Tackling Cloud Security

Security is always top of mind with businesses migrating to the Cloud. Cloud Services are rapidly being adopted by most businesses today. According to IDC, the worldwide public cloud services market reached $45.7 billion in 2013 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23% through 2018. Cloud Security is an important consideration for businesses migrating to the Cloud. So, what are the top security concerns businesses face? Top Cloud Security Concerns CompTIA’s Ninth Annual Information Security Trends study identified system downtime/business interruptions, exposure or loss of data during file transfers to the cloud, and concerns over encryption of data (either transactional or at rest) as the top three issues identified by business owners and IT Professionals. In addition, respondents raised concern over complying with legal/regulatory requirements. What can a business owner do to migrate securely to the Cloud? Cloud Security and Compliance Most experts agree, start by understanding your Cloud Security requirements. If you have regulatory requirements, a Private Cloud solution may make it easier to comply with standards including HIPAA and PCI. However, this doesn’t mean you are more secure. Beyond encryption, having a solid strategy for using the technology in your organization is a key factor in Cloud Security. Employees: Key to Tackling Cloud Security Your employees may be your biggest threat to Cloud Security. Without the proper training, your employees may access your company’s Cloud Services from unsecure devices. This could cause security breaches and data leaks of privacy information. What’s more, it is important to control the adoption of Cloud Services within your business to help mitigate Cloud Security...

The Benefits of Fixed-Price IT Managed Services

More and more, we hear of security breaches that are derailing business’s activities, whether such problems are malicious software (“malware”) designed to grab privacy information from an employee, a computer crash or even a natural disaster such as an earthquake. A data breach can put customers’ personal information in peril, thereby causing embarrassment and even costing steep fines. This is why it is important to hire a reputable IT managed service provider before you need one. Businesses rely on their IT systems to do day-to-day business, and most of the time, things go as they should. But what about when they don’t? Proactive IT Support is Worry Free Taking a proactive approach to IT assistance is key. Before you need one, find a reputable IT provider. With your IT provider, draw up a managed service agreement/service level agreement so you know what services they will take care of – remote and local backup, recovering lost and corrupted files, network security updates and even unforeseen computer repairs. Keeping systems up to date will help prevent downtime. Proactive IT support converts the unexpected costs of reactive problem-solving into the more stable, budget-friendly cost of preventive maintenance and support. With fixed-price IT support, there are no surprises that can play havoc with the company’s budget and productivity. Aligning Your IT Service Delivery Costs With Business Value By fixing IT Service costs with an IT Managed Service agreement,  your service provider has incentive to proactively ensure everything is working smoothly. Instead of billing by the hour related to problems, a fixed-priced arrangement covers most incidents. It is in the best interest of your...

Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining: Business Benefits of Cloud Computing

Moving to the Cloud is a strategic, business-driven decision. Cloud Computing can offer a range of solutions to help drive business performance. Many businesses are migrating to Cloud Computing already. To ensure you get the most from your investment, you need to be able to determine how cloud solutions can help your business grow revenue, scale, accommodate teleworkers, let you move faster than your competition, and help you make your technology infrastructure costs more predictable.  Read on to gain an understanding of the many business benefits of Cloud Computing. Cloud Computing Saves on Upfront Costs Many popular Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions are available on a subscription basis.  You won’t be paying for hardware, systems software, database or other upfront costs.  In most cases these recurring subscription fees move your capital expense to an operating expense.  However, you will need to plan for customization, migration and integration services to make Cloud Services that are robust and dynamic. Cloud Computing Provides a Faster Time to Market You won’t be waiting on hardware to deliver for your new Cloud Service.  In many cases you can deploy new Cloud Services on demand.  Additionally, your Cloud Service Provider (CSP) is responsible for keeping the systems up to date with the latest updates and upgrades.  SaaS providers can upgrade features and functionality during regularly planned maintenance windows. This keeps your systems up to date with the latest functionality and capability. The Predictable Cost of Cloud Computing Monthly subscription services provide business owners a predictable IT expense.  License policies based on number of users, usage and other predictable factors...

Is Your Network Ready for the Cloud?

Moving to the Cloud requires a fast, reliable network to ensure high availability to Cloud applications and their data. Critical systems including Cloud backup, SaaS, VDI, VoIP and other critical systems need consistent broadband access to ensure employee productivity, compliance and keep customer service levels high. This begs the question, is your network ready for the Cloud? Network Assessment for Cloud Readiness When moving to the Cloud it is important to understand where you may have points of failure on your network before they happen.  Consider starting with a Network Assessment. By simulating peak loads for voice and data on your network, you can identify weaknesses in a controlled environment. By proactively monitoring your network, you can ping to measure packet loss, latency and uptime; also, you can identify bottlenecks for failure, allowing you to fix problems before they happen. Avoiding unnecessary downtime and/or data loss improves employee productivity and helps ensure compliance. Maintain Network Security and Compliance for Consistent Computing Access Malicious attacks, including cyber threats and unauthorized access to your network, will not only expose you to loss of critical data.  They may also degrade your network performance. Unauthorized network use by employees may also consume bandwidth that slows down your network. Unauthorized video streaming and access to unauthorized websites contribute to a slow network. Upgrade or Improve Network Performance There are many options to create an affordable wide area network. Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is an emerging option to create secure, reliable access to your Public or Private Cloud Services. This new technology, which provides centralized management and policy-based enforcement, makes it faster to...

Five Tips on Password Protection

Should you care about how your employees protect their personal passwords?  Depending on your password protection policy in the workplace, your employees may create passwords based on familiar passwords they use for personal use.  Cybercriminals often hack personal websites for privacy information, including username and passwords, so they can gain access to internal systems.  Offering tips to your employees on creating strong passwords may help you protect your valuable corporate data. Passwords are essential for keeping information safe. Since they are a fact of life, we need to know how to keep our systems secure. This takes individual and corporate responsibility. First, individual responsibility. What best practices can individuals establish to keep login credentials safe? Start with a Strong Password Create a strong password, instead of using easy guesses: Though they may be hard to remember, they are also hard for someone else to guess—and hack. Use combinations of capital and lower-case letters; if possible, include numbers and other special characters if your system allows. Numbers can replace letters (3 for “e”, @ for “a”, etc.). Avoid passwords using names of family members, pets, employers or favorite bands. Completely avoid default passwords like “password” or “admin.” Change Your Passwords Frequently Just like you change your smoke alarm batteries, you should change passwords even more frequently. According to a 2014 CompTIA Network+ training blog, change passwords every 30, 60 to 90 days or so. Even if a hacker or malicious site (“malware”) gets the old password, that password cannot be used.  Tagging a number to a previous password or using a similar password isn’t safe enough; the new password needs...
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