Are You Prepared for the End of Windows Server 2003?

If your business depends on Windows Server 2003, you and your colleagues have less than a year until Microsoft will discontinue Server 2003 R2. Server 2003 currently accounts for about 20% of total Windows Server installations, but on July 14, 2015, all Windows Server 2003 extended support will end. Although Windows Server 2003 comes in a number of editions to serve different sizes and types of businesses, all variants serve to provide email services, share files and printers, act as an application server, and many more tasks essential to everyday business. If companies transition from Windows 2003, there may be compatibility issues with older software, especially when it comes to moving your applications. Server migrations require a lot of planning and ample forethought, so make sure to do your research. Here are three important steps in planning your migration from Windows Server 2003: Take an Asset Inventory Take an inventory of which applications and workloads are still running on Windows Server 2003 and check with publishers to ensure all of your software is upgradable to the latest version of the Windows operating system. Plan your Windows 2003 Migration Choose a migration date and decide where each application and workload will go. Will they be stored onsite, on premise, or is it time to move to the Cloud? Consider moving non-mission critical systems and file data first. Moving applications is complex, and if you do not do it carefully, you could be putting your company at risk. Consider integration with legacy applications, broadband internet requirements, and security needs over a wide area network. Migrating from Windows 2003 When migrating your...

It’s Time to Take Cloud Security Seriously

While cloud security concerns are top of mind with many business owners, the benefits of the cloud far outweigh the risks. Nevertheless, as companies deploy cloud computing, taking cloud security seriously will ensure a smooth transition to the cloud. Top Cloud Security Concerns If you are moving your business to the cloud it is important to understand and address your security needs. For many companies, the top concerns of cloud security are cloud service provider’s encryption policies, business continuity and disaster recovery capability, data protection and data integrity. There are a number of other critical concerns, such as the physical security, identity and access management, and regulatory compliance. How to Protect your Data in the Cloud Create Strong Passwords An important step you can take to protect your data in the cloud is to create a policy for passwords within your organization. By requiring a string of text combining numbers, letters (both uppercase and lowercase), and special characters your employees will avoid common passwords that are easily hacked. Also, ensure that your company policy requires changes to passwords regularly and asks employees to use unique passwords when accessing the cloud from their desktops. Network Compliance In addition to creating strong passwords, it’s important for your company to keep your network in compliance. Your network is secure as its/ weakest point of access.  Ensure desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones are maintained with the latest operating system patches and are protected by up to date antivirus and antimalware definition updates. End User Training on Security Employees with a clear understanding of security policy and related risks will help keep your data...

Can You Survive a Network Security Attack

Businesses are under constant attack from a variety of network security threats.  Cybercriminals hack databases for passwords for unauthorized access to your network.  Undetected Malicious software (malware) can trap and forward passwords. Viruses can infect your hard drive and destroy application data and files without your knowledge. Businesses large and small face these network security threats on a daily basis; larger organizations, however, may have more resources to fight attacks.  Small businesses may be more vulnerable to downtime and loss of productivity because of thinner margins and resources. Here are a few steps you can take to survive a network security attack. Prevent Network Security Attacks Before they Occur Protect your network by making sure all devices are in compliance with the latest anti-virus and malware updates. Ensure your operating system (O/S) patches are up to date. Protect your network with strong passwords and require your employees to change them regularly.  Discourage writing passwords down, and make sure employees are aware of the risks of a network security attack. Lock Down your Mobile Devices Mobile devices including smartphones and tablets are particularly vulnerable to theft and loss. Passwords on these devices can be easily cracked leaving your applications and data vulnerable to unauthorized access. Train your employees to report theft or loss of mobile devices quickly, and make sure that all data on the device is encrypted.  Having the ability to track and wipe data from these devices is another option to ensure you can survive a network security threat. Backup Your Data Online Backup and Cloud Backup are affordable options to have quick access to applications and data...

5 Things You Need to Know about Privacy Breach Notifications

Recent high-profile data breaches, such as those that occurred at Neiman Marcus and Target, have brought privacy breach notification laws into public debate.  In the event that your company’s secure information is compromised, it is important to understand privacy breach notification laws and standards. Privacy Breach Notification Regulations are Under Review Across the world, privacy breach notification laws are being updated and amended to keep up with the times.  In the United States, for example, federal standards are being discussed, but  each state may also have its own rules.  Furthermore, some states do not even have their own regulations, and laws and procedures regarding privacy breach notification standards vary depending on where your business is located. Be sure to know the regulations and standards for your own country or state. What is Privacy Data? This private information that your company may posses includes customer names, in combination with, account numbers, driver licenses, or social security numbers, although this changes from state to state and from country to country. Most laws require your business to inform customers, employees, and other stakeholders when their private information has been compromised. What is considered private information, and the timeframe in which customers must be informed of the breach, varies in each law. A Privacy Data Breach Has No Borders Many companies collect data from customers across the globe.  If a privacy breach crosses state lines or international borders, your company may need to comply with multiple standards. Failure to comply may lead to fines and penalties, in addition to customer disapproval. California laws, for example, impose fines up to $3,000 for failure to...

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...
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