IT Security for Working at Home

Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus many employees have been forced to work from home, or may be working from home in the near future. If you find yourself in this situation it’s important to remember to follow the best IT security practices when working from home to not put your company at risk of an online virus or cyberattack.

Working remotely can be challenging because you likely don’t have the same security safeguards in place at home as you do in the office. In addition, most people have multiple devices connected to their home Wifi, including personal computers, smartphones, game consoles, etc. These can all offer hackers a gateway into your home Wifi which can then give them a backdoor into the corporate device you are working from. It’s up to you to implement your own layers of security controls at home to prevent your company’s data from being breached.

Cyber criminals love to prey on companies when they are most vulnerable, and one of the weak spots they look for is employees who are not following the best IT security practices for working remotely.

Below is a list of things you can do to prevent cyberattacks while working remotely. You should follow these guidelines whenever you are logged into a corporate laptop or phone, even if it’s just to check a few emails.

IT Security Checklist for Remote Employees

Only Use Secure Wifi

  • Avoid using Public WiFi
  • Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
  • Change the default Wifi router passwords to something more secure
  • Update router firmware

Protect Your Workspace

  • Don’t use your personal computer for work
  • Don’t let anyone eavesdrop on what you are working on
  • Encrypt sensitive data in emails
  • Don’t use the same passwords on work devices as you do personal devices
  • Update software for all devices that are connected to your home network (this includes personal computers, television services, game consoles, thermostats, etc.)

Secure Your Devices

  • Update firmware
  • Create strong passwords using multi-factor authentication
  • Review and follow corporate policies and procedures
  • Don’t leave your work devices unaccompanied in a vehicle
  • Keep your home or apartment securely locked

Use Common Sense

  • Don’t share your work devices with family or friends
  • Don’t post business itineraries or corporate information online. This includes posting photos that may show addresses, client information, or any other personal or business information in the background
  • Don’t let your guard down. It’s easy to feel comfortable at home but practice the same IT security best practices at home as you would at work

Report Any Security Issues Immediately

  • Don’t wait until it’s too late. If you fear your work computer has been breached contact an IT professional within your company immediately

Fill out the form below or contact PCR Business Systems if you have any questions about setting up a secure workspace for your remote employees.

 

Our SOC Audit Is Complete!

We are proud to announce that we completed our SOC 2, Type 1 Audit and are compliant with the AICPA’s Trust Service Criteria for Managed Service Providers.

An independent auditing firm did a thorough examination of PCR Business System’s security policies and procedures and concluded that we have the highest level of controls in place to protect your company’s privacy and sensitive data.

(Click here for more information about SOC Audits)

WHY THIS IS A BIG DEAL

To start, it means that you can rest assured knowing that we will keep your network and data safe from cyber-attacks. With the growing trend of managed service providers being hacked, you can’t take any chances with your Information Technology Company.

As we discussed in the article “The Wild West of IT Services,” the IT industry is unregulated. This means no one is watching over IT Service Providers and no one is keeping tabs on how they store and protect your network and data.

Therefore, you must do your homework to make sure you are working with an IT Company who has the highest security controls in place.

We chose to have the SOC Audit to reinforce that we provide the best IT services in Akron and to show our partners that we will continue to take whatever steps necessary to keep their trust.

Email us to read the full report!

2020 Goal Planning Workbook

You don’t have to change everything all at once. If you focus on small improvements over time, these small goals (when aligned with your personal values) really add up and are likely to become habits that last a lifetime.

When I set my goals for 2019, I loosely used a process similar to what’s included in this 2020 goal setting workbook. This process helped me stay focused on the things that are truly important to me and not get sidetracked trying to change my entire life with a single New Year’s resolution. It was satisfying to look back at 2019 and see just how many of the goals I accomplished this year.

One of our core values at PCR Business Systems is our desire to grow. We sent this workbook to our staff to help them reach their own goals in 2020.

I’m also sharing this workbook with you in hopes that it helps you achieve your goals and appreciate all the accomplishments you achieve throughout the year. I hope you find value in it as I have.

Wishing you success in 2020,

Amanda Carroll

pcrbusiness.com

 

PCR Welcomes Angela Bush

We are extremely excited to add another talented member to the PCR Business Systems family. Angela is a strong, focused, intelligent, and positive person who will fit in great with our team and business partners.

Here are a few things about Angela to help you get to know her better:

  • Angela is rejoining the workforce after spending the past eight years raising her four children.
  • She loves spending time outdoors running, hiking, and biking with her kids.
  • Angela loves to bake! Hopefully that means more cookies in the office 🙂
  • She enjoys spending hot summer days relaxing at the pool.

A few Questions for Angela:

Q: What is the last film you saw at the cinema?
A: Frozen 2 (with my girls)

Q: What is your middle name?
A: Marie

Q: What is your favorite TV show?
A: I don’t watch TV.

Q: What do you usually have for breakfast?
A: Coffee, coffee, and more coffee!

Q: Favorite cuisine?
A: I like it all!

Q: What is your favorite chip flavor?
A: Chocolate chips :)!!!

Q: What is your favorite CD at the moment?
A: The Lumineers

Q: What car do you drive?
A: Honda Pilot

Q: Favorite Sandwich? 
A: Cheeseburger!

Q: What characteristics do you dislike in yourself (in others)?
A: I try and see the positive in myself and in others.

In businesses since 2004, PCR is the trusted Managed IT Provider for Akron area businesses. Learn more at pcrbusiness.com.

Building a Winning Team in Business

Last week, PCR Business Systems celebrated the work anniversary of the first employee we hired back in 2006. 13 years ago…it feels like only yesterday, while at the same time it’s crazy to think about how much has changed in the tech industry since then.

A quick search of “technology trends in 2006,” shows results that look like they’ve been pried from inside a time capsule. Hot new technologies at the time included: video on cell phones, video on demand, integrated digital media home entertainment systems, PlayStation 3, and wait for it… Twitter and Facebook (2006 was the year Facebook opened its platform to the public)!

Just imagine what things will be like 13 years from now?

As the owner of a technology solutions company I am surrounded by change. It is my job to stay up-to-date with the latest tech advancements, and to be one step ahead of cyber criminals that grow more sophisticated and more daring each day.

Yet despite working in an ever-evolving industry, one thing that has stayed relatively constant around PCR since we first opened our doors in Akron, Ohio is our team. I’m proud to say that my first hire from 2006 is still with the company today, and as a whole, PCR has had very little staff turnover since day one.

The PCR Team

Over the years I’ve learned a lot when it comes to hiring new employees and building a successful team, and I wanted to share some of these experiences with fellow small business owners looking to bring in new staff for their growing companies.

If you take one thing away from this article, I hope it’s this—the strength of your business lies in your team and their willingness to help one another, buy into your company culture and values, and excel not just for individual accomplishments but for overall team achievement.

The first thing I ask myself when hiring a new team member is “are they good with people?” There’s a misconception that tech workers spend all of their time behind screens and don’t need to be skilled in interpersonal communication.

In the managed IT industry, this just isn’t true. Our employees work directly with our partners, both on the phone and in person. It is imperative that they are easy to talk with and can form trusting relationships with our clients.

Employees must also be able to get along with their fellow co-workers. You simply cannot have any “loners” on staff looking to better themselves before bettering the team. I look for people with a past history of working well in a team environment and only hire people that I believe will fit our company culture.

I also seek out employees who are self-starters with a strong desire to grow both in life and in their careers. Is she able to perform jobs without constant direction or tasks being assigned? Is he determined to improve a process or take on responsibility without being asked to do so first?

First and foremost, NEVER overlook red flags. Past employee problems can and will become your problems eventually. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give someone a second chance, but do your homework and be certain they have resolved any issues that might negatively impact your team or your company.

Another lesson I’ve learned is that when an employee has clearly “checked out” or is becoming a problem, move quickly to get rid of them. Firing someone is not fun— there’s no sugarcoating it. But the longer you wait, the more damage will be done. I have let employees drag things down for too long before finally letting them go. I won’t make this mistake again.

Company volunteer activities- like packing lunches for the Akron Snow Angels Mission- are great team building activities.

Hire people not just because they have the skills and abilities you are looking for, but also because they will fit into your culture. If you’re looking to expand your operation it likely means you’ve had some success already and that you have a small team in place who works well together. You don’t want to bring in new staff who will disrupt the positive “vibe” you have already established.

Specific technical skills can usually be taught, so long as the employee is a self-starter who is willing to take on new challenges and dedicate the time and effort to learn the skills. So as I mentioned previously, make sure a new hire has a strong desire to grow their career.

Another tip, or warning, is to be extremely careful when promoting from within. A great lawyer can’t always run the firm, a great surgeon can’t always run a hospital, and a great technician does not always mean a great manager.

That being said, I always try and promote someone from my team first before bringing in an outside employee. It can be difficult for new hires to come in and adapt to your company culture and immediately grasp how things are done. Your current staff are going to respond much better to someone who already “gets it” rather than someone who tries to do it “their way”.

In addition, be aware of specific technical skills that may be lacking in your hire and put a training plan in place right away to get them to where they need to be.

Finally, remember that people who are not self-starters likely will never be. They may do great in a position that requires them to do a specific task (like answering phones), but they are unlikely to excel at an expanded role that requires them to go above and beyond.

Each member of the PCR team has a clear vision of how we should interact with our customers, our staff, our vendors, and our community. Every employee shares and understands our core value which is “to make someone’s day better.” This is how we approach interaction with everyone we encounter.

Our staff values organization and team performance over the individual. We support one another, and everyone on our team is willing to help out a co-worker even if it isn’t “their job” to do so. We also provide staff training, and pay for any outside training program that an employee is willing to undertake on their own time to improve their skills.

Celebrating birthdays and work anniversaries with office parties and lunches are a great way to boost team morale.

As a business owner, it’s important to communicate what you are trying to accomplish with everyone on the team and then reward them for their outstanding efforts. At PCR, we offer a bonus program tied to our quarterly goals, and we keep team morale high by celebrating birthdays and work anniversaries with lunches and office parties.

We also have a rule that don’t work with any business, regardless of the size of the contract, that doesn’t respect our company values or our team members. Don’t let customers have a negative impact on your team.

The key to any successful business is its staff. If you are looking to bring on new employees do your homework and make sure they will fit into your company culture.

Consider all options when hiring. Staff is a huge expense. Be certain your need for staff isn’t temporary, and that you can’t pay current team members overtime or offer additional incentives instead of bringing in someone new. That being said, if you are expanding and know that you will need to bring in new employees it’s best to hire before you need them. It generally takes six to 12 months for new staff to be able to provide independent value.

Finally, pay the people that matter! If a staff member leaving will negatively impact the performances of your business do everything in your power not to let them leave. Pay them an amount they won’t find anywhere else!

Contact Us

Get in Touch with Us
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

PCR Welcomes Lucas Wright

We are happy to welcome Lucas Wright to the PCR Business Systems Team. Lucas brings with him IT experience as well as enthusiasm and we’re extremely excited to have him as part of our team.

Here are a few things about Lucas to help you get to know him better:

  • Lucas recently got married!
  • He and his wife adopted a pup a few years ago. It was around Halloween and they named him “Zero” after the ghost dog from Nightmare Before Christmas which was playing at the time
  • He grew up in Tallmadge where he went to high school and was a member of the robotics club and student senate
  • He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Akron before shifting gears and going into IT
  • He enjoys playing PC and tabletop games
  • He recently completed Google’s IT Support Professional Program and has plans in the works to obtain several more IT certifications

Questions for Lucas:

Q: What do you usually have for breakfast?
A: Big bowl of oats

Q: What is your middle name?
A: Walter

Q: Favorite sport to watch?
A: Overwatch League (esport) and the Browns

Q: Goal you have for yourself?
A: My recent goal has been achieved in getting hired here at PCR. Next I want to accomplish getting my A + certifications, and then start working on obtaining other CompTIA certifcations (Network + & Security+) to really expand my knowledge and skillset.

Q: Pets?
A: My pup named Zero. Two cats Lily and Calvin

Q: What is your hobby?
A: PC and tabletop gaming

Q: What is your favorite restaurant?
A: Saffron Patch. It’s an Indian restaurant in the Valley.

Q: What is your favorite drink?
A: French press coffee or really any IPA

Q: What’s your favorite travel destination? (been there or want to go)
A: Cruises anywhere.

Q: What characteristics do you admire (in self or others)?
A: Definitely a good sense of humor! And a genuine sincerity in the way they talk or listen to you.

In businesses since 2004, PCR is the trusted IT provider for Akron area businesses. Learn more at pcrbusiness.com.