workday for the next year (Note: the average worker has dedicated a minimum of daily political chatter 20 minutes in length. If your team is above average, you might be pouring hours of time down the drain all because they’re distracted at work with all sorts of latest news!).  If this chatter persists, you’re likely spending over $1300 per employee per year on political chatter! And that’s a REALLY conservative estimate. If your people are getting distracted throughout the day, they may be spending more time thinking about social media posts, frustrated with what other people on Facebook are chattering about, or simply engrossed in the current political mind sweep that they have little or no capacity to function on their daily work tasks.

Do you want office political conversations to be the new normal for your office place?

Personally, I’ve had to limit my social media consumption to evenings and weekends, mainly because the current climate of posts has gotten too distracting from getting my work done. With a political climate that doesn’t seem to be dying down and with folks motivated to protest and spread their messages on social media, with the news media constantly posting the latest news, AND with my networks constantly chattering about everything going on, my sanity needs a break during work. I need to focus on being the best IT support solution for businesses and I feel like your business likely needs a hiatus from social media and news during work, too!

It doesn’t matter whether your team is talking politics, March Madness, the latest TV show—whatever the distraction—your network is likely fueling the fire—instigating additional non-work conversations across the workday.

fitSecure Blocks Distractions:

  • Automatically block distracting sites like Facebook, news websites, Twitter, and any other social media or distracting material. That means that anyone connected to your internet will not be inundated with excessive outside distraction throughout the work day.
  • On-request reporting on employee traffic usage—if there are workers still distracted, we can help you identify websites that lead your people off track.
  • Identify and lock down nefarious traffic to your network through smart heuristic modeling.

Can you go another week with an under-performing team because social media and new stories have taken over their work routines? Can you afford to have lower expectations for staff productivity? Contact me TODAY to discuss how fitSecure can keep your business from outside distractions.

Is Amazon REALLY The Best Option To Host Your Business’ Website?

March 1, 2017 • 10:19 am

I was searching online for the right bouquet of flowers to send a friend yesterday and had decided to visit one of half a dozen national flower chains—one that I had used in the past. After navigating from the homepage to the birthday flowers section, I clicked on the purchase button and nothing happened. At first I thought it was an issue with my computer. But after trying to make a purchase from my phone, I realized, their site was “sort of not working”. Pages were loading, but the site was NOT fully functional. The most important part—the PAYMENT pages—were offline. A few minutes later, I realized that this flower website was hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and was affected by the MAJOR outage experienced by millions. Around noon eastern, AWS reported a major outage to customers across the United States. In fact, millions of American customers were struggling with accessing their data—many of which were websites (Amazon hosts nearly 150 THOUSAND websites).

Amazon’s web services is currently one of the largest web hosting providers in the US. When an outage occurs and you’re impacted, you’re just another number. I could only imagine having my website hosted by a company that large resolving a HUGE outage.

We can liken a storage outage to a power grid failure. The bigger the grid, the more complex it is to fix if something were to affect a major portion of the grid. I’m sure you remember the major outages the Northeast suffered several years ago—it took weeks to get everything up and running. When Amazon is faced with a similarly HUGE outage, their recovery will likely take longer simply because it is affecting an enormous amount of clients.

So Why do people opt for Amazon?—simplicity. They don’t have to have their own servers hosting websites, leaving them without the burden of investing in infrastructure that might be too hard to handle for small businesses that lack full-time IT departments and web developers. Amazon has a lot of infrastructure in place to handle websites and data sets that would require a lot of infrastructure if you were to host internally.

But the size of Amazon as an organization is so large, that its size is also its biggest weakness when it comes to hosting small to medium businesses. Since Amazon has millions of customers—how likely are you to be a priority to them?

When there’s an outage like the one that happened yesterday, how long will your website be down? Will you get answers when calling the 1-800 number? Or will you be STUCK—just like the other 150,000 websites, waiting for a press release?

Now, I don’t think Amazon Web Services is a bad service. But what I’m arguing is that it might not be right for everyone—especially if your business depends on your website. Wouldn’t prefer to be a speed-dial away and on a first-name basis with the experts hosting your site rather than waiting on hold listening to elevator music until someone named Rishi in an Indian service center is able to tell you next to nothing?

If your business relies on your website to

  • Generate new business
  • Communicate with your existing customers
  • Bring in Revenue

then your website IS the heart of your business and shouldn’t be a number. I’d never trust my website hosted by a company so large that I’m just a drop in the bucket.

Just something to consider when considering your web hosting options.

If you experienced an outage this week or are considering your options on hosting, give me a call TODAY to talk through your options. I don’t want your business to fall in the hands of a corporation that only considers you a number.

 

Tax season IS Scam Season… Are you or your staff being phished or hacked without knowing?

February 22, 2017 • 9:23 am

Did someone just try to PHISH Me?

I want to start with a personal story. Last week, I received this very realistic (and Sneaky) email from who I thought on Initial inspection was American Express.

I saw the AMEX logo, A gold card that kind of looked quite similar to my card (although on second thought my card was platinum).

The message: someone from China had attempted to use my account!

How terrible! I need to take action Now!—that was my initial thoughts (and I’m sure I wouldn’t have been alone!).

Even the wording seemed somewhat plausible for AMEX to send. But the details weren’t quite right. And the scary part is that THE DETAILS ARE REALLY EASY TO OVERLOOK when you’re emotionally reacting to a possible heck into your credit card, a bank account, or any other login! I was reacting emotionally to the email and wanted immediate actions taken to ensure everything would go back to normal.

But as the irrational emotions started waning and my IT head started to come back to life, I asked myself, is this for real?

Here or the gritty details that are WRONG with this AMEX email:

  1. Email address—while the American express is indeed listed, notice that it is NOT quite right. On a quick glance, my eyes overlooked that the address was from american@express.com, NOT americanexpress.com. A sender address is probably the easiest way to ID whether someone is trying to trick you. More often than not, scammers are tricky, but not impeccably so. URLs are likely to be slightly different than the real address. If you see any suspicious activity in the sender address, don’t trust the message!
  2. Dear Card Member—normally, companies address you personally in some way. They use email blast services that send more personalized messages. Having an email that simply address Customer or User is a little bit suspicious.
  3. Account numbers—typically, businesses will mention a user name, but account numbers aren’t always used, especially in the header of the message.
  4. Links within emails—should NEVER be clicked to sign into your account. I’d prefer you not click on email links when you aren’t expecting mail when it’s coming from a bank, credit card, or other businesses with which you hold accounts. Rather, log into your account from entering the URL to the business in your browser. You never know where you’ll be taken when you click on a link! It may be a landing page similar to your bank’s—where someone is stealing your credentials. OR it might take you to an infected website that is trying to spread Cryptowall onto your computer.

Bottom Line: Better to be safe than sorry. Remember to take a deep breath and critically evaluate URGENT emails before acting. And when you decide to act, don’t click on links or take actions suggested by the email without first calling a published number to verify the email was legitimate.

If you have ANY questions about security or you need a SMART firewall to prevent phishing attacks and hacks from penetrating your business, Contact Ben today to learn what you can do to avoid scams!