Avoiding Downtime by Having a Business Continuity Plan

Companies small and large are increasingly reliant on their IT systems and infrastructure. Having a Business Continuity plan is a proactive way of avoiding unnecessary downtime due to a disaster, human error, or security breach. Not only may downtime cause data loss, but also according to Gartner Research, a conservative estimate of the  cost of downtime for a computer network is $42,000 per hour. For a small business without a Business Continuity plan, such downtime could have long-term crippling implications. In case of natural disasters or IT outages, it is important to be able to calculate risks and financial losses caused by downtime in order to best allocate IT resources to get your business back online quickly. Below are suggestions for putting downtime for your computer network in perspective. Downtime of your Computer Network and Your Business Continuity Plan There are many factors that contribute to losses caused by downtime. These factors include employee productivity, financial losses, fines, legal fees, loss of revenue, and loss of goodwill. Whether it is inventory sitting on trucks, invoices that don’t go out, or cash registers that stop ringing, it is important to understand which applications and data are most important to bring back quickly. By identifying the systems that are most important to keeping your doors open, you will quickly realize where the highest risk of downtime is in your business.  Also note that losing sensitive data, such as credit card information, may attract heavy fines and loss of reputation in addition to lost revenue. How to Avoid Downtime With Your Business Continuity Plan To avoid the disastrous effects that downtime can...

Heartbleed Bug: What a Business Owner Should Know

The name Heartbleed OpenSSL Vulnerability (aka Heartbleed bug) is as scary as it sounds. Some reports say up to two thirds of all secure websites (e.g. those with a web address starting with a green https://) are using OpenSSL.  It has been reported that Google was first to discover the Heartbleed bug  that compromised sites including Yahoo, Tumblr, Flickr, Amazon, and other websites relying on OpenSSL for security.  This security breach may provide hackers access to accounts, passwords, and credit card information. Heartbleed and Your Systems Business owners using OpenSSL for their email, website, eCommerce applications, or other  web applications should take action to prevent data loss or theft.  The fix for the Heartbleed bug should be installed on your operating systems, network appliances, and other software to ensure that confidential information is protected.  Consider having your IT professional test your public web servers to determine if they are safe. Heartbleed and Your Employees Your employees may have used websites that were exposed to the Heartbleed bug.  This means their username and password combinations may have been compromised by hackers tapping into what was supposed to be encrypted communications.  Employees should be reminded to reset passwords within the guidelines established by your company.  There are plenty of resources on creating a secure password.  Microsoft offers tips for creating a strong password on their website. The Need for IT Security Because the Heartbleed bug is pervasive, most internet users need to change passwords on sites like Gmail, Yahoo, and Facebook.  The Heartbleed bug is a wake-up call to the importance of having an IT Security policy that includes strong password...

Mobile Security: Does Your SmartPhone need a Kill Switch?

Many Smartphones and Tablet computers have access to corporate applications and their data through Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies and corporate-sponsored mobility strategies.  Mobile Security has become a popular topic for good reason.  According to CIO Insights, mobile data traffic is expected to increase eleven-fold by 2018. Because of increasing data traffic on mobile devices, some government agencies are looking at legislation to require manufacturers to add a smartphone kill switch to remotely wipe a mobile device if it is lost or stolen. Keeping in mind that a four-digit iPhone passcode could be hacked in minutes, this begs the question: Does your Smartphone Need a Kill Switch? Having a smartphone Kill Switch may give a sense of false security.  Adding a kill switch to protect your privacy and corporate information is reactive, rather than proactive.  If not done properly, you could wipe your employees’ irreplaceable information, such as family photos.  A Kill Switch may also make the phone entirely unrecoverable.  This means you will surely need to replace the device once the remote kill switch is invoked. Proactive Mobile Security Before you hit the Kill Switch consider proactive mobile-security measures. Smartphones and Tablets are great innovations that allow your employees to stay in touch and work anywhere.  Access to email, operational data, financial information, and customer information through a mobile device can empower your employees and increase their productivity.  Access to this information should be password-protected at all times.  Additionally, any corporate data should be encrypted in transit and at rest. Only approved applications should be allowed on the mobile device and personal data should be stored in...

Will Smartphones and Tablets Kill the PC?

With Windows XP support ending soon for millions of PCs, many companies are considering a variety of replacement strategies.  The adoption of smartphones and tablets is clearly on the rise.  According to IDC, PC shipments are expected to decline by 6% in 2014, and that trend is expected to continue.  Meanwhile, shipments of tablets surpassed shipments of PCs in 2013 and are expected to outpace shipments of PCs by 2015.  Does this mean death to the PC?  Likely not, here is why… The Case for Smartphones and Tablets The portable form factor of smartphones and tablets allows users to access corporate applications and their data at home, while traveling, and out in the field.  Because of the touch-screen interface, they are operated easily without the need for a keyboard or mouse.  This makes smartphones and tablets ideal applications for employees who are standing or travelling without access to a desk.  Because these devices typically connect via WiFi cellular network and run on battery power, they don’t have the wires, cables, and plugs associated with a PC.  Tablets and smartphones find their way on retail counters that may have limited workspace. They may also be easier to clean when they may be exposed to biohazardous materials, dust, or dirt. Smartphones and Tablets vs. the PC If you require a large monitor to view spreadsheets, create powerpoints, or edit documents, a PC may be right for you.  While many touchscreen smartphones, tablets, and convertible PCs connect with a keyboard by using a variety of interfaces, such as bluetooth, there are clear design tradeoffs for office productivity and mobile productivity.  PCs and...

Why You Need a Bullet Proof Computer Network

Your Computer Network is the information pipeline of your business. But what if your network goes down?  If your computer network is not operating properly, you may lose access to critical applications and their data.  If you are using mobile applications, software as a service, or other types of Cloud Computing, your computer network needs to be highly reliable and readily available. While reading this article, you will learn about information technology trends that impact your Computer Network. Cloud Computing and Your Network With Cloud Computing, your employees require consistent and reliable bandwidth over the internet to connect with the most popular cloud applications.  As Cloud Computing is becoming more important in business, it is becoming increasingly necessary to protect your network. Cloud Computing is an undeniable trend.  Most industry analysts forecast strong growth for The Cloud.  From a September 2013 forecast from International Data Corp., worldwide spending on public IT cloud services is predicted to reach $107 billion by 2017, an increase from $47.4 billion in 2013.   This trend in cloud computing is driving mega deals, such as the acquisition of Time Warner Cable by Comcast, as cable is a popular option for business class internet. Is your Computer Network ready for Mobile? A WiFi network is a practical way to connect laptops, convertibles, tablet PCs, and smartphones to your business.  However, mobile devices can tax your computer network performance and security.  To ensure smooth and consistent network connectivity, your computer network needs to accommodate the additional bandwidth requirements of those mobile devices.  Additionally, mobile devices may be a source of virus, Malware, or phishing schemes on your...

Avoiding Pitfalls to Cloud Computing Migration

It seems a majority of companies are adopting Cloud Computing as a significant portion of their IT infrastructure.  According the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) 4th Annual Trends in Cloud Computing, sixty percent of companies surveyed, reported they rely on Cloud Computing for at least thirty percent of their IT infrastructure. Transitioning to Cloud Computing?  Here’s How to Avoid the Turbulence. There are number of implementation challenges to cloud computing deployment.  As a result, it is important that your cloud computing deployments are carefully planned and part of a holistic information technology roadmap. According to CompTIA, integration with existing technologies, changes required to IT policy and the learning curve of the cloud model top the list.  Less than half of those surveyed cited, cost overruns, justifying the  return on investment and transitioning from legacy systems as issues.  In fact,  the majority of business reported performance and availability levels were as expected from their cloud provider. What can a Business do to Avoid the Pitfalls When Transitioning to the Cloud? Cloud Integration There are a number of issues that can impact the success of your cloud computing deployment.  Software as a Service applications (SaaS) rely on Application Program Interfaces (APIs) for integration.  It is important to ensure your SaaS suppliers use common APIs so they can easily integrate with one another  Understanding your requirements is key to identifying when integration can become an issue. IT Policies and Cloud Computing Keeping your IT policies and procedures up to date is also an important component of a successful Cloud Computing Deployment.  Cloud Computing solutions can be rapidly deployed so it is easy...
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