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Business Owners! Here Are the Four Steps You Need to Know About Securing Your Firewall

Remember this commercial by Adee Plumbing and Heating with the ghostly voice-over that proclaims: “who knows what danger lurks in your plumbing?” An older gentleman (presumably “Adee” himself) walks onto the set and looks around at the studio sky facade. He calmly wags a finger at the camera and with an all-knowing grin responds, “Adee-doo.” The ghost-voice asks a few more questions, all conveniently ending with something that rhymes with “do,” to which, of course, Adee neither blinks nor feigns concern when he responds, “Adee-doo!”

I learned at least two things from this commercial. First, I learned that if I want people to never forget what I say, I need to rhyme! Second, I learned that probably anything from rust to grime to mutant species could be wedged and growing within my plumbing at any given moment. The latter was clearly a subtle fear-tactic imposed upon me and the rest of America by Adee and his ghostly friend. In the end, though, I believe Adee was at least right about the fact that the common-person with no time to fully examine their plumbing really can’t “know what danger lurks” in it.

Computer viruses, malware, and rogue software are the potential “grime and mutant species” able to come into the “plumbing” of your business’ network (you can trust me on that one — please don’t make me come up with a rhyme to convince you!). But instead of only telling you that we at Rezitech simply know what danger your business’s network is in, we want to give you four critical steps that YOU can take to ensure your business’s network is safe and secure.

1. Change the default firewall password

This may sound like a no-brainer, but, more often than not, the firewall’s default password (something like “12345” or “admin”) is never changed. This leaves your office, network, and sensitive files and data open and vulnerable to anyone with even the slightest bit of technical know-how. Remember back to the last time you had the internet installed at your business or home. Did you think to secure it with a password that only you could know? The Bank of Montreal didn’t think to change the default password on their ATM machines and the world laughed at them. Take the right step and change the default password.

2. Block all unnecessary traffic

A firewall’s primary function is to intelligently stop data that shouldn’t pass through, while seamlessly allowing all the “right” data to pass through unscathed. Just like your office has walls and doors to block access and allow access at the right places, you should set up “walls” in your firewall for what can and can’t get onto your network. Think of it like building a structure. Closed-off walls not only help with structural integrity, they also provide safety from the elements. Rain, snow, wind, etc. are unable to infiltrate a sound structure. Create your network with walls first, and then decide where you want to put in doors, windows, and other passageways for traffic to come into your network.

3. Regulate and guarantee where your bandwidth is used through “traffic shaping.”

Traffic shaping is a network management technique that determines exactly how much bandwidth specific users are allowed to consume while using the internet. Without some form of traffic shaping, one person in the office could potentially be dominating the network connection, resulting in decreased productivity for everyone else. Configure your firewall to act like a very smart traffic signal instead of the bumper-to-bumber Orange Crush Interchange.

4. Always back it up!

This one may also seem like a no-brainer, but everybody has either experienced or heard of someone else’s horror story of a hard-drive suddenly crashing. Today, most businesses operate online. If the firewall suddenly breaks or needs to be reset at your business, how can you ensure that your employees will be able to resume working quickly? If your firewall breaks, needs to be replaced, or simply needs to be reset, reconfiguring it can take hours (assuming you can remember how it was configured to begin with). The solution is to always maintain a recent backup so you can bring your business back online quickly and reliably.

Unlike the ominous advertising slogan of Adee Plumbing and Heating, Rezitech wants you to know not only what dangers threatens the safety of your network, but how to implement safeguards against them. Among many other things, we are experts in network reliability and security, so if you’re wanting a little peace of mind, give us a call. We’d love to perform a free assessment of your office’s current firewall.

For all whose routers and gateways we already manage, never fear. We have already implemented the above steps for you, and to top it off, we regularly maintain them. As leaders within office IT management you can rest assured that you’ll never have to worry about “bad plumbing.”

6 Ways to Increase Productivity Using Outlook

Most people know that Outlook is used for email; however, it also has some other great features and tools that you might not be using.  Below are 6 ways to make Outlook more useful for boosting your productivity.

1. Share your calendar with a co-worker

You might already be using Outlook’s Calendar to track your personal calendar, however can also share it with co-workers.  Under Calendar there is a Share section with 3 options:

FH Share Calender 1

  • Email Calendar – Send all or a portion of your calendar to another person
  • Share Calendar – Grant someone access to your calendar within Outlook
  • Publish Online – Make your calendar viewable on the web

Using Calendar Permissions you can grant different levels of access allowing people to create, edit, or merely view calendar items.

2. Assign a “to do” to a co-worker

Assigning someone a task verbally or through email is great, but with Outlook you can also assign as well as track tasks. Choose File, New, then Task Request.  Once there, you may then assign a task, set the Start Date and Due Date, keep a copy of the task for yourself, and receive notification when tasks are completed.

3. Invite someone to an event or meeting

You can also use Outlook’s Calendar to schedule one time or recurring meetings using the New Meeting feature.  The benefit of this feature is that everyone you invite can reply with their availability and everyone can stay updated on the meeting status without you sending reminders.  Choose Calendar, New Meeting, and then the Scheduling Assistant to create events and invite people.

4. Schedule meeting rooms

FH New Meeting

After you’ve set up a meeting, you can also use also Outlook’s Scheduling Assistant to view the availability of meeting rooms and arrange meeting space.  This cuts down on double bookings and gives you more confidence when scheduling meetings and events.

FH Create New Folder 15. Declutter your Inbox

If you get a lot of email, you might feel overwhelmed by the volume of messages in your Inbox.  Thankfully, Outlook is designed to help you tame your overflowing Inbox.  Create folders and sub-folders by clicking the Folder tab, and choosing New Folder.  Outlook’s Rules Wizard is a handy tool for creating Rules which automatically deliver messages into assigned folders for certain people or companies.  Messages can also be sorted by keywords or phrases found in the subject lines.  Or you can manually sort and group messages into conversations.

6. Embrace templates

Do you feel like you send the same messages over and over? With Outlook you can create template messages for routine tasks like sending invoices.  All you need to do is create a new message and save it as a template with File, Save As, Outlook Template.  Then give your template a name and save.  The next time you need to send an invoice, choose Home and look for the New group.  Select New Items, More Items, Choose Form to find and open your template.


Following these Outlook tips can help you and your co-workers to work smarter become more productive.


Sensitive Information, Computer Hackers, and Firewalls

Every day, thousands of computer hackers around the world spend hours and hours looking for openings into unprotected computers and networks.  If you are a small business owner or are a part of a smaller company, you may not see yourself as a target.  You might think, ‘We’re small; why would hackers come after us when they can go after big corporations?’

The reality is that computer hackers aren’t picky; they’ll attack any unsecured computer or network just to see what they can find.  If your business’ hardware is not protected by a firewall against these types of intrusions, then you are already vulnerable.  And if you have an unsecured network that hasn’t been hacked yet, then you are only tempting fate.


What are these hackers looking for?  Once they find an open door into an unprotected network,   they can access whatever you have on file – employees’ personal information and social security numbers, credit card numbers, banking information, or any other sensitive information that they can exploit.

[Read more…]

Face to Face, Phone, Email, or IM? Reevaluating Intra Office Communication

When you work with other people, interruptions happen. Having worked in numerous settings with a variety of people, I have experienced this first hand many times. One person has a question about a project. Another person asks the same question they asked me yesterday. Someone else just wants to chat. Still another person wants to know what I thought of last night’s game. Before you know it, I’ve wasted half an hour (or more!) and have forgotten what I was doing.

If you have lots of time to kill (hah!), then interruptions might not matter to you. But for those of us that have to get things done and meet deadlines, most of these interruptions are unwelcome. Even when they deal directly with your work they still disrupt your thought processes and workflow.


So what can we do to manage these interruptions? Are there alternative ways (and possibly better ways) to communicate things that are important, but not urgent? Can we teach people to gauge which messages are urgent, which are important, and which are neither? Would that change our communication strategy?

[Read more…]

There’s a lot of negative hype around Facebook Messenger, but there shouldn’t be.

There has been quite the hoopla over Facebook’s new Messenger app. The online community has accused Facebook of potentially stealing information, spying on users, and overstepping the boundaries they should be respecting.

While it doesn’t surprise me that the Internet is in an uproar, I do think that people are overreacting.

Android versus iPhoneAndroid Permissions for Facebook Messenger

First off, the complaints are almost all related to the Android version of the app. On an Android phone, the operating system will prompt a user for all the needed permissions right when the app is first installed. This means that a user will be faced with a prompt asking for all sorts of access to a user’s phone before they get to use the app at all. This can be disconcerting, mostly because there is no context for understanding why the app wants these permissions.

iPhone permissions for Facebook MessengerContrast this behavior to the iPhone experience. The operating system doesn’t ask the user to set the app’s permissions until the app needs them. When the app is first launched, there is no scary alert asking for all sorts of access. The user isn’t prompted to give the app permission until the app actually needs it. For instance, when the user tries to take their first picture, the app asks for permission to use the camera. When the user tries to record their first voice message, the app asks permission to use the microphone. Since the app asks for permission right when the user needs it, the user has a better context for understanding why the app needs to access their phone, camera, microphone, pictures, SMS, etc. All this leads to much less confusion.

App Permissions

Modern phone operating systems include protections to help prevent an app from accessing parts of the phone that are irrelevant to the app. For instance, a tic-tac-toe game shouldn’t need to access your camera or microphone. The phone operating systems will prompt the user for all the permissions that the app is asking for, and this allows the user to make an informed decision as to whether they trust the app or not.

Imagine installing an app you’ve never heard of that says it’s an alarm clock, but it asks for permissions to the camera, microphone, location tracking, and phone call history. You’d be wise to research a little before allowing the app to run and use these permissions. On the other hand, imagine installing an app you’ve never heard of that says it allows you to send audio messages to family, and it asks for permissions to use your microphone. This makes sense, so you’d probably allow that and not think about it again.

These things are referred to as app permissions. This is when the phone prompts the user and asks if the app can perform certain actions. The important thing to remember is that just because you give permissions for an app to (for instance) “use the camera anytime without my further permission” doesn’t necessarily mean the app is going to spy on you. It just means the app will be able to take photos without the phone’s operating system double-checking with you.

Imagine if you tried to snap a quick photo, but were interrupted by the phone saying “This app wants to take a photo. Is that ok?”. You’d probably be annoyed that you’re missing the moment you’re trying to capture. Instead of the phone prompting you each time you try to capture a photo, it simply asks you up-front if you’re comfortable with the app taking photos in general. That way, the app can snap the photo as soon as you ask it to.

Once you understand this, it’s not uncomfortable to imagine the Facebook Messenger app needing to use your camera (to send a picture), microphone (to send a voice message), SMS messages (to send a text message), etc.

App Terms of Service

I think it’s important to understand the difference between an app’s permissions and its terms of service.

The permissions an app requests when it’s first installed setup a sort of technical “fence” in which the app lives. The fence is the phone’s security measures to be sure the app uses only the phone features that it’s allowed to use.

The terms of service for an app, on the other hand, is the legal agreement entered into between the user and the app publisher. These dictate what the app can do with the data collected by the app. For instance, an app might ask for permissions to use the camera, but the terms of service may state that the app cannot use those pictures for commercial gain.

The Facebook Messenger App is one of several gateways to the Facebook platform. You can also access Facebook on their website, their mobile app, and through third party apps. All the parts of the Facebook platform are governed by the same terms (read them for yourself here). Just because their app asks for technical permissions to use your phone doesn’t mean the app is going to spy on you. They still have to abide by their legal agreement with you.

Don’t Be Afraid

You shouldn’t be afraid to install the new Facebook Messenger App. Although I may be in a minority on the Internet (probably because fear gets clicks), there are plenty of others who agree with me (here, here, and here).

Top Advantages of Voice Over IP for Small to Medium-Sized Businesses

Many business owners tell us they’re confused by new technologies like VoIP. In essence, VoIP uses the internet to streamline both internal and external communications. Besides its ease of use, there are many attractive advantages why small and medium sized businesses should consider making the switch to VoIP. Over the past few years, voice over ip technology has progressed by leaps and bounds; making it one of the most desirable communication solutions currently available.

VoIP has a wide range of advantages over traditional switchboards sans complicated equipment and networking. For small and medium sized businesses, VoIP has vastly improved in-house as well as external communications. With a growing need for usable, mobility enhanced communication platforms for the mobilized steadily increasing, its easy to see why VoIP has taken the forefront as the most comprehensive and affordable solution. 

Top Advantages of VoIP

  • Keeping Your Top Earners Mobile: In today’s market your mobilized workforce must have the tools they need to keep in touch and gather valuable business intelligence. Your VoIP services can be used from multiple office locations as well as handheld devices all from the same localized platform without sacrificing any VoIP package features.
  • Enhanced, Professional Performance: Depending on which type you choose, VoIP features can include auto attendant, virtual conferencing, email to text transcription, and music on hold. Whether you employ 1 or 100 employees, your communication features will be top notch.
  • Detailed Reporting: Analytics are the lifeblood of any industry. With VoIP you can monitor and analyze call information and reports.
  • Adaptability: The ability to adapt to any situation is crucial to your business’s continued success. In the event of an emergency, you can stay connected with staff and customers from any area with an internet connection. This can prove a serious asset during turbulent times.
  • Cost Effectiveness: One of the best advantages of VoIP implementation includes its ease of use and installation. In most cases, you will be able to use your current office equipment to run your VoIP communication systems. 

If you are interested in learning more about how your company can benefit from VoIP, please contact the experts with Rezitech, Inc.

Get your head in the Cloud.

Smart is the key to any business strategy, but smart is not what every business does. Smart means trusting a service with a proven background to save and protect your data in the Cloud. Smart does not mean trusting the office “tech gofer” to save and protect all of your work. So why are so many companies not doing things smart?

Choosing just any company for your data needs, simply wont work. There are several key features one should look for when picking a company that offers to host your data to the cloud. More and more people are switching to cloud based hosting, it is becoming the way any company should do business.

Find a company with minimum downtime. Minimum downtime is not standard with every company that offers to host your data in the cloud. Some do not guarantee it. How will you do your work if the network goes “down”? That is a question that should be important to you. Remember the emphasis on smart. Smart means picking a company that offers to host your data in the cloud with reliable “up time”.

24/7 support takes the worry off of you. Similar to the importance of dependable systems, 24/7 support means if there ever is a problem you can reach a person who will help you. We all know the frustration. We call, and call, and sometimes no one answers. When picking a company that offers to host your data in the cloud, you should not have to worry about round the clock tech support. It should come with it.

Insurable services, means your data is protected. Disasters and problems happen. Usually without warning. No company on this planet can prevent 100% of all possible problems. That being said, you would think that all companies would offer to insure your data against loss. But you would be surprised to learn that not all of them do. Having the option to insure your data is also something that is smart to do.

Dependable customer service. Customer service is as important to you as it is to your customers. Having someone there who is helpful and does not treat you as a bank account figure is something that can be appreciate greatly. Having a person there to walk you through any problem you have, every question, every idea, is the core of great customer service. You are sending your data to a server somewhere. Knowing you can talk to someone who understands that, is important.

Companies that offer to host your data in the cloud, are becoming the smart, standard solution for business. What we offer surpasses the standard.

Simply backing up isn’t any good, and you actually need a disaster recovery plan. Here’s why.

Perhaps, like many people, you’re still manually backing up your data. Perhaps you believe that this is all you need to do in the event of a disaster. But there are several reasons why just backing up isn’t any good, and you actually need a disaster recovery plan.

Disasters come in all shapes and sizes. There are the major ones such as a fire or burglary. And there are the minor ones such as a virus, a hard drive failure, or even an employee error. Regardless of the disaster, though, it generally means that not only is your data lost, but your infrastructure is lost, too. Manually backed up data is only as current as the last time you backed it up. And you can’t access that data without your infrastructure.

A good disaster recovery plan focuses first on rebuilding infrastructure. This means either securely backing up the entire server — including data and email, server settings, configuration, user names, passwords, desktop wallpapers and more — or, in some cases, it means clear documentation of the settings needed to quickly restore the system. Back ups are done automatically and continuously so that your data and your system are always up to date.

Planning for a disaster means ensuring that your infrastructure can be rebuilt quickly and your entire system can be back online just as it was before. Don’t leave your business to chance and don’t leave yourself open to liability due to lost customer data. Let us help. Contact us for more information about disaster recovery and business continuity planning from Rezitech.

How Cloud Services Can Help Small Business Owners in Orange County

photodune-2620182-cloud-xsOwning a small business comes with many responsibilities. One of the biggest responsibilities you have, is how you handle your system and data updates and security. Many small businesses in Orange County are turning to cloud services for their business needs.

Cloud services can help your business in several key areas.

Mobility- With cloud services you can access all of your companies data from your mobile device, home computer, or a laptop while you are on vacation. You have access to your information anytime you need it.

Custom built for your business- You are in control of how the system is set up. Our IT professionals will design the system per your companies needs. As your company grows, updates can easily be made to allow your business to grow.

Ease of updates- All updates are done through the server. Each computer that is set up on the system will automatically be updated. This eliminates the need to update and license each computer one by one, and will save you time and money by eliminating the downtime associated with these updates.

Security- All information stored on the cloud is secured, ensuring that your sensitive company data is safe. In addition, with your information stored on the cloud it also protects your data should a natural disaster or fire occur. In the event of a disaster, you would still be able to access the company data through the cloud.

Collaborate with Microsoft Outlook and Exchange- Easy access to clients, contacts, calendars, and email using Microsoft Exchange. Then manage your sales, marketing, and customer service by using Microsoft Outlook.

We understand the importance of growing your company. Our experienced team will help get you up and running, giving you more time to focus on your business. For more information about cloud services, please contact us.

Outsourced IT: You Stick To Your Game, We’ll Stick To Ours

TeamWithout a doubt, technology can make your life and your work easier. However, unless you own a technology business, you probably don’t want to think about it too much. You certainly don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to troubleshoot and maintain something that is supposed to make your life easier. That’s where outsourced IT services come in.

Since 2002, Rezitech has been providing reliable IT support and managed services to small businesses in Southern California. Technology is our job, and we focus on it 24/7 so that you don’t have to. Think of how much more proficient your business can be if you don’t have downtime due to tech issues. Think of how much peace of mind you could gain by knowing that your data and network are safe, and your technology is running smoothly. Think of how nice it would be to simply focus on the business you’re passionate about while knowing that someone who is equally as passionate about your technology is focused on that.

Rezitech will work with you to develop tailor-made technology solutions for your business. Some of the services we offer include managed services, business continuity planning, IT consulting, cloud services, VoIP, virtualization, email and spam protection, hardware as a service, and hosted solutions. If your budget is tight, our cutting edge flat-rate per-month billing contracts allow you to plan out your exact information technology expenditures.

Regardless of which solution or billing plan you choose, you can feel good about Rezitech’s dependable consultants and engineers and our round-the-clock technical support. You stick to your game, we’ll stick to ours. Together, we’ll make success.