PTG specializes in the delivery of IT services with a focus on business continuity, virtualization, and storage solutions to support your line-of-business and communication applications. Our implementation services are centered around IT and business best practices, gleaned from years of working in the industry and from well-established vendor partnerships.

Why a ‘Social’ Stategy inside your Business Matters (part 2)

Submitted by: Reed Wilson , President and Founder of PTG, a Microsoft Tier 3 Cloud Champion, Cloud Accelerate partner and Cloud deployment partner providing technology solutions including Office 365, Dynamics CRM, Private Cloud, and IT Infrastructure to businesses and enterprises nationally.

I hate email.  I get too much of it .  More than 50% of it is stuff that may be important – but not urgent.  40% is stuff that is not important or urgent.  Maybe 10% is stuff that I really need to read and requires my action.  If you have email overload – implementing an enterprise social strategy via Yammer may be a good fit for you.

Ask yourself these questions:

1) How many times a day do I get an email that says: “There is cake in the conference room!”?  Or, “Today is the last day for open enrollment for benefits, if you haven’t signed up, do it today!”?

2) How many times a day to I find myself searching my Deleted Items folder (because that’s where you file stuff) for a ‘How to’ document, an update about a client that was sent to the whole company, a marketing piece, or whatever?

3) How many times is important company wide information sent to the entire company via email?  Only to find that a key staff member was on vacation and missed that communication?  Or a new hire started 3 weeks later and, as a result, never got the email?

Enter Yammer.  If nothing else, Yammer is a great way to reduce the amount of email that is passed back and forth inside your organization.  It’s searchable.  It’s as relevant as you want it to be and you can be as engaged (or unengaged!) as you choose to be – similar to Facebook or LinkedIn.

Yammer is built around the Group concept that you may already be familiar with from social sites like LinkedIn.  Inside our business we have the following groups:

1) All Company (everyone is in this group)

2) Sales and Marketing (by default, this is just for sales and marketing members but anyone can join)

3) Services (by default, this is just for services members but anyone can join)

4) Leadership Team (only members of the Leadership Team can be a part of this group)

What groups are relevant for your business?  Human Resources?  Clinical Research?  Tax Experts?  Development?  Training?  These are all groups we have seen (and helped) customers implement.

At PTG we started with a Core Team that represented the key functional areas of our business.  The Core Team helped shape the right Yammer groups for us.  This is a key step in the process – you have to involve your staff.  Social is, by the very definition, all about engagement.  If you are tempted as the administrator, CEO, VP of Sales, etc., to start creating groups to drive engagement – you are missing the point of social in the enterprise.

In our next post we will talk about ways to drive engagement across the enterprise.

Why a ‘Social’ Strategy inside your Business Matters

Submitted by: Reed Wilson , President and Founder of PTG, a Microsoft Tier 3 Cloud Champion, Cloud Accelerate partner and Cloud deployment partner providing technology solutions including Office 365, Dynamics CRM, Private Cloud, and IT Infrastructure to businesses and enterprises nationally.

Facts:

-Social Media is here to stay (even though, admittedly, I am not a fan)

-People love to tell/show other people what they know, what they are doing, and what they have

-Most people are willing to share just about anything with anyone who will listen

Given that these facts are here to stay – how can you harness them inside your business?  Several years back Microsoft purchased a start up called Yammer.  When people ask me what Yammer is – my answer is pretty simple: “It’s Facebook for your business”.  No, it’s not your external ‘brand’ Facebook site, it is literally your own little social media outlet that can be used to harness the three facts that I mentioned above to help you drive engagement, knowledge, and morale with your staff, key vendors, and key partners.

If you are an Office 365 subscriber – you have access to this service today for free.  Over the next few weeks we will be posting our internal social media strategy to this blog.  I hope you will take a few minutes to read how Yammer has changed our business for the positive and consider whether it’s right for your business.

Here’s the best part of all – Yammer is not a complicated solution like Exchange, CRM, SharePoint or ERP.  It’s elegantly simple and just requires a simple (yet controlled!) implementation and use framework to get the most out of it.

Stay tuned for more information on how we use Yammer internally and reach out to us if you’d like to have a deeper dive discussion on how you can use this free solution in your business.

Heartbleed…Vulnerability, not a virus!

Submitted by: Wendy Brooks, Marketing Director at Palmetto Technology Group, an Outsourced IT Support company headquartered in Greenville, SC.

If your brand has any online presence at all, then chances are you’ve heard of the major security flaw dubbed…Heartbleed. Or at least you should have heard about it. As data security breaches go, this one is being considered by many in our industry to be one of the worst security flaws the digital world has yet experienced. Two-thirds of the world’s servers are susceptible and the personal data of millions of users may be exposed.

The security vulnerability takes place in an encryption protocol known as OpenSSL, a technology that many businesses use to protect information such as usernames and passwords. For many consumers, Heartbleed means their credentials are at risk of being stolen. This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate these services and users.

Fortunately, this did not affect any Microsoft based sites. However, Google, Yahoo, Facebook and other tech companies scrambled this week to patch their services. If you’re a customer of one of these companies and you haven’t changed your passwords, you will want to do so. First, you want to be certain that the sites you access have been patched. I have provided the link to check this below. Remember,  using the same password for all sites puts you at a greater risk. We recommend using different passwords on  websites that have access to your finances!

Check for site patch here: http://filippo.io/Heartbleed

 

 

Office 365 for Non-profits: Low-cost technology for a major impact

Submitted by: Jim Nichols, Sales Executive at Palmetto Technology Group, an Outsourced IT Support company headquartered in Greenville, SC.

Office 365 for Non-profits: Low-cost technology for a major impact

As a salesperson for Palmetto Technology Group (PTG), I have the opportunity to work with organizations of all types. My clients include manufacturing plants, law offices, financial firms, medical practices, governmental agencies, and non-profit organizations including churches. Most of these organizations have on-premise IT infrastructure in place as well as an IT staff, or a contracted third-party like PTG, to administer this IT environment. However, this is not always the case with non-profits and churches due to cost. As such, many of them struggle to manage their server(s), desktops, and associated devices in a proactive way.

At a recent SCANPO convention, I was surprised to see how many non-profit organizations are still not aware of the cloud-based Microsoft applications available to them for free or drastically reduced costs. As a Tier 1 Microsoft Partner we’ve helped hundreds of clients evaluate and migrate to Office 365. This suite offers Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync in the cloud as well as access to Office Pro Plus for desktop installation. Organizations classified as 501 (c)(3) charities can apply to Microsoft for non-profit pricing which usually includes Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync for free. For a few dollars more per month, each user can download Office Pro Plus on up to five (5) devices each. This access to world-class communication and collaboration tools in a cloud environment can decrease their dependency on in-house servers and their associated costs. As a result, their limited resources can then be spent in support of their missions.

Are there any non-profit organizations that you support? If so, reach out and let them know about Office 365 for Non-profits.

Office for iPad–What you need to know

Submitted by: Reed Wilson , President and Founder of PTG, a Microsoft Tier 3 Cloud Champion, Cloud Accelerate partner and Cloud deployment partner providing technology solutions including Office 365, Dynamics CRM, Private Cloud, and IT Infrastructure to businesses and enterprises nationally.

By now you have heard that Microsoft has released an Office Suite for the iPad.  There has long been an Office Mobile for iPhone – but it was really meant for consuming data, not creating data.

You can get Office for the iPad from the App Store (links below).  Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote are each separate downloads – but once you download and open one, your iPad will ask if you want to install the other apps as well.

There are two important things you need to know:

1) Anyone can download each of the products to view and present (assuming you have an adapter that will plug into a monitor or projector) for free.

2) If you want the ability to create content on any of the products in Office for iPad – you will need an Office 365 subscription that includes the Office download. These are, most frequently, the Midsize Business SKU, the Home Premium SKU, the Small Business SKU,  the E3 Enterprise SKU and Education SKU (Note that installing Office for iPad counts as one of your 5 Office client installs.)

We will be posting another blog post in the coming days on how to download and configure Office on your iPad.

As promised – here are those links!

Word: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/microsoft-word-for-ipad/id586447913?mt=8

Excel: https://itunes.apple.com/app/microsoft-excel-for-ipad/id586683407

PowerPoint: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/microsoft-powerpoint-for-ipad/id586449534?mt=8

OneNote: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/microsoft-onenote-for-ipad/id478105721?mt=8

How do I modify the password settings for my users in Office 365?

Submitted by: Reed Wilson , President and Founder of PTG, a Microsoft Tier 3 Cloud Champion, Cloud Accelerate partner and Cloud deployment partner providing technology solutions including Office 365, Dynamics CRM, Private Cloud, and IT Infrastructure to businesses and enterprises nationally.

We often get the question: I don’t want to have to change my Office 365 password every 90 days – how can I change that?  There are two ways to accomplish this task.  One is through the Office 365 Admin Center GUI and the other requires the use of Powershell.

1) To modify the password policy via the GUI, open up the Office 365 Admin Center and go to Service Settings.  Once you get to Service Settings, look in the right hand section of the screen and look for ‘Passwords’.  Once you click on this – you will have the option to change the frequency that passwords need to be changed.  We recommend somewhere between 90 and 180 days.

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2) If you would prefer to set the passwords to never expire – you will need to use Powershell.  We won’t spell that out here – because Microsoft has a great article on how to accomplish this right here.

Security – Part 2 – Too Good To Be True

Submitted by: Andrew Atkins an Outsourced IT Support  Specialist with Palmetto Technology Group.

This post is part 2 of a blog sharing tips to be safer and less stressed with technology. It’s based on real examples where clients reached to PTG for emergency IT support. You can also read part 1 here.

If it looks too good, it’s probably fake:

Remember the old saying, “If something looks too good to be true, it probably is”? The same principle applies in the world of computer security. We’ve gotten past the emails of the deposed dignitary in the third world country who says if you just send him $200 to help him get out of exile and take back his kingdom he’ll send you untold amounts of money, all just as a way of saying thanks. Clearly that’s a bad idea right? But what about the big flashing red and green banner on a website that reads something along the lines of: ”Your computer is infected with 834093458 viruses! Click here to disinfect your computer now!” Yeah, you guessed it. That’s the carrot, then comes the stick when you realize that suddenly your computer is now so infected with malware it won’t even open up Internet Explorer without throwing half a dozen error messages. The really creative ones now are using the same color scheme that Microsoft has used for years, or stealing things like the FBI and CIA crests in order to make their malicious software look legitimate. (See Below). The moral of the story is to just stop and think. If you don’t do business with a certain company or you weren’t expecting an email from someone don’t open it and certainly don’t click on any attachments or links in the messages. That email that looks like it came from FedEx but is terribly misspelled and has even worse grammar in it is 99.99% chance a scam.

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While it is getting harder and harder to keep our digital lives secure there are just a few simple things that we can do that go a long way to helping. Here are three tips that, as an IT managed Services provider, we at PTG always recommend:

  • Keep your computers up to date with security updates and patches,
  • keep those passwords changed and complex (see previous blog post)
  • Never click on something you don’t recognize.

Security – Part 1 – Passwords

Submitted by: Andrew Atkins an Outsourced IT Support  Specialist with Palmetto Technology Group.

In today’s high-tech world it is becoming an ever increasing concern for all of us. From wondering if the NSA is recording your phone calls, emails, and Facebook activity, to the recent and disastrous news of the Target credit card scandal.  It is becoming clear that we are less and less safe in this digital world that we’ve created.  So here at PTG, because we are an outsourced IT support company, we’ve collected a few ideas to help us all be a little bit safer and a little less stressed with technology.

I know. It seems like any and everything in our lives has a password associated with it. A password is one of the simplest things you can do to keep those digital goons at bay. Especially a strong password. What’s that? You can’t remember your passwords? Sure you can. It just takes a little creativity to come up with a complex and strong password to help keep you safe.

5 examples that, as an emergency IT Support provider, we recommend our clients:

  • Throw some numbers, capitalized letters and special characters in there and it’s much harder for someone to figure it out. For example throw a loved one’s name and special date, (i.e. birthday, anniversary, first date) with a $, * or %. Perhaps the year, make and model of the car you drive.
  • Keep in mind that the longer the password and the more complex it is, the harder it is to crack.
  • If you keep the concept of a password simple to you with the suggestions I just mentioned, it’s much easier to change that password if you should happen to find yourself on the wrong end of a security breach.
  • Keep changing those passwords too. Every 90 days at minimum, every 30 days would be optimal.
  • Yes, it’s ok to write it down somewhere but keep that clue out of sight and once you have the password memorized lose the cheat sheet. No sticky notes on monitors or under keyboards.

Don’t be this guy. Stay tuned for Security – Part II.

Outlook IMAP setup messages marked for deletion

Submitted by: Amar Raina, an Outsourced IT Support Specialist with Palmetto Technology Group

As the manager for PTG’s Outsourced IT Support Team Blue, I keep a database of commonly asked questions. A lot of requests we receive are about Microsoft Office 365, and especially Microsoft Outlook. In this blog I will share a tip about how to hide Deleted Messages.

Issue: Outlook Users sees a strikethrough on their email message when choosing the Delete option.

Question: Why “Deleted” messages show up with strikethrough in my Outlook folder upon deletion?

One of the quirks of IMAP is that messages are neither deleted immediately when you press Del nor moved to a Trash folder but “marked for deletion” until you update the folder (usually by navigating to another folder).  IMAP is not a true Active Sync so it leaves the message in the users’ respective folder until they navigate away from it.

How to fix this issue:

To hide messages already marked for deletion in Outlook:

-      Outlook 2010/2013

  • Select  VIEW | CURRENT VIEW (drop down)  | ****
    • ****:  if you have IMAP set up you will see HIDE MESSAGES MARKED FOR DELETION
    • Would show up here if I had IMAP set up

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-      Outlook 2003

  • Select VIEW | ARRANGE BY |CURRENT VIEW | HIDE MESSAGES MARKED FOR DELETION

About Palmetto Technology Group

Palmetto Technology Group (PTG), an Office 365 Specialist, is headquartered in Greenville, SC. PTG has been recognized as a Microsoft Cloud Accelerate Partner, achieving Silver Messaging competency in Collaborations and Portals, as well as a Microsoft Cloud Deployment Partner. Building and maintaining networks and infrastructure for businesses, PTG serves as an outsourced IT support team. In addition to upgrading and enhancing technology solutions, PTG also offers basic computer repair services.

In addition to being one of the top 100 Microsoft Cloud Partners and the Cloud Partner of the Year for the East Region in 2013, PTG has received numerous accolades for its IT and cloud solutions, including Rookie of the Year (2013), MSPmentor’s Top 501 managed service providers and Cloud Champions Club (2012-2013).

To learn more about the cloud, Office 365 pricing, Office 365 trials, or an Office 365 demo, please visit www.office365migrations.com, www.palmettotg.com, our blog, or call 864-552-1291. You may also connect with PTG on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

 

What the iOS vulnerability really means

Hopefully by now you have updated all of your iOS devices.  Over the course of the last few days I have discussed this security update with lots of customers and thought I would share my perspective with you.

1) This security flaw basically means that any data that should have been sent securely was susceptible to interception.  It could be harmless data like your calendar information or more meaningful data such as banking data.

2) The update as of now only helps people who are using iPads, iPhones, or iPods.  If you are using a Mac – there is no fix yet.

3) Apple is really not doing a great job of letting people know how serious this is – given that over 421,000,000 iPhones have been sold since 2008 this is a huge, huge issue.  Microsoft, by comparison, does an excellent job of letting IT professionals know when out of band (very serious patches) are released.

4) Almost every SMB has a liberal BYOD (bring your own device) policy and most are unwilling to spend money to control and secure these devices.  This puts their business data at risk for breach (and their business at risk for a lawsuit).

5) This is just the beginning. Just as Windows XP was an extremely popular OS that was used by the masses – so goes the iPhone.  Just as Windows XP was an excellent target for hackers in its early days – so goes the iPhone.

There are ways you can protect yourself and your business from threats like these:

1) You should have language in your employee handbook that says that addresses employees who connect personal devices to work resources.  We suggest language that says you reserve the right to wipe the device (and its contents) at any time.

2) You should put together a mobile device management strategy for the multitude of devices that employees use to connect to work resources.  A good strategy will allow you at least pinpoint devices that are out of compliance.  A great strategy will allow you to push updates to connected devices.

3) Use this as an opportunity to discuss security with all of your employees.  You can have the best security systems in the word – but 9 times out of 10 good security starts with good education.

PS: If you are still running Windows XP – think about this: After April 15th Microsoft will no longer be releasing security updates for Windows XP.  So if you fast forward just 2 months and shift this security flaw from iOS to Windows – there would be no coming fix! Get those Windows XP machines upgraded to Windows 7 or Windows 8 ASAP!