Telework Essentials Toolkit

This month, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA.gov) released an incredibly useful toolkit for organizations concerned about the cybersecurity risks associated with a remote workforce.  This Telework Essentials Toolkit provides practical guidance to Executive Leaders, IT Professionals, and Teleworkers to protect their organizations from cyber-based threats. This guide provides an excellent overview of how to secure your organization’s information assets in a remote world, focusing on:

  • Best practices
  • Vulnerability management
  • Advice on securing a home wireless network
  • Implementing multi-factor authentication
  • Recommendations on organizational policies

Check out the CISA Telework Essentials Toolkit for practical guidance to protect your organization from cyber-based threats.

For individual guidance on these recommendations, help with customized implementations, or a thorough cybersecurity risk assessment, designDATA stands ready to assist organizations wanting to secure their IT environment effectively. Reach out to security@designdata.com, or give us a call at 301-921-6696.

Automate New Employee On-boarding

Automate New Employee On-boarding

Onboarding a new employee can turn into chaos between the number of manual data entries through multiple departments to the cumulative hours to complete the task due to delays in email communications. This process can average out to take 2-3 weeks to complete resulting in the new hire sitting with nothing to do on his first few days.


Many organizations have been searching for ways to leverage Microsoft technology within Power platform to alleviate this onboarding chaos.  A short video by Microsoft 365 gives an example of a unique solution using Microsoft Teams and Power Platform to solve a common workflow of onboarding a new employee reducing the process from days to hours. If your HR team is interested in learning more please contact us or your program manager directly.

Router Considerations While Working from Home

Router Considerations While Working from Home

While working from home, you may have noticed some things about your internet connectivity. It may even bother you so much that you’ve become curious to how you can improve it.  Here are some things to consider:
  1. Security – password
  2. The Upload and Download Speed
  3. Signal Strength
Before we begin any improvement discussion, it may seem odd to begin with security. We want to make sure attackers don’t impact the administration of your router or your home network. Security: Change the default password Your router is sent from your ISP with a “default” username/password. This information is usually labeled on the router, but this can also be easily looked up by googling “default router password for <Your Internet Provider Here>”.  Hackers rely on this unintended slip in securing your home network. For this reason, we always recommend changing the default administrator password to something unique. Instructions can be found online or contact your internet service provider for help. Upload and download speed If you’re a family of 4, each with 3 or more devices connected to WiFi your bandwidth could be impacted.  So, the question to ask yourself is “Am I getting the needed upload and download speed?” First, let’s define them. The upload speed refers to how many megabits of data per second of information you can send to another device or server on the internet. This impacts how well you can send big files via email or use video-chat (since you send your video feed to them).   Download speed refers to how many megabits of data per second it takes to download data from a server in the form of images, videos, text, and more. Activities such as streaming music and movies or downloading large files all require you to download data.  Are you curious about what your internet speed is, speedtest.net will give you the answer? So, what are the right upload and download speed for you? It depends on so many factors (i.e. number of connected devices in your home, your use of the internet). Here is a suggestion in a chart from TomsGuide.com.

How many Mbps do you really need?

Number of devices

Use Cases

Recommended Download Speed



Web surfing, email, social networking, moderate video


Up to 25 Mbps




Online multiplayer gaming, 4K streaming


50 - 100 Mbps


More than 5


All of the above plus sharing large files and live streaming video


150 to 200 Mbps


Boosting signal strength If your signal regularly drops or appears to have only a few WiFi strength bars, then it may be time to consider a WiFi repeater/extender. A WiFi Extender is a device that repeats the wireless signal from your router to expand its coverage. It functions as a bridge, capturing the WiFi from your router and rebroadcasting it to areas where the WiFi is weak or nonexistent, improving the performance of your home WiFi. You can find different brands (Netgear, Lynksys, D-Link) on Amazon. Read the reviews before purchasing, it is important. by John Henry McDonald

Need to Manage and Delegate Tasks for Initiatives Try Microsoft Planner

Need to Manage and Delegate Tasks for Initiatives Try Microsoft Planner

Each plan in Microsoft Planner includes a dashboard. This is where you can analyze tasks according to their status or belonging to a plan. You keep an overview of all open or completed tasks. Different charts visualize project progress and show which tasks are overdue.

Each plan in Microsoft Planner includes a dashboard. This is where you can analyze tasks according to their status or belonging to a plan. You keep an overview of all open or completed tasks. Different charts visualize project progress and show which tasks are overdue.

Productivity with TEAMS Continue to Increase

Productivity with TEAMS Continue to Increase

At the beginning of the pandemic, organizations leaned more on the current technology to collaborate. As shelter-in-place orders grew state to state the use Microsoft technology grew as well.  With the isolation of remote work growing the need for human connection became crucial to business development and the use of video conferencing for meetings increased substantially on Teams. It should be noted that Microsoft has continued to make enhancements and improvements:
  • Custom backgrounds allow you to replace your background in Teams meetings with a new office look anytime.  You can also upload your own custom backgrounds as well. Unique backgrounds have become a spirited competition within designDATA.
  • To make video calls more interactive, the raise hand feature will be available to everyone by the end of the year. It will let meeting participants indicate they have something to say by clicking on a hand-raise icon in the meeting control bar. Academic institutions will probably see this feature first as it rolls out.
  • Meeting organizers can now end a meeting for all participants with the click of the “end meeting “button in the control bar.
  • Later this year, Microsoft will roll-out background noise suppression while in a Teams meeting which uses technology to reduce distracting background noise such as loud typing or a barking dog.

Security – Stay Alert

Clipboard History – No More Losing Text You’ve Cut or Copied!

Have you ever cut and paste several times in rapid succession and accidentally cut twice in a row without pasting?  Unfortunately, now you’ve lost some of your work!  Or maybe you copy and pasted something an hour ago and realize you would like to use the same text in your current work.  In a newer version of Windows 10, Microsoft has implemented a clipboard history.  Clipboard history has a record of everything you have cut or copied since the last time you rebooted your computer.

Clipboard history is disabled by default, but you can easily enable it.  Simply go to a Word document and press the Windows Key + v.  The Windows Key is found on the bottom-left of your keyboard, between Ctrl and Alt. If you haven’t enabled clipboard history or haven’t copied anything to your clipboard since enabling it, you’ll see a message telling you that you either need to enable the feature or copy something before continuing.  If you have previously enabled it, you will be able to see all the items you copied or cut and can paste them again.  Currently, this clipboard history supports text, HTML, and images less than 4MB in size.  Larger items you copy will not be stored in the history.

How to Implement Better Cyber Hygiene Practices as Employees Work Remotely

How to Implement Better Cyber Hygiene Practices as Employees Work Remotely

Erik Haas, director of sales and marketing was interviewed for ASAE and offered some basic measures that organizations should take to improve their cybersecurity posture.  designDATA, AHT Insurance, and Hartman Executive Advisors share their perspectives with ASAE on how to mitigate cybersecurity risk in a remote work environment:


How To Keep Uninvited Guests Out of Your Zoom Event

Zoom is a videotelephony and online chat services through a cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform and is used for teleconferencing, telecommuting, distance education, and social relations.  With most of the country working from home and using Zoom as well as other cloud-based communications there has been an uptick in hacking stories.  So, what are we to do?  Let’s look at a few ways we can practice Zoom Safety. At designDATA we believe the following best practices will help:

  • Create separate passwords for each virtual meeting;
  • Establish a Zoom waiting room for meeting participants
  • Lockdown the meeting once everyone invited to attend has joined
  • Do not publicly post-meeting links on social media or any other public forum

How to Best Manage Passwords

How to Best Manage Passwords

The average person can have nearly 100 passwords (or more!) when combining professional and personal accounts and services. That is a lot to remember! Many often use the same email and password for many (if not all) accounts, so they have less to remember. This is the number one liability for accounts online: password reuse. If a popular streaming service suffers a security breach, you may not be too concerned with someone watching a show on your account. However, if your log in information for this service is the same for your banking or other sensitive accounts, the damage can be much more severe. When sites suffer a breach, the hackers immediately try those credentials on banking, email and other sites to see how many areas they can log into with one password. So, it is vitally important to have a different password for every account. In addition, to be really secure, your passwords should all be at least 15 characters (some cybersecurity analysts recommend 25 characters.) How is it humanly possible to remember up to 100 unique lengthy passwords? It’s not! That’s where password managers come into play. A password manager will become your best friend, because it takes care of three critical tasks for you:
  1. It generates lengthy, complex passwords for each of your accounts or logins
  2. It stores these complex passwords in a digital “vault”
  3. It automatically fills in this complex password every time you log into a site
People often say “I’m already using my Internet browser to save my passwords – isn’t that the same thing?” No! Browsers are designed for us to surf the Internet, and although they can store passwords, it doesn’t mean that your passwords are secure. It also means your passwords would be in one browser, so they wouldn’t be available if you use a different browser. Whereas with a password manager, you could log into your personal vault from any browser, making them much more versatile. What if the Password Manger is compromised? Great question! LastPass has been hacked multiple times, but the number of compromised passwords? ZERO. LastPass encrypts all passwords, so the company never sees your passwords, keeping your passwords secure even if a security incident occurs. To find the best password managers for you, your family, and/or your business, we recommend Googling “Best Password Managers”, and you will see a number of reviews of the top password managers available today. Also, please contact your Program Manager to ensure your organization is enrolled in designDATA’s complimentary Dark Web Scan offering which will notify you if any account in your organization has shown up on the Dark Web. Stay safe out there! by Imran Khan

How to Share Your Screen with Teams

How to Share Your Screen with Teams

Screen sharing is a very useful tool that will help coworkers view content together.  Below I show how I shared my screen with my coworker Ricardo to discuss a project we were working on together. (click on pictures to enlarge)
  • Join or start your meeting with the option of video or voice by selecting the icon on the top right corner of the screen
  • Move your mouse to the bottom-middle of the screen during a meeting in Teams.
  • Choose the chat control options.
  • Click the third icon from the left, the icon with the square box and arrow.
  • You can then choose to share your screens, desktops, windows, or programs.


  • To stop sharing your screen click on the square icon with the X in the middle.

Article by Jose Vargas

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