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.

The Importance of Business Continuity

The world is battling a crippling crisis today. The global economy is in peril and businesses have taken radical measures to mitigate the adverse impacts of economic decline. Companies have had to leverage the technology at their disposal to allow their employees to work remotely in order to attempt to achieve business continuity. Although technology has made remote work feasible, the unexpected magnitude of the situation has caught most small and midsize businesses off guard. One of the challenges most companies face right now is ensuring business continuity with minimal loss of productivity of their remote workforce. While this unprecedented crisis has certainly transformed the way businesses around the world operate, it has also provided companies with an opportunity to reinforce their IT infrastructure toRead Full Article


10 Things to Do Before Business Picks Back Up

While businesses are opening back up and we are starting to see a slow uptick in activity, now is the time to take the opportunity to do those things that you never have time to do. Here are ten things that you should do now for your business so that you’re ready to excel when this crisis is over. 1. Maximize your security protocols. New security threats pop up every day. Especially amidst COVID-19, hackers developed phishing attempts to prey on peoples’ thirst for news surrounding the virus, PPP grants, stimulus checks, and plenty else. What happens when a hacker gains personal information from one of these attempts? Often, the value isn’t in the initial data theft or financial potential therein. Hackers really don’t careRead Full Article


Identify and Defend Against COVID-19 Email Scams

COVID-19 email scams are on the rise and more clever than you’d expect. Don’t be fooled! We all know that opening strange email can have dangerous consequences, right? Unfortunately, that message hasn’t connected with many people as it pertains to enticingly designed new COVID-19 email scams. Here are some of the most devious scams we’re seeing right now, and recommendations for how to keep these scams from giving cybercriminals an open door into your data and systems. Training is essential to ensure that your staff isn’t endangering your compliance with data privacy laws or putting you in danger of a breach, and it’s ideal for combating the increased phishing attack danger that comes from a remote workforce. Attachments with “official information” about relief programs or health information from a government agency or the UN The fastest way to defendRead Full Article


Working from Home: Some Considerations

In the last several years, the concept of working from home (WFH) has become increasingly more popular. Though some still remain skeptical, it has been gaining in popularity and become more widely accepted among management circles. That said, the current pandemic essentially set the debate entirely aside, at least for the time being, because WFH became the only choice between working and shutting down. Aside from mandatory quarantines, why have organizations been adopting working from home policies? There are several factors that are motivating companies to select working from home. Employee satisfaction: Many, but not all, employees like the freedom to work from home at least part of the time. Offering WFH opportunities can increase levels of employee satisfaction. This ties in to the increasingRead Full Article


COVID-19 Phishing Scams Exploit Online Rumor Mill

An explosion of extremely believable COVID-19 phishing scams, especially precisely targeted spear phishing, shows how cybercriminals exploit Dark Web information and the online rumor mill for profit. Months into the global pandemic, cybercriminals are still using COVID-19 messaging to take advantage of the worldwide fear and uncertainty around the disease, what causes it, and relief efforts for those affected by it. Scams have grown more imaginative and more believable as bad actors fashion bait that capitalizes on the rumor mill to create COVID-19 phishing scams that look more genuine than ever. COVID-19 phishing scams are everywhere Phishing scams are by far the biggest type of attack threat based on exploitation that businesses face. With phishing up more than 600% since the start of the pandemic, this perennial favorite of cybercriminals has surged in popularity and creativity with disastrous results forRead Full Article


Is the Dark Web all bad?

Dark Web: (noun) Part of the world wide web that is only accessible by utilizing special software, allowing users and websites to remain anonymous or untraceable. It exists on an encrypted network that uses masked IP addresses to maintain anonymity for users and site owners. This way, people who use the Dark Web for illegal purposes can’t be traced. As you can see by the above definitions, the Dark Web can be a shady place where illegal transactions take place. Things like drugs, guns, counterfeit money, and credit card numbers can all be found, bought, and sold. And you can bet there are groups and chatter about the current crisis in the U.S., from those seeking to stir up unrest to those who need aRead Full Article


Passwords – Outdated and Dangerous, But Necessary

Here’s a quick test – what do these seemingly random alphanumerical groupings have in common? 123456 password 123456789 12345678 12345 111111 1234567 sunshine qwerty iloveyou That is a list of the top ten passwords used in 2018. Recognize any of these? If you don’t, you’re not necessarily in the clear, but your chance of becoming compromised or hacked is far less than someone who uses one of these passwords. If you do recognize these, you’re certainly testing your luck. These days, creating and remembering passwords has become increasingly more challenging. If we had only one device that required a password, we could probably manage it quite easily. But with every device we use, most programs we need to do our jobs, and sites that requireRead Full Article


What is the Dark Web and Why Should We Care?

You’ve probably heard about the Dark Web more recently than ever before, especially considering the pandemic, protests across the country, and the conspiracy theories related to both. But what do you know about it? You can navigate your way around Google, Facebook, Amazon, and news sites. Did you know that you’re actually only visiting four percent of the internet. There’s a whole world  hiding beyond these safe surface-level sites, it’s a much less hospitable place. What exactly is it? The Dark Web is a conglomeration of websites that cannot be found on search engines or accessed via traditional web browsers because their location and identity is hidden through encryption tools such as TOR. TOR was originally created to protect military communication but now has aRead Full Article


Four Tips for Getting Back to Work during this In-Between

We’ve reached an in-between status of this quarantine as many are eager to get back to work. Businesses are starting to open back up (with restrictions), but a lot of employees are finding themselves in an awkward spot between working in the office and remaining at home. Doctors are utilizing video and teleconference appointments but are holding office hours to see patients and perform “elective” surgeries. Companies are requesting that their employees work from home, if possible, but they’re relaxing requirements for coming back into the office. Other organizations are welcoming people back from teleworker status to full in-office expectations. With “in-between” operations, we’ve helped our clients through a few technology hiccups and wanted to help you avoid them too. Here are the top fiveRead Full Article


No Business As Usual

Currently, there is no such thing as Business as Usual. Every day, small and medium businesses are re-inventing how they function. The most unfortunate side-effect of this COVID-19 crisis is that many small businesses have closed, and many of those will not re-open. The economic repercussions from this event will ripple throughout the landscape for decades. Only the strong will survive. For those who will survive this paradigm shift, now is the time to re-structure your business model and build a new foundation for the future. With many employees working off-site, businesses are noticing that they may be spending too much on their overhead, and they are also looking closely at the size of their staff. In this blog, we will look toward the futureRead Full Article


Meet the Nerds: Troy Beard

We are incredibly pleased to introduce you to the newest Nerd, Troy Beard. Troy was born and raised in New Orleans, so appreciates the importance of our local businesses, which he will be serving as a Network Technician.  When asked about his experiences for the past couple of months, he had this to say: A big positive to come out of social distancing is personal hygiene has become a bigger part of everyday lives, communities have become closer, and world pollution is down significantly. We love his great attitude and enjoyed reading his responses to our nerdy and New Orleans-related questions. What’s your favorite local restaurant? Royal Thai Star Wars or Star Trek:  Star Trek (which made me think of this meme, for which IRead Full Article


5 Ways to Adapt to Social Distancing at Work

You’ve probably grown tired of hearing the words “adjusting to the new normal” during this time of social distancing. Unfortunately, though, there’s really no other way to say it. This pandemic has permanently changed our work environment, whether you’re already back in the office or remain in quarantine for several more weeks. We must create a new normal for how we work, manage network security, and maintain productivity across a more widespread team. For example, a client earlier this week asked with their employees working from home, how are they supposed to ensure HIPAA compliance? What if someone innocently leaves the computer screen open, or takes a note with a patient’s name and walks away from the notebook? Here’s how we recommend redefining work parametersRead Full Article


3 Ways Cybercriminals Use Social Engineering to Steal Your Info

Cybercriminals use social engineering every day to attempt to hack into people’s personal information.  Social engineering preys on the human condition to gain trust, manipulate people, and get people to willingly give out personal information. In general, there are three major ways that cybercriminals use social engineering to steal your info. Email This is one of the most prominent ways that information is stolen. This side of social engineering has been around nearly as long as emails have. It’s guaranteed that anyone with an email account has seen at least one of the many phishing scams that come from cybercriminals. Perhaps a Nigerian Prince would like to wire you a ton of money because his inheritance is wrapped up in the bank for some reason.Read Full Article


Why Are You So Popular on Social Media?

As we spend more time than ever before on our devises, most people are aware of the many scams that exist on the internet now. It’s tough to simply look at your emails without noticing several phishing emails sitting in your inbox, and those are just the obvious ones! Then, there’s, “We need you to update your account info, just click the link below,” emails. It can even go deeper with hackers physically talking with you or conning you into giving them information you shouldn’t. Lately, the largest influx of scams has come from social media.  As of right now, it is estimated that worldwide social media users total 3.8 billion. That is a lot of people to target. Fake Facebook Profiles Facebook saw a lotRead Full Article


Breaking Down Social Engineering

Most people are aware of terms like phishing and malware, but did you know those are a part of a larger scheme called social engineering? This is not a new kind of fraud. In fact, it’s been used for many years to manipulate a wide range of people into giving up important data about themselves or their workplace. A prime example of social engineering goes back to Greek mythology with the Trojan horse. They infiltrated the city of Troy with a “peace offering” filled with soldiers, thus winning the war. With technology at the forefront of our lives, social engineering has entered a new era. Physical human interaction is not necessarily required anymore. These criminals can gain information through emails, pop-ups, and public Wi-Fi networks,Read Full Article


Fixing Your Weakest Link: Your Employees

You can have every piece of security hardware in the books: firewall, backup disaster recovery device, and even anti-virus. However, your employees will still be the biggest vulnerability in your organization when it comes to a phishing attack. How do you mitigate as much risk as possible? Create and Strictly Enforce a Password Policy Passwords should be complex, randomly generated, and replaced regularly. In order to test the strength of your password go to howsecureismypassword.com. This is a perfectly safe service sponsored by a password protection platform that tells you how long it would take a hacker to decode your password. When creating a password policy, bear in mind that the most prevalent attacks are dictionary attacks. Most people utilize real words for their passwords.Read Full Article


Support Local Businesses: Roux Royale and Southern Paws

For those who can, it is urgently important to support local businesses. Today we’ll showcase our clients, Roux Royale and Southern Paws. Both shops are locally owned and are located in the French Quarter. Let’s do our part to make sure as many of these boutiques survive as possible. As its website boasts, Roux Royale, in the heart of the French Quarter, offers a variety of unique and useful items to enhance any kitchen, dining room, or party. Let us help you find the perfect gift by capturing the art of New Orleans style entertaining. You will find items such as elegant serving pieces, stylish dish towels, favorite New Orleans’ cookbooks, wine and cheese plates, gourmet foods and candies, fabulous aprons, local art, and much, much more. We are especially drawn to theRead Full Article


How to Spot A Phishing Attack

Would you know if you were the subject of a phishing attack? Many people claim that they’d be able to tell right away if they received an email from an illegitimate source. There had been 1.5 million new phishing websites every month. A 65% increase in attacks in one year! However, it has gotten much, much worse. According to this article, “Google says it saw more than 18 million daily malware and phishing emails related to COVID-19 scams just in the past week.” How do you spot a phishing attack and avoid falling victim yourself? Look for these red flags: Sender Email Address: Always check to make sure that the email address is legitimate. Amateur hackers will send things from Gmail or Hotmail accounts and hopeRead Full Article


What Is Phishing & How Are Hackers Using It?

While the number of people falling for sending personal information to the crown prince of Nigeria in hopes of receiving his promised wealth and riches seems to be dropping, phishing remains a major issue. In fact, the number of phishing campaigns pursued by hackers around the world increased 65% in the last year. And as you may have read, the COVID-19 pandemic has motivated hackers to be even more aggressive since they know everyone is receiving more emails than ever before. They know that people are filing for unemployment, checking on stimulus checks, filing for CARES Act relief, and more. And they are taking advantage of the fact that personal information is being submitted and confirmed online on a daily basis. What exactly is phishing? HackersRead Full Article


5 Tips to Keep Your Children Safer Online

Now more than ever, it is crucial to ensure that your children are as safe as possible when they are online. And though our advice presumes that you are introducing your child to technology, we know that’s not your reality. But that doesn’t mean you can’t reevaluate your child’s online activity and then reset. Start over using these tips as a guide for their online safety. There are so many reasons that keeping your kids safe online is important. They range from future job prospects, to bullying, inappropriate sites, making purchases without permission, etc. Training your children to be safe online starts at an early age and continues until they are fully grown. We hope this tips are helpful. 1. Sit with them. When they’reRead Full Article


Client Spotlight: Royal Praline Company

There has never been a better time to support small local businesses, which is why we are delighted to tell you about our client Royal Praline Company. Royal Praline was established in 2007, and its cute shop is located on historic Royal Street. And while the shop is currently closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can still order their gourmet treats online. And right now, they are even offering free delivery! Of course the New Orleans-based shop sells pralines; it also offers sweet glazed pecans, Roman Candy, Mississippi Mud, coffee, spices, mixes, hot sauces, and even cookbooks. Consider these items for yourself, or spread some joy and send them as gifts. Right now small businesses are struggling. Many won’t survive this pandemic. According toRead Full Article


Financial Advice Amid COVID-19

In these uncertain times, access to financial advice is crucial. Randy Brunet, of Brunet Wealth Management, offers these top two tips: 1) Filing deadline for IRS and Louisiana income tax is moved to July 15, 2020.  No extension necessary until then.  If you are due a refund, file your return ASAP as to receive your refund sooner. 2) Small businesses may be entitled to an SBA loan to help funding payroll and other essential expenses.  Check with your bank for requirements, as this is what is recommended by SBA. Many of us may put off filing our taxes because it is often an overwhelming process. Hiring a professional gives you peace of mind. You may also find that you receive a larger refund than ifRead Full Article


Junior League of New Orleans Diaper Bank

Now more than ever, our most vulnerable citizens need our help, which is why we want to promote the JLNO’s Diaper Bank. Diapers are very basic necessities. Here are the statistics, according to the National Diaper Bank Network: 1 in 3 American families reports experiencing diaper need. 5 million children in the U.S. aged three or younger live in poor or low-income families. Infants require up to 12 diapers per day, toddlers about 8. Disposable diapers can cost $70 to $80 per month per baby. No state or federal child safety-net program allocates dollars specifically for the purchase of diapers. Without transportation, buying diapers at a convenience store rather than a large “big box” store can significantly increase the monthly cost of diapers. Most childcareRead Full Article


Tips for Successfully Working from Home

COVID-19 has forced event cancellations, school closures, and a consideration for remote work where possible. As more companies are sending their employees to work from home, we compiled this list of tips to be successful away from the office. If your employer still has not made the transition, and yours is work that you can do from home, we refer you to two of our recent blogs regarding making and implementing that decision. 1. Reliable Internet: Nothing is more frustrating than having spotty Internet, especially when you’re trying to work on a big project through a remote access connection to your work computer. Most Internet packages available today will be fine. However, you might need to curb ancillary access of the Internet, like streaming andRead Full Article


Telecommuting Basics

The sudden rise of COVID-19 has likely required you to implement work from home policies, also frequently referred to as telecommuting or working remotely. Two weeks ago we offered some preliminary tips for business owners concerned with COVID-19 and the impact on their business. This is our follow up. There are a lot of excellent reasons to adopt telecommuting policies beyond a quick reaction to this pandemic, especially for those of us who are impacted by hurricanes. Research has shown that the ability to telecommute improves employee satisfaction. In an era of tight employment, the opportunity to telecommute can be the benefit that keeps present employees and attracts new ones. Beyond that, contrary to fears of some managers, the ability to telecommute for at leastRead Full Article


Technology Tips for Local Businesses Part 2

In our last blog, we discussed two of the five important technology issues that every business owner should consider (hardware/software and cybersecurity). In this post, we cover the other three, namely, IT training, Data Backup and Recovery, and BYOD (bring your own device) checklists. IT Training Checklist Everyone in your office needs some training on the technology that is in place. An IT training checklist serves as a good process document for any new staff or for any staff working on new hardware or software. Following the IT training checklist can help cut down the learning curve. And it ensures the hardware/software is leveraged in the best possible way, thus making your staff more efficient. Here’s what your IT training checklist can offer. What rulesRead Full Article


Coronavirus and Your Business

The Center for Disease Control has provided some very good guidance for business owners in the face of the threat of the coronavirus (or, more specifically, COVID-19). It includes helpful suggestions regarding hygiene, sick leave, and other practical advice. The CDC also urges business owners to allow employees to telecommute, if possible. Explore whether you can establish policies and practices, such as flexible worksites (e.g., telecommuting) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts), to increase the physical distance among employees and between employees and others if state and local health authorities recommend the use of social distancing strategies. For employees who are able to telework, supervisors should encourage employees to telework instead of coming into the workplace until symptoms are completely resolved. Ensure that youRead Full Article


Technology Tips for Local Businesses Part 1

We all rely on technology and all businesses have some sort of computer network. How organized is yours and is it up to date? Here’s part one of two blogs that offer questions to contemplate regarding your technology needs. This blog focuses on hardware/software and cybersecurity. When creating a checklist for hardware/software purchase, use, and installation, answer the following questions. How do you determine what hardware/software is needed? What about installation? Who will be doing it? Incorrect installation can end up resulting in loss of time and, in case of faulty hardware installation, it can also mess up the new hardware What is the process for the procurement of new hardware and software? Do you have regular vendors who you approach or do you startRead Full Article


Migration to Windows 10

You’re prepared, at least mentally, to begin your migration to Windows 10 because you’ve read What Does Windows 7 End of Life Mean to My Business?  and Getting Ahead of Windows 7 End of Life. Is your hardware ready, though? How you handle your IT (on your own, as needed support, or with a fully managed agreement) will change how you will have to deal with your transition.  The following items should help you decide how to prepare your hardware for the Windows 10 migration. Do It Yourself If you own all of your own equipment and deal with IT issues in-house, then you will want to get started on migrating your devices now. The good news is that Windows 10 is highly compatible withRead Full Article


Getting Ahead of Windows 7 End of Life

With Windows 7 end of life quickly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about what needs to be done to prepare. Technically, regular Windows 7 support has been dead since 2015, however, the extended support period is over January 2020, which means no more updates or security patches. What should you be aware of for EOL? Get ready, you may have some work to do. Many are concerned that their PCs will stop working. That is not the case. Your Windows software will work, but its security will depreciate rather quickly, which could put your PC in danger of cyber-attacks and viruses. Back in 2014, Microsoft ended support for Windows XP. It affected 40% of computers worldwide. Now, years later, it is estimated that aboutRead Full Article