Protect Your Organization from Ransomware

It’s a moment every business owner dreads. A message appears on your organization’s computer screen alerting you that your files have been encrypted and the only way to access them is by paying a ransom. Security threats to computers and mobile phones have grown more sophisticated around the globe in the past few years. The United States in particular saw an increase in “ransomware.” What is Ransomware? Cypersecurity experts report that ransomware is one of the fastest growing forms of hacking, and the scary part is that no one is safe. An individual, a small business, a Fortune 500 company, and government agencies can all be infiltrated. It also attacks smartphones. Ransomware is malicious software that hackers use to extort money from individuals or businesses by preventing them from opening their documents, pictures, and other files unless they pay a ransom, usually in the amount of several hundred dollars. How Ransomware Works Similar to other hackers’ schemes, ransomware can arrive in emails or attachments with links that, when clicked, encrypt your files. Attacks can also occur during a visit to a website, as cybercriminals can attach computer code to even the most well known websites. It could happen during something as harmless as updating an application or downloading an app on your smartphone. Protect Your Organization Cybercriminals are starting to target small businesses more and more, because generally speaking, they are more vulnerable. While big companies have backups and separate computers for their different departments, small to medium sized businesses lack technology teams, sophisticated software, and secure backup systems to protect from ransomware. One of the best investments your...

The Cloud: The 3rd Platform of Computing

Around 2008, the IT industry started to experience a massive shift in traditional computing. The International Data Corporation (IDC) began referring to this change as the “3rd platform.” The 3rd platform is built on the four technology pillars for innovation and growth: Cloud, mobile, big data, and social technologies. Within this new era of technology, the Cloud is surely the biggest game changer, because it changes the way companies consume and pay for access to technology. Businesses large and small can now solve problems with the Cloud that were unsolvable before. Cloud technologies have become ubiquitous in business; this is why it is critical to understand what the Cloud is and comprehend its future growth. Models for Cloud Services: Public and Private Many people are confused about the difference between public and private Cloud models and what the best option is for their organization. Public Cloud services are designed for a market and not a single enterprise. It is open to all potential users and is shared among unrelated consumers. On the other hand, private Cloud services are shared within an enterprise but have restrictions on access. These Cloud services can be either onsite or offsite and can be managed by either a third party or in-house staff. Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) These three main Cloud solutions can leverage your IT business substantially. SaaS provides a way to deliver software and technical services that would otherwise be managed on premise. Most small businesses can adopt Cloud computing into their company using only SaaS services for email, sales...

FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules

After a landmark vote on February 26, The Federal Communications Commission officially classified Internet providers as public utilities. The new net neutrality rules were approved 3 to 2 among party lines. The rules ban high-speed Internet providers, such as Verizon, AT&T, and Time Warner Cable, from blocking websites, slowing down content from particular sites, or selling-off faster traffic speeds to the highest bidders. The possible threat to small to medium businesses is the potential restricted access to broadband. If Telcos and carriers are able to charge extra for faster Internet service, smaller businesses could be at risk for paying more for faster speeds. Businesses using broadband for teleconferencing, streaming, collaboration, SaaS applications, and even backup and disaster recovery, could be looking at higher price tags for everyday business needs. The Argument for Net Neutrality Proponents of net neutrality argue that a fast, fair, and open Internet is a basic right. Net Neutrality has always been a big platform for President Obama, and in November, he called for the strongest possible regulations over cable and telecom companies. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler explained: “The Internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones making the rules.” Net Neutrality’s Opposition On the other hand, some cable companies, telecommunications companies, and lawmakers contend that the move is an overreach of government intervention. They also feel that online companies, such as Netflix and YouTube, who monopolize a lot of web traffic, should have to share in the cost of expanding and maintaining the channels that deliver Internet content to consumers. The Future of the Internet Although the vote has taken...

Bandwidth Bottleneck Coming to an End?

It is predicted that by 2017, there will be around 268 billion app downloads. The average person already uses 26 different apps per month. This growth is clearly driven by the younger work force, who use their mobile devices and tablets for both work and play. All of these apps use a lot of data, and so there is a problem on the horizon: all of this data use will lead to pervasive network strain, which will in turn result in performance problems in both apps and network-based services. This data overload creates frustration in both users and providers. App users will simply delete apps that do not perform well. This means fewer customers for Telcos and app providers. The Data Challenge for Telcos Therefore, Telcos have a challenge in front of them: invent new ways to improve user experience by making them more data efficient and scalable. The question on a lot of IT experts’ minds is: is it finally time for Telcos and app providers to work together to unclog the bandwidth bottleneck? The answer is still unclear, but intelligent data distribution is one solution everyone can agree on at the moment, i.e. Telcos can optimize their current network assets while app developers work to design more apps that use less data. The Importance of Wide Area Networks Within Telcos In order to stay sustainable, Telcos need to offer more in connectivity. A solid Wide Area Network (WAN) is essential in accelerating applications and keeping traffic separate. It is also critical for day to day business operations; it both reduces operating costs and provides a level of...

The Growing Importance of Mobile Security

According to a report by CompTia, 28% of businesses view security as a significantly higher priority today compared to two years ago, and an even greater percentage of businesses expect the importance of security to rise in the next two years. The study also revealed that while many companies assumed a satisfactory level of security, they did not fully comprehend their exposure to potential security threats. The rise in security threats is largely due to emerging technologies, causing businesses to take a new approach to security. End users now have access to powerful devices and business class systems, often without the oversight of an IT team. Therefore, investing in mobile security is one the smartest things your small to medium sized business can do to protect your organization. The Human Element to BYOD According to the study, the factors in security breaches fall 45% to technology error and 55% to human error. With the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend, more and more employees are bringing their own mobile devices to work, and end users typically do not have the background knowledge of security that allows them to recognize potential threats. The desire for productivity and flexibility is driving many businesses to adopt a “use first, secure later” attitude when it comes to mobile security, but this approach puts your business in danger. Most Common Mobile Security Incidents Mobility forces businesses to consider data leaving the company in the hands of its employees. The top three reasons for mobile security incidents include: lost/stolen devices, mobile malware, and employees disabling security features. Mobile malware is quickly becoming a growing concern,...
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