Mental Health Awareness

Since 1949, the United States has recognized Mental Health Awareness Month in May. Over the last few months, I’m sure many of us have been concerned about our mental health just as much as our physical health. I can say personally that I have been feeling a bit anxious in this new world.

Depression and anxiety disorders left untreated can affect people’s education and livelihood.  Together they’re estimated to cost the global economy $1 trillion each year in lost productivity. The CDC reports that 50% of us will experience some type of mental illness at some point in our lives.

A large percentage of IT workers already feel stressed on a regular basis. Now, IT professionals are under a new sense of pressure. They have had to move work forces to remote settings and handle an increase in tech support due to the is move. On top of that, there is an increase in security risks. Like the rest of America, they are under the new stresses that have come with this new normal.

 

Tech Therapy

The coronavirus is driving a mental health crisis for many, but tech can help tackle it. One technology gaining in availability is telehealth services. Not only used to check physical symptoms with your doctor, one can contact mental health professionals via phone, video conference or chat. Online platforms like TalkSpace and BetterHelp help those with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other conditions remotely.

This is also beneficial for rural America. Many must travel hundreds of miles to get to a nearby hospital or clinic. Telehealth enables help for this segment of America. Many vets live in more rural areas and must travel an average 25 to 50 miles for healthcare.  The US Department of Veterans Affairs has nearly 20,000 telehealth visits daily, an 800% increase since before the pandemic.

 

AI Help

There are AI based applications available that serve as chat therapists.

WoebotWoebot - AI chatbot mental health is one example. It is an AI-based chatbot that provides cognitive behavioral therapy. It monitors daily, one-on-one interactions with users using natural language processing. Then, it delivers a personalized version of therapy to the user.

The University of Colorado recently used machine learning AI to develop changes in speech. Subtle differences in speech can suggest a mental health decline. Shifts in tone or pace can indicate mania or schizophrenia. Memory loss can also be a symptom of cognitive and/or mental health problems.

 

Game Time

Even though we may be trying to limit screen time, video games can aid in elevating someone’s mood. They allow users to escape and immerse themselves into another world. Some video games main purpose is treating a mental health condition.

One example is Endeavor by Akili. This helps children who have ADHD. It brings together world-class neuroscience with the latest technology and video game entertainment. It’s a digital medicine not delivered through a pill or syringe but through a video game experience.

Virtual Reality or VR is another tool. Explore Deep is a meditative virtual reality controlled by breathing. It serves as an intervention for those with anxiety. Players navigate through a serene and poetic underwater world. Movement is controlled by slow, deep breathing. It uses a self-explorative, visually stunning underwater seascape and biofeedback mechanics.

 

Wearable Technology

Wearable technology helps to monitor sleep, physical activity and more. It is also a key tool to detect possible disorders in the first phase. The applications collect information and evaluate the activity of the user through biomarkers.

One device, TouchPoint is a neuroscientific wearable that is placed on each wrist in the morning or at night to induce the boy to calm before going to sleep. It’s uses include before, during or after a stressful situation. It reduces 70% of someone’s stress in thirty seconds.

spire wearable device- mental healthAnother example is Spire.  It is a wearable device that works with a smartphone application that tracks one’s breathing. This helps to reduce stress.  The device measures your breath via the expansion and contraction of your torso. Then, it analyzes and categorizes your breathing as calm, tense, or focused. It sends an alert to you if you need to reset your breath.

 

 

What Can you Do?

These are strange times that we are all in right now. What can you do to help your mental state? First, create reasonable expectations for yourself, your managers and your coworkers.

Understand that your productivity won’t necessarily be the same. Don’t beat yourself up and remember to be kind to yourself and others.  Maintain social work connections by doing things like check-in phone calls or virtual happy hours.

Try some stress-reducing techniques such as yoga, meditation or other mindfulness practices. Start a new hobby or learn a new skill that may fulfill your life in new ways. Make sure you take breaks during the day. Staring at a screen for eight plus hours is not a recommended practice.  Make sure to take regular breaks to stretch, walk around the block or get a healthy snack.

As a company, communication is key. Businesses should share resources on mental health assistance that is available for employees. At the same time, don’t overwhelm employees with information. Provide regular concise communication and address concerns weighing on employees.

 

How Can Zunesis Help?

Zunesis wants to help ease some of the stress felt by IT Professionals at this time. We have a wide variety of assessments to look over your current infrastructure. We also offer a Customer Connect program to allow for a free look into an IT issue at your company.

 

 

As we approach day [xyz] of the plague, I was ready to write another blog post about COVID-19 and technology.  It seems that all we can think about lately is the virus.  Working from home with three kids under 10 years old certainly has been “fun” for me.  I’ll definitely be glad once this thing is gone.

 

Ransomware Uptick

Instead, I’d like to take some time to talk about ransomware. Another currently rampant plague of the digital variety.  Among malware, ransomware is some of the absolute worst of the worst.  It certainly has it’s own place in H-E double hockey sticks.

Ransomware prevention

 

At a time where people and businesses are already suffering, we are seeing an uptick in ransomware attacks.  Encryption of your files occurs, and cyber criminals demand a ransom in order to decrypt them.  Often times, organizations use military grade encryption. So, the only way to decrypt the files is to pay the ransom.

Since only the criminals have the required decryption keys, it would be nearly impossible to decrypt even with your handy dandy cereal box decoder ring.  Unfortunately, paying the ransom is a risky proposition.  There is no guarantee that your files will be decrypted.  This also validates the cyber criminal business model and encourages bad actors.

Ransomware spreads like fire, and burns the building to the ground if you don’t prepare.

 

How to deal with ransomware

BACKUP

First of all, you REALLY should have good backups.  This doesn’t prevent the ransomware attack, but it certainly prevents you from needing to either a)open up your wallet or b)lose important data.
You might be surprised how many of us don’t follow rule #1 for data.  Backups should be available locally, as well as off-site/cloud.  You should also make sure that you can restore multiple points in time. This is in case your more recent backups contain ransomware.  This isn’t just best practice for ransomware, it is just good practice in general.
Whether it comes in the form of ransomware, hard drive failure, data corruption, or space aliens shooting lasers at your PC, you really should have a plan for your data. How much is your data worth to you?  For the ransomware event, skip the heartburn and restore from backup prior to an attack.

Prevent ransomware with good personal cyber hygiene
Be proactive with cyber security. Here are some suggestions:

  • Rule #1 – Take regular backups
  • Rule #2 – Take regular backups
  • Rule #3 – Make sure your backups are good, and validate that you can restore from them.
  • THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK
  • Make sure that you are using reputable antivirus and malware protection to stop most threats.
  • Stop believing that your AV/Malware prevention suite will stop 100% of attacks, zero day exploits will keep coming.
  • Do not open files from people that you do not know, or click on random email links from your “bank” asking you to “update” your information.
  • Have a good firewall, network segmentation, SPAM filter, etc.
  • Don’t re-use the same few passwords for EVERYTHING. Do not use the same password with 1,2,3,etc., to get around password complexity requirements not allowing you to re-use your password.
  • Use multi factor authentication where possible.
  • Make sure that you are updating your operating system regularly.
  • Security patches don’t work if you don’t install them.

What to do if you get hit with Ransomware

Hopefully this will always be theoretical, and you never get hit.  First of all, you definitely want to isolate the machine. This stuff will scan your ARP tables, your registry, and a variety of other sources to look for other hosts to infect.  I’d say immediately power off, enter the nuclear codes, and kill it with fire.  In other words, wipe/erase the machine.  You can then move forward with rebuilding the OS and restoring your data once you’ve got a blank canvas.  Just because your security scan came up clean does not 100% guarantee a malware free result.

Next, if there are other machines on the network, quarantine and examine them.  Ransomware will proactively work to infect everything else it can on the network.  If other machines are impacted, they should also be nuked and rebuilt.  This includes your business critical servers.  Actually, this is especially critical for business critical systems.  These systems house critical data, and are often a central point of access(points of infection) by many users.  YES, THIS IS PAINFUL.  However, if you have good backups to restore from, it isn’t nearly as big of a deal.

 

Are you prepared?

Much like the human pandemic that we are all too familiar with, hopefully you are “distancing” yourself from the digital pandemic.  The best way to beat a ransomware attack is prevention, not reaction after the fact when it’s too late.  If you need help preparing, or even just a second set of eyes to review your existing strategy, please contact us for an assessment.  We are here to help.

Help with Returning to Work

Working for a tech company, we at Zunesis have a drive for finding the best and most innovative products on the market. Growing concern regarding the spread of COVID-19 has prompted business owners to start taking temperatures of individuals entering their doors. With the whole country starting to open back up, perhaps the most helpful product we have found is the Personnel Management Kiosk.

Measuring body temperature is an important activity. A number of diseases are characterized by a change in body temperature. With other illnesses, the course of the disease is followed by measuring body temperature.

A fever is typically the reaction to a disease-specific stimuli. The body changes its normal temperature to support the body’s own defense mechanisms. Fever is the most common form of disease-related (pathological) increase in body temperature.

 

Meridian Personnel Management Kiosk

The Meridian Personnel Management kiosk aids in effectively detecting temperatures of individuals prior to allowing them to enter office buildings, retail spaces or other organizational spaces. The technology in this system is capable of detecting individual faces and temperatures. It reads the temperature in 2 seconds with +/- .9 degree Fahrenheit accuracy. The system then compiles these temperatures into a database of up to 30,000 people.

The device strives to help protect the health and safety of both employees and guests. It prevents anyone with a temperature from entering a facility. An alarm can be enabled to go off when temperatures of the guest or employee are above the recommended threshold.

 

Through the use of this device, companies can help to slow the spread of viruses. Not only is the technology of the device revolutionary, but the device itself is also antimicrobial, flexible and secure. An antimicrobial powder coat finish is available for the base of the unit. It ensures durability and prevent the spread of germs. The kiosk is available in freestanding and countertop configurations.

Demand is high for this product so reach out to Zunesis today to get a quote. We continue to look for other products to help keep your business moving during these unique times.

Relationship-Based Selling

What is relationship-based selling and why is building healthy working relationships with your clients vital to the success of your business? The word “relationship” may lead one to believe that you spend hours upon hours small talking with your clients. Not true. Just as in personal relationships, it takes time to get to know others.

You may have clients that prefer a “transactional” approach when conducting business. Get in, get what they need, and get out. But taking the time to learn that about your client, how they like to handle their day to day business interactions that is, is a huge part of relationship selling. Not all target audiences are created equal; some like small talk, some are all business. Some want to talk about their families, some don’t. Some will only communicate via email. Others prefer the phone or in person interactions.

The below statistics tell us how most buyers feel about the people they are conducting business with:

How to Build Relationships

How do we work outside of these stats and ensure we are building healthy working relationships with clients? Ultimately, to guarantee our place in business, we must show value, create comfort and reason to trust. Of course, we must deliver on expectations.

Now, more than ever, we have seen a shift in the “socialization” (or lack thereof) with clients. The Pandemic has put a stop to taking someone out to lunch or dinner. There is no playing a round of golf. There is no grabbing a drink after work. There is no getting together at all. The act of socializing with our buyers can aid tremendously in the building of a relationship.

 

Golf – Building Connections

Golf provides an opportunity to learn about your buyer. Because a typical round of golf requires 4 to 5 hours to complete, there is ample opportunity to discuss a number of topics. IT specifically, is a brainstorm industry. So much to learn, digest, debate, and consider when discussing options and ways in which we use IT to better the lives of our end-users.

What does your client want to know about? What keeps them up at night? What is causing problems at work? What do we know about the topic that may be helpful? Is there something stopping them from making certain changes? Is there something bothering them about their relationship with you or your company? Plenty of time to learn everything you need to know.

Golf provides an outlet for stressWhile golf can be the most frustrating thing that you’ll ever learn to love, it can become a terrific outlet for everyone to handle work-related stress. In order to become proficient, tremendous focus is required. You can’t be rehashing an unfavorable meeting while you’re trying to sink a 10-foot putt. IT professionals specifically, spend an unbelievable amount of time behind computers, in data centers, isolated from others and working on fixing problems. It’s important to give these hard-working individuals an escape from the stress of their every-day lives.

It provides a chance to bond: Golf can give the player an opportunity to build friendships that last a lifetime. It’s something that people can form a common interest in, while providing a platform to share time and enjoy a common experience-all of which bonds people.

 

Other Options

Though golf is a great example of how we can build long-lasting working relationships, let’s face it, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Lunch, dinner, drinks, or anything in social setting for that matter is just as beneficial. Maybe your client has a significant other and/or kids. Maybe they want to spend spare time with family. Great! Sporting event with both families? Hike and lunch? There are endless ways in which you can spend time with your clients, build solid relationships, and do it in ways that make the most sense for each individual person.

The important thing to remember is that if you can find ways to truly get to know your clients, the more likely everyone’s success is in a two-way partnership.

As social connection is important, we will be getting creative with ways we can connect with our clients during this unique time. Our hope is to visit our clients while following social distancing guidelines. Virtual events and activities will be available for education, certification training and more.

How are you managing your partnerships during this pandemic?

 

 

GET IN TOUCH

EMAIL: info@zunesis.com

     

    

CORPORATE OFFICE

Zunesis, Inc.
4B Inverness Ct E Suite 100,
Englewood, CO 80112
(720) 221-5200

Las Vegas
6671 Las Vegas Blvd S
Building D Suite 210, Office 260
Las Vegas, NV 89119
(702) 837-5300

Copyright © 2023 Zunesis. All Rights Reserved. | Website Developed & Managed by C. CREATIVE, LLC