Blog

July 1st, 2012

  1. Back It Up!
  2. Migrating data to any new location is a mess and anything can (and usually does) go wrong. Therefore, make sure you have good, recent backup copies of everything before you make the move.

    <li><strong>Maintain An On-site Copy</strong></li>
    

    At first, moving to the cloud can be a bit scary. What can help mitigate the risk (and the fear) is keeping a local, on-site copy of your data and network image on a NAS (network-attached storage) device. That way you have a local on-site copy in addition to the working cloud copy.

    <li><strong>Have A “Plan B” To Access The Internet</strong></li>
    

    One of the biggest questions about moving IT to the cloud is, “What if the Internet goes down?” To mitigate that fail point, have a business-class Internet connection as your initial and main way to connect, and then also have a second Internet connection service as a backup. If <> is your main connection, you might consider keeping a <> wireless account as a backup.

    <li><strong>Use It As An Opportunity To Do Some Housekeeping</strong></li>
    

    You could just copy and paste your files from your local machines into the cloud, but why not take this as an opportunity to re-evaluate the structure and organization of that data? Here are some ideas:

    • Re-evaluate and/or update your file naming conventions and file organization. A good file naming policy will make it much easier to find files and information. Also, consider reorganizing all the folders into smarter, more efficient categories.
    • Consider who will be using what and what levels of permissions are required to access files. Revisiting your permission levels will help keep sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.
    • Look at old files and consider deleting them or archiving them so they aren’t cluttering up your server and costing you money for storing and backing them up.
    <li><strong>Phase The Move</strong></li>
    

    Don’t try to migrate everything all at once. Create a transition plan and implement it. Make sure you move your files in bite-size pieces so that the changes are easy to digest for your clients, employees, partners and everyone else involved. This also gives you the opportunity to test the water before taking the plunge, and it allows you to put out one fire at a time instead of having all systems down or broken.


Published with permission from TMT Technology Times. Source.

Topic General Tech
July 1st, 2012

Here’s a new question that’s being discussed in the courts: Do employers have the right to ask new hires for their username and password to various social media sites? According to the state of Maryland, the answer is, “No.”

Recently the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation that prevents employers in the state from asking prospective employees for their login information for various social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter. If Gov. Martin O'Malley signs the bill, it would make Maryland the first state in the nation to set such a restriction into law. Other states are considering similar legislation, including Illinois and California.

Ironically, this practice was criticized by Facebook, one of the biggest users of personal information to sell advertising to its members. Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, wrote about the issue on Facebook, calling the practice of employers requesting potential hires’ Facebook passwords “alarming” and “not the right thing to do.” Maryland business groups, including the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, pointed out that there may be cases where an employer should be able to ask for the login information of potential new hires in order to weed out unwanted candidates. Of course, this bill is just one of many issues being raised between employees and employers using social media. While asking for login information may soon become illegal, employers are still free to “friend” potential hires or search online for information about potential employees. Supporters of the bill point out that it’s illegal for employers to discriminate based on age, sexual orientation, race or religion; since most social media sites contain this type of information, they feel employers might gain access to a candidate’s personal details and use them to disqualify candidates illegally.

What are YOUR thoughts on this matter? Have you ever reviewed a potential new hire’s Facebook page, blog or LinkdIn account before hiring them? Do you think it’s fair for employers to request this information, or is it a violation of someone’s privacy? Post your thoughts below.

Published with permission from TMT Technology Times. Source.

Topic General Tech
June 1st, 2012

There are more than 16 billion online information searches conducted via popular search engines each month, with more than 65% of them done using Google (and in the business world, it’s my experience that Google has a 95% search market share). Yet even though Google is very easy to use, most people only access a small portion of what Google has to offer.

It’s imperative that, prior to any sales call, you gather information about your prospect so you can customize your pitch. A standard sales call that gives the same pitch or voice-mail message to everyone just doesn’t cut it (yet it’s surprising how many people still “smile and dial”).

I’m not talking about just visiting someone’s web site. Rather, a good Google search can reveal detailed information that helps you better personalize your pitch and your examples to things that your prospect or client cares about. If you’re a true sales pro who understands that information is power, here is a Google Search secret that can help you get the inside information on companies, industries, and people.

Search Secret: Type the name of a company in Google. If the company name is more than one word, put the name between quotation marks (e.g., “acme corporation”). On the Google results page you’ll see a link that says “More Search Tools.” Click on that link and you will see one of the options is labeled “Custom Range.” Click on this and you’ll see an option to enter a date range. Put in the range you are interested and you’ll see the results for that company within that range. Imagine prior to a sales call that you conduct this sort of search. You click search on the current month and pull up press releases and articles. Even historical information is valuable, as it will show you how the company has progressed over time, past partnerships, and it even might reveal past or current vendors. Knowing the latest information helps you become educated about your prospect.

Note: Content from this blog article provided by Sam Richter, Author of “Take The Cold Out Of Cold Calling” with permission. For more from Sam visit www.samrichter.com.

Published with permission from TMT Technology Times. Source.

Topic General Tech
February 20th, 2012

Is your staff bringing their own devices and gadgets to the workplace? There are pros and cons that you need to know before you decide to adopt this practice for your business.

You may have noticed more and more of your employees or colleagues bringing their own computing devices to work—be it their mobile phone, tablet, or laptop. Or perhaps in your company or in other companies you may have seen, they have let people decide which device they prefer because they are used to it at home. You may not realize it, but this is all part of a large trend called the "consumerization" of IT, in which the influence of consumer technology is being increasingly felt in the workplace. With the wide availability of cheap but powerful mobile devices and online services, a growing number of people are being exposed to the latest technology at home first—adopting them at a rate faster than most businesses are able to manage. This flips on its head the old paradigm in which traditionally new technologies would be rolled out to businesses first, before they would find their way to consumers.

This trend, plus the increasing sophistication of young workers today and their frustration with the tools available to them at the office, is pushing some companies to adopt a "bring your own device" or BYOD policy at work. They are not alone. According to research by technology analyst group Gartner, end users, not the IT department, will soon be responsible for 50 percent of business IT procurement decisions—ultimately bringing and running their own systems on company networks. Meanwhile, according to management consultants Accenture, around one-third of today's younger generation of workers (a group called "millenials") not only wants to use the computer of their choice at work, but also wants control of the applications they use too.

The benefits companies cite to adopting a BYOD policy are many, among them:

  • Savings on capital expenses and training costs in using company equipment—compensating employees instead via other means such as flexible work hours, subsidized purchases, insurance, and other benefits.
  • Less management headache—effectively letting employees decide what to use releases the company from some overhead and management responsibilities.
  • Improved employee satisfaction—by giving employees the freedom to use devices and applications that they prefer.
However, before you consider letting employees bring their own personal technology to the work place, be aware that there are also disadvantages, and sometimes very real dangers in doing so. These include:
  • Non-standardization of hardware, operating systems, and applications. If your business operations require that some equipment is integrated with others, then BYOD can in the long run actually increase IT management costs and decrease efficiency.
  • Exposing your network to malware or security vulnerabilities and breaches. When your employees bring their own devices to work, you lose important control over their security. Consumer devices often don't employ comparable bullet-proof security technologies mandated by businesses.
  • Leakage of confidential or proprietary information. Employees will naturally do what they want with the data on their devices, even if it doesn't belong to them, or it's against company policies. Employees can also lose precious company data when they misplace or damage their personal devices.
  • Lower economies of scale in procurement. Essentially because everyone is buying devices on their own, you miss out on the chance to consolidate purchases and lower purchase costs for everybody.
Have you adopted a BYOD policy at work? Thinking about it? Worried about this trend? If you need to understand BYOD better so you can define a policy for your staff, contact us and see how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 13th, 2012

Did you know that there are many free tools available on the web that can increase your productivity? Especially beneficial to small companies who can always use the savings, these free applications and software, if used correctly, can both increase productivity and help maximize the resources they have at hand.

It is a constant challenge for small businesses to meet ever-changing and ever-evolving IT requirements while balancing a budget and keeping costs reasonable. And with software applications being one of the major factors that contribute to IT maintenance costs, it is always welcome news to come across free tools that work well and efficiently despite the lack of a price tag.

ThinkFree Online Office One of these applications is ThinkFree Online Office, which is a cloud application that enables you to create and edit documents in common formats. It also comes with free 1GB of storage and allows you to work from anywhere, since the documents are stored online. And with its own app for Android users, ThinkFree is particularly advantageous to people who need to work on the go.

ReqMan Another free cloud-based application that can prove useful is ReqMan, an online project management tool. You can use this to manage and track your different projects using various templates the service provides. And since it's in the cloud, mobile personnel and staff who are given access to your ReqMan account can work even when they're out of the office.

Gliffy Gliffy is a free tool that you can use to create all sorts of technical illustrations – diagrams, floor plans, flowcharts, and more. The basic plan is free, but you also have the option to subscribe to their more fully featured plans for a minimal fee.

ScheduleOnce For managing schedules, calendars, and the like, ScheduleOnce allows you to keep better track of all your appointments, meetings, and deadlines through a single tool. It integrates with your calendar on Google, and then allows other people to see your open times when they can schedule a meeting with you. Think of it as a one-stop-shop for your scheduling needs.

If you want to know more about these tools and how you can best utilize them, please feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to guide you and help you make the most out of these types of applications to improve your efficiency and bottom line.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 9th, 2012

While the massive flooding in Thailand ravaged hundreds of thousands worth of property and infrastructure, it also has had an adverse effect on worldwide hard drive production. Since the majority of the world’s hard drive factories are located in Thailand, hard drives will be in short supply in the coming months.

In the same way the massive earthquake and tsunami damaged Japan's electronics industry, the flood crisis in Thailand is causing concern for companies that require hard drives for production.

The majority of the world's hard drives are produced in factories located in Thailand, where the flood crisis has put a damper on many industries, hard drive producers included.

According to reports, the shortage is already driving hard drive costs up and may just be the beginning of that trend. As companies like Hewlett Packard respond to the situation, the outlook remains unclear. PC sales could be affected well into 2012 and beyond. With flooding still an issue for some producers the shortage could expand.

As of now, there is still no concrete solution in sight for the problem with the supply of hard drives in the world, and while reconstruction efforts in Thailand are ongoing, getting the hard drive industry on its feet will take a while. As for the effects on the computing world as a whole, PC prices will likely rise as pre-flood inventories are sold out and replacement stock is delayed.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic General Tech
January 6th, 2012

The effect of social networks on the way companies approach their business is undeniable. Some even go a step further, creating their own internal social networks to help enhance communications within their own organizations. However, for it to function best, the proper policies that govern its use should be developed.

With the waves created by social networking in how companies do business nowadays, many have also utilized the same principle to develop internal social networks to enhance their in-house communications as well. However, the use of this new medium of communication also requires that companies develop new policies to cover its use.

One concern that may leave you apprehensive about creating an internal social network might be the fear that it could be abused by employees. However, reports have shown that introducing an in-house social network has produced generally positive results.

As long as company policies regarding the use of internal social networks are developed and implemented properly, employees will view such a network as an extension of the workplace, and will try to put their best foot forward. Such policies must specifically tackle the use of the internal social network, and many experts recommend revising existing company rules that govern the use of email, IT resources, and even external social networks. To be on the safe side, it's a good idea to consult with a lawyer to avoid any legal problems with the policy in the future.

Who's going to be in charge? Your managers, of course. Since the social network will be for company use, it follows that department heads should be given administrative duties and permissions which they will use for moderating communications and discussions in and pertaining do their respective sections.

While an internal social network can do wonders for your in-house communications, good policies and rules pertaining to its use will be what keep it working like a well-oiled machine.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 3rd, 2012

Passwords are an integral part of securing both IT systems and online accounts. In order to keep your system and information safe, it is important to take the time to create strong passwords that hackers and online thieves won't easily figure out.

If you think using 'password' as your password is no big deal, then it's time to rethink.

Security experts have recently compiled a list of the worst passwords users can choose, and 'password' is at the very top of the list. Weak passwords make your information more vulnerable simply because hackers can guess them. It may be easier to pick a password that you don't have to think about, but it's a choice that you may come to regret.

To help you avoid common password choice mistakes that users make, management application provider SplashData has compiled a list of the 25 worst passwords to use:

  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. abc123
  6. monkey
  7. 1234567
  8. letmein
  9. trustno1
  10. dragon
  11. baseball
  12. 111111
  13. iloveyou
  14. master
  15. sunshine
  16. ashley
  17. bailey
  18. passw0rd
  19. shadow
  20. 123123
  21. 654321
  22. superman
  23. qazwsx
  24. michael
  25. football
Make a smart password choice Experts advise using a combination of letters and numbers when creating your passwords, and to avoid things that anyone might be able to guess, such as birthdays and anniversary dates. Passwords with eight characters or more are safer and it's best to use different passwords for different accounts and websites. Use a password manager to help you keep track of all of your passwords if you're finding it difficult to remember them all..

No matter how sophisticated your security system is, a weak password gives hackers and online thieves an advantage. Helping all the users in your organization understand the importance of password strength will help you secure the IT systems in your organization.

If you're interested in learning more, please contact us so we can develop a comprehensive and custom security blueprint that meets your specific needs.

Reference: Worst Internet Passwords

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 29th, 2011

A massive network of bots an estimated at least four million of them was taken down in a raid recently. Completed with the cooperation of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), authorities in Estonia, as well as security firm Trend Micro, this bust is the biggest cybercriminal arrest in history.

Four million is a big number which makes four million bots, in security terms, a staggering and frightening number as well.

It is a good thing, then, that four million is also the number of bots taken down in a recent bust by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Estonian Police, and security firm Trend Micro. Data centers in New York City, Chicago, and Estonia were raided by authorities, shutting down hundreds of servers used to create a network of bots that spanned some 100 countries.

The said bust, dubbed “Operation Ghost Click”, is one of – if not THE – largest cybercriminal bust in history, putting to sleep a sophisticated scamming operation that victimized 4 to 5 million users and was said to have generated at least $14 million in illegal revenue.

The scam mainly involved hijacking Domain Name Server (DNS) settings in infected computers, which can be used not only to introduce more malware into an IT system, but also to hijack search results and replace advertisements loaded on websites visited through an infected computer.

While this bust does bode well for all IT users everywhere in the world, it also illustrates the scope of influence and level of organization behind security threats. Since this is probably not the only scam / fraud / botnet operation in the world, it is always best to have a comprehensive security policy for your IT infrastructure to minimize the risk of compromising your company’s data and information.

For more details on the bust, check out Trend Micro’s blog post here.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 19th, 2011

Security experts are predicting a rise in the use of personal gadgets to access company data which means that you will have less control over what kind of data goes in and out of your IT system. The best way to rectify this is by having a concrete and comprehensive IT policy that secures your data without compromising the freedom of your employees to use their mobile devices.

As technology continues to become more affordable and accessible to consumers, it's an inevitable fact that employers will see more and more of their employees using their own personal devices such as laptops and mobile phones to access the company's IT system.

This can be a dangerous thing. Since these devices aren't company owned and regulated, you have limited access and control over how they are used. Employees could download all sorts of malware and viruses on their devices and pass the infection along to your IT system when they access it.

The solution: a comprehensive IT security policy. It's important that you find a compromise between the freedom of the employee to use the device as desired and your need to keep your IT system safe from viruses and other threats to your data's security. Steps such as having employees run mobile device management (MDM) software on their devices is one of many actions you can take to lessen the risk of security breaches. You may also want to implement applications and software that check and screen for malware, both for laptops and mobile devices. And don't forget that while Android seems to have a bigger problem with malicious software, Apple isn't exactly virus-free, either.

Employees have a right to use their personal devices as they see fit, but not at the expense of important company information stored in your IT system. Running a tight ship in terms of security is an effective way to protect your business interests and your sensitive company data. If you are interested in knowing more about developing a concrete and effective IT security policy for personal device use as well as general system access, please don't hesitate to give us a call so we can sit down with you and discuss a custom security blueprint that's just right for you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.