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The economic shocks of 2020 are drastically affecting the technology budgets of 2021 and pencils are being sharpened. 2020 saw bootstrap, instinctive, reactionary, financial decisions. Many organization’s plans for 2020 were thwarted by the pandemic and were put on hold. There is now no such thing as business-as-usual processes; executives need budget processes streamlined in order to react quickly and strategically with a more proactive than reactive stance. With so much uncertainly going into the new year, how should companies address and prioritize their technology budgets for 2021?

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Stalkerware is a term that is used for applications that are sold, usually by legally registered companies, to monitor children or track employees. The term “stalkerware” was coined for its wide use to monitor intimate partner’s or spouse’s activity without their consent. These apps are designed to run undetected and track or record user behavior and activity and may remotely control devices without the user’s consent or knowledge. They exfiltrate data like location, contacts, take screenshots, call and text logs, browser history, and even record phone calls. Some types of apps that are location services are expected, for instance, the Find My function in Apple phones to geographically locate devices and people, but this differs from stalkerware because it is a native application where the user is in control of who they share their location with. Stalkerware apps are especially insidious because the companies who design and sell them fail to protect all the data that is collected- opening the victims for double damage: not only do they have no privacy but much their personally identifying information for sale on the Dark Web as well leaving them open for attacks.

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In March, nearly two-thirds of Americans worked remotely due to the novel coronavirus. June has arrived with the country largely opening back up for business but seeing a different business landscape. Many questions emerge, with one of the most important should employees return to the physical office- at all? Is it worth the risk of infection to meet in the office when Zoom has worked so well? How will the open office plan, so popular for communication, fare in light of social distancing? Will handshakes go the way of the rotary phone? Employees are conscious of the prospect of carrying the virus back to their families; business owners are examining the expense of outfitting offices to appropriately accommodate the protection of employees while staying productive and avoiding liability. What about the fact that employees are enthusiastic about the perks of working from home, and may resist returning to the office? With all these things accounted for, many businesses are extending the work from home option as a longer-term or even permanent strategy for their workforce. Whatever the reason, there are considerations businesses should take if they are considering a long or longer-term work from home arrangement for their employees.

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The Corona Virus COVID-19 pandemic has had a drastic effect on how businesses operate, the clients they serve, and the bottom line. Organizations have had to adapt strategy and investments very quickly to keep up with the ever-evolving challenges. Extra pain is being felt as businesses work hard to honor commitments made due to restrictive contracts signed prior to the global pandemic.

What if scaling and the ability to shift resources were built into the agreements you make with your partners?

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Threats come in ALL forms. of communication – from phone calls to ads and apps- but the most effective for these bad actors are SPEAR phishing emails. These emails are hyper-targeted, they may APPEAR to come for your bank, your boss or your babe, they may call you by name, they may make a reference to your work location or even your neighborhood. We have seen some DOOZIES… including “outsourced lawyers” asking for users to click on links to upload information related to downsized employees, bad actors who claim to have damning data on the victim, and threatening to use social media to reveal them.

Make 2020 the year that you begin to take 20 seconds to review emails before taking any action to determine if they are authentic. Check out how to review emails in some detail below:

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The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything that we have faced. Our way of living, working, and socializing has completely changed overnight. MNS Group is in awe of the brave men and women in our healthcare system and first responders who are putting their lives on the line each day to protect us.

So that got us thinking what WE can do to help? What can we offer that could make someone’s life easier or provide peace of mind?

The answer? Our BRAINS. Yes, our brains. Over 20 years MNS Group has earned the trust of hundreds of businesses for our technology and business consulting. So, we’ve decided to pay it forward by creating the MNS Group “Gives Back” initiative which provides free technology advice and consulting for businesses and individuals in need.

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For many of us, working from home is the new normal! Here are a few tips from our working-at-home staff members!

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The global pandemic is open-season for bad actors utilizing technology to prey on individuals. Several mechanisms are being employed where attackers profit from the crisis: phone calls (including robocalls), emails, text messages, fake and phishing websites, malicious ads on reputable sites, and fake apps. These scams/attacks vary greatly in content and sophistication and some may even be specific to a region or town. As always, be wary of any solicitation for personal and/or financial information related to COVID-19.

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The Japanese industrialist Sakichi Toyodo, founder of Toyota Industries, developed a technique in the 1930s to identify root issues that inhibited success. He called it the 5 Whys. Toyota and many other organizations implement this Root cause analysis (RCA) technique today. Often as organizations grow, the management becomes removed from the day to day work that provides the value to the business. When problems arise, the leaders are not informed in a way that will equip them to make decisions to take appropriate counter-measures. This technique preserves precious time resouces because it avoids quick-fix solutions that may only solve a few symptoms and not the underlying problems.

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We have ALL been checking ALL the boxes that say we agree to privacy policies as they apply to our personal information, whether it be mobile phone contracts, applications like Facebook and other social media, and our vehicles. Wait – a privacy policy for our vehicles? When you plug in or connect your mobile device via Bluetooth a flood of information is downloaded and sent back to the car manufacturer over a continuously-on Internet connection. Car companies also send information to your vehicle, to fix bugs and add features. With 5G cellular networks being added all around the country, the amount of data moving to and from your vehicle is likely to increase. The difference between checking boxes for your smartphone, Nest or Alexa is that you KNOW those items are collecting data, but you likely didn’t realize that your car is also.

How much could your car possibly know about you? Turns out: quite a bit.

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