Is Your Network Safer Than The Titanic?

One hundred years ago the ship, called “unsinkable” had its hull breached by an iceberg and caused the death of over 1500 passengers. You may think your network is “invincible” like the Titanic, however, your network security policies may cause vulnerability putting your IT assets and critical data at risk. Here are several steps you can take to avoid compromising your network security: WiFi Access WiFi technology makes it easy for you to network your computers. Your WiFi signal may broadcast beyond the physical security of your office allowing uninvited visitors to access your network and compromise your network security and compliance policies. Make sure your WiFi network connections are password protected and securely encrypted. Also, consider turning off your WiFi during non business hours. By the way, wireless technology (the telegraph) saved the lives of hundreds of passengers on the Titanic. Thumb Drives and USB Drives Sharing data through thumb drives or USB drives may allow unintended computer viruses and malicious software, also known as malware, transfer from other non secure computers and enter the perimeter of your secure network. For this reason, some network administrators set strict IT policies that prevent thumb drives from being used on any office computer. There are plenty of secure services available for files sharing between computers (e.g. remote backup and remote control software). Ask your IT support professional about your policy for using USB drives and thumb drives and the impact they may have on your network security. Security Patches Operating System and Application Security patches are designed to keep your network secure. Your network security is as vulnerable as its’...

Why you should audit your network.

Do you know what’s connected to your network? If not, you should! Auditing your network and creating an inventory of your IT assets catalogs all devices connected to your network including PCs, laptops, printers, routers and switches. In some cases, assets discovered may even be unauthorized. By scanning and discovering all connected devices, your IT team can quickly perform a hardware and software audit. This helps ensure compliance with network policy, software licensing compliance, and compliance with industry regulatory requirements, such as, HIPPA. What’s more, having asset data cataloged, including hardware and software profiles, helps remote support technicians troubleshoot when things go wrong. What can you do with network audit data? Check your firewall’s security settings to make sure you are protected from the latest hacker attacks, worms, and viruses. Scan and remove spyware that is secretly stealing your company’s bandwidth, jeopardizing the speed of your computer system, and embezzling confidential information about you, your employees, and your business. Check your network’s backup system to ensure it is working properly and accurately backing up all of the critical files and information you never want to lose. Verify that you have the most up-to-date security patches installed properly; miss one critical update and you’re a “sitting duck.” Identify unstable PCs that may operate slowly. Search for all items meeting a criteria in summary and detail. For example, to determine how many machines use windows 7 with 4 megs of RAM to see if they are eligible for an O/S migration. Determine which devices may be out of software license compliance. Summarize warranty information for which devices are covered and which...

Sometimes it is easy being green.

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. Everybody is Irish for 24 hours and the color green is top of mind. Green Computing or sustainable computing is a way to use your IT Assets such as computers, printers, monitors, servers, routers and storage devices efficiently, effectively and with minimal impact on the environment. Here are a few ideas to keep to practice green and sustainable computing: Turn them off when you don’t use them. For desktops and laptops consider turning them off when you are done for the day. Leaving them on at night can increase power consumption. Besides, your PC could use a reboot now and then anyway. However, be sure you speak with your backup and network administrator about IT policies for systems maintenance. Your systems may have a daily backup scheduled after hours. In addition, software and operating system updates may occur after hours as well. Some “managed” desktops, laptops and servers are smart enough to power up for routine systems maintenance. Check your IT policies first to make sure it is OK to turn them off at night. Buy Energy Star computer equipment. Energy Start is a low carbon IT campaign to help reduce energy consumed by computer equipment. When you buy new computers make sure they are Energy Star Compliant. If you have older equipment you may factor in power savings as part of your return on investment (ROI) for your new systems. Consider this, an Energy Star computer can save up to $50 annual in power. Not only to you save some “green” by buying Energy Star Computers, but, by minimizing your carbon footprint you...

Moving your IT to the Cloud? Here are some things to consider.

Moving your IT to the Cloud? It seems like everyone is doing it. According to a 2011 survey by IPED at least 50% of small businesses will adopt cloud computing within their business by the end of 2012. With all of the hype about cloud computing, here are some things to consider before you make the move. Let’s start off with what is Cloud Computing? The easiest way to explain the “Cloud” is think of it as using computer assets (software, servers, etc.) that are located somewhere off-site from your company’s location. Cloud computing is typically purchased on a subscription basis (i.e. a monthly service fee) avoiding some of the up front costs. Also, the Cloud may be a shared resource (i.e. Public Cloud) or dedicated resource (i.e. Private Cloud). The first thing your need to decide is: what do you want to gain by moving to the Cloud? Are you trying to avoiding making capital expenditures? Do you want to pay-as-you go for your IT infrastructure as an operating expense instead of a capital expense? Are you concerned about being able to recover from a backup in the event a disaster, such as, a fire, earthquake or hurricane that could destroys all your computers and data on site? If any of this appeals to you, then Cloud Computing might either augment or replace critical IT assets within your company today. However, these benefits do not come without risk. If you decide to replace your line of business application (e.g. Accounting Software) with a Cloud alternative commonly known as Software as a Service (SaaS) you won’t have to pay...

Happy Leap Day!

Every four years we all get something we all need in our busy lives, more time.  How we use that extra day may determine whether we become more productive or efficient.  Maybe that gift of an extra day will make us more relaxed.  This year February 29th falls on a workday, so here are a few ideas to consider. Decide to upgrade your network.  PCs, servers routers and other IT assets typically have a useful life of three to five years.  As technology advances at a rapid pace, your hardware and software assets become obsolete.  Your systems may become slow, sluggish and unreliable.  Obsolete hardware and software can contribute to loss of employee productivity or worse.  You may be a victim of malicious software attacks or malware because your old network is out of O/S patch compliance.  Like changing the battery in your smoke detector, consider upgrading that network at least every four years. Evaluate your line of business applications.  Has your business grown or changed? Does that accounting system continue to meet your needs?  Many businesses will outgrow their line of business applications within 5 years.  Use Leap Day to consider if your account software meets your current set of business rules.  If your policies and procedures have changed since the time you first implemented your account software, perhaps the system is holding you back.  Now is a good time to make sure your technology is in line with your business strategy. Update your technology roadmap. Now that you have an extra 24 hours, consider your future business and growth strategies.  Think through how those strategies may need...
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