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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...

What is Malware and Why Should I Care?

Malicious Software or Malware is a serious concern to IT Security experts and business owners alike.  Malware is a category of Cyber Security threats that includes Viruses, Worms,Trojans and Botnets.  It is no surprise that the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) tenth annual IT Security Information Trends report placed Malware at the top of the list of security threats.  CompTIA cited that eighty-five percent of Business Owners and IT Professionals have a moderate to serious concern about Malware.  Why should you care? Many times Malware intrusions will go undetected. Some malware may cause your computer to run slowly.  Some malware may be programmed to silently harvest privacy data from your hard drive, while other malware is programmed to destroy data on your hardware.  Other malware can turn your PC into a Cyber Hacker by exploiting security holes and using your PC to attack other PCs. Costs associated with data breaches is estimated to be as high as a billion dollars each year.  Moreover, the number of Malware threats are exploding.  Symantec estimates there will be over 250,000 new threats (not attacks) identified on Android devices in 2012 alone.  What can you do to avoid Malware? IT Security Risk Assessment The reality is you can not afford to eradicate one hundred percent of all cyber threats, so you need to have a pragmatic plan for defending yourself.  Start by understanding your security risks by reviewing your core applications and data, policies and procedures, as well as, your network infrastructure.  You are as vulnerable as your weakest link. IT Security Compliance To protect your applications and their data, as well as...

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Fundamentals

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery planning is about making sure your company can quickly become  operational after a systems failure, natural disaster or other interruption.  A holistic approach is required to get your doors open and employees productive.  According to recent InformationWeek research, IT professionals polled about Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery are most concerned about protecting databases (68%), followed by email (45%), accounting data (39%) and network services (36%). It is important to separate basic data protection from business continuity planning.  Most companies have some type of backup in place to provide basic data protection.  When data is lost in an isolated situation, such as a hard drive failure, virus infection, or a lost device, your local or online backup provides a reactive way to rapidly restore your data.  Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery provides a proactive plan to pragmatically reduce the risks of a disaster recovery scenario.  Here are some important considerations: Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Risk Assessment Start by gaining an understanding of your environmental risks and exposure.  For example, the geographic area your business is located in,  may make you more prone to flooding, hurricane, earthquakes or fire.  These variables may raise your risks.  However, if you are adjacent to a hospital or fire department, you may have a lower risk of losing power during a disaster. Tailor your Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan to Your Company’s Needs Evaluate your core systems to determine what applications and data you need to operate.  Basic services such as phone, email or order processing may put your business at risk even with the a brief outage....

Are You Ready for Mobility?

Mobility in the workforce is increasing productivity and driving savings for small to medium sized companies. Recent research from the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) uncovers 73% of small businesses surveyed cite they have a mobile device strategy driven by moderate to heavy focus for Mobility to make employees in the field more productive. Moreover, 58% of respondents have productivity gains for travelling employees as a moderate to heavy focus to include smart phones, tablet PCs and laptop computers in their businesses. Connecting employees with customers was cited as a moderate to heavy focus for driving Mobility strategies by 55% of those surveyed, while 48% cited eCommerce as a moderate to heavy focus in their Mobility strategies. To take full advantage of smart phones, tablet PCs and laptop computers in your company, there are a few precautions to consider when rolling out a mobile solution. Here are a few tips to consider to get the most from your Mobility solution: Check your Mobile Security Policy Some mobile devices may be vulnerable to trojans, malware and phishing schemes. Ensure that your Mobile Solution includes security measures to keep devices connected to your network, corporate applications and data are up to date with mobile anti-virus and mobile-anti malware protection. Passwords aren’t enough to protect your devices, therefore, companies must also encrypt corporate data on mobile devices and be prepared to remotely locate and wipe lost or stolen mobile devices. Check your Network Bandwidth for your Mobility Solution Some mobile applications can put a strain on your companies wireless network. To receive maximum productivity from your employees using mobile devices in the...

Cyber Security: A Global Threat to Small and Medium Businesses

You hear about Cyber Security threats, data leaks and data loss in the news on a regular basis.   Malware, trojans and phishing schemes hatched in countries like China, India, Russia and other Eastern European countries attempt to rob businesses of confidential information, privacy data and critical application data.  Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard has made Cyber Security a national priority.  US President Barack Obama energized the dialogue on CyberSecurity by mentioning it in his State of the Union Speak with an executive order for federal regulators to provide better Cybersecurity for banks, telecommunications, energy and other industries. But what about Cyber Security for small businesses? Small businesses are equally targeted by Cyber Security hackers and may be less resilient from a cybersecurity attack than larger businesses as they may lack the stability, reputation and financial resources to rebound. Here are a few steps you can take to protect your business from the threat of a Cyber Security Attack: Beef up your Network Security to Avoid Cyber Security Threats Your network is only as strong as the weakest point. To avoid threats from Cybersecurity make sure you have a Firewall in place and keep all connected devices have up to date firmware, operating system patches and keep the latest anti-virus and anti-malware definitions current. Cyber Security Education and Training Educate your employees and staff on the threats of cybersecurity. Make sure they are aware of the threats of Phishing schemes and are able to identify and avoid these dubious attacks. Train all employees on the risk of sharing privacy data such as name, email, birthdays and financial information on social...

Backup and Disaster Recovery Driven By Global Climate Change

You can’t avoid reading about the extreme weather conditions. Flooding in Queensland, Australia’s Sunshine Coast, record snow storms in North America and searing heat driving wild fires, all point to global climate change. If your business is in the path of severe weather, would your applications and critical data be protected?  This begs the question, have you seen your backup lately?  In other words, do you have a Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan? Having a local onsite backup isn’t enough when a disaster strikes. You may not be able to access your facilities due to travel restrictions and your local backup of critical application data may be lost forever. It is imperative that your business has an offsite backup or online backup of your data to aid in a disaster recovery scenario.  Here are some considerations for business continuity planning. Cloud Backup/Remote Backup for Backup and Disaster Recovery Cloud Backup/Remote Backup provide small businesses with enterprise class infrastructure as an affordable option for backup and disaster recovery. High Speed Internet connectivity, data de-duplication technologies and cloud-based Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) make Cloud Backup/Remote Backup a safe, secure option for backup and disaster recovery planning. Cloud Based Software as a Service (SaaS)/Hosted Applications Cloud based Software as a Service (SaaS)/Hosted Applications provide an offsite alternative to premise based applications. SaaS applications store data in the cloud and are accessible across the Internet from multiple devices including, Desktop and Laptop computers, tablet computers, smart phones and other mobile devices. After a disaster you will be able to access your SaaS applications, even when you can’t access your office facility. Virtualization for...
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