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Are Your Employees Working Remotely? Here’s How to Keep Your Data Safe.

If your business has a lot of remote workers, you’re probably embracing all the benefits: happier employees, improved retention, lower operating costs and a better use of technology. However, there are some downsides to remote working, including an increased risk for data breaches. 

Data breaches are a huge problem in the U.S., with more than 100,000 serious breaches reported since 2005 according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC). Of all the data breaches reported in 2019, 40 percent were due to hackers, which included scams like phishing, skimming and ransomware. 

Unfortunately, remote employees are most at risk because they are susceptible to hackers. Not all employees have access to secure connections, company laptops and security training, which means they could compromise your sensitive data. 

To protect your data and reputation, as well as prevent a breach that could cost millions, let’s look at some of the ways you can keep your data safe while employees work remotely. 

Update your data breach response plan. 

Update your data breach response plan to reflect your changing work environment. Your plan should address all new and potential risks that could occur as a result of working from home. Document the response steps your employees should follow if these risks happen.

Reassess data collection policies. 

Update your IT infrastructure and reassess data collection policies. You should only collect the essential information you need – no more. Perhaps it’s time to cut down on the information you’re gathering from customers or secure this information in a different way. 

Have containment strategies in place. 

When a breach first occurs, you may want to delete everything, but that could hurt you in the long run. Instead, it’s best to contain the breach so it doesn’t spread and cause further damage. Containment strategies may include open communication, isolating systems, disconnecting breached accounts and blacklisting IP addresses. 

Ensure employee software is up to date. 

Another important step is to make sure your employees have what they need to be safe and secure. They should always use firewalls, keep their databases up to date and encrypt data using one of the main types of encryption. Also, limit permissions – only give employees the access they need to do their jobs. 

Working remotely is becoming the new normal. While there are many benefits to this arrangement, you want to be sure that employees are following the rules and keeping all data secure. The best way to mitigate a breach is to ensure your data breach response plan and IT systems are up to date. For more assistance with keeping your database secure, contact Arkware today. 

Microsoft Azure: What it is and How Your Business Can Benefit

Have you heard about Microsoft Azure and are wondering what it can do for your business? This is a great question to ask, as Azure opens the door for cloud-computing potential for any size business. Whether you’re looking to migrate to the cloud, streamline your operations or better serve your customers, Azure will help you reach your goals. 

What is Microsoft Azure? 

Azure is a cloud computing service created by Microsoft for building, testing and managing services and applications from anywhere. It includes solutions like Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) that can be used for storage, networking and analytics. 

What are the Benefits of Using Azure? 

Azure is praised for being affordable, flexible and reliable. It offers 24/7 tech support and supports almost any OS, language, tool or framework. Better yet, you only have to pay for the features you use. As an example, if you choose to use Azure and Microsoft Access together, you can have a powerful database solution with cloud features for a fraction of the price. 

Here are some benefits of using Azure for your business: 

  • Security and privacy are built into the platform
  • Supports all open source technologies, not just Window apps
  • No upfront costs – pay for what you use 
  • Solutions available for all industries 
  • Only consistent hybrid cloud on the market 
  • Meets GDPR requirements, as well as other compliance offerings 

How Can I Use Azure for My Business? 

Now that you know some of the biggest benefits of Azure, let’s look at some of the ways you can use this software for your own business. 

  • Back up your data. Azure can back up your data in almost any language from any location. You can also determine your backup schedule – daily, weekly, monthly, etc.
  • Host and develop apps. Azure offers patch management, a feature that adjusts your resources based on customer web traffic. This way, you have the resources you need when traffic is high. 
  • Support a digital transformation. If your business is looking to move to the cloud, Azure will help you reach your goals. You can connect your devices to the cloud, plus take advantage of the SQL Database in Azure

There’s a lot to learn about Azure, so give Arkware a call and we’ll be happy to explain this cloud platform to you. When coupled with a database program like Access, you can build a powerful cloud database that meets your company’s highest expectations.

Is Microsoft Access Still Relevant in 2020?

With so many different databases – Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL – you may be wondering if Microsoft Access is still worth using these days. The Access database application was first launched in 1992. At the time, it was considered an innovative application at an affordable price. Today, things have changed. Powerful databases with endless features can be downloaded for free. So why use Access in 2020? 

Believe it or not, the reasons for using Access are plentiful. Below we’ll cover why Microsoft Access remains relevant and useful for small-scale needs. 

It’s comfortable and familiar for most users. 

Here at Arkware, many of our clients use Access because it’s comfortable and familiar. Even people with little technical experience can use Access with no problems because it mimics the look and feel of other Microsoft applications. It also doesn’t require any special hardware or custom applications, and it can be used as a front-end to another database like SQL Server. 

It supports multiple users at one time. 

Another reason why Microsoft Access is still relevant is because it’s portable and flexible. Although it’s sometimes thought of as a single-user database, Access works well with multiple users. In fact, it’s a multi-user platform by default, supporting at least 200 users simultaneously. Users are able to copy and move data, which is helpful when starting new projects or replicating the database to other locations. 

The database has a long-standing reputation and track record.

Even though some people claim that Access is dying, this is not the case at all. It remains one of the most popular relational databases, and many of our clients won’t use anything else but Access because of the perks mentioned above. With over 25 years in existence, it’s safe to say that Access has reliable technical support and a strong community. 

It’s cost-effective, especially for small businesses. 

Microsoft Access is a very affordable database solution. This allows businesses with small budgets to utilize a powerful database at an affordable price point. You can purchase Access with Microsoft 365 and also get premium versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and others, along with services like OneDrive and SharePoint. 

So is Microsoft Access still worth it in 2020? 

The short answer is, yes, Access is very much worth using. However, it’s not the best database solution for all projects. This is why it’s important to have a database consultant like Arkware. It’s possible that you may be ready to upgrade to another database like Microsoft SQL Server for improved security, performance and growth. To learn more about your database options, contact Arkware today. 

Duplicate Data Problems and How to Fix Them

The most common data quality issue is duplicate data, which can come from importing or exporting errors or mistakes from your team. Duplicate data doesn’t always get the same attention as inaccurate or incomplete data, but it can be just as troublesome. Plus, there are different types of duplicate data, such as partial duplicates and exact duplicates. Understanding duplicate data and its impact is an important part of having a reliable database.

Below are the reasons why duplicate data is a problem, as well as simple steps on how to avoid redundant entries in Microsoft Access. 

Duplicate Data Problems 

  • Inaccurate personalization. Customers expect personalized offers and communications. But without accurate data, it’s difficult to personalize your interactions. The only thing worse than no personalization is inaccurate personalization. 
  • Harmed brand reputation. If you send out the same campaign multiple times or address someone by the wrong name, this makes your brand look bad. People might get annoyed and you could lose a loyal customer.
  • Lost productivity. When your marketing and sales teams are struggling with duplicate entries, they have to use their time and energy to fix the issue. This is a big waste of time that could be spent growing your business and reaching new clients.  
  • Difficulty making decisions. Data-driven decisions are always best because they are based on concrete facts. However, if you have duplicate information, your teams can’t trust the data or make confident business decisions. 

How to Find and Fix Duplicate Records 

Now that you know some of the problems with duplicate data, let’s discuss the steps to finding and removing these records. We recommend using the Query Wizard because it’s fast and easy! 

  • On the Create tab, click Query Wizard.
  • In the New Query dialog, click Find Duplicates Query Wizard > OK. 
  • Select the table you want to use and click Next.
  • Choose the fields you want to match and click Next.
  • In the list of fields, choose the ones that contain the data you want to update and click Next.
  • Accept the suggested query name or enter a new name and hit Finish. 

Once you identify the duplicate records, you can edit or delete them. If you have additional questions on duplicate data and how to protect the integrity of your database, schedule a consultation with Arkware today. 

How to Spring Clean Your Database

It’s not just your closets and drawers that need spring cleaning – your database does, too! Cleaning and organizing your database may not be the most exciting thing on your to-do list, but it’s one that you will thank yourself later for. By completing this task, you can improve your data’s health, reduce costs and improve your marketing campaigns’ ROI. 

Below are the steps to follow when spring cleaning your organization’s database. 

Backup Your Database 

Before you do any type of cleanup to your database, backup your files first. You should be backing up your data regularly, but this step is especially important when you start making major changes to your system. 

Identify Duplicate Records  

Identify any duplicates in your database by running a search. Duplicates are often inevitable, but it’s important to catch them before they cause problems. For example, you don’t want to email the same contact twice or waste your marketing dollars on people who aren’t interested in your products. 

Update Key Information 

When was the last time you updated your data? It’s possible that you need to solicit new or updated information, such as email addresses or purchase histories. Your database should keep on top of important details. This will make reporting easier and more accurate. 

Remove Inactive Contacts

In terms of the information in your customer relationship management (CRM) system, now is a good time to remove inactive contacts. Filter your contacts by activity date to see who’s engaging with your brand and who isn’t. For those who aren’t interacting with your brand, you can remove them from your database or attempt to re-engage them with a new campaign. 

Go to the Source

If you do find a great deal of outdated information, duplicate records and other errors, identify the source. It’s possible that there’s a deeper issue going on within your organization that needs to be addressed, such as automated imports or volunteer data entry staff. 

Consider Training Your Staff 

Now is a good time to train your staff to improve the quality of data in your database. More people are working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so you can ask employees to watch videos, participate in an online training course and more. This will help improve the quality of your data, reduce errors and limit employee turnover. 

Commit to New Processes 

Depending on what you find in your database cleanup, it may be time to implement new processes. For example, automating certain tasks is helpful, but there are some tasks that require a human to make decisions. You may also want to enlist help from a database consultant who can help design and document processes for your database. 

By spring cleaning your database, you can make a huge difference in reducing clutter, simplifying day-to-day activities and improving the accuracy of data reporting. To discuss a new or improved database for your organization, contact Arkware today.