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Upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 8.1

If you are running Windows XP on your computer, you are not alone.  It is estimated that 33% of all PCs still run on Windows XP.  Many businesses are considering upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 8.1.  Microsoft has different plans in mind.  According to Microsoft pre-release documentation, upgrading from Windows XP and Windows Vista are not supported.  This means XP users will need a clean installation of Windows 8.1 instead.  So what choices do XP users have? Upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 8.1 – Microsoft will Have a Clean Install Option for Windows 8.1 You may consider installing Windows 8.1 on your existing hardware.  Depending on your configuration, you may need to upgrade your RAM and increase your hard drive capacity and ensure you meet minimum system requirements for Windows 8.1.  While this option may breathe additional life into your existing personal computers, you may have difficulty finding support for some of your drivers and peripherals.  You will also need to evaluate support for your existing software applications to determine if they are compatible with Windows 8.1. If you consider this option please remember It is vital to that you must backup all of your applications and data prior to performing the migration from XP. Consider a Virtual Desktop Solution for Your Business Cloud computing experts claim you can leverage your existing XP machines to access the latest software and services in the cloud.  By connecting to a virtual desktop you may avoid some of the security risks associated with Windows XP.  Additionally, you will have the benefit of accessing the latest operating system and office productivity...

Apple Enhances Mobile Security with iPhone 5s

Earlier this week Apple announced their new line up of iPhones.  The iPhone 5c is a new model catering to smartphone users on a budget, while the iPhone 5s is their newest flagship product.  The iPhone 5s features a new fingerprint sensor known as “Touch ID”  designed to provide access to your new iPhone 5s with the touch of a finger versus a four digit passcode. Mobile Security  Concerns According to research by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) mobile device theft or loss is a top concern among IT professionals and small business owners.  CompTIA research also indicates that requiring a pass code to unlock a mobile device passcode is the most utilized defense according to 76% of those surveyed.  But is a four digit passcode enough? Apple “Touch ID” improves  Mobile Security Biometrics are far from perfect however, Apple Touch ID is expected to increase mobile security over a four digit pass code.  Apple’s four digit passcode is limited to 10,000 combinations and can be cracked by an expert in under six minutes.  Because some are concerned that Apple Touch ID stores fingerprints on its’ new A7 processor Apple will continue to provide the four digit pass code option for those who choose not use use Apple Touch ID. Other Mobile Security Concerns Through cloud sharing applications, Social Media, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) adoption and other mobility trends, mobile devices can create a hole in your company’s IT security architecture.  Access to corporate applications and their data, privacy information and commingling of personal and company assets add to the mobile security challenge.  Mobile devices are the...

Cloud Computing Trends 2013: CompTIA 4th Annual Research Report

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is expected to release their fourth Annual Cloud Computing Trends research study this week.  This cloud computing research is based on a survey of over 500 IT and Business Professionals collected in June 2013. The Fourth Annual CompTIA Cloud Computing Trends report is expected to reveal cloud computing trends and  buying patterns, benefits and challenges related to cloud computing use by businesses.  In addition, over 400 IT firms were surveyed on how the cloud is changing the IT technology channel.  Here are some anticipated highlights of cloud computing trends: Cloud Computing Trends:  Cloud is an Increasing Component of IT Architecture According to the research, 90% of companies are using cloud computing architecture in their business.  The research indicates “as cloud components are becoming more prevalent in IT architectures, more companies are relying on cloud computing for business processes such as storage (59%), business continuity/disaster recovery (48%), and security (44%).  This strong usage and strong market indicators show that cloud computing is becoming a default part of the IT landscape.” Top Benefits of Cloud Computing As Cloud Computing becomes more mainstream a range of business benefits are reported.  While no single reason stands out, businesses report a broad range of benefits by adopting cloud computing technologies:   Cloud Computing Reaches Maturity The research indicates that more than half of  those delivering, managing, integrating and supporting cloud computing solutions feel their cloud computing businesses are mature and strategic.   Integration Remains the Top Cloud Computing Challenge According to the cloud computing study by CompTIA, integration remains at the top of the list for all companies....

Solving Infrastructure Challenges for the Mobile Workforce

If you have a mobile workforce who use mobile devices within your business you want them to be productive, connected and have secure access to your companies applications and data. According to a recent research report by the Computing Technology Industry Association, mobile workers complain about poor connection speeds 49% of the time. In addition, mobile workers have difficulty transferring data and also are challenged by applications that are not optimized for the mobile environment. Make Sure Your Network is Ready for the Mobile Workforce Your Mobile workforce need ssecure and ready access to your network via WiFi communications while in your office. If you WiFi is insufficient your workers will suffer unnecessary downtime or slow connections and you will lose productivity and have decrease worker satisfaction. Secure your Mobile Workforce You also need to make sure those devices connecting to your corporate network are authorized and secure with the latest anti malware updates and O/S Patches for their specific mobile device. Mobile devices are the target of malware, phising schemes and virus threats. These exploits could expose your company and your data to data leaks or losses resulting in privacy and data breach. Undetected, your company could face fines, loss of reputation and other business interruption issues. Make Sure Your Data and Voice Plans Have Policy Control No one likes big surprises at the end of the month, so managing expenses for your mobile workforce should take into consideration travel and various roaming and out of network charges. Make sure your policies are clear who is responsible for voice and data usage and what is or is not...

Cyber Attacks in the News (Again)

Cyber Attacks are in the news again. Last week domain registrar Network Solutions suffered a denial of service attempt impacting the websites of their customers. Cyber attacks like this are high profile and always in the news. This raises the questions, are small business vulnerable to cyber attacks? Small business are Targets of Cyber Attacks Cyber Attacks are as likely, or more likely to occur on small businesses. Cyber attackers know small businesses may have less protection, thus making them easier targets for cyber attacks. Larger companies may have entire departments dedicated to cyber security. Harder to hack and quicker to detect, larger organizations may be tougher to penetrate and exploit with a cyber attack. Meanwhile, small businesses may have less protection against a cyber attack, leaving them more exposed and less likely to detect a cyber attack. Small Businesses may be Less Resilient from Cyber Threats Larger organizations not only are likely to respond quicker to a cyber attack, but have stronger brands and deeper pockets to withstand the impact of a cyber attack. When a cyber attack occurs there may be financial penalties for non compliance with industry regulations (e.g. PCI regulations). What’s more, the impact of a cyber attack may also cause loss of brand equity as a result of the negative publicity related to a cyber threat. In most cases a cyber attack may be too much for a small business to recover. How do I Protect my Business from a Cyber Attack? Consider contacting your IT Service & Support specialist to conduct an IT security assessment.  By performing an IT Security assessment you will...

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning

Business continuity and disaster recovery come to mind as hurricane and fire season is upon us.   This week meteorologists are reporting that Tropical Storm Chantal is looming over the East Coast and will potentially flood the southern United States.  Last year we all saw the terrible devastation of Hurricane Sandy.  We are also reminded of the destruction of Hurricane Dennis in 2005.  Earthquakes, which can not be predicted, can also pose a threat to your business continuity.   If you’re not worried about Hurricanes, keep in mind there are wildfires raging throughout the West this fire season.  If you are fortunate enough to live in a part of the world outside this business continuity and disaster recovery window, be thankful.  Either way you should ask yourself if your business continuity and disaster recovery plans are in place. Here are a few considerations for your business continuity and disaster recovery plans: Business Continuity and Application Data Assess what data is mission critical to your business.  Focusing on the most important assets to protect and provide rapid restore capability will aid you in getting your business up and running quickly.  It is not practical or cost effective to have all of your data available immediatly following a disaster recovery scenario, therefore prioritizing is key. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Policies and Procedures Review your policies and procedures to ensure they are up to date with your current needs.  In addition to data backup and recovery policies, review your emergency response policies as well.  In a disaster recovery scenario it is important to know who to call to get your data backup online...

IT Service for Small Business

There are many factors driving the way IT Service for small business is delivered. Small to medium sized businesses have the same IT Service challenges of larger companies such as: cyber security threats, cloud deployments and regulatory compliance issues. A small business may rely on IT as much as a larger company but may not have the internal staff for IT support. A current trend in IT Service for Small Business is comprehensive IT support and IT service called IT Managed Services. This method of IT Service for small business can provide proactive support for computer maintenance and repair and help a small business make the most of their IT Support budget. Fixing the Cost of IT Service for Small Business IT Managed Service Providers deliver IT services for computer repair, network monitoring, remote support, backup, anti virus updates, security patching and other proactive services using remote monitoring and management technologies. Working remotely reduces the need to come on site, saving you time and money. You may also benefit from obtaining IT Services at a flat rate, which will help you budget and manage your cash flows better. Proactive IT Service for Small Business Because monitoring and repairs are done remotely and scheduled in a proactive manner, problems may be identified and remediated before your employees productivity is interrupted. This improves employee productivity because of a reduction in downtime and higher availability of your applications and data. Also, if you have a contracted IT Service provider, you now know whom to call when problems occur. You also can anticipate the type of response to expect to remediate any computer problems...

Managing Mobility

Mobility and mobile applications in the workplace are being driven by a number of important trends including: a wide range of mobile applications, consumerization of IT and adoption of smart phones and tablets in the workplace.  Research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts Worldwide Tablet Shipments to Surpass Portable PC Shipments in 2013, Total PC Shipments in 2015.   Is your business ready to manage mobility in the workplace?  Below are some important factors to consider about Mobility. Secure Mobility Your network security is only as strong as your weakest point.  Having mobile devices connected to your company network is fine, as long as they are secure.  These devices are increasingly targets of cyber threats like malware and virus infection.  What’s more, these mobile devices are easy targets if lost or stolen.  To protect your corporate applications and data make sure your mobile devices have mobile antivirus protection. Require employees to report lost or stolen mobile devices immediately. Fast Mobility Allowing employees to use their personal mobile devices for work is commonly referred to as a Bring Your Own Device Policy.  Make sure your wireless network (WiFi) has sufficient bandwidth and range so your employees have fast access to mobile applications including email, corporate applications and data.  This will ensure your employees are productive and happy at work. Mobile Applications Mobility is a top IT trend so many software publishers offer mobile extensions to their applications.  Email, customer service, calendars and scheduling applications make it easy for employees to stay on top of their tasks when away from their desks.  Other mobile applications including: visitor sign in, customer loyalty applications...

Why Achieve Network Compliance

Network compliance has many benefits for small to medium businesses. Companies processing credit card information may need to maintain PCI Compliance, while healthcare professionals may need to maintain HIPAA Compliance. Businesses recognize the need to secure and protect applications and their data including: customer records, employee privacy data, competitive information and trade secrets. Depending on your industry regulations there may be strict requirements and steep fines for noncompliance. The risk of cyber attacks also increases the need to maintain a compliant network. Here are some basic tips for keeping your network in compliance. Network Monitoring for Network Compliance Performing a periodic network scan can identify any unauthorized computers and/or mobile devices on your network. If your network is not secure, an unauthorized user may be connected through a wireless access or even physically, without your knowledge. In some cases this may be for malicious purposes. At a minimum, an unauthorized computer or mobile device may introduce viruses or malware to your network. Maintaining Operating System (O/S) Security Patches It is important to ensure that your O/S security patches are consistently applied. Also, security patches for office productivity tools should also be kept up to date to minimize exposure on your network. Don’t leave it to employees to accept patches. Make sure you have a system in place to ensure all O/S patches are properly applied. If you centrally manage these O/S patches, you can also save on network bandwidth, so all your employees don’t have to download these patches when available. Keep Anti Virus and Anti Malware Definitions up To Date It is equally important to keep your Anti...

Getting More From Your IT With Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing adoption is on the rise for businesses looking to reduce capital expenditure and avoid software licensing. According to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) Annual Trends in Cloud Computing Survey forty two percent of respondents turned to the cloud to modernize legacy IT. Forty two percent of those Business Owners and IT Executives cited Cloud Computing as simply a better option and fifty percent surveyed were moving to the cloud to cut costs. Many companies have turned to Cloud Computing without even knowing it. Through rogue IT (end user adoption without IT assistance) employees may be using cloud backup technologies for file sharing, mobile applications that connect to the cloud and other productivity tools. Here are some ways your company can make a strategic investment in Cloud Computing to extend the life of your existing IT Infrastructure. Cloud Computing for Desktop as a Service Some companies have older desktop, laptop and servers that are not able to run the latest version of office productivity applications or other desktop software. Because these systems may not have fast enough processors, inadequate memory or are lacking in an updated operating system O/S, some companies had adopted hosted or cloud versions of these productivity applications to gain access to the latest applications without having to upgrade their computers. Cloud Computing for Hosted Email Hosted email services are another way for you to gain access to the latest version of popular products like Microsoft Exchange without having to upgrade servers and pay up front license fees. By migrating to a cloud based version, you can have access to the latest updates for...
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