Get The Most From Your Section 179 Deduction

If you have been putting off substantial systems or hardware upgrade, 2018 is an excellent year to move forward. This year, small and mid-size businesses can deduct up to $1,000,000 in equipment purchased (including computers and software) using an expanded Section 179 Tax Deduction.

The “Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015” (PATH Act) became law on December 18, 2015. The bill increased the Section 179 deduction limit from $25,000 to $500,000. Since 2015, the deductible has increased year by year, until undergoing major changes in 2018.

With the signing into law of H.R.1, aka, The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2018, the deduction limit has increased to $1,000,000. Additionally, the spending cap on equipment purchases has increased to $2.5 million.

Section 179 Tax Deduction Basics

 

 2018 Deduction Limit – $1,000,000

  • The equipment must be financed or purchased and put into service between January 1, 2018, and the end of the day on December 21, 2018 to qualify for the tax deduction.

2018 Spending Cap on equipment purchases – $2,500,000

  • This is the maximum amount that can be spent on equipment before the Section 179 Deduction available to your company begins to be reduced on a dollar for dollar basis. This spending cap makes Section 179 a true “small business tax incentive”

2018 Bonus Depreciation – 100%

  • Bonus Depreciation is generally taken after the Section 179 Spending Cap is reached. The Bonus Depreciation is available for both new and used equipment.

 

The Bottom Line?

To qualify for these deductions, the assets must be purchased and placed in service in the year you are taking the deduction. Please contact us for more information on taking advantage of this tax benefit in 2018.

-Via Section179.org

Are Your Passwords HIPAA Compliant? 

Are your passwords HIPAA compliant? HIPAA compliant password requirements are an often-overlooked component of an effective HIPAA compliance program. Along with a privacy and security program, strong passwords can go far in protecting sensitive health data.  

If you are reading this, there’s a good chance that you (or one of your coworkers) has their passwords and login information on a Post-It note taped to their desk.  

While displaying passwords out in the open is unfortunately common in most offices (even the Boston Red Sox are guilty) it leaves you open to data breaches and costly HIPAA violations.  

 

-via Boston.com 

 

HIPAA Password Requirements

Effective password management is an important part of your HIPAA compliance plan. In order for a password to be considered HIPAA complaint, it needs to meet the standards stated in the Administrative Safeguards section of the HIPAA Security Rule. 

PASSWORD MANAGEMENT – § 164.308(a)(5)(ii)(D)

The last addressable specification in this standard is Password Management. Where this
implementation specification is a reasonable and appropriate safeguard for a covered entity, the covered entity must implement: 

“Procedures for creating, changing, and safeguarding passwords.” 

In addition to providing a password for access, entities must ensure that workforce
members are trained on how to safeguard the information. Covered entities must train all
users and establish guidelines for creating passwords and changing them during periodic
change cycles. 

Sample questions for covered entities to consider: 

Are there policies in place that prevent workforce members from sharing
passwords with others? 

Is the workforce advised to commit their passwords to memory? 

Are common sense precautions taken, such as not writing passwords down
and leaving them in areas that are visible or accessible to others? 

 

The HIPAA Security rule mandates that you MUST have some kind of password plan in place but does not require a specific plan. This allows you to develop, with your technology service provider, a plan that meets the needs of your employees and your practice.  

How To Create A Secure Password

Here are some basic Dos and Don’ts when it comes to passwords that are complex and HIPAA compliant. 

DOS

  • DO change your system-level passwords (Windows Administrator, application administer accounts, etc. )  on a quarterly basis  
  • DO change your user-level passwords (email, desktop computer, etc. ) at least every six months  
  • DO create passwords that meet at least three of the five following character classes: 
    • Lowercase characters 
    • Uppercase characters 
    • Numbers 
    • Punctuation 
    • “special” characters (@, #, $, %, &, etc. ) 
  • DO create passwords that are at least 8-15 alphanumeric characters  
  • DO use different passwords for your business accounts and your personal accounts 
  • DO create passwords that are easy to remember. One way to do this is to create a password based on a song title, affirmation, or another phrase. For example, the phrase might be: “This May Be One Way To Remember” and the password could be: “TmB1w2R!” or “Tmb1W>r~” or some other variation. (P.S. DON’T use either of these examples as your actual password!) 

 DON’TS 

  • DON’T share your business passwords with anyone. All passwords should be treated as sensitive and confidential information. 
  • DON’T write down or store your passwords online without encryption 
  • DON’T reveal a password in email, chat, or other electronic communication 
  • DON’T hint at the format of a password (“my family name”) 

If you are feeling inspired to update your password plan and policies, please contact us for more information. You can also discover if your company data and passwords are available on the Dark Web with our free scan 

Lock It Down: How To Secure Your Accounts With Two-Factor Authentication

Most standard security procedures only require a simple username and password. Because of this,  it has become easier for criminals to gain access to a user’s private data. Two-factor authentication allows you an extra level of security and protection. 

What is Two Factor Authentication? 

An extra layer of security known as “multi-factor authentication”. 

Also known as 2FA, two-factor authentication is a tool that can be used to add a second level of security to online accounts. Two-factor authentication also works to secure software programs and hardware like laptops or cell phones. It requires a password and username and something that only the user has on them, i.e. a piece of information only they should know or have immediately on hand. 

How Does Two Factor Authentication Work? 

Just like a normal log-in process, two-factor authentication is completed after your username and password are entered. Based on the type of two-factor authentication you are using, you can be prompted to enter a numerical code, provide a thumbprint, or take a photo for facial recognition. It can be a little time consuming to complete each time you want to log in, but the extra level of protection is worth it. 

What Are The Benefits of Using Two Factor Authentication? 

The main benefit of using two-factor authentication is the extra security because of the peace of mind it provides. If a cybercriminal was able to get ahold of your password, they would have no luck accessing any information because of your unique two-factor authentication code or key. This is especially useful in the case of physical theft of a computer or laptop. 

In addition, you can set up two-factor authentication for your business or personal social media accounts. Two-factor authentication also works well with software applications like Quickbooks or the CRM of your choice. 

 

If you have any questions, please contact us with any questions on two-factor authentication, cybersecurity, or data protection.  

Call: (508) 824-2260
Email: askthegeek@bravertechnology.net
Web: Contact Us! 

Windows 10 Updates: What You Need To Know

The recent launch of the massive Microsoft Windows 10 Creators update isn’t the end of a process – it’s just the beginning. Microsoft has announced that it is looking at releasing updates 2 – 3 times a year. These updates are more of a rolling upgrade. Each new “release” brings a few performance updates, new applications, and new functionality. 

It is important to note that these updates are mandatory for Windows 10, and cannot be blocked or ignored like in the past.  What this means for you is that if you have purchased a Windows 10 device, expect more mandatory updates in the future. 

How The Updates Work 

 

Windows Patches

 

These are patches supplied by Microsoft to address (typically) security and product issues. These are released on “Patch Tuesday”, the second Tuesday of each month.
Our patch management tool has always supported these – that is what it is designed for.

Windows Updates / Upgrades

 

This is a new concept introduced with Windows 10. As Microsoft stated, “Windows 10 will be the last version of Windows”. Meaning that updates to the OS – new features, improvements, new applications will be released on a regular basis, but added to the OS rather than in new OS releases.

Before Windows 10, there was XP, then Vista, Windows 7, etc. These were clearly new versions of the OS – every 2 years Microsoft would release a new version – new name, new look, new everything. An upgrade typically required a physical visit to the machine with a DVD and you would run the installer.

With Windows 10, this has changed. Microsoft is looking at releasing updates 2 -3 times a year. These updates are more of a rolling upgrade. Each new “release” brings a few performance updates, maybe new applications, and new functionality.

In the Windows interface, these are presented via the “Updates & Security” tool, which typically shows the monthly patches, but in the event of a new update, will also display that. Although the same interface is used for patches and updates, these are different.

Since the release of Windows 10 (July 2015), there have been 6 versions, 1507, 1511, 1607, 1703, 1709 and 1803 although they all carry the “Windows 10” name, they are new versions of windows – after an update, you will see that the entire windows directory has been backed up to c:\Windows.old. 

Our Patch Management Tool has never supported upgrading or updating from one Windows version to another – you cannot use the Patch Management module to move from Windows 7 to Windows 8, for example. Microsoft has also denied any patch management application (3rd party included) to stop these updates from being installed.

 

Our Recommendations For An Easy Update 

 

In the Windows interface, these updates are presented via the “Updates & Security” tool, which should present as a pop up on your screen

1. Perform A Backup 

 

Prior to performing an Operating System upgrade, we recommend saving any important files you are working on, as well as performing a backup. 

2. Prepare For Restart 

 

Just like any other update, your computer will automatically restart as a part of the update process. For this reason, it is especially important to perform the previous step before updating! 

 

3. Budget 2 Hours of Time 

 

The whole process takes anywhere between 45 minutes and 2 hours, so it is important that you can plan to be away from your workstation for that time. We recommend scheduling the update for a specific time when you will not need to access your workstation, like after business hours. 

As always, the team here at Braver wants to ensure that your computer products are running smoothly and effectively. If you need any assistance with current or future updates, please contact our support team.