Author Archives: Charlotte Piotrowski

Charlotte attended LSU, received her undergraduate degree from UNO and graduated from Loyola University School of Law. After litigating for ten years, she turned her attention to other pursuits. She is a freelance writer and editor and has published magazine articles and an award-winning book of inspiring quotations and commentary. She is happily married to the head Nerd, Darrin, with whom she enjoys cooking, traveling, cheering on the Saints, and raising their four cats.

Website cloning: Don’t fall for that trap!

  Website cloning: Don’t fall for that trap!   Have you watched one of those horror movies where the something impersonates the protagonist only to wreak havoc later? Well, website cloning does the same thing–to your business–in real life. Website cloning is one of the most popular methods among scammers to fleece you of your money. As the name suggests, the cybercriminal first creates a ‘clone’ site of the original one. There can be a clone of any website, though retail shopping sites, travel booking sites and banks are the favorites of cybercriminals. The clone site looks exactly like the original one, barring a very miniscule change in the url. Next, they will create a trap intended to get unsuspecting victims to visit the cloneRead Full Article


BYOD=Bring your own disaster?

  BYOD=Bring your own disaster?   Workplaces today have changed. They extend beyond the working hours, beyond the cubicles. Whether you are commuting to work or even vacationing, chances are you or your employees take a break from the break to reply to those important emails that require ‘immediate action’. Plus, there may even be employees who are not even on the same continent as you. What does all this mean for your business in terms of IT security? Does BYOD translate to bring your own disaster to work? This blog explores the risks of BYOD culture and offers tips on how you can avoid them. When you adopt a BYOD culture at your business, you are opening the virtual floodgates to all kind ofRead Full Article


5 Ways SMBs Can Save Money on Security

5 Ways SMBs Can Save Money on Security   Small-to-medium sized businesses and large enterprises may seem worlds apart, but they face many of the same cyber-security threats. In fact, in recent years, cyber-criminals have increasingly targeted SMBs. This is because it’s widely known that SMBs have a smaller budget, and less in-house expertise, to devote to protection. Thankfully, there are several things SMBs can do today to get more from even the most limited security budget. And, no, we aren’t talking about cutting corners. Far too often, SMBs cut the wrong corners and it ends up costing them more money in the long run. It’s a matter of taking a smarter approach to security. Here are five smart approaches to take Prioritize – Every businessRead Full Article


Get smart about smartphones

  Get smart about smartphones   With flexible working schedules, remote teams and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies in force, it is has become commonplace for employees and business owners alike to use smartphones for work purposes. A quick reply to an email, sharing that sales presentation, glancing over that vendor proposal–all on a smartphone–is something we all do on a daily basis. But with this convenience comes great security risks.   This blog discusses what they are and how you can avoid them.   Mobile devices are lost/stolen more easily   Unlike desktop computers, your smartphones and tablets are easier to steal. O, you may even forget yours at the restroom in the mall or in the subway, and along with it, goesRead Full Article


Four Key Components of a Robust Security Plan Every SMB Must Know

    Four Key Components of a Robust Security Plan Every SMB Must Know   Most businesses are now technology dependent. This means security concerns aren’t just worrisome to large corporate enterprises anymore, but also the neighborhood sandwich shop, the main street tax advisor, and the local non-profit. Regardless of size or type, practically any organization has valuable digital assets and data that should not be breached under any circumstances.   This makes it the responsibility of every business, especially those collecting and storing customer/client information, to implement a multipronged approach to safeguard such information.   Yes, we’re looking at you, Mr. Pizza Shop Owner who has our names, addresses, phone numbers, and credit card information stored to make future ordering easier and hassle free.Read Full Article


More Hackers Targeting SMBs

Many SMBs don’t realize it, but the path to some grand cyber-crime score of a lifetime may go right through their backdoor.  SMBs are commonly vendors, suppliers, or service providers who work with much larger enterprises. Unfortunately, they may be unaware that this makes them a prime target for hackers. Worse yet, this may be costing them new business.   Larger companies likely have their security game in check, making it difficult for hackers to crack their data. They have both the financial resources and staffing power to stay on top of security practices. But smaller firms continue to lag when it comes to security. In many cases, the gateway to accessing a large company’s info and data is through the smaller company working withRead Full Article


IT Disaster Recovery: Human Error

Human error accounts for the highest percentage of  IT disruptions and emergencies requiring disaster recovery. That’s right, “Hurricane Human,” should be your top concern when considering the proper disaster recovery plan for your business. Did you know that your employees often unwittingly ‘help’ cybercriminals gain access to your system? Often, employees play a part in compromising the security of your IT infrastructure, even without them realizing it. For example- When your employees use their own devices for work purposes such as to access emails, to connect to work servers, or to work on office files. In the event their device gets infected by a malware or hacked, the virus or the hacker gets access to your data as well. Your employees may put your networkRead Full Article


Don’t make these IT mistakes as you grow!

Don’t make these IT mistakes as you grow! During the course of IT consultancy, we come across a lot of clients who are not happy with the way their IT shaped up over the years. They feel their IT investments never really yielded the kind of returns they expected and come to us looking to change the trend. When analyzing the reasons for the failure of their IT investment, here’s what we come across most often. Not prioritizing IT This is the #1 mistake Small-Midsize Businesses (SMBs) make. When focusing on growing their business, most SMBs think marketing, sales, and inventory, but very few consider allocating resources–monetary or otherwise towards IT. IT is seen as a cost-center, rarely prioritized and any investment in IT isRead Full Article


Tech Tips for Small Business Owners

As someone running a small business, you probably have a lot on your plate. You are the core decision maker, responsible for growing your business, keeping your clients happy, and frequently even getting a lot of the work done. Often, when you have so much going on, one area that gets overlooked is IT. When you are so busy looking into other things, the start of IT issues may slip your watchful eyes. In this blog, we discuss the IT red flags that you need to watch out for. Of course, if your business’s IT is managed by Rent-A-Nerd, Inc., we are able to prevent most issues and are alerted to any before they become a problem, so that we can quickly address them. ReadRead Full Article


Tech Tips for Seasonal Staff

Hiring seasonal staff? Here are a few things to consider from the IT perspective In many industries, there are seasonal spikes in business around specific times. For example, CPAs/Accounting firms, though busy all year, generally see a spike in business around the time of tax planning, IRS return filing, etc., the retail industry sees a boom around the holiday season, and so on. During such peak times, it is common practice in the industry to employ part-time seasonal staff to meet the immediate resource needs. While this works well in terms of costs and for handling additional work/client inflow, this poses a few challenges from the IT perspective. In this blog, we explore those challenges so you know what to watch out for before bringingRead Full Article


Stay Cyber-Safe When Shopping Online

As the holiday season kicks off, shoppers everywhere are more and more frequently opting to use their credit cards from the comfort of their homes or offices, taking advantage of online deals. Since the shopping days known as “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” are upon us, we thought we’d take a moment to provide some safety tips: 1. Careful with the Clicks We all receive more email promotions than usual around this time of year, and we must all use a little extra caution before clicking those links to promotions! You’ll also be tracking all the incoming shipping notifications for your time-saving online orders, and though you may have dodged the crowds, try to stay vigilant as you sort through those shipment and delay notificationsRead Full Article


4 Essential Pieces to Any Small Business BYOD Strategy

It’s hard to remember a time that  kids at the bus stop didn’t have cell phones and the mobile device strategy of many businesses was typically “you’ll take what you’re given, refrain from using it for any personal use, and the data may be scrubbed clean whenever we please.”   We’ve come a long way.  Today, businesses really have no choice but to let employees use personal devices for work purposes.  Blurred lines now make it difficult to differentiate between what is professional and what is personal.  A company or organization may partially pay for an employee’s tablet computer or smartphone, but that same device is used to upload photos to Facebook or download torrents of this season of Game of Thrones.   Naturally, securityRead Full Article


IT Management for Law Firms

Local small and mid-sized law firms often have difficulty managing their computer IT network. Despite being as technology dependent as large, national/international firms, local firms have tighter budgets and fewer resources to devote to IT management. This can lead to a more reactive “break-fix” approach to their technology that is not at all an ideal solution. Here’s what break fix most often leads to. If the burden rests on the shoulders of hourly or salaried in-house IT support, and they’re too busy putting out fires all day, then their skills and talents are essentially wasted.  If there is no in-house tech support, and many law firms don’t have even one onsite “IT guy”, they are commonly taken for a ride by some of the moreRead Full Article


IT Managed Service for SMBs

 Understanding Managed IT Services and How They Benefit SMBs   No doubt you’ve heard, or you’ve at least read about, the benefits of managed services as it relates to maintaining your technology. Managed services refer to clearly defined outsourced IT services delivered to you at predictable costs. You know the exact IT services you’ll be getting and what you’ll pay for them. There is no surprise sky-high bill for services rendered.    How Managed Service Providers Work   Managed service providers (MSPs) use remote monitoring and management tools to keep an eye on the performance and overall health of the IT infrastructure that powers your business operations. Your MSP should provide 24/7 remote monitoring, which will alert them to any issue with your servers, devices, hardwareRead Full Article


Managed IT Services for Your Business

We understand that business owners aren’t always sure that managed IT services are right for their business. So, they rely on calling their “computer guy” only when things go wrong. We’ve provided some questions to consider so that you can better understand why managed IT services provide a much more stable and secure computer network for businesses of all sizes. Plainly put, you can save money and still get top level IT services from a managed services provider such as Rent-A-Nerd, Inc.    Is my business large enough to even consider managed services?   The truth is, any company, regardless of its size or the number of people employed, will run more efficiently if its technology is monitored, maintained, and managed properly. These are facets ofRead Full Article


Breaking News: Downtime Kills Small Businesses

Downtime is bad news for any business whether big or small. A recent two-hour New York Times’ downtime occurrence sent Twitter ablaze and their stock price plummeting. Google going down for one to five hours resulted in lost revenue up to $500,000 and decreased overall web traffic by 40%. While the hourly cost of downtime for a small-to-medium sized business won’t be nearly as large as that astronomical Google figure, downtime is often more detrimental to smaller companies. Smaller enterprises are more susceptible to downtime and are neither large nor profitable enough to sustain its short and long-term effects. Downtime Leads to Unhappy/Unproductive Employees   Even the happiest of employees become dissatisfied when they can’t perform basic day-to-day job functions or properly service customers or clients. While someRead Full Article


Business Continuity: What Every Business Owner Should Know

Technology is full of difficult jargon. To further complicate things, certain terms are often used in a different context between one publication or service provider and the next. An example of this is the usage of backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity. These terms are commonly used interchangeably, often resulting in confusion. In an effort to alleviate some of this confusion, let’s describe each physical process. You will see an overlay among all three, although they are each different processes. Backup – In IT lingo, the most basic description of backup is the process by which your data, as in files or programs, is copied from its original location to another. The purpose of this is to ensure that the original files or programs are retrievableRead Full Article


Business Continuity for SMBs

 8 Cold Hard Truths for SMBs Not Worried About Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity   The foundation of any successful business continuity solution is the ability to retrieve data from any point in time from anywhere. When the topic of data recovery and business continuity comes up, many decision makers at smaller businesses and organizations think that they cannot afford to put enterprise-level protections into place.   Further, so many people think bad things only happen to other people. Just because we hear about a fatal car accident on the morning news, doesn’t mean we fixate on that news when we ourselves get into a car and drive to work. So no matter how many times the owner or executive of a small to midsize businessRead Full Article


Data Loss Tech Tips

Small business owners are often worried about data loss. Rightly so, because data loss has the potential to wipe out a business. We have identified the most common forms of data loss so you can see how they fit into your business and assess the risks related to each of these pitfalls.   1. Human Error – Human error – by way of unintentional data deletion, modification, and overwrites – has become much more prevalent in recent years. Much of this is the result of improperly managed virtualization technology. While virtualization and cloud computing have enabled improved business continuity planning for many businesses and organizations, humans must still instruct this technology how to perform. The complexity of these systems often presents a learning curve that canRead Full Article


The Benefits of an IT Managed Service Provider

Managed Service Providers (MSPs)  are often recommended as a cost effective IT solution for small and mid-sized businesses. For a minimal monthly fee, MSPs provide a reasonably priced solution to the complex technology pains needs of businesses. Here’s a look at the various benefits an MSP can offer your business: Freed-Up Resources and a Renewed Emphasis on Core Business – Both business owners and internal IT staff would much rather focus on revenue enhancing tasks like product development or the creation of cutting-edge applications/services. This is one reason routine monitoring and maintenance tasks are often neglected by an internal IT person or team, which always proves to be detrimental much later. Often perceived as a “threat” to an internal IT person or staff, MSPs can insteadRead Full Article


Business Continuity Versus Traditional Backup

Do you know the difference between business continuity and traditional forms of data backup? How important is it to you that your business does not lose valuable downtime and is able to be back up and running as soon as possible? If this is vital to you, then you should have a very solid business continuity plan in place. In the meantime, here are some tips to help you improve your backup plan as you phase to a more solid business continuity plan. Think Quicker Recovery Time, Not Quicker Backup – While incremental backups are much faster than executing a full backup, they also prolong recovery time. In the event of data loss, a full restore will require loading the most recent full backup and then eachRead Full Article


Your Business Website

Your website represents your business and so building and maintaining it needs to be of primary concern to you as a business owner. We often find business owners struggling with their websites, saying things like: “My website looks great, but I am not able to convert” or “I invested so much into creating my website, but I don’t get many hits.” These things are very common pains faced by businesses, especially small and mid-sized business. If you aren’t sure where to start your site improvement project, this post will get you rolling in the right direction with seven key areas you need to pay attention to when it comes to your website.   1. Content – Make sure your website has a significant amount of contentRead Full Article


The Benefits of a Managed Service Provider

The benefits of partnering with a managed service provider (MSP), such as Rent-A-Nerd, Inc., are significant. The bottom line is that it is a cost-effective way to ensure that all of your business’s IT needs are met and kept up-to-date. Experienced MSPs have access to the newest tools that reduce costs by automating many routine in-house labor intensive processes. Break-fix is labor intensive (and a very outdated model), and labor is one of the most expensive operating costs within your IT infrastructure. The new innovative tools that can be provided by MSPs generate real productivity increases and mitigate the risk of network failure, downtime, and data loss from human error and disasters.   MSPs deliver a trusted foundation for your team and your clients. SomeRead Full Article


Cybersecurity: Is your Business Safe from Virtual Threats?

Did you know that 50% of small business owners think their businesses are too small to be targeted by the thieves of the virtual world? Thus, they do not believe that cybersecurity is a business concern. Contrary to popular belief, 72% of hacker attacks happen to smaller firms – firms with fewer than 100 employees! So how prepared is your SMB? Here’s a checklist to help you find out how vulnerable you are to these attacks.   1. Do you have Antivirus protection? An antivirus software program can help protect you from threats that originate from emails such as malware and virus attacks. However, the most striking fact is that 61% of small businesses don’t install any antivirus software. If you are one of them,Read Full Article


Is That Email a Phishing Scheme?

Research has revealed that over half of all users end up opening fraudulent emails and often even fall for them. Phishing is done with the aim of gathering personal information about you, generally related to your finances (or your business and its finances). The most common reason for the large number of people falling for fraudulent emails is that the phishing attempts are often so well-disguised that they escape the eyes of a busy email reader. Here are a few tips that help you identify whether that email really came from your bank or is another attempt at defrauding you via a phishing email. 1. They are asking for personal information – Remember, no bank or financial institution asks you to share your key personalRead Full Article


The Cost of IT Downtime on Your Business

Many small and mid-sized business owners think IT downtime only cost them a few productive hours, but there’s a lot more at stake when your systems go down. Customer satisfaction and loss of brand integrity are just two of the key losses apart from more evident costs, such as lost productivity and what often adds up to a high tally of lost profits from sales, billable hours, and/or however else your business earns an income.  Here’s a few other ways downtime can hurt your business: 1. Customer Loss – Today’s buyer lacks patience; they are used to getting everything at the click of a mouse, at the tap of a finger. Suppose they are looking for the kind of products/services that you offer and your siteRead Full Article


Has Your Website Been Optimized for Mobile Users?

Did you know that this year there will be more mobile web surfers than stationary ones? That means more prospects are accessing your business website more through their smart phones, tablets or other mobile devices than with a laptop or PC. If you thought you had time to make the switch this year, you may want to reconsider in light of new research. A recent study revealed that around 40% of prospects move on to a competitor if they have a poor mobile experience. How prepared is your business for this change? Well, if you are just starting out, the following checklist will help you optimize your business website for these users:   1. Make sure your mobile site is different from your regular businessRead Full Article


Five Ways Your Business Can Improve Its Search Engine Rankings through SEO

In an age where most business happens online, not showing up in Google search results can really hurt you. While there’s no real shortcut to showing up consistently on web searches, there are a few quick fixes to get your site to show up on your potential customer’s search results. In other words, improve your rankings through Search Engine Optimization or SEO, for short. 1. HTML tags – Important HTML tags include the title tag, meta description and meta keywords. Make sure each page of your website has appropriate HTML tags. The title tag of each page should be unique and relevant to that particular page.   2. Alternative text images – Ensure that most of the images on your website have alternative text tags. Alt tagsRead Full Article


Five Things You Should Do Right Now to Preserve Your Network and Systems

What are you doing to protect one of your most valuable assets — your computer network and its systems? Here are five things you should start doing right now: 1. Back Up Files Every Day – As catastrophic as data loss is, the number of businesses that still are not backing up their computer network is unbelievable. According to the Symantec Small to Medium Size Businesses (SMB) data, only 23% of small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are backing up their data on a daily basis and fewer than 50% are backing up data weekly. Any number of events can result in data loss, so the importance of frequently backing up your computer network cannot be overstated. 2. Ensure Backup Procedures Are Checked Regularly – Many times businessRead Full Article


Data Loss Can Cause Your Law Firm to Shut Down

Small and medium sized businesses (MSPs), including law firms, rely more than ever on IT systems to efficiently run their business, support customers, and optimize productivity. These systems house sensitive digital data ranging from employee and customer information, to internal emails, documents, financial records, sales orders, and transaction histories. This is in addition to applications and programs critical to daily business functions and customer service. Preventing data loss is therefore an incredibly important function that your tech firm must be able to provide. While corporate-level data losses and insider theft, when they happen to Fortune 500 companies, are well publicized, many smaller businesses have also become casualties of data loss and theft. Following a significant data loss, it is estimated that a small-to-medium sized businessRead Full Article