Is Cloud Computing Secure?

In the early days of Cloud computing, the common perception was that the Cloud automatically opens systems to new, catastrophic risks. When weighing the pros and cons of moving to the Cloud, business owners assumed they were sacrificing security for the business agility that comes with using Cloud systems. Yet, as Cloud adoption becomes more universal, these high levels of adoption are actually seeing an increased level of trust in Cloud computing systems, which begs the question: Can the Cloud lead to more secure computing? Traditional Network Security Traditionally, organizations have used on-premises security solutions or contracted with network security experts to protect their network, data, and applications. Data centers imbue a sense of security and control for businesses – feeling more secure is likened to locking down a warehouse and visualizing that anything within the walls of the organization is safe. There’s no question, then that businesses feel an inherent unease with the Cloud concept, because the approach itself seems insecure; your data is stored on servers and systems you don’t own or control. Yet, does control necessarily equate to security? The Cloud is Just as Safe as On-Premises Security IT security experts are claiming that fears of the Cloud being unsafe can largely be put to rest. In fact, the Cloud may actually be able to improve the state of IT security. Many Cloud  security experts dispel the Cloud insecurity myth. Many believe the Cloud is  more secure than traditional systems. So, can your business trust your Cloud Service Provider (CSP) to also handle network security? Which Platform is Right for Your Business? The answer depends on...

Do You Fully Understand the Cloud?

In just the past few years, it has become evident that the topic of cloud computing has shifted from a potential game changer to an essential ingredient of modern IT. For those moving down the path of business transformation, the cloud is the primary driver. The International Data Corporation estimates the public cloud market to grow at 23% CAGR through 2018, and they estimate that worldwide spending on hosted private cloud services will exceed $24 billion by 2016. If your organization is not implementing the cloud, you’re already behind. Just the Beginning Even though adoption rates are high, there is still a lot of confusion related to cloud computing. 28% of survey respondents did not know whether their business used a private or public cloud model, which demonstrates the confusion over terminology or lack thereof. Previous eras of IT have lasted for over 20 years; so, after five years, the era of cloud computing is just getting started. CompTIA predicts the next decade will see cloud computing becoming even more accepted as a foundational building block. Cloud Options After these initial five years of cloud computing, the industry is no longer talking generally about the cloud market. Many companies are considering public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud options.  Software as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, and Platform as a Service change the way that businesses buy IT goods and services. With many businesses shifting their computing infrastructure to the Cloud, companies continue to take advantage of the flexibility and simpler way of managing their applications and data.  If your organization needs guidance learning more about the cloud,...

Do You Have an Effective BYOD Policy?

According to new IDC data, vendors shipped 327.6 million smartphones in the third quarter, an increase of 25.2%, when compared to the same quarter last year. This means that global smartphone shipments have topped 300 million shipments for the second quarter in a row. Although there have been rumors of a slowing market, the data clearly states otherwise. As technology pushes small to medium sized businesses towards smartphones and other mobile devices in the workplace, it is more important than ever to establish an effective BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy. 1.     Decide What Mobile Devices Are Allowed  If your company allows your employees to bring their own devices to work, it can be a nightmare for IT to have to support multiple platforms. Therefore, it is important to decide what devices are allowed to be used for work. Decide whether it is more cost-effective to purchase your own company devices to hand out to employees. 2.     Establish BYOD Security Policies It is important for your company to establish an “acceptable use policy” for their mobile devices. This will curb employee distractions and reduce risks for harmful viruses and malware. Your company should also develop a monitoring system and disciplinary action for employees who disobey the policy. Although this may seem harsh, it may avoid a security breach down the road. 3.     Employee Exit Policy In addition to creating an acceptable use policy, it is equally important to come up with an exit policy for when employees leave the company. Document in your employee exit checklist to ensure you remove the employee from access to information on the network,...

Steps to Follow When Migrating to the Cloud

Many small to medium sized businesses are migrating to the Cloud – backups, better security, regulations, security, and the Cloud ensures that your company is always up to date without having to continually invest more time and money. So, how can your business make the leap? Here are 3 steps to get you started with your migration to the Cloud: Start With Hosted Email An easy first step is to move your company email to a hosted email solution. Cloud email solutions may include a number of additional services for spam protection, antivirus protection, email archive and more.  When you move your email, first consider how many mailboxes are in use? Can you consolidate or eliminate email inboxes? This is a good time to consider how you can reduce costs and improve security and performance. When moving email to the Cloud, consider starting with just the last six months worth of emails, then move older data over time. Move Data and Files to Cloud Storage Moving your files is a logical next step to getting your business to the Cloud. Consider what data you need to migrate to the Cloud. Now is the perfect time to clean up customer data and archive historical information, such as office documents, financial history and email archives. Planning out your migration carefully will save you time and cloud storage costs in the long run. Move Servers that Support Legacy Applications Consider how you will move servers that support line of business and other legacy applications. Unfortunately, not all legacy applications can live in the Cloud. But, many legacy applications can leverage at least...

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...
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