Best Practices, Leadership

Living Company Values – An Employee’s Perspective

Rocket IT

Company culture is a hot topic right now. It’s headlining industry magazines, touting its name on awards, and (for those of you active on social media) it’s all over LinkedIn newsfeeds. At Rocket IT, it’s something our team is very intentional about.

As someone who interacts on our organization’s behalf out in the community in both a marketing and a recruiting capacity, I’ve had a unique opportunity to both share my experience and hear from very different perspectives how others see Rocket IT’s company culture.

One of the highest compliments I hear is how much others love that Rocket IT lives out its values. That other people from outside our organization can look in and see how much our team loves to help others and be passionate stewards for those we serve is incredibly rewarding.

One of the questions I’m asked most often (though not nearly as often as Matt Hyatt, our Founder and CEO, I’m sure!) is how Rocket IT has sustained a company culture that lives its values when so many organizations struggle to name theirs.  It’s easy to get buy-in on company values from the leadership teams that created them, but how do companies get everyone else across all levels to do the same?

Basically, how did the Rocket IT leadership team get me and others as invested in the Rocket IT values as they were?

When Matt created our company values, he started with why. Our purpose is to help others thrive. As Matt says, we just happen to do this through technology, but it’s at the core of everything we do at Rocket IT, and our company values help us define how.

Connect with people. Be passionate stewards. Find a better way. Have a blast!

Matt and the rest of the Rocket IT leadership team have fostered a company culture that lives these values in three simple ways.


Our values are stated in simple language that makes sense.

When Matt wrote our company values, he didn’t bury us in corporate jargon and buzzwords. Our values are simple, and it’s to see how we can act on them.

Take a look at our values listed above again. They’re simple, clear, and easy to remember. You could ask any employee at Rocket IT about our values, and they’d be able to tell you about all four (and even our secret fifth value – Eat ice cream).  There isn’t a single buzzword in any of them, and each value is four words or less.


We regularly engage in open dialogue about our values.

If the only time your employees discuss your company values is when they get a list of them in their onboarding packet, they probably won’t be able to name them one month later. Values are something that should be a regular conversation topic when you want your company to live them out.

At Rocket IT, we talk about what our values mean, how we can be mindful about them in our roles, what they mean to us, etc.. We talk about them in all-staff meetings, team huddles, and during our Café Tuesdays where Matt invites us to bring our lunch into the Rocket IT café and talk with him and each other about what’s on our minds.

Our values weren’t created in a vacuum, and they don’t exist in one either. If you want your team to invest in your company values, you should engage your team in regular conversation about them.


Rocket IT’s leadership verbally (and publicly) acknowledge when employees embody a company value in the way they act or what they do.

There’s a lot of power in simple recognition, and when our leadership team positively recognizes team members for living out company values, we become more invested in understanding and acting in line with those values.

It’s not unusual for individuals to be lauded for “being a passionate steward” or “finding a better way” during our staff meetings. And it’s not unheard of for someone to receive an Amazon gift card for exemplifying one of our values in their interactions with our clients.


Our company culture of living our values is hinged on our values being very real, active goals for us. They’re not just words on our website or phrases in our employee handbooks for HR to recite by rote and other team members to forget immediately. From the perspective of the general “everyman” employee, if you want buy-in from employees at all levels of your organization, follow these three tips to make your values meaningful to them.





About the Author-

Jacque McFadden is the marketing specialist at Rocket IT. While a large portion of her job focuses on the more traditional side of marketing, she is also responsible for finding great new employees. Jacque is originally from Indiana. 

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Best Practices, Technology

Five Easy Steps to Capture Dead Time

Rocket IT

The average cost of unplanned downtime per minute in 2016 was nearly $9,000 per incident.

Your organization doesn’t have to eat the cost of dead time. Download our free whitepaper now to learn five easy steps you can take to capture dead time.

From more efficient integration to beating your inbox addiction, this paper gives you the tools to increase your company’s productivity by 2.5% at no additional payroll cost.




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Best Practices, Technology

The Reality of BYOD

Rocket IT

If there were a list of technology buzzwords in offices this year, “BYOD” would be near the top. The Bring Your Own Device craze is sweeping through workplaces all over the US.

It’s easy to get pulled along in the tide of popularity that BYOD is riding right now. On the surface, it appears to be more cost-effective for companies, and it gives the employees more control over what devices they use. And, since many end users prefer to use more of the latest technology for their own devices, companies get to reap the benefits of this without shouldering the full cost.

But beyond what’s already on the BYOD sales brochure, what is the reality of adopting a BYOD policy at your organization? Here are five things to consider before making that final decision.



BYOD isn’t limited to just smartphones; many organizations include laptops in this policy. When employees are providing their own laptops, they typically want to decide what devices and systems they’re going to be using… And that can raise compatibility issues. Will your CRM and other software systems run on every employee’s computer, using the same version and interface? If not, will additional training be required for different versions?

To avoid this issue, you can set technology standards and provide a list of approved devices for your employees, but end users tend to be less enthusiastic about the freedom of BYOD program when it comes with boundaries.


Lack of privacy

When using your work computer or work phone, there’s an understood (and oftentimes stated) agreement of acceptable use. For employers who allow use of personal devices for work activities, acceptable use becomes increasingly difficult to enforce and define. And for employees, keeping your personal files and data private can feel virtually impossible.

In addition to that challenge, BYOD creates an interesting new dilemma when employees leave the company. The device belongs to that employee, so now companies need to get their proprietary information and files off leaving employees’ phones and laptops, which can become difficult or awkward, depending on the situation.


Risk of involuntary disclosure

This is arguably a risk associated with any device containing confidential data that an employee can remove from the building, but with BYOD policies, organizations run a higher risk of involuntary/voluntary disclosure of their proprietary information. While your employees (hopefully) won’t run over to your competitor to share secure company information on their laptops, the data is more susceptible to theft by third parties. Many people don’t keep a lock on their personal devices, and if their laptop or phone is ever stolen, those thieves have access to company data as well as that belonging to the employee.

Organizations can curtail this risk by setting a policy that requires every employee keep a secure passcode lock on every device they use that stores or access secure company data.



We’ve posted before about the security risks of BYOD. Honestly, there can be a lot of them. Not only are you at risk of physical theft, any data kept on your employees’ devices are susceptible to digital theft. With enterprise equipment, you have standardized security software (antivirus, firewalls, etc.) that your employees may not use or may even disable on their own equipment.

In addition, while people tend to be more careful about their browsing habits and what links they click on when using a company-owned computer, they’re less suspicious of that attachment from Jim two houses over that is “guaranteed to make them fall down laughing!” than they are of misspelled links in their work inbox. And if their device with access to your servers and shared drives is compromised, that can easily spread to the rest of your organization… Or even your clients.

Before putting a BYOD program into practice, make sure you have security standards set that workers must meet in order to use their personal devices for work purposes.


Compliance issues

With security of your organizations’ data becoming harder to manage, so too does your compliance with state and federal regulations. When your business falls under compliance mandates, there are specific requirements regarding data protection and information security. When individuals own these devices, it’s difficult for the employer to monitor and ensure compliance.

You can audit the compliance and security of your office’s devices regularly and set standards for your employees to mitigate this risk, but telling individuals how they can or can’t use their own property rarely goes over well.

While a BYOD policy may cost less up front than the standard company-issue programs, the costs of noncompliance and risk of data loss can be significantly steeper than that initial investment.




About the Author- 

Erica Lee is the Assistant Service Manager at Rocket IT. Erica was an exchange student to Germany as a high school junior and, because of that experience, went on to earn Bachelor degrees in German and International Affairs from the University of Georgia.



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How to Prepare for Working Outside the Country for the First Time

Rocket IT

Are you getting ready to travel outside the country? You’ve probably run down the typical checklist: give your itinerary to a trusted friend or family member so someone knows where you are, check in with your embassy, get your passport and (if necessary) visas up to date, stay hydrated, etc. But how can you make sure you’re ready to work and collaborate with your team stateside after you get off the plane?

Whether it’s your first time traveling to a foreign country for work or you’re just looking for a few new tips, here are five steps you should take before checking in for your flight.

Check your security

Are you confident in the security of your means of connecting to your home office when using potentially compromised public networks in a foreign country? Before you leave for your trip, set up a virtual private network (VPN) connection and test it from your home to make sure you can safely connect to secure information you may need abroad.

Ensure your phone will work

You don’t want to get to the hotel room and find that your phone doesn’t work at all where you are. Call your phone provider and activate an overseas plan. This is a good rule of thumb for all of the services you typically use locally and will need abroad, so be sure to call your bank to let them know when and where you’ll be traveling, as well.

Choose the devices you need to bring

Do you really need to bring that laptop? Laptops can be heavy, unwieldy, and are a huge target for theft. Can you get away with just a tablet and/or phone?

Make sure you have the right charger adapter for all your devices

As funny as it was when someone tried to plug an American hair dryer into a European plug in the movies, it’s not amusing when it’s you. Pick up a few adapters for your electronics. Depending on where you’re traveling and where you’re recharging, you may need a charger adapter that adjusts voltage. You can tell pretty quickly when a plug isn’t going to work, but it’s not as obvious right away when the voltage is too high. Check the voltage capacity of your devices before plugging them in so you don’t risk overheating them.

Set up contingencies

You’ve already contacted your embassy. Your spouse has your complete itinerary and flight information, and your banks and phone providers have set up your accounts for overseas service. But what about your work contingencies? Does your team have all the appropriate information they need in case you’re delayed or unavailable?

Before leaving for your trip, make sure your peers and reports have everything they need from you to make sure critical work gets done if you are out of pocket while abroad.

Wouldn’t it be easier if more things in business came with an actionable checklist? Your technology strategy should. How’s your IT plan and budget coming along? Do you think there’s room for improvement? We can give your leadership team a clear path forward for wise technology investment that supports your business goals.

Do you have any availability next week to discuss?



EH 2About the Author-

 Eric Henderson is Rocket IT’s virtual Chief Information Officer. He is also the tallest person at Rocket IT (by a fraction of an inch).



1200x627- vCIOHave you found that you need the expertise of a Chief Information Officer to help you make strategic decisions on how to leverage technology to meet your unique business goals, but aren’t ready to commit to hiring a full-time executive to fill that need? Learn about our virtual CIO services.





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Best Practices, Leadership

Creating Quiet Space for Employees in an Open Office

Rocket IT

Like many offices today, Rocket IT’s headquarters has an open floor plan. This is fantastic for collaboration, accessibility to leadership, and anyone who suffers from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), but it can create a deficiency in quiet spaces to work.

We posted previously about ways employees can focus in and block out distractions in an open office setting, but what can you do as an employer to help?

One way we mitigate this issue is by creating dedicated quiet spaces in our office that anyone can use.

While our main floor plan is open, we do have a few individual offices throughout our space. Several of these offices are taken by members of our leadership team who deal with sensitive information and have weekly one-on-ones with their direct reports where they require privacy. But a few of these offices aren’t occupied by anyone. But that doesn’t mean they’re unused.

Instead of doling out all the available offices, we decided to make these available for use to everyone on the team.

These rooms are equipped with monitors, docking stations, phones, and everything else our team needs to pick up their work from where they left off at their own desk. Anyone can book time in one using its resource mailbox, and they can view the office’s availability within the resource calendars in Outlook. This method provides a more streamlined, standardized, and auditable way for these rooms to be utilized.


How exactly do these reservable work spaces help Rocket IT employees thrive?

Each office has a melting pot of eclectic personalities. You have your extraverts who think out loud as they work through new solutions, introverts who prefer white noise over small talk, and those of both personality types who sometimes need a break from background noise or who require privacy for a client phone call.

Creating a space for anyone in your office to reserve some time can diffuse some of that workplace tension that occurs from many different personalities in the same open floor plan.

If your team has expressed a need for some quiet time to get work done, this floating office could be your solution. When the open space becomes too distracting (which can happen in an office where projectiles have been known to fly on occasion) or someone needs a quiet place where they know they won’t be interrupted during a webinar or a conference call, they can go into one of these offices and have everything they need to continue working seamlessly right there at their fingertips.

Interested in seeing how these spaces work for yourself? Come join us on February 23rd from 4:30 PM to 7:30 PM for our ribbon cutting event! RSVP to



MB About the Author-

 Michael Bearchell lives with his wife and three children in Gwinnett County. He is an Inside Support Technician at Rocket IT and has found out the hard way that it is tough being a New York sports fan in the south.


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Best Practices, Technology, Tips & Shortcuts

Sending Emails to Large Groups without Giving Away Your Address Book

Rocket IT

Have you ever received an email and winced when you saw the email addresses of about 25 other executives in the recipient line?

For those of you who have been the ones sending those emails, sending one mass email to everyone instead of many individual ones is certainly the fastest and most efficient way to get your message out, but there is a better way. To send an email to a large group of people without giving away your address book (and giving out the email addresses of people who may not be too keen on having them shared out to people they don’t know), use blind carbon copy for your recipients.

Using blind carbon copy (BCC) allows the people entered in the BCC field to remain concealed from the other recipients. Doing this can also prevent accidental Reply to All emails.

When you enter email addresses into the BCC line of an email, you don’t need to enter any recipients into the standard “To” line. Just enter all your recipients in BCC, include your subject and your message, and you’re good to go.

You can also use the BCC function when sending a meeting request to multiple recipients. Of course, this isn’t meant to trick people so they don’t know who else is attending a meeting. When inviting executives to a large event you’re having, you may have the same message for a large group of people, and many of them may not want their email addresses to be public knowledge.

To use the BCC function in Outlook when sending a meeting request, click on the “To” box next to the text area after creating the request and enter your recipients into the Resources field. This will effectively BCC those guests.

Why are people so reluctant to have their email addresses shared with others?

Well, some people use those emails that go out to a group of people to add to their own mailing lists without getting permission from the sender or from that individual whose email address they’re adding. Many executives prefer to not receive cold emails, and when they see their email address shared with a large group of people, it may negatively impact your relationship with them. Using the BCC function is a quick and painless way to preserve the privacy of your contacts.

Now that you know how to use the BCC function, we encourage you to go forth and use it wisely!



About the Author – 

Patrick Richardt is an Implementation Engineer at Rocket IT. He was born on Thanksgiving Day, and he currently resides with his wife and two children in Gwinnett County.



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Best Practices, Technology

Protecting Yourself from Phishing Attacks

Rocket IT

We’ve recently seen a good number of VERY sophisticated phishing emails that could’ve resulted in significant financial loss. As phishing attempts escalate, and scammers find increasingly crafty ways to elicit money from their victims, we must stay vigilant.

One clever phishing email scheme we’ve seen increasing recently goes something like this:

An employee receives an email from their boss, boss’s boss, or the CEO. This decision maker asks the employee to send them the state of the company’s accounts and/or requests the employee wire funds to that decision maker. From the email address, down to the signature, the email looks almost exactly as if it has come straight from the hands of that executive.

That’s because a scammer has spoofed their email address, making it appear as if the email came directly from them.

How can your organization avoid losing significant amounts of company money to scammers like this?

Ensure all employees have a strong password, especially executives and those with access to financials.

These emails can often come from the mailbox of the actual executive if their account is compromised. So the best thing to do is to prevent them from getting hacked to begin with. Make sure your password stands the test here.

For extra security, you can also set up two-factor authentication. This will trigger an additional security question before a user can access their account after logging in with their username and password. This security question should be equally as strong as your password. Using questions and answers that can easily be found via a quick google search will defeat the purpose of using this extra step.

Confirm. Confirm. Confirm.

Follow up with that executive and make sure they truly made that request. If you can, follow up over the phone or in person. If you respond directly to the original email, that response will go straight to the scammer. And, if the decision maker’s account has been compromised, any emails asking to confirm that transaction request could still be intercepted by the scammer.

Ensuring that all significant financial requests are verbally agreed to by the person requesting the transaction can prevent loss of funds to scammers like this.




MB About the Author-

 Michael Bearchell lives with his wife and three children in Gwinnett County. He is an Inside Support Technician at Rocket IT and has found out the hard way that it is tough being a New York sports fan in the south.


1200x627- vCIOHave you found that you need the expertise of a Chief Information Officer to help you make strategic decisions on how to leverage technology to meet your unique business goals, but aren’t ready to commit to hiring a full-time executive to fill that need? Learn about our virtual CIO services.




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Best Practices, Technology, Tips & Shortcuts

Upsurge in Phishing Activities: Don’t Take the Bait!

Rocket IT

We’ve recently seen an increase in sophisticated phishing e-mails that could have resulted in significant financial loss. To help you detect the attempt before taking the bait, we’ve pulled a great article from our archives and updated it for your benefit.

The Internet is full of friendly people. There are Nigerian princes who want to give us a piece of their oil fortunes, in exchange for some basic bank account information, or long-lost relatives coming out of the woodwork to wire us multi-million dollar inheritances. To say nothing of the generosity of strangers: just the other day, a kindly foreign national wanted to split his investment proceeds with us, even though we had never met him.

Chances are, your spam folder is full of these laughable “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunities. They’re called “phishing” attacks in IT circles. The term refers to any attempt to acquire information such as usernames, passwords and credit card or bank information from the unsuspecting public through illegitimate emails, websites or other forms of communication.

While wayward Nigerian royals and uncles you’ve never heard of may sound like the Three Stooges attempting cybercrime, other phishing attacks aren’t as easy to detect and bear more of a resemblance to a criminal mastermind like Professor Moriarty than to Larry, Curly and Moe.

Advanced phishing attacks are highly organized, highly targeted and highly dangerous. They’re also on the rise. According to a recent study by Internet security firm IID, phishing attempts for Q1 2015 were up 8% when compared to Q4 2014; 2014 having been declared in their Q4 2014 report “The Year of the Breach.” The expert criminal minds behind advanced phishing attacks often try to bait an email recipient into “biting,” or clicking, on a link within an email. That link takes the user to a fake website that looks similar or identical to its legitimate counterpart. There, a user is prompted to enter a username, password or other piece of personal data, which is then sent to the malicious third party—who laughs all the way to (your) bank.

To protect yourself from these fake links and websites, it’s important to understand the two main parts of a link: what you can see and what you can’t.

Most email messages and all websites use a language called HTML in order to tell your email application or web browser what to display and how to classify the different elements of a message or a page. One of the fundamental components of both HTML email messages and web pages is the link, which is also referred to as a URL, or Uniform Resource Locator.

A link in HTML looks like this:

<a href=””>Visit us at!</a>


In the example above, the only portion of this link visible to you is “Visit us at!”While clicking on this link would take you to the Rocket IT website, making the following changes to the link would result in sending you to an entirely different location:

<a href=””>Visit us at!</a>


The link above would also appear as “Visit us at” in the body of the email message or text of the web page. It’s easy to think that a link like this would send you to our actual website, However, the link would actually send you to, a site that could easily be malicious.

The easiest way to verify a link’s legitimacy is to hover your mouse cursor over the link. When you do this in your email client, a pop-up box appears that shows the destination URL. If you’re using a web browser, that URL should appear in the status bar at the bottom of the browser window.

For example, the email message below looks similar to the notification that professional networking website LinkedIn sends you when you’ve received a new message. But when you hover the mouse cursor over this link, the pop-up box appears—showing you that the link leads to an entirely different place.




If your email client or browser doesn’t show the link destination, there’s an alternate way to ensure that a link is safe by copying and pasting the link URL from the source message. Start by right-clicking on the link and selecting “Copy Hyperlink” from the pop-up box. If you’re copying and pasting from a browser, this option may be listed as “Copy Shortcut” or “Copy Link Location.”

Be careful you don’t accidentally click “Open Hyperlink” or “Select Hyperlink.” Both options will send you to the link’s destination.


Then, open a safe application such as Notepad or Microsoft Word. Right-click and select “Paste” from the pop-up menu to copy the link to a blank document. You can also do this by pressing the “CTRL” key and the “V” key at the same time.

If the link shows any other destination than the one you expected, do not visit the link.

It is important to note that websites often use variations of their domain which are completely legitimate. For example, might use the “sub-domain” for their cell phone store. The end of the domain ( is what is important.

But if the link contains a fundamental variation of the standard domain name, something like, it may be a fake form of the URL and could be designed to steal your Amazon username and password.

In addition to destination URLs that do not match the text of the link, there are two other dead giveaways that a link is malicious. If the link connects to a foreign domain, such as “.ru” or “.cn”, there is a good chance that the link is not safe. (Note that the link in the first example connects to the domain “”, which is a domain for the country of Iran.) Many organized phishing scams originate from Russia (domain “.ru”) and China (domain “.cn”).

If a link includes an IP address, such as, then it is almost certainly not safe. As a general rule, legitimate sites do not use IP addresses in the link text.

Always remain vigilant. Many different forms of phishing attempts exist-and these messages are designed to be compelling and indistinguishable from the sites they purport to represent. If you’re unsure of a communication’s source, it’s never impolite to directly contact the company or person being represented to verify a link’s legitimacy. You’ll be glad you did.




About the Author-

Matt Hyatt is the Founder and CEO of Rocket IT, the IT department for all kinds of organizations around Gwinnett. His award-winning firm provides both the strategy and support needed to help businesses thrive.

Matt currently serves on the Executive Board of the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce as the Vice Chair of Entrepreneurship & Small Business, is an active supporter of Gwinnett County Public Schools, and is a member of several peer groups (like Entrepreneurs’ Organization) in addition to cofounding two of his own. In 2014, Matt was awarded the Pinnacle Small Business Person of the Year. 

Outside of work, Matt enjoys spending time with his wife, Maureen, and their two teenage children pursuing their shared passions for photography, travel, and food. He also regularly runs with a team in ultra-long distance relay races.


5-voices-giveaway-thumbnailWould you like the chance to win a copy of Matt’s favorite leadership development book, Five VoicesEnter our giveaway by 12:00 AM EST on January 15th, 2017, for your chance to win!





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Five Ways to Get into Fifth Gear in the Office

Rocket IT

At Rocket IT, we’ve adopted the Five Gears practice created by our friends at GiANT Worldwide to help us communicate better with each other in the office. If you’re not familiar with the tool, the five gears represent different modes any one of us is in at any point throughout the day. Each gear represents a different level of openness to distraction and interruption. For the sake of brevity (and not to give away too much of the book!), we’ll focus in on the fifth gear.

Fifth Gear is the mode you aim for when you buckle in to tackle tasks and get things done. When you’re in this gear, interruptions are the last thing you want, unless it’s an absolute emergency. When you tell someone not to interrupt you while you’re working on a report for a client later that week unless someone or something is actually on fire… That’s when you’ve already planned to enter the Fifth Gear.

Entering into this gear can be exceptionally difficult depending on your personality, habits… And on your office environment. We’re big fans of the open office environment on Rocket IT, in part because we’re also big proponents of collaboration and teamwork. So how do you get into Fifth Gear when you have distractions surrounding you?

  1. Communicate to your team that you’d prefer not to be interrupted and what ways they can send you questions they have without having to break into your workflow. Have you read our blog post about evaluating the medium through which you approach someone with a question based off of priority? This article will help you with this step.  Many people are really understanding and respectful of your desire to focus in without interruptions for questions that could easily be answered in an email or an IM. But they’re not mind-readers, so remember to express how you’d like to be approached.

  2. Come up with a system to indicate when you’re in Fifth Gear that all of your coworkers know. Whether it’s putting a red flag up on your desk or wearing a thinking cap, come up with your own best way to visually communicate when you’re not open to interruption. Since everyone in the office here is familiar with the Five Gears, we began holding up our hands to indicate when we’re in Fifth Gear and might need others to lower their voices. Keep in mind that there may be an adjustment period to this, and some people might end up with high-fives instead on accident.

  3. Invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds. This can also double as a method for indicating when you’re not open to interruption, but it really goes a long way in cutting down on the distraction noise. You don’t even need to play anything if that will pull you out of your task. It’s incredible what a little more silence can do for your focus.

  4. Use white noise playlists or device to reduce the amount of distraction noise around you. “Have a blast!” is our fourth company value at Rocket IT, and we do have a blast every day. But sometimes others having a blast around you can be a little distracting. And sometimes just normal work conversations can be distracting, especially because the urge to participate and help solve issues or join the fun can be so strong!If you’re not a huge fan of wearing headphones or earbuds for extended periods of time, this can be a great alternative for you.

  5. Reserve a quieter space in which to work. If your company has the option of open offices or conference rooms that are available for you to reserve time slots in during the work day, move yourself in there and close the door to really focus in on that big project.If your company doesn’t have that option, try finding a quieter corner or empty office you can borrow for an hour or two. Some employers will let you work remotely, and some studies find that remote workers can actually be more productive at home because they don’t have the same distractions as they do in the office.

Not all of these are an option for everyone, but we hope you’ll find one that works for you. And if you find any really great deals on noise-cancelling headphones, definitely let me know!



JM-2About the Author-

Jacque McFadden is the marketing specialist at Rocket IT. She graduated from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, and returned to Georgia after spending a year in Austin, TX. 


1200x627- vCIOHave you found that you need the expertise of a Chief Information Officer to help you make strategic decisions on how to leverage technology to meet your unique business goals, but aren’t ready to commit to hiring a full-time executive to fill that need? Learn about our virtual CIO services.




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Seven Password Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Rocket IT

A different security breach hits the headlines on an almost daily basis. While you may not be too concerned about the safety of your LinkedIn profile after a quick password reset, you may still be committing some of the most common password mistakes. We’re sure your password is more secure than “password” (especially after our last blog post on the subject), but are you making one of these seven mistakes?

1. Using any sort of easily recognizable patterns in your password

Using full words in your passwords makes it a lot easier for hackers using pattern-recognizing software to break in. You may think they’re more secure if you switch out a few letters for similar symbols or numbers (like P455w0rd), but the software is smart enough to check those patterns, especially if they’ve already discovered the beginning of it. It’s best to not use words in your password at all, and especially not to start your password with them.

A lot of people use patterns in passwords to help them remember. If you create your own passwords and need help remembering them, try using an uncommon acronym that makes sense to you, but probably won’t make sense to anyone else. For example, you may remember a sentence that makes sense to you like “I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-am.” Take the first letters from each of the words in that sentence “Idnlgeah.Idnlt,SIa” and transpose them with a few symbols and letters “1dnlg3&h.1dnlt,5l@” to make it more secure.

2. Using personal information in your password

You may think there’s no way a hacker knows what your mom’s maiden name is, and one certainly wouldn’t know the number of your locker in high school, but “Smith1265” is actually very easy to break. A quick Facebook search can reveal a lot more personal information than you think, so it’s safer to stay away from personal information in your password.

3. Having a password that’s too short

Just because your password meets the minimum requirements doesn’t mean it’s secure. The longer your password is, the harder it will be for someone to crack it. It’s generally recommended to have a password that’s at least 12-14 characters long.

4. Not updating your passwords

A huge reason the LinkedIn hack from 2012 was still a concern four years later is because a lot of people don’t update their passwords. The longer you go without updating them, the less secure your accounts are. You should change your passwords every few months.

5. Reusing your passwords

An even bigger reason why the LinkedIn breach is so concerning is that a whopping 59% of consumers reuse their passwords.[i] Sure, you might not care too much about some random person getting into your LinkedIn account, but you’d certainly care if that person was able to get into your Amazon account with that same password.

When you reuse your passwords, all it takes is one of those accounts being compromised to put all the others at risk.

At this point, you may feel a little concerned about the likelihood of remembering all of the really long secure passwords you’ll have to remember (and then change a few months later and memorize all over again). If this is a concern, you may want to explore using a password manager like LastPass or DashLane.

6. Not taking advantage of two-factor authentication options

I know it’s not very convenient to tack on an extra step to your login process, but using the two-step authentication options available provides an additional layer of security. There’s a reason why so many banks use it… Because it works!

Some software enables the multifactor authentication only when your login behavior differs from the norm. So, if you log in using the same computer every time, you won’t see the additional security challenge. But, if someone on the other side of the world tries to log in, they’ll have to go through an additional lock to get in.

7. Using weak security questions and answers

Why would you have a strong password and going back it up with strong security questions and answers? The most common security questions are about your mother’s maiden name and the name of the first street you lived on… Answers that are fairly easy to track down.

Where possible, create your own security questions. And make them hard. Don’t make your question “what’s your favorite movie series?” and the answer “the Avengers” if you like every Avengers page on Facebook, add 5 different Avengers pins to your Pinterest, and regularly comment on popular discussion boards. Use it to create a second password to your account or write it like an in-joke to yourself, something only you would know the answer to.




CS 2-1About the Author – 

Catherine Siv joined the Rocket IT team in the fall of 2015 as a Service Team Intern and is now a Remote Support Technician. She’s a tech enthusiast by day, and food blogger by night. 



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