Business Travelers Feel The Heat From Hotel Computer Virus

The next time you travel, be extra cautious when logging into the hotel Wi-Fi. That’s because hackers have developed a new virus aimed at business travelers in an attempt to gain access to corporate information. The virus, called “Dark Hotel,” tricks travelers into thinking they need to download updates to their computer in order to access the hotel Wi-Fi system. If the hotel guest downloads the virus, hackers are able to install a key-logging tool which can allow hackers to access passwords and other private information within an organization.

Hotel Wi-Fi Virus

According to CNBC, the most targeted business travelers by “Dark Hotel” are CEOs and high-level executives with access to a lot of information. Hackers are able to utilize Wi-Fi to determine how important certain business travelers are and are able to use their information to decide which travelers they want to target more readily. Hackers want as much information as possible, and once they have accessed the information they want, they remove their tools from the hotel Wi-Fi and disappear into the dark once more.

The hotel-related attacks have been generally located in Asia and Russia, but are starting to spread elsewhere. One of the main concerns, according to CNBC, is if the cyber attacks are backed by state entities. It has yet to be confirmed whether governments are actively supporting the “Dark Hotel” virus, it has not been eliminated from thought, either. CNBC notes many hotel chains in Asia and Russia have become targets for the virus, and it is not centralized among one hotel chain in one specific area.

As with any other computer virus, the best way to avoid it is to surf smart. Don’t just randomly download software unless you can guarantee it is necessary and from a legitimate source. If you are traveling and are unsure about a download to utilize a hotel’s Wi-Fi services, go to the front desk and ask if it’s really necessary. If you’re still unsure, try accessing the Wi-Fi without the download, and if you’re able to use it, just close the software download and don’t click on it again. Log into Wi-Fi systems the same way you travel: with light caution, but not full of fear.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015: The Upgrade Every Office Needs On Its 2015 Holiday Wish List

The release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 is just around the corner. Its slated for a December release and is set to enhance the way you currently utilize your CRM tools. You might have also heard the new CRM release referred to as “Vega,” but it is the exact same product. We are really excited about the new Dynamics CRM release and want to share some of the incredible features with you.
Microsoft Set To Release Dynamics CRM 2015
The new version of Dynamics CRM will update online and on-premises versions, CRM for Outlook, tablets and phones, and Microsoft Dynamics Marketing. If you’re an online customer, you can schedule the specific date for your Dynamics CRM update. However, the CRM administrator will need to approve the update before it can actually happen. If you’re still operating on a version prior to the Spring 2014 release, you’ll also receive features from that update in addition to the 2015 one. If you’re an on-premises customer, you will be able to get your update after the actual product is released in December. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 has great additions to the current CRM tools you already use:

  • Product family creation: You’ll be able to group products together and give recommendations to customers on related products. This will allow you better cross-selling opportunities.
  • Mobile platform improvements: You’ll be able to create your own dashboards and analytics, personalize home pages and navigate by hierarchy. There will also be increased support for times when tablet apps are disconnected.
  • Sales process upgrades: You’ll now be able to guide your sellers to the outcomes you want to have with better branching logic and sales processes. This means you’ll have a more impactful process through automation and enforcement of business rules on any platform.
  • Outlook improvements: With the update, you’ll be able to set up CRM for Outlook easily with a redesigned Configuration Wizard. The update will allow you to sync assigned tasked and appointment attachments. Administrators will be able to control synchronization between pairs of fields. This will allow you to be more confident about where your data is coming from and how it’s being shared.

We’ve just highlighted a few of the many upgrades with the new version of Microsoft Dynamics. If you’d like to read more about the updates, technical changes and keep up on the release date for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015, please click here.

How To Avoid Cyber Monday Scams And Keep Your Computer And Mobile Devices Secure For The Holiday Season

Cyber Monday is quickly creeping up on shoppers who want to grab the best deals possible from the favorite online retailers. But it also means cyber criminals are busy putting together their holiday lists of websites and shoppers to target.

Cyber Criminals On Cyber MondayPhoto credit: Vanderelbe.de / Foter / CC BY-SA

Each year, more and more shoppers fall prey to “unbeatable deals” that are actually false links for hackers to gain access to your information to do holiday shopping of their own. Pop ups looking like they are from popular online retailers like Amazon can show up promoting great deals on TVs and DVDs, but if they aren’t directly associated with the Amazon website, it’s likely the pop up has been designed by a hacker and is going to take you somewhere you don’t want to go. Luckily, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane provided some great tips to The Philadelphia Inquirer to help you avoid becoming prey to criminals on Cyber Monday:

  • Shop on websites you know are legitimate. Don’t go off grid for that deal that sounds too good to be true. In all likelihood it is too good to be true, and you’re putting your computer at high risk.
  • Review site privacy policies. Double check to make sure your information isn’t going to be shared and that you are shopping on a secure site. Secure sites will most of the time tell you they are secure during the checkout process.
  • Pay with a credit card. Under federal law, you can dispute credit card charges if they are not charges you have approved or made yourself.
  • Keep track of your order date and guaranteed delivery date. Federal law also mandates orders made by phone, mail or online be shipped on the date promised, or if no date is given, by 30 days after the order is placed.
  • Keep a close eye on your credit card and bank statements. If you made a purchase you are concerned about or think your information has been compromised, your statements are the first place you’ll notice something off kilter.
  • Social media scams. Hackers love to use fake Facebook and Twitter profiles in an attempt to trick you into clicking on their links to shop what you think is a legitimate site.
  • Don’t overestimate the safety of your mobile devices. While you hear most cyber scams targeting computers, your phone or tablet is no safer than your computer when it comes to sharing information or getting your information stolen.

By no means should you avoid shopping online altogether. As with anything else computer related, the best tip we can offer is to be smart and vigilant. Don’t just click on any and every link to see where you can shop the cheapest. You want to stick to giving gifts to your family and friends and not be paying for gifts for other families you don’t even know.

MDL Technology Enhances City Of Pleasant Valley’s IT Productivity & Decreases Downtime

Summary

The City of Pleasant Valley, Mo. retained MDL Technology, LLC, a Kansas City IT and managed services company, to provide managed network services for all computers and servers in all city departments and 24/7 support for the City, Court, Fire and Police departments. Georgia Fox, City Clerk, said, “Our previous provider was not responsive in a timely manner, and we had issues with our website. Since retaining MDL, our downtime has been minimal and we’ve received quick support when problems arise.”

City of Pleasant Valley Missouri

Why Pleasant Valley Retained MDL

Prior to working with MDL Technology, Pleasant Valley had a lot of problems keeping its website up and running. When they would contact tech support with their previous managed service company, they would not get a quick response.

Pleasant Valley’s previous provider typically worked after hours to maintain computer systems, which didn’t allow employees the ability to interact with IT support to understand and resolve issues. It could also be days at a time before IT would return support calls when problems would arise.

How MDL Assists Pleasant Valley

Fox said the biggest thing MDL helps the City with is being more efficient. Fox added, “Their staff helped us with a computer and server upgrade which went well and caused very little down time for us and our website.”

Mark Dryer, CEO of MDL, said, “MDL has a guaranteed one hour response time, but in fact typically returns calls or emails within 15 minutes.” This response time further helps the city to remain efficient and not have downtime when it comes to support systems.

Dryer noted how MDL further assists each department in Pleasant Valley individually:

  • Fire Department
    • Help maintain firehouse software
    • Implemented reliable cloud-based backup system that backs up data nightly
    • Prior to support from MDL, the Fire Department lacked a reliable offsite backup of their data.
  • Police Department
    • Provide 24/7 computer support to dispatchers, officers and detectives, who require immediate access to critical data during traffic stops and investigations
    • Assist in maintaining full-time VPN connection to the City of Kansas City, Mo. and the State of Missouri. The connection is used to gain access to criminal justice information
    • Assisted in setting up new digital fingerprint system
  • City Courts
    • Make sure computer systems are functioning properly during court hearings and procedures
    • Maintain servers, computers and communications through wireless networks
  • City Hall
    • Ensure accounting systems are functioning properly
    • Assist with maintenance of city’s website
    • Maintain recording systems and ensure functionality during board meetings
    • Assist city employees with annual city IT budgets

Success With MDL

Fox said the transition from to MDL Technology from the previous provider was smooth and caused little downtime. She’s already happy with MDL’s help with software the city already has. Fox said, “MDL has helped us through issues with other provider’s software. This saves us money in some cases where software providers charge on a per call basis for tech support.”

When asked if she would recommend MDL Technology to other businesses and government offices for managed services, Fox gave a resounding yes and said, “MDL has provided us with excellent service!”

Recommendations For Government Entities Like Pleasant Valley

Dryer said MDL’s experience in dealing with the various IT requirements and issues of the different departments of a local government helped them be successful with Pleasant Valley and can help with any group of government offices. Dryer said, “We understand the budget constraints of local governments and are able to maximize the ROI of each dollar spent. We come up with long term technology plans that can reduce the long term costs through utilization of some of the most current technologies.”

About MDL

MDL Technology is a Kansas City IT company that specializes in worry-free computer support by providing solutions for around-the-clock network monitoring, hosting, data recovery and off-site backup security. For 11 years, MDL has partnered with companies to design, build and install network systems to fit the needs of its organization. Associates are trained by MDL’s teams to maintain a smoothly running network for their companies.

About The City of Pleasant Valley, Mo.

Pleasant Valley is a community in Clay County, Missouri and is part of the Kansas City metropolitan area. It is a city of 2,961 residents and is approximately one square mile in area. City offices are currently located at 6500 Royal Street. The current Police Department consists of a Chief of Police, nine full-time and eight part-time officers, a communications section manager and eight communications officers. The Fire Department consists of a Chief and 40 part-time and volunteer firefighters, paramedics and EMTs.

Read more about Pleasant Valley, Mo. here.

MDL Technology, LLC

MDL Technology Social CRM Tools

According to blogger Michael Fauscette, Social CRM is the tools and processes that encourage better, more effective customer interaction and leverage the collective intelligence of the broader customer community with the intended result of increasing intimacy between an organization and its prospects and customers. Fauscette continues by saying the goal of Social CRM is to make the relationship with the customer more intimate and tied to the company by building a public ecosystem to better understand what they want and how they interact with the various company touchpoints like sales, customer service and more.

Fauscette admits his definition of Social CRM is quite wordy, but he does break it down into more accessible concepts:

Utilize crowdsourcing and listen to customer ideas. Don’t just assume you know what your customers want. Let them have a voice and share things with you to tell you how your interactions can be better.

 

  • Analyze what your customers tell you. Are there common themes where your Social CRM tools and techniques are failing? Or are there just one off cases of disgruntled customers to be handled in individual scenarios?

 

  • Actually use what your customers are telling you. Don’t give customers lip service and then expect them to take you seriously. Actually implement customer ideas and let them know they have helped you develop a better Social CRM game plan.

 

  • Empower your customers. Make them each feel special and like they are actually being treated intimately and one-on-one. Don’t simply lump customers with common complaints together and handle them as one.

More often than not, customers you engage with through Social CRM practices just want to be heard. And that’s what Social CRM is all about. It’s about adding the customer into the mix and allowing them to have a voice. You’ve probably heard someone say, “it’s not all about you,” which in most cases is true, but when it comes to Social CRM, that’s what it comes down to: being all about you [the customer].

Social CRM Tools

Social CRM Tools

MDL Technology can provide the Social CRM tools you need to interact with your customers in the best ways possible. We can help your team respond to customer concerns and leverage those concerns into successes for your Social CRM strategy. We can help you ensure your customers feel like they are part of the process and not just an afterthought.

Customer Relationship Management Marketing Tools

Without the proper Customer Relationship Management (CRM) marketing tools, your company will not be able to maintain customer loyalty. Too often, though, CRM marketing is a phrase thrown around without any knowledge behind it of what it really is. MDL can provide the tools you need for effective CRM marketing.

 

According to Forbes, most CRM marketing visions are far too internally focused and are not living up to their potentials because of that. Forbes lists one of the main reasons why CRM marketing fails is because companies allow CRM marketing tools to become long to-do lists without doing anything to benefit sales. In an effort to lessen the to-do list model of CRM marketing systems, MDL can provide you the tools your company needs to create, manage and execute campaigns. We can also help to ensure that your information is up to date and all tasks are assigned to the right people. By increasing your team’s productivity and offering dynamic collaboration, you can easily transform your marketing into a more viable option.

 

Mashable put together 4 great ways to improve all functions of your CRM tools, and we’ve springboarded off Mashable to go further in depth into ways MDL can help you provide the best CRM marketing platforms for you and your employees:

 

  • Your CRM marketing tools must be able to gather a large amount of information about your customers. You should know much more than just an order history. You need to know everything about your customers that any marketer would know.
  • Your tools need to be able to know your customers on a deeper level. You must be able to market to a customer knowing what step he or she is going to take next and not be a step behind.
  • Your systems should not limit the information available to its users. Your CRM marketing tools should give your employees with direct customer facing positions the ability to see a full picture of the customers they are marketing to. Don’t give your employees a half picture or a customer – let them see all information available at their disposal.

 

The biggest thing to remember about CRM marketing is to not get carried away. Make sure you are expanding your tools in a way that works for your company, employees and customers. Don’t throw all your eggs in one basket – gradually add and take the time to make sure your tools are implemented properly and in a way that add to your marketing plan and not take away from it.

MDL sales customer relationship management

Customers of most businesses are connected to social media 24/7, which means you have to be able to reach out to customers at all times of day and be able to make sales, no matter what the situation. MDL sales customer relationship management (CRM) provides your team the tools they need to streamline your internal processes and makes sales.

As the traditional sales cycle is a thing of the past, today’s technology demands your team to be dynamic and excel by connecting with customers and anticipating what your customers need before they actually ask for it.

According to Forbes.com, very few businesses are able to maximize their CRM systems because expectations are too high which results in disappointing results that provide very limited insight into your customer base. Forbes points out that your CRM system cannot be the omnipotent resource for all information about your customers. It can be a helpful tool to compliment your employees and current practices, but a CRM system should not be brought in to replace every system and strategy you currently have in place. Forbes recommends the following tips for getting the most out of your CRM system: keep things simple, focus on the system bettering your salespeople and select a system that enables salespeople to provide high quality interactions between your company and customers. Above all, don’t let your ambitions get the best of you when it comes to CRM systems. Look at what your employees are already doing and what system can be put in place to allow your employees to do their jobs better.

MDL can help your company optimize sales CRM by providing you with the following tools:

Easily manage leads, accounts and contacts with productive internal and external communities.

  • Allow your team to coordinate and collaborate with a mobile team via file-sharing tools. The mobile team is able to access schedules and other communications through telephones and tablets.
  • Track analytics and metrics analyses seamlessly whether you’re mobile and on the go or with offline account access.
  • Leave outdated data tracking behind and integrate social media and sales intelligence in order to keep conversations relevant to what’s happening in real-time.

The Magic Of Cloud Computing: Companies That Changed Their Businesses And How You Can, Too

When you think of a cloud and its association with your computer, your first thought is probably, “that thing my iPhone tells me never has enough room to back up my phone’s information on.” While Apple’s iCloud system is probably the most prevalent cloud in today’s lexicon, more and more companies are getting on the cloud bandwagon to improve their systems and overall businesses. Take a look at how some large companies have utilized cloud systems and how you can apply their successes to your small business.

The Cloud And Your Business
Photo credit: perspec_photo88 / Foter / CC BY-SA

Forbes recently profiled three businesses that have successfully used cloud computing to make their businesses exponentially better. The Hartford has updated its IT systems to include a private cloud which the company hopes to use in an effort to reduce costs, improve the overall availability of its system and to bring products to market with greater speed. Delhaize America, most notable for its operation of Food Lion grocery stores, is using a SoftLayer cloud computing system to study how weather affects sales at its stores in an effort to help make smarter decisions about store inventory. Pearson, an education company, is using its cloud systems to supply digital educational materials to fast growing markets like South Africa and China to alleviate the costs of having to have a physical presence in those countries.

According to Forbes, the three companies listed above are great examples of how you can use cloud systems and mold them to your business’ needs. Some companies like Delhaize start small while some companies like Pearson have big plans and maximize the use of their cloud systems. So how can you determine how much cloud space you need for your company? CircleID has some great suggestions on what to look for in determining the right cloud for you:

  • Growth – Don’t get more cloud space than you need in your current situation. You have the option of renting cloud space instead of just buying your own. That way you can more easily determine how much space you need from month-to-month and you are generally guaranteed the latest models. You won’t have to spend countless dollars upgrading your own cloud system and if you need more space at any given time, you can rent it.
  • Synchronicity – As business models grow, many companies are choosing to save money by not having huge office spaces and allowing employees to work from home. This requires there to be a cloud system in place for employees to share vital documents and information in a centralized location. This also allows mobile devices, tablets and computers to have access to the same information.
  • Specificity – Small businesses don’t necessarily want to spend the money for their own cloud system, but that’s where companies like MDL come into play. We can help you determine what services you need on your cloud and can help you decide whether to start small or go all out and let you specify exactly what you need from cloud computing services.

You don’t have to model your small business after the big dogs in order to succeed. That’s one of the great benefits of cloud computing models. You can decide price points, just what you need out of a cloud system and can opt for smaller or larger spaces on a cloud depending on your needs at any given time.

A Prescription To Avoid Computer Viruses

We’ve talked a lot lately about different kinds of computer viruses out there that could be lurking and waiting to attack your computer. From Ebola to Jimmy Kimmel, you never can be too sure of what’s safe and what’s dangerous. So we’ve compiled a list (a prescription of sorts) of ways you can be vigilant in keeping your computer, files and personal information safe.

How To Keep Your Computer From Becoming Infected
Photo credit: IntelFreePress / Foter / CC BY

According to AngiesList, the number one way you can protect your computer from hackers is to not use the same password over and over again. You’ve probably seen a lot about company security breaches lately – from Target to Home Depot and even Dairy Queen – which brings fear about the number of people affected by the breach. Change your passwords often, and if they are hard for you to remember, write them down in a safe location. Don’t use the same password for multiple sites, either. That makes it easier for hackers to find their way into many of your accounts.

Another way to keep viruses and hackers at bay is to always make sure your software, especially your security software, is updated. Sure, those windows about “software ready to update” and “please restart your computer” can be annoying, but they are nowhere near as annoying as what could happen if your computer becomes infected. Make sure to take the few minutes to download all software updates and restart your computer. Oftentimes the updates include patches that can protect you from new strains of malware and other viruses.

Don’t download illegal files, either. It might be tempting to download that Taylor Swift song you can’t get out of your head without paying for it. But hackers are betting on your willingness to test the boundaries of illegal sharing sites and are likely waiting with a virus attached to a song you download from a file sharing site. Your best bet is to either pay for the downloads you want or wait for the album to come out a buy a physical copy. It’s still a lot cheaper than having to buy a new computer or spend money to get your computer cleaned.

Above all, the best way to save your computer from being attacked by a virus is to be smart. Don’t click on things you aren’t familiar with and don’t let fake download or update popups trick you into clicking. Have a good quality security program running and when it tells you a site is dangerous, believe it. You don’t want to take any chances. And like we’ve told you before – if you get an email you don’t know about or that contains a suspicious link, it’s best to trash it. Browse the internet smartly and your computer will thank you for it.

Ebola Virus Could Be Coming To Your Inbox

You’ve probably heard about a fair share of viruses that could infect your computer just from clicking a link in your email – from sweepstakes scams to fake password reset links from online shopping sites. Now there’s even more reason to be mindful of the emails you open and links you click: an Ebola hack could be lurking in your inbox.

Ebola Could Infect Your ComputerPhoto credit: NIAID / Foter / CC BY

According to The International Business Times, a new strain of malware is being distributed by hackers in the form of an email from the World Health Organization, WHO. The email is being sent with headlines like “Ebola Survival Guide” and “Health Alert: Ebola is Spreading.” If you open the email, hackers can easily take control of your computer.

The International Business Times points out the emails do not actually have any tips on avoiding Ebola, a disease which has killed and infected many people in West Africa and a few people in the United States. Instead of tips, emails allegedly from the WHO contain a DarkComet Remote Access Trojan (RAT) virus. The virus can elude your computer’s antivirus software and can take control of your files, webcam, passwords and other information.

This is the latest in the trend of hackers using high-visibility events to try to infect your computer. Hackers have also targeted email inboxes recently using headlines associated with the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight 370 and the fighting going on between Ukraine and Russia.

The best way to avoid malware and other viruses is to be aware of emails you are opening. If you aren’t familiar with the sender, don’t open the email, and if you think a link looks suspicious, don’t click on it and delete the email.