As a company, we feel it is important to invest in our employees. Everyone has a story, a past, all leading them to where they are now. Every person, every story, has the same value and deserves to be heard. That said, Feynman Group has started a new interview series called ‘What’s Your Story’, giving our employees a platform to share their life, perspectives, and fundamentally, their story. We thought it appropriate to kick off the series by interviewing our Community Outreach Ambassador, Javier Martinez. We hope you enjoy getting to know the people who represent Feynman Group and constitute our company culture.
Welcome to ‘What’s Your Story’.
Questions for Javier:
Being someone who comes from a multi-cultural background, how do you feel like that has provided you with a positive advantage in the workplace?
What’s a quality you convey that is unique to you?
What intrigued or interested you about the business world that brought you to pursue it?
Other than your job, what are other factors that contribute to your identity?
What are some things that you are passionate about?
In February, B Local PDX held the 1st Annual B Corp Day of Service where local B Corp businesses were encouraged to take part in giving back to their community. The Day of Service reinforced the idea of using business as a force for good by utilizing each company’s paid volunteer time to pour back into our communities. It created an opportunity for businesses to be the hands and feet in making a positive change for people within their community while helping local organizations get more support and recognition. B Local PDX noticed that the Portland area has a high concentration of B Corp businesses. They decided that rather than working separately towards a cause, local B Corps could join together to create an even stronger impact. The results of the collaboration between local B Corp businesses that participated in the B Corp Day of Service were tremendous. B Local PDX coordinated 16 local nonprofits with 23 different volunteering opportunities. Feynman Group employees had the pleasure of volunteering at four of these locations during the B Corp Day of Service.
Project Lemonade is a retail store operating out of Lloyd Center Mall that annually provides free clothing to foster children. They offer summer internships to these foster children as a means of gaining work experience while supporting their peers.
Madisen (left) using ‘Business as a Force for Good’ at Project Lemonade
The clothing items at the store are either purchased or donated, but their goal is to provide new items for these children to enjoy. On the Day of Service, Project Lemonade volunteers helped by sorting clothing, tagging and organizing shoes, and managing inventory. Madisen, who volunteered with Project Lemonade stated, “it was amazing to hear the experiences of an employee who had been working with the organization for years and to recognize that this nonprofit successfully functions on almost purely volunteer help”. Many children that are placed into the foster care system don’t have much besides the clothes on their back, so the opportunity to shop at a store where the items are free is an incredible experience for these children.
Javier attended the beach cleanup at Audrey McCall Beach with Human Access Project. Human Access Project is a group dedicated to the conservation of the Willamette River. Hosting ‘The Big Float’ since 2010 to raise awareness, the Human Access Project’s mission is to transform Portland’s relationship with the Willamette River. The February weather could have not been better for the volunteers cleaning up litter from the popular Portland swimming spot.
Javier (front center) with fellow B Local PDX volunteers at Audrey McCall Beach
Javier enjoyed removing plastic with fellow participating companies, including Scout Books and Permanente Dental Associates. Volunteers were equipped with gloves, grabbers, and bags to pick up litter up and down the beach where there are many items adulterating the area, such as needles. After spending a few hours cleaning up, Javier shared, “think about how much we could accomplish as a community if we stopped being selfish and dedicated a bit of time a month towards a bigger cause,” realizing the positive impacts that small investments of regular volunteer work can produce.
In the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood, Alex helped clean and fix youth bicycles for The Street Trust, a nonprofit organization based in Northwest Portland.
Alex Working on Bikes for The Street Trust
The Street Trust teaches local kids that do not have access to transportation, how to ride bikes safely. This provides them with the freedom to get around independently and with the correct knowledge to do so. Ten percent of the students they receive have never ridden a bike before; The Street Trust’s program encourages and advocates for safe walking and biking. The volunteers spent their shift repairing the bikes that the organization uses for their program; checking tire pressure, brake function, gear function, and other mechanical needs. After his day of volunteering, Alex proudly noted, “we were able to prepare 50 bikes for the organization, which is the most they have ever received done in a day.”
Justine volunteered at Urban Gleaners in the SE Industrial neighborhood. Joining fellow B Corp volunteers from New Seasons and Scout Books, she helped repackage food donated by various local restaurants, corporate campuses, such as Nike World Headquarters and grocery stores like New Seasons. These meals were repackaged into well portioned, nutritional meals for low-income families.
Justine (top right) Sorted Food for Low Income Families at Urban Gleaners
Not only does Urban Gleaners provide fresh and healthy food for local low-income families, but they also allow people who are hungry to eat without having to show proof of low-income status. After her experience volunteering at Urban Gleaners and learning about the intentional support they provide, Justine stated, “I would like to volunteer at Urban Gleaners on a regular basis – I had a great time sorting and reapportioning fresh, high-quality food for people who are hungry that would otherwise go to waste. It was a friendly, welcoming volunteer environment and the people who run this organization are wonderful.” Nonprofits such as Urban Gleaners, not only see a need but they find solutions to fulfill that need in ways other resources might overlook.
After the B Corp Day of Service, a celebratory party was held at Shine Distillery & Grill where the volunteers collectively gathered. Participants enjoyed complimentary drinks supplied by B Corps, Sufferfest Beer and Brew Dr. Kombucha, and dinner from local food carts. It was an exciting time for everyone to greet the familiar faces of those they had been volunteering with that day and sponsoring businesses that came together to support their shared community.
B Corp Day of Service After Party at Shine Distillery & Grill
As a group, B Corp Day of Service volunteers contributed 1,256 hours with 314 registered volunteers and an economic impact total of $31,261. This is an example of how B Corps are mindfully directing their collective power towards leaving a positive thumbprint on society. February 21st was the first of many B Corp Day of Service events to come, with the goal of expanding and bringing together other businesses in the Northwest region who desire to join the B Corp movement of using business as a force for good.
As you may have seen in the news, last week the technology world was shaken by the disclosure of two vulnerabilities in modern processors, known as Meltdown and Spectre. These vulnerabilities are unusual, in that they target the CPU directly, which means that the operating system is not the source of the problem. In other words, any server, PC, mobile, or embedded device running an affected processor is vulnerable and will need to be patched.
Though these vulnerabilities are unusual in some ways, Meltdown and Spectre are similar to other vulnerabilities in the ways that they can be exploited. To exploit these vulnerabilities, an attacker must execute malicious code on a vulnerable system, via such means as an email attachment, browser plugin, or document macro. This means that normal digital hygiene practices apply very well to this situation.
To eliminate your exposure to these vulnerabilities, be sure to stay current on security patches for all network connected devices; including servers, PCs, and also network printers, firewalls, etc. Patches have already been released by Microsoft for Windows 10, and by Apple for Mac OS and iOS. Microsoft will be releasing patches very soon for the other supported versions of Windows, and other vendors are already rolling out patches, as well.
In addition to operating system updates, PC and Server hardware manufacturers have released their own patches that cannot be installed via typical operating system update procedures. These updates can be obtained via the manufacturer’s website and installed manually. Some manufacturers have their own automatic update mechanisms. For example, if you have a Dell PC running the Dell Command Update client, then you will automatically receive a notification when a BIOS update is available.
If you have any questions or concerns about your network security, please don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 541-342-5531.
Researchers in the UK have successfully broken the previously unbreakable WPA2 Wi-Fi security protocol.
This is a major announcement because the WPA2 protocol is used in almost every Wi-Fi network, meaning countless computers, smartphones, “internet of things” devices, and others are vulnerable to attack.
Feynman Group has the following proactive suggestions for our customers and partners to avoid exploitation:
This particular security risk is only available to the Wi-Fi coverage area. A potential hacker must be within range of your wireless network to take any action.
Where possible, connect to the network using a network (Ethernet) cable instead of wireless.
If you have Wi-Fi installed at your home or office, check with the manufacturer to see if/when an update may be available.
Websites which are secured with HTTPS (such as Google.com) are generally still secure even when browsing over a public / vulnerable network.
Some Wi-Fi vendors have already provided patches for this security issue, and many others will follow in the coming weeks.
Imagine two hardware stores who share a parking lot; one hardware store is bright, welcoming, clean and well-maintained. The other has paint chipping off the building, a flickering ‘open’ sign and barred windows. Which one does the customer choose to enter?
The company website is the modern day store front. Now imagine there are two equally bright and welcoming hardware stores. How does one set itself apart from the other? The one who delivers the best customer experience.
Set your modern day store front apart with these strategies to improve your customer’s experience.
If a customer was in the hardware store checking out and the employee at the register asked them to write down their credit card information and proceeded to carelessly leave that sensitive information on the counter, how would the customer feel? Distrustful, not cared about. When a company website doesn’t have a SSL Certificate, it sends the same message to the customer; the company doesn’t care about securing the customer’s privacy and financial well-being.
In addition to assuring that the customer’s credit card data is secure, SSL certificates create a positive customer experience by preventing extra cookies and ads being injected onto the website.
Mobile is king. As of July 2017, 54% of users access the internet from their smartphones. It is absolutely necessary for a customer to be able to navigate a website effortlessly from their phone.
Let’s go back to our aesthetically equal hardware stores. Both of them are chains. One of them has the same layout in every single location. The customer walks in and knows exactly which aisle to find ceiling tiles without having to think about it. They are in the same aisle they were in at the location across town.
The same principle applies to mobile responsive design. A customer should intuitively know where to find what they are looking for across a website displayed on desktop, smartphone and tablet. This consistency builds familiarity and loyalty with the customer and allows them to focus on their purchase rather than everything the company is doing poorly. Consider asking your web designer to re-design your website using Mobile First Design.
Intuitive User Interface Design
Humans are hardwired to choose the path of least resistance. A customer should not have to work to find out what a company does, learn about their service or products, or how to purchase them. This is where user interface design is critical in creating a positive customer experience. Creating a website that is intuitive for the customer to acquire what they came to the website for is key. Here are a few principles to focus on to keep your potential customers from bouncing back to Google’s search results and retaining them on your website:
The three-click rule: Every destination on the website should be less than three clicks of a mouse away from the customer accessing it.
Simplicity: The #3 most visited websites in the world have one major thing in common, the simplicity of their website’s interface and purpose. See Google, YouTube and Facebook.
Usability: A customer should never have to pinch, zoom or slide. For mobile resolution, buttons should be big enough that they can be effortlessly activated with the tap of the thumb. Text should have high readability by using appropriately large font size and by selecting colors that have high contrast.
Information architecture: Scanning is how people read content on the web and 55% of all page views get less than 15 seconds of attention. Use hierarchy to help your customers quickly locate the information they are seeking. This is achieved by breaking up information into readable chunks, organizing it using subheadings, and optimizing for skimming with bullet points.
The shortest distance between a brand and a customer is a conversation. Chatbots are poised to become the standard that websites are for businesses in the near future. Using Artificial Intelligence, Chatbots can be programmed to suit the customer needs of any industry. They allow website visitors to ask questions as they would if they were talking to a knowledgeable customer service representative at the hardware store. The customer is provided on demand support and the automated service gives the company more efficiency to be productive and grow.
Creating a great customer experience in a store or on a website is subtle. The customer shouldn’t even realize why it is a great experience, it just is because everything works seamlessly.
WannaCrypt, also known as “WannaCry,” is a ransomware attack that made international news headlines for hijacking computer systems across the globe last week. WannaCrypt infiltrated thousands of computer systems and held their files hostage. Hackers demanded $300-$600 worth of Bitcoins for users to reclaim access. Its reach was massive, with over 150 countries falling prey to the malicious software. Businesses in China, UK hospitals, and Russia’s interior ministry were among the victims.
How Does WannaCrypt Work
WannaCrypt is believed to initially breach systems via email attachment – from there, it spreads quickly. The malware exploits a security vulnerability in Windows software called Server Message Block, which is used to transfer data between trusted computers. WannaCrypt employs EternalBlue (an exploit believed to be created by the United States National Security Agency that was later leaked by a hacker group) to spread throughout a business’ system in a matter of seconds, no user activity necessary. Meanwhile, a portion of the code called DoublePulsar installs a backdoor into the infected systems, giving the hacker remote control of the computers.
Reports of new infections have come to a halt, thanks to a malware researcher who discovered a web domain in the code. But this outbreak serves as a wakeup call to businesses and organizations everywhere: protect your IT systems.
The Consequences of Malware
Being the target of a malicious software attack can be costly. It puts sensitive information in the hands of hackers, puts you at risk for losing crucial files, leads to a pricey recoup process, and diminishes customer trust in your business. Your computer systems are home to the very information that keeps your business running – if they are compromised, it can be difficult to recover.
Steps to Better Security
Since ransomware is an imminent threat, it’s important to do everything possible to protect your business from infection. Here’s a list of preventative steps to bolster your IT’s network security:
Apply available critical and security updates to all computers regularly
Block potentially malicious files from entering your system using email anti-spam, anti-virus, and employee training initiatives
Request that employees only open attachments when they are absolutely necessary, and expected to arrive
Demonstrate additional caution with Microsoft Word for Adobe PDF files delivered by email
Test and validate data backups regularly
You can detect malicious software in your systems by configuring email alerts from anti-virus agent detections, employing network-based anti-virus and anti-malware software, and setting up monitoring on file servers to detect changes to your files.
How We Can Help
Our team here at Feynman Group has years of experience defending businesses from malware like WannaCrypt. We have expertise in preventative protections, as well as recovery solutions. Through our partnerships with Cisco AMP, OpenDNS, Cisco Firepower, and Datto, we can give your business the best chance of surviving malicious software attacks. This past week showed the world that it’s more important than ever for organizations of every kind to strengthen their IT security. If you’re not sure whether or not your business is properly protected, contact us for a free backup analysis today.
Today, we are celebrating the birthday of Richard Feynman — the inspiration behind our company’s name. The American theoretical physicist was known for keeping an open mind, finding pleasure in problem-solving, fostering curiosity, and keeping things simple. These are some of the central values that have guided our business from establishment in 1995 to this very day.
Richard Feynman was not just known for his incredible work and numerous awards in physics, but for his infectious energy and engaging perspective of the world around him. He combined brilliance, curiosity, and influence to change how people viewed problem-solving. Although Mr. Feynman passed away in 1988 after a battle with cancer, his legacy lives on. Here at Feynman Group, we continue to remember and live out Richard’s inspiring values in our daily work.
“The worthwhile problems are the ones you can really solve or help solve, the ones that you can really contribute something to. No problem is too small or too trivial if we can really do something about it.”
With the end of the first quarter of 2017 swiftly approaching, I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on the year behind us as well as share a bit about our direction in the coming months.
Last year we made a concerted effort to focus on consistency as a theme, and while we experienced new and exciting opportunities – shifts in the industry, our expanding presence in Portland, the adoption of new technologies, and beyond – ultimately our concentration on consistency allowed us to grow alongside these changes. As a result, this growth has molded Feynman Group into a more mature, conscientious company.
Our dedication to community engagement continued in 2016 with our partners at Kids’ FIRST. Together, we raised over $50,000 at our annual 1 Day 100 Holes Charity Golf Marathon to aid children in Lane County. We are eagerly preparing for this year’s marathon in September, and we look forward to serving our community throughout 2017.
As Feynman Group moves forward, we are excited to continue building off of the positive growth we have diligently fostered. Alongside this effort, we are proud to launch our new logo which we feel reflects the progression and evolution of our brand. Finally, carrying us through 2017 is our concentration on acting deliberately and attentively as a company in order to best meet your technology needs. With that in mind, I sincerely thank you for the opportunity to serve you and your organization. Our partnership allows us to do what we love every day by helping your business thrive.
You may have heard the buzzwords HTTPS and SSL flying around more lately. That is likely because beginning January 2017, Google began flagging sites as “not secure” if they collect passwords and credit card numbers over HTTP.
What is HTTP?
HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It allows for your web browser and a web server to relay information between each other.
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol over Secure Socket Layer. Unlike HTTP, the S in HTTPS indicates that the information from your web browser is encrypted before it is sent to the web server.
What is an SSL Certificate?
SSL is an acronym for Secure Socket Layer. An SSL certificate encrypts the data that is sent to the website you are interacting with from your computer, proving the identity of the website. Here’s how it works: your web browser requests a web server to verify the identity of the website you’re on. If verified, the web server will respond by sending an SSL certificate. When the website is deemed trustworthy, the HTTPS symbol will appear in the URL bar as a digitally signed acknowledgement that the site’s identity has been verified by a trusted authority.
How can I tell if a site is verified?
In the URL bar of your browser, a lock symbol will be displayed and the URL will begin with https://www…
Why do I want to interact with sites that use HTTPS?
Imagine you are the web browser and your bank is the web server. If you were in a public place and had to shout out your credit card numbers to your bank across the room, would you rather shout those numbers in plain English, or in a coded language that only you and your bank could understand? HTTP is plain English to snoops and hackers, whereas HTTPS is the coded language that makes your information much harder to crack.
Why should I Care?
Not only does Google label non-HTTPS websites as non-secure, they penalize these sites by dropping their ranking in search results. This directly affects your customers’ ability find you. In addition, beyond search ranking concerns, HTTPS is the security standard, and adopting it on your website helps keep you and your website’s visitors protected.
Are you ready to set up SSL on your website? Contact Feynman Group for more information.