Is Your Head in the Cloud?

Are you ready to embrace the benefits of the Cloud? Whether your company is ready to acquire new software-as-a-service (SaaS) capabilities or in need of infrastructure upgrades via infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), Cloud has now reached new heights in the small and medium-sized business (SMB) world. According to current research by International Data Corporation (IDC), fifty percent of all companies are using at least one public SaaS offering, with a further 20% planning to implement such a service within the year. Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and (IaaS) are less used today, but there is interest and growth in that direction. Top Reasons for Moving to the Cloud According to the same report by IDC, here are the top five reasons that your business should be moving to the Cloud: Get access to the newest functionality faster. Improve utilization. Reduce the cost of overall IT spending. Improve staff productivity. Give business units more direct control over sourcing IT solutions. Bottom Line On Cloud There is no denying that the Cloud is here to stay and all indications are that the sooner you start to incorporate it into your technology portfolio the better. The fact is your competitors are getting the message and there is competitive risk at stake. Because the hallmark of Cloud is flexibility and agility, it can be relatively low risk to try it out.  The ‘pay as you play’ Cloud subscription model means there is little financial investment to get started. This all adds up to low barrier to entry. There are many economic reasons for moving to the Cloud and there are also compelling practical considerations and strategic opportunities. So...

Wearables are Fashionable, But Are They Secure?

Wearable technology, especially Smartwatches, including the Apple Watch, the Samsung Gear, and the Microsoft Band, are all the rage and are expected to become even more popular over the coming years. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), 2015 will see as many as 72.1 million wearables shipped. They are popular and fashionable, but do they leave your network open to potential security breaches?  Wearables and Security Risks Wearables represent another attack target for the cybercriminals who are currently enjoying the opportunities presented by mobile devices. Wearables have the same potential for data leakage, data loss, and industrial espionage as mobile devices. Some security experts agree that the current wearables have a limited attack surface. Other experts believe that there is a risk of a hack and warn that the danger could increase. Future wearables will likely behave as current mobile devices, making them far more appealing than computers for cybercriminals. Like computers, wearable devices are built on familiar operating systems and have vulnerabilities. Because security and privacy are not a priority for developers, these devices are not being built with security front of mind.  Considering that some companies encourage employees to bring their own devices, security threats of wearables should be incorporated into a firm’s policies. Bring Your Own Device Policy and Wearables Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, in which companies give employees the choice to use their own iPhones, iPads and Android smartphones for work, is a trend that business cannot avoid. A number of firms still do not have adequate policies, controls, or even the right technology. Some say a BYOD policy should include wearables...

Does Your Business Have a Password Management Policy?

In order to keep your business up and running and to avoid being hacked, your company must develop an effective password management policy. This is especially true for any business that must comply with HIPAA, PCI, and/or other regulatory compliances, as regulatory scrutiny and fines can be costly and time consuming. The following four steps can help protect your business from disruption. Make Your Password Complex Make passwords complex; don’t make it easy for hackers to access your company’s data. Include both uppercase and lowercase letters, at least one digit, and punctuation and special characters. Consider creating a passphrase that includes several words, but be sure to avoid expressions from movies or other everyday vernacular. Avoid The Usual Suspects Believe it or not, the most common password is “Password.” Whatever you do, do not use easy-to-guess passwords. Change all default passwords right away, and avoid obvious choices, such as your family name, your pets’ names, or your birthday. Also, not not allow employees to keep a Post-It on their desk with a list of passwords. Change Passwords Often Some systems automatically prompt you to change your password every now and then. For systems that do not already have this feature built in, consider making quarterly password changes mandatory for your organization. And remember: Recycling is good, just not for passwords. Smart Management Consider using a password management system or encryption email to secure your resources. Both can assist you in staying safe from malware and threats. Some malware programs are designed to “phish” for your password. While logging in, malware may transmit your password without your knowledge, so make...

Is Your Business Ready for a Disaster?

Disaster recovery and business continuity planning are processes that help organizations prepare for disruptive events—this might include a hurricane, an earthquake, a power outage caused by a fire or a cyber attack by hackers. Your business should have a process in place ranging from overseeing a disaster plan, to providing input and support, to putting the plan into action during an emergency. Having a Plan Is Important Given the human tendency to look on the bright side, some business people are prone to ignoring disaster recovery because disaster seems an unlikely event. Business continuity planning is a more comprehensive approach to making sure you can keep making money, not only after a natural disaster but also in the event of smaller disruptions including illness or departure an employee or other challenges that businesses face from time to time. The critical point is that neither element can be ignored, and physical, IT and human resources plans cannot be developed in isolation from each other. At its core, BC/DR is about constant communication. Don’t Forget to Test Your Plan Once you have a plan, it is imperative to test your backup and recovery scenarios to make sure you can bring your systems up in a timely manner. For disaster scenarios, consider training employees on protocol in an emergency situation. Understanding the effects that a disaster can have on your company is extremely important. In order to prepare your business for a disaster, it is necessary to analyze the costs and risks associated with downtime of your critical applications and their data. Having a proactive business continuity/data recovery plan will save your...

Windows 10 – Best Windows Ever?

The new Windows 10 operating system is purported to be the best Windows ever. The combination of ease of use for new users, automatic updates, and built in security features is causing small to medium sized businesses to breathe a sigh of relief as business owners dream about spending less time and money on training and more energy on making money – finally. Windows 10 is Easy to Use The new OS combines the interface of Windows 8 with the Start menu of Windows 7. This is a godsend for small business, because it means not having to train employees to complete mundane tasks, such as syncing a Bluetooth device. Such options are readily available on the Start menu now. The Windows 10 Start menu is designed to be easy for new users. Check out some of the things users can now do right from the Start menu: Find settings Reboot Launch applications and place apps into the program list Find documents Adjust desktop resolution In addition, the new OS is designed for all platforms, especially smartphones. When using Windows 10 on your smartphone, it will only display the finger-control interface. All in all, Windows 10 is great for SMBs who want to avoid high training costs. Automatic Updates! Microsoft experienced the pain first-hand of customers complaining about having to upgrade from Windows XP and later from Windows 7 to 8. Microsoft Vice President for Operating Systems, Terry Myerson, explained that the company never wants to be in the position of having to convince people to buy the next version of Windows again. The plans for Windows 10 include...
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