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Windows 7 and Office 2010 End of Life

Windows 7 and Office 2010 End of LifeWindows 7 and Office 2010 End of Life

Worried about the looming end of life deadline for your Microsoft products? The company is ending support for several popular business tools in January 2020. This includes Windows 7. It’s a hassle but this change doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Here’s what’s happening and how to take advantage of this opportunity to future proof your computers.

R.I.P. Your Microsoft Faves

RIP Windows 7. For many businesses it’s a tough parting. As late as September 2018 some 41% of Windows 7 users still hadn’t moved on to the latest operating system.  Yet sticking with existing systems until 2020 or beyond could lead to a truly bitter end.

And Windows 7, which could be the operating system on your laptops and desktops, isn’t the only one on Microsoft’s DNR list. Are you relying on 2010 Word, Outlook, Excel, etc.? Running Windows Server 2008/R2 or Small Business Server 2011? Does Exchange 2010 control your email and calendars? All of them are reaching end of support in 2020. That’s a big deal.

Before we talk about why it’s such an issue, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about what end of life really means.

Understanding End of Life Issues

What does end of life mean for your business? When you first buy a product, Microsoft provides mainstream support such as:

  • Offering security patches
  • Releasing design changes or new features
  • Providing complimentary support
  • Warranty claims.

Microsoft stopped all but security patches five years after the product’s release. After all, they want to put resources behind the versions they are still selling in stores.

OK, so you might be thinking, we don’t need new features or design, and we’ve never used the warranty. Plus, at this point, we’ve got everything figured out, so we can continue on without Microsoft’s help. Understanding their answers in the forums was a headache anyway!

Only in 2020, they’ll also stop the security upgrades that provide patches and bug fixes for the tools you’re using. In June 2018, Microsoft even announced but didn’t fix an OS bug. They also stopped answering Windows 7 Community forums.

Thinking you haven’t been doing updates, so this won’t make much difference for you? Try again. The updates were probably taking place without you knowing through Microsoft auto updates or we were managing them for you in the background if you are one of our managed clients. That’s not going to happen anymore.

What This Means for Business

Without ongoing security support, your business runs the risk of cyber attack.

Your users will keep working to improve processes, sell products, and increase revenues. Meanwhile, hackers will work just as hard to find weak points they can attack.

It’s a little like pest control. Ants, spiders, roaches and other bugs are always looking for a way into your home. What do you do? Try and close any gaps they might use to get in and regularly bug bomb to keep the creepy crawlies at bay.

Microsoft was once your pest control service. The company provided the fixes needed to protect your business from cyber criminals.

What a Cyber Attack Might Look Like

Once inside your network or systems these cyber criminals can have a pretty painful bite. They might use malicious software (malware) to take over your business computers. They don’t return control until you pay a ransom. Or, they might take important data for use in identity theft.

Maybe they’ll want to mess with your IT infrastructure and shut you down. Imagine a denial of service attack as a bug infestation that is so constant you are driven from your home. With the boom in cryptocurrencies, some bad actors want to leverage your computers’ processing power. You’d eventually notice your computers running slower and skyrocketing utility bills.

It’s Not Worth the Risk

Cyber security attacks are costly. Take 2017’s WannaCry attack infecting more than 230,000 computers in 150 countries. The perpetrators demanded $300 ransom per computer. The average data breach costs a company $3.86 million, according to the Ponemon Institute.  And the average denial of service attack costs a company $2.5 million.

Beyond these hefty price tags, a cyber-attack can also put your business at risk of:

  • Compliance issues
  • Massive fines
  • Costly downtime
  • Brand reputation damage
  • Customers jumping to a competitor.

Where does this leave businesses relying on Windows 7, Office 2010 and other legacy products? Let’s consider the options.

Preparing Your PCs for 2020

The good news is that you have options. The first one is not so great. Ignoring the risks, you could continue on with your Microsoft products, hope for the best. While you’re doing that, malicious actors are looking to exploit that loyalty.

A second approach is to pay extra to keep getting security updates from Microsoft. This is paying now to put off what is inevitable. After all, the company is only offering three years of extended, paid support. For example, a Windows 7 Pro User can pay $50 per device for the first year of Extended Security Updates (ESUs). The price doubles in year 2 ($100 per device) and again in year three ($200). That’s a total of $350 per device until the ESUs expire in January 2023, when you’ll be out of luck all over again.

Antivirus service providers are offering a third option. Seeing an opportunity, they’ll offer patches and bug fixes for paying customers. The problem is that these companies offer only limited, reactionary support. Plus, they’ll only be in it as long as it proves profitable, so their help could end without warning.

Looking long-term and being proactive, you’ll want to go with the upgrade option we discuss next.

Future-proofing Your PC Assets

Upgrading to the latest versions of Microsoft products is an opportunity. This investment will improve productivity while future-proofing your PCs. For example:

  • Windows 10 security updates regularly and has online users’ community and technical support. The increased operating speed and improved functionality and usability will drive productivity.
  • Upgrading to cloud-based Office 365 can improve collaboration. Users can access email, calendar sharing, and files in real time from any device, wherever they are.

Why not wait until 2020?

Why is it a good idea to begin migration sooner rather than later? Here are our top four reasons.

  1. Data breaches and other cyber threats are costly.
  2. Migrating isn’t always easy. Depending on your IT infrastructure, it could take a lot of work.
  3. Don’t scramble to find partners to support your migration efforts.
  4. By upgrading now, you gain the ability to pick a good time for your business to change over its systems.

Migrating data to a new system, securely and efficiently, takes work and know how. Call us at 319-227-7000 to handle your Windows 7 and Office 2010 End of Life migrations.

2019-05-18T18:42:58-05:00May 18th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

What Happens to Your Data When You Die?

What Happens to Your Data When You Die?What Happens to Your Data When You Die?

Death is a morbid topic most of us try to avoid. Making a will and saying we prefer cremation is the extent of our advance planning. Yet, you may want to also think about what’s going to happen to your data.

Consider your digital footprint. You have photos, files, and emails on your computer and your phone. You’re also documenting your life on social media, and sharing on more than one channel.

Your wearable technology (say an Apple Watch or a Fitbit) may be recording information too. If you have a virtual assistant in your home, it’s recording your search history and saving that data on the cloud.

Yet many of us never think “what will happen to my data after I die?” Do you want it deleted? Are there digital assets you want to share? Perhaps there is tangible value attached to some of your digital assets. At the very least, some photos and videos that may have sentimental value for those who survive you. So, let’s explore advance planning you can do to protect your digital legacy.

Personal Files on Computer or Phone

Your personal devices are password protected. While necessary, this makes it more difficult for your survivors.

Now, they could physically pull the computer or phone apart if needed. But, it’s easier to have a copy of your passwords in a secure place for someone to access in the event of your death. Another option is to use a password manager. You can designate someone as your backup contact. They will be able to gain access to your passwords should you die.

Digital Media Collections

Often, when you click the “Buy” button, you’re not really purchasing that movie or music forever. Your contract with iTunes, for instance, was only for your lifetime. Your rights expire at your death.

Cloud Accounts

Consider the personal and private data you have in the cloud, such as Google or Microsoft’s Outlook. This might include calendars, emails, GPS, documents and financial information.

Google’s Inactive Account Manager lets you make plans for your account. You decide:

  • When Google should consider your account inactive
  • What it should do with your data afterwards
  • Whether to share account access with someone (providing email and phone number)
  • When or if your account should be deleted.

Microsoft won’t provide your passwords after death. However, via their Next of Kin process someone could be sent a DVD of the data in your outlook.com account.

Other cloud providers ask for proof of death and of legal right to access. In Dropbox’s case for instance, your survivors will need a court order. Even with all this, there’s no guarantee your personal data is completely removed from the cloud. It may exist in other data-sets in system backups.

Social Media Accounts

Social media companies do not provide login credentials. Many require proof of identity and a death certificate to deactivate the account. Facebook and Instagram will “memorialize” your accounts. The public can’t see, but Friends or Followers can still view it and post memories. You can assign a legacy contact to look after the account or have it deleted.

You don’t want someone using your social account to send out spam or inappropriate photos. For instance, a sexy spam bot took over a New York Times media columnist’s Twitter after his 2015 death.

Plan ahead to protect your privacy and provide access where necessary. Think of the pain and heartache you can save your survivors by managing your digital legacy now.

Want help preserving your data legacy? We can help. Call us at 319-227-7000

2019-04-26T18:32:53-05:00May 14th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

3 Steps to Securing Cloud Data

3 Steps to Securing Cloud Datasecuring cloud data

Businesses are no longer confusing “the cloud” with those puffy white things in the sky. For many, the cloud is a backbone business tool. Yet, some worry about storing their data on the Internet using cloud technologies. Consider these 3 Steps to Securing Cloud Data.

#1 Encrypt Business Data

The cloud is a lucrative potential target for cyber-criminals. Many enterprises have turned to this technology. In North America nearly 60% of enterprises now rely on public cloud platforms. That’s a five-fold increase over five years, according to Forresters’ Cloud Computing 2019 Predictions.

Some cloud service providers will promise to encrypt your data in transmission. Take this precaution further by encrypting data before it’s sent to the cloud. Encrypting data turns it into another form of code. Only the person with the correct password can decrypt it. If you use a modern encryption standard, it will be extremely challenging for a hacker to break the code.

Plus, encrypting on your end first ensures the cloud storage provider only stores encrypted data. So, if their storage gets hacked, or one of their employees goes rogue, they aren’t able to read your business data. That is unless they have the decryption password. Make sure the password is strong. Don’t be one of those people still using “password” or “123456789”!

#2 Have a Backup

Many businesses store data on the cloud as a precaution to have redundancy. Yet, it’s a good idea to have another backup copy locally too. Just in case.

In some cases, businesses have migrated almost entirely to the cloud. All their software and files live on the cloud and they have no other copy. Don’t let this happen to you. We recommend the 3-2-1 backup strategy. This means, even for cloud-reliant businesses, having 3 copies of your data. One would be on the cloud. The other two (2) would be on different devices (e.g. on your local computer and on a backup drive).

#3 Know your Responsibilities

The cloud is a shared technology model. Partner with a cloud service provider with stringent security. At the same time, don’t count on the cloud provider to do everything. Clearly identify security roles and responsibilities. The Cloud Security Alliance reminds us that this can depend on the cloud model you’re using:

  • Software as a Service – The provider is largely responsible for security. After all, the user can only access the applications.
  • Platform as a Service – The cloud partner secures the platform. Your business must configure its own security for anything implemented on the platform. This includes securing the database, managing account access, and authentication methods.
  • Infrastructure as a Service- You’re responsible for everything built on the provider’s infrastructure. They will likely monitor their perimeter for attacks, but the rest is your job.

Cloud technology offers several advantages:

  • Enables IT to scale without investing in equipment, software, employee training, or taking up valuable office footprint
  • Offers peace of mind that data will always be available regardless of conditions at a particular business location
  • Provides up-to-date technology users can access from any device, anywhere, anytime – as long as they have an Internet connection

The cloud revolution has come. When you join the ranks of those migrating data to the cloud, do so with these safety suggestions in mind.

Need help securing your data? Whether you’re backing up locally or on the cloud, give us a call at 319-227-7000.

2019-04-26T17:49:28-05:00May 7th, 2019|Cloud Services, Security|0 Comments

What is the Best Way to Backup?

What is the Best Way to Backup?What is the Best Way to Backup

“That will never happen to me.” We get through our lives telling ourselves the worst won’t happen to us. It’s the same with business: “We won’t need this data backed up.” Yet, whatever your industry, secure, reliable backup ensures business as usual. So, what’s the best way to backup? Here’s help.

Why You Need to Backup

  1. Business disruptions of any kind can be costly. The disaster might take one of several shapes:
  2. Natural (e.g. wildfires, floods, earthquakes, or hurricanes)
  3. On-site (e.g. hardware/software failure, power outage, inability to access building)
  4. Employee driven (e.g. damaging mistakes or intentional sabotage by a disgruntled employee)
  5. Cyber-attack (e.g. data breach, ransomware, or distributed denial of service attack).

Regardless, the best backup solution can help reduce downtime and damage.

Approaches to Backup

There are several off-the-shelf backup options your business can use. Let’s consider the pros and cons of the most popular ones.

USB Thumb Drives: Also known as “flash drives,” “pen drives,” or “memory sticks,” these thumb-sized devices are compact and portable. But, they have size limitations compared to hard drives. Also, the mobility makes them easy to lose (which can actually set the disaster scenario in motion).

Additionally, a USB thumb drive is robust when not plugged in, but more vulnerable when attached. If someone inadvertently snaps the drive or employs too much force, they can put the data on that backup at risk.

The cheap ones also tend to be slow, which can make backing up sluggish. They are also more susceptible to failure.

USB Hard Drives: Portable hard drives increase the data storage available, often at a decent price. They are designed to be compact and mobile. You can prioritize durability, processing speed, storage volumes and more.

Hard drives are less likely to get damaged than a thumb drive. If knocked or jostled, the cables are flexible. Still, a hard drive can be prone to physical failure. Selecting an external solid slate drive (SSD) can help since it has no moving parts. Information is stored instead in microchips.

Cloud Storage: Backing up to the cloud stores data on an external, secure server. If thieves take your computers and USB backup, you can still access your data on the cloud. Cloud storage providers build in redundancy to ensure your backup remains safe.

Most cloud storage services back up to secure centers with thousands of servers storing data. Oh, and they’ll have their own server backups too, just in case they’re the ones hit by a disaster. The providers also encrypt data during transit to further ensure compliance and security.

Migrating to a third-party cloud storage service also cuts the clutter at your premises. You can count on expert help to ensure security and compliance. Plus, you can cut operational costs by offloading in-house storage or external hard drive expenses.

OK, What’s the Best Answer?

Don’t think disaster won’t strike your business. Research has found data loss and downtime are most often caused by:

  • Hardware failures (45% of total unplanned downtime)
  • Loss of power (35%)
  • Software failure (34%)
  • Data corruption (24%)
  • External security breaches (23%)
  • Accidental user error (20%).

We recommend the 3-2-1 backup strategy. This means having 3 copies of your data. Two (2) of these would be located on different devices (e.g. on your computer and on a backup drive). The other remaining backup copy (1) would be secured offsite, in the cloud.

Want to secure your data for the worst? Give us a call at 319-227-7000 to set this up.

2019-03-25T13:55:32-05:00April 23rd, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Cloud Storage or Local Server – The Best of Both

Cloud Storage or Local Server – The Best of BothCloud Storage or Local Server

Cloud computing is the biggest buzzword in business today, and for good reason too. The cloud provides many a new-found freedom to do and achieve more than ever before. Greater collaboration, unlocking work possibilities in new locations and often reducing costs provides a healthy boost for many companies.

Every business is unique however, and cloud solutions don’t fit for every scenario. Connection issues, internet plans, or technical requirements can rule it out as an option in some instances. In these situations, we might install a Network Attached Storage (NAS) solution instead. Which is a very small server with lots of hard drives.

A NAS is particularly popular in small, mid-sized businesses, and even home environments. Due to their low power consumption, small footprint, and low cost, they often represent an ideal upgrade. Power users and businesses can enhance their networks and get more out of their systems by employing a NAS device to do the heavy lifting.

Reliable, Fast Access

When a property can’t achieve lightning fast internet speeds or services aren’t reliable enough to run a business on; a NAS solution is ideal for the job, serving files locally rather than from a remote server can save vast amounts on uploads and downloads.

Many of the benefits of the cloud can be created locally inside your home or office. Network storage allows you to save and retrieve files from multiple devices with fast local network speeds. Rather than being limited by the speeds offered by your ISP; you can complete file transfers, backups, and sharing at the speed of the hardware you purchase yourself.

A NAS gives you many advantages of the cloud with the level of control, speed, and accessibility of a local server. All this is achieved for a fraction of the cost and maintenance overhead typically associated with conventional servers.

One Device, Many Uses

NAS devices can act as a centralized backup location for active files and devices across the network. Using the device as a file store allows you to share projects easily, collaborate on files, and keep up-to-date copies while revisions change.

The device can be set up to allow redundancy across multiple hard drives. This means backed up data is never vulnerable to only a single hardware failure.

A fully redundant NAS is capable of handling a hard drive failure, or even removal, without interrupting your workflow. Simply replacing the affected hard drive with a new one will backup your files again and re-balance your device as if nothing had happened at all.

Lightweight File Access

Even retaining access to your files away from the office isn’t an ability exclusive to cloud services. NAS devices can be configured to provide secure access to files and folders on remote connections. Working remotely, using a NAS solution, can be done just as easily as if you were sat in the office.

Even when the rest of the office IT is shut-off and shut down, a NAS device can remain on and connected to the network, so access is never interrupted.

A NAS device can run 24/7 without issue. Their low power consumption makes it practical to leave the device powered on for regular backups and easy data access. Devices don’t require the heavy maintenance or large footprint of a bulky server. As a simple solution, a NAS device allows you to focus only on the data.

The Best of Both Worlds

A NAS provides high-speed file access and configuration of a local server and combines it with the low footprint and ease of use of a cloud service. Without relying on a bad ISP, weak connection, or power-hungry hardware, a NAS could be the solution that supercharges your business.

Find out if network storage is the right fit for your business. Call us today at 319-227-7000 to talk about the IT you need to meet your goals.

2019-03-25T13:12:21-05:00April 18th, 2019|Cloud Services|0 Comments

Keeping Control of Your Business with Office 365

Keeping Control of Your Business with Office 365 Keeping Control of Your Business with Office 365

Office 365 represents a complete shift in the way we interact with modern business computing. If you haven’t been introduced to it yet, now could be the time. Similar to the Microsoft Office desktop package that businesses have relied on for decades; Office 365 does even more to provide the critical tools you need to modernize your business environment and take control of your business.

Built with the cloud in mind, Office 365 allows you to access and modify your documents from any computer, tablet, or smartphone worldwide. These same cloud capabilities bring benefits to collaboration too. Groups and teams can work on a single document or group of files at the same time to maximize productivity and save time ahead of tight deadlines.

Safety, accessibility, and productivity are some of the amazing benefits Office 365 has introduced to modern business. Each one has clear, but obvious benefits that can be applied.

This article breaks down the less obvious, but equally important aspects of Office 365 that could apply within your firm. These features, unique to cloud-ready office packages, allow you to regain and maintain control of your business in any working environment.

Bringing You Additional Resources

There are times on projects where you need to collaborate with external contractors. Whether utilizing a skilled sales copywriter, data entry processor, or extra software developer; your business should be able to make full use of a boost in manpower when it needs it. To do this, you need to provide access to internal resources and systems.

A difficult balancing act comes from providing useful access without exposing confidential or sensitive data held internally. More than just personal preference, restricting access to sensitive data can be a key requirement of modern regulations governing business and commerce.

Rather than providing open access to everything you hold, Office 365 makes it possible to share individual files or entire folders one at a time. Privacy settings give you the power to tailor the amount of system access you provide right down to the individual file.

Files can be protected with edit only or view only access to protect data against unintentional, malicious, or unauthorized changes. When the project reaches its conclusion, access rights for external users can be revoked to revert documents and files to internal staff access only.

Keep Everything Together in The Right Place

Making use of Office 365 provides your business with a single, central platform for company communication and data storage. A unified system means less business time spent on staff training and getting to know the system.

Using a single system means your data is always located in a location where you know how to access it. Data transfer and file sharing are made easy for everyone across the firm. Simply modifying permissions or sharing links provides access to critical files to anyone with an authorized account.

Account Based Service

Office 365 accounts-based services make reflecting the structure of your physical business in its digital systems simple and straightforward. Using your unique domain to identify your business, each staff member can be reachable to both internal staff and external firms.

For Example, [email protected] may be the address of your sales coordinator or financial director. Using a unique business-based address provides both a professional point of contact and useful account management system. It also provides a simple way to redirect inquiries within the company.

If [email protected] was the primary point of contact for suppliers to your business, vital emails might otherwise be ignored or lost completely when Jane is unavailable. Office 365 services make it easy to redirect all emails sent to Jane’s address to [email protected] instead.

These simple but highly effective tools make sure you don’t miss vital communications from suppliers, contractors, or customers. This suite of tools gives you a competitive advantage to ensure queries never ‘fall through the cracks’ and your business retains a highly professional reputation.

Keeping in complete control of your business doesn’t have to mean sacrificing extra hours, laborious micromanagement, or building complex and costly systems. Office 365 allows you to keep control of your business easily and without hassle.

You’ll be surprised at the difference Office 365 can make to the way you manage your firm. Call us at 319-227-7000 today to help set you up and running using Office 365 the right way.

2019-03-25T12:53:56-05:00April 16th, 2019|Office 365|0 Comments

OK Google, How Safe Are You Really?

OK Google, How Safe Are You Really?OK Google, How Safe Are You Really?

Are you prompting Siri, Google, or Alexa? When you talk to a home assistant, you join a growing number of smart homes.

Smart home assistants search online, start phone calls, order groceries, play music, turn lights on. All with a single spoken command.

Research into how people use Google or Alexa demonstrates the core features. Listening to music ranked first. Checking weather and asking for general information rounded out the top three. Setting timers and reminders, asking for the news or jokes (perhaps to make up for the news?) are also common.

Yet, the question remains, just how safe are these virtual assistants? After all, having a smart speaker in your home means there is always an open microphone in your house.

Smart Speaker and Home Assistant Safety Concerns

The convenience of the speaker demands that it always be on, ready and waiting for you to say “Hey Siri” or “OK Google” Once triggered the device records the command, sends the data to servers for processing, and figures out its response.

Smart speaker users can log in to view the history of queries on their accounts. This prompts some concerns that these mega-companies will use the information for financial gain. For example, those talking about an overseas holiday might start seeing related ads on their computers.

Someone hacking into the home assistant to gain access to your personal information is another concern. Those who set smart speakers as a hub for many devices also create more points of vulnerability.

It’s difficult to anticipate all the ways the assistant could prove too good a listener. In one case, a voice assistant recorded a private conversation and sent it to the couple’s contacts list.

Steps to Stay Secure with a Smart Speaker

That candid conversation share aside, few big privacy flubs or personal data breaches have been reported. Nevertheless, if taking advantage of Alexa, Siri, or Google helper, keep these strategies in mind.

  1. Clear your history. Don’t leave everything you’ve ever asked it stored on the company server. The assistant will relearn your commands quickly.
  2. Connect with caution. It’s great to be able to turn on the TV and dim the lights without leaving the comfort of your sofa. Be wary of connecting security or surveillance devices to your home assistant.
  3. Mute the microphone. Yes, it undermines your ability to call from the closet OK, Google, what’s the weather like today? But, turning off the mic when it’s not in use stops recording without you knowing about it.
  4. Secure your network. Home assistants do their work by connecting to the Internet using your network. Ensure they are accessing a password protected network. They should use devices (e.g. modems) changed from default password settings. Also, use a separate network if possible. Such as a separate Wi-Fi name.

With a little effort you can gain convenience without worry.

Want more questions answered about setting up a smart speaker to be safe and reliable? We’re here to help. Give us a call at 319-227-7000.

2019-03-25T13:22:52-05:00April 9th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Protecting Your Customers and Your Business Too

Protecting Your Customers and Your Business TooProtecting Your Customers

Security and privacy are at the very top of our priorities when considering business IT. Major data leaks are in mainstream news on a near-daily basis and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of customers are impacted every time they happen. Our number one goal is to make sure our businesses are kept out of danger.

Major institutions, such as multi-national banks and credit card companies, are expected to handle your data well. Unfortunately, less secured businesses require access to our data too.

Even just booking into a hotel often requires you to leave your name, address, date of birth, passport number, and credit card details. These few pieces of information are more than enough to steal your identity, start a line of credit, and access many of your vital services. You can often only hope your chosen hotel handles your information as well as your bank does.

Securing Your Business with Smarter Thinking

There is no way to change how your favorite hotel service operates, but you can affect your own business to improve its security for your customers.

You don’t need the manpower or funding of a major banking chain to handle data securely. With simple tweaks and powerful changes, you can minimize the chances of your business suffering a data breach big enough to close your doors for good.

By stepping up IT security to meet modern threats, you can help to limit your liability, put customer’s minds at ease and give your firm a competitive advantage. Should hackers attack, the work you do today will limit the damage and help you to weather the storm.

Limit Your Data Collection

The single most important thing to consider when securing your business is how much data do you really need to hold anyway? Carefully consider the value of every piece of personal information you collect in any given transaction. Do you have a use for everything you ask for?

Emails, addresses, and contact numbers are useful for receipts and marketing, but additional data many firms collect is often useless and wasteful. Each piece of unnecessary data you hold represents additional value to hackers and thieves. While you may be unable to use your own stored data, hackers will find great value in gathering more personal information. This increases your liability without adding any extra value.

Consider Your Access Requirements

Think carefully about who has access to information within your business and precisely why they need to access it. Often security problems begin when employees have blanket privileges to access everything within the firm.

Access restrictions should be specific to the company structure. Low-level employees should be limited to only what is strictly required for their role. Managers, for example, are likely to need systems that their junior staff cannot access.

Physical access restrictions are critical too. Unattended computers and mobile devices should require a password or identity verification to log on.

Treating Data with Care

The way you treat your data in day-to-day business reflects the impact hackers or IT disaster will have on your business when it is lost. Do you know where your backups are, and when they were last tested? Firms often first know they are in trouble when they realize all their data is stored on a business laptop or device that could be easily lost or stolen. Some firms shuttle a portable hard drive between home and work.

This solution should have no place in a professional business environment. Proper data care means regular, tested backups that are secure against fire, theft, or online hacks. Protecting your customers and your business is all about the smart application of IT knowledge in a cost-effective and efficient way.

We can help you to lock down your business to protect the most valuable assets your business owns, data. Call us at 319-227-7000

2019-03-25T10:44:14-05:00April 2nd, 2019|Backup, Security|0 Comments

Is There A Safe Way to Use The Cloud?

Is There A Safe Way to Use The Cloud?

Cloud technology has grown to new heights in recent years. Ten years ago ‘the cloud’ was jargon almost nobody was aware of, today it is a phrase used almost daily in offices worldwide. More and more businesses today are taking advantage of the huge benefits cloud services have to offer.

The sudden and widespread adoption of this new technology has raised questions too. Some want to fully understand what the cloud is before committing their vital company data to it. Most want to find out what the cloud can do for them. Everyone wants to know, is it safe?

What Is The Cloud?

The Cloud is an abstract name for an engineering principle that allows you to store, retrieve, and work on your data without worrying about the specifics of precisely where or how it is kept. Storing your data on the cloud essentially means saving it on a server without worrying about the fine details.

Your data may be stored on a single computer, or distributed across multiple servers all around the world. Most often it’s stored across one or more data centers as close as possible to your physical location.

From the perspective of the end user, the big idea behind the cloud is that where data is stored ultimately doesn’t matter to you. Your cloud server takes care of retrieving your data as quickly and efficiently as possible.

With cloud technology, you are free to forget about the specifics and worry only about the bigger picture.

Safety In The Cloud

Many people are concerned by the idea of their confidential data being distributed worldwide. Often, people imagine small unguarded computers being responsible for vital company information. In a cloud setting, almost nothing could be further from the truth.

The reality is more like many hundreds, or thousands, of computers stacked up multiple stories in height. Data centers make storing and securing data their entire business, meaning they employ high-level cybersecurity and back it up with top of the line physical security too.

Today, digital assets are treated with security previously used only for cash, or precious metals such as silver and gold. Walled compounds, security gates, guards, and CCTV protect physical servers from unwanted access. Redundant power supplies even protect services against unplanned outages.

A modern data center is many times more secure than an office server in your own building. The difference could be compared to storing your cash in a highly secured bank vault versus a lock box on your desk.

State of the art digital security encrypts data, secures transmission, and monitors services for intrusion too.

Cloud Convenience

Storing data in the cloud means having easy access and very regular backups. Staff across the entire firm can work on documents at the same time, save files, and transfer documents without worrying about redundant copies and saving over previous versions.

The cloud acts, for your firm, as the ultimate productivity and security tool. Many firms haven’t known they needed it until they started using it.

User Security

The most significant threat to your cloud security comes from the users. Creating a weak password or reusing an old one to access your cloud services, opens up your data to easy access by hackers.

Falling for a phishing scam, or accidentally installing malicious software on your computer gives attackers the single opportunity they need to strike.

Attacking a fortified, secure data center is almost impossible. Attacking a user with common attacks and weak passwords is comparatively simple. These issues can be guarded against and prevented with staff training, awareness, and simple security tools. A simple password manager can guard against a large number of the biggest threats to your firm.

In today’s modern tech environment, the cloud is not only safe, it’s very likely the safest, most reliable, and most secure way to store your critical data.

We offer a variety of cloud services to help your business. Give us a now at call at 319-227-7000.

2019-03-01T13:25:41-05:00March 19th, 2019|Cloud Services|0 Comments

Don’t Fall Victim to Webcam Blackmail

Don’t Fall Victim to Webcam Blackmailwebcam blackmail

Don’t Fall Victim to Webcam Blackmail. Many users have reported recent scam messages from individuals claiming to have intercepted their username and password. These messages often state they have been watching your screen activity and webcam while you have been unaware.

Typically, attackers threaten to broadcast footage to your contacts, colleagues, or social media channels. Demanding payment in Bitcoin, malicious hackers blackmail their victims to keep confidential information private.

Where Have the Attacks Come From?

In many cases where hackers have claimed to have a victims’ password, this has turned out to be true.

In the last few years alone, many large websites have suffered enormous hacks which have released confidential details on many of their users. LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Myspace all suffered massive and devastating hacks. Some users of these services are still feeling the consequences today.

The details leaked from these sites, and others facing the same issues, are sold online for years after the initial breach. Hackers buy username and password combinations in the hopes of reusing them to access services, steal money, or blackmail their owners.

How to Respond

If you have been contacted by one of these hackers, it is a scary reality that they could have access to your credentials, data, and online services.

The only thing you can do in response to this type of email is to ignore it. This “we recorded you” email is a scam made much more believable because they probably do have one of your real passwords gained from a site hack.

That said, accounts that share the same password should be changed immediately. Security on additional services you use should be updated too.

Self Defense On the Web

When using online services, a unique password for every site is your number one defense. A good password manager makes this practical and straightforward too.

Using a different password for each site you use means that hackers can only gain access to one site at a time. A hack in one place should never compromise your other accounts by revealing the single password you use everywhere.

Often, people think that maintaining many passwords is hard work or even impossible to do. In truth, it’s almost always easier to keep tabs with a password manager than it is to use the system you have in place today.

A high quality and secure password manager such as LastPass, can keep track of all your logins efficiently and securely. They often offer the chance to improve your security by generating random and strong passwords that hackers will have a tougher time cracking.

Password management services offer a host of features that help you log in, remind you to refresh your security, and make your safety a number one priority. After using a manager for just a short time, you can be forgiven for wondering how you managed without it.

If you think you might have been hacked already, or want to prevent it from ever happening, give us a call to at 319-227-7000 update your security.

2019-03-01T13:15:08-05:00March 12th, 2019|Email|0 Comments
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