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July 16th, 2010

Client-server networks can help employees perform 20 percent more revenue-producing tasks. For small to medium businesses that may not be able to afford a dedicated IT staff, outsourcing may be the most cost-effective means of installing and maintaining such a network.

You’re probably aware of the benefits of a client-server network—but are you prepared to handle the maintenance? If not, you may want to consider Managed Services.

According to a Forbes study, client-server networks help small businesses extend their geographic reach, find new customers, and increase revenues while maintaining or decreasing costs—and as a result, employees at small businesses using client-server networks perform 20 percent more revenue-producing tasks.

However, installing and maintaining such a network isn’t easy. It requires you to stay on top of the latest technology, monitor backups, and troubleshoot problems.

The traditional method of installing and maintaining a client-server network is to hire a staff of IT professionals to do the work, but this may not be realistic for small or even mid-sized businesses not be able to afford a dedicated IT staff.

Outsourcing may be a cost-effective way to solve this problem. If you want to outsource, you could hire an IT company to set up your client-server network, then wait for the network to break down before calling the IT company to perform the repair.

Or, you could consider Managed Services. With Managed Services, an IT company monitors your network to ensure performance and troubleshoot problems before they get out of hand. And in the unlikely event that something goes wrong, you’ll have qualified professionals on call to come to the rescue. Moreover, your support costs should be approximately the same as if you were paying for reactive support—but your network’s performance and reliability will be significantly higher.

So why spend time and money running a network when both can be better spent running your business? Consider Managed Services for you client-server network maintenance.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
July 8th, 2010

The near ubiquity of WiFi hotspots nowadays has led to great advances in access and convenience for many. It’s also a great boon for “road warriors” who do most of their work from the field.

However, few people understand the risks of using wireless hotspots. When you go online in open networks that don’t use a password or encryption, potentially everything you send out from your computer can be seen by anyone with adequate technical knowledge. Therefore, whenever possible it’s best to connect in places where some encryption—either WEP or WPA—is employed. If that’s not available, using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) can help, which allows you to establish a secure channel of communication to your office network over the public Internet. How you use certain software is also something you should be aware of—some browsers, instant messengers, and email clients are more secure than others.

Wireless hotspots can be great when travelling on business or working on the road. Being proactive about security issues will go a long way in ensuring your safety and privacy, and we’re here to help. We can set up your machines for secure access by implementing a network VPN, consulting on software security, and much more. Contact us today to learn more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
July 6th, 2010

A critical vulnerability in Windows XP has been revealed that involves the Windows and Help support center, a Web-based feature providing technical support information to end users. The vulnerability can potentially allow a remote hacker to take complete control of a victim’s machine. Systems running Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 using many major browsers, including Internet Explorer 8, are affected.

A few days after the advisory, security firm Sophos warned users of a website using the vulnerability to install malicious software on victims’ machines, and of possibly more exploits coming out soon. Users of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 are advised to disable features within Help Center that allow administrators to remotely log onto their machines. For individual users, Microsoft has released a patch for the flaw.

Don’t know how to install the patch? Need help? Let us know! Of course our customers with Managed Services are automatically advised of these vulnerabilities, and patches are applied as soon as they are available. Contact us today to find our more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
July 1st, 2010

A recent report, released by Osterman Research and sponsored by software vendor Commtouch, reports that the incidents of outbound spam is getting worse. The research firm interviewed 266 end users of internet service providers and 100 web hosting companies. Almost 40% of respondents have had their IP addresses listed on Real Time Blackhole Lists (RBLs) in the past 12 months alone – and the number could be far greater considering those who may not be aware that they have been listed.

RBLs tag machines or networks of machines as being sources of SPAM, causing their emails to be filtered out by many mail servers. This can result in legitimate emails not reaching their intended destination, and can victims’ reputations. In addition, having an infected machine or network of machines can waste bandwidth and slow down outbound connections.

The cause of outbound spam varies, but can including everything from compromised email accounts to “zombie” machines – machines infected with malware sending out spam unbeknownst to the user.

There are multiple ways of protecting computers and networks against the risk of outbound spam, and our Managed Services clients benefit from our proactive protection and filtering. Contact us to find out more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
June 29th, 2010

USB flash drives have become a popular choice for people needing a convenient, portable, and cheap storage device for their data. Unfortunately, as the use of these devices increases, so does the risk of potential security breaches.

Some of these risks include the introduction of malware such as viruses, worms, and trojans to the computer or even your network. By default, many Windows machines are configured to automatically run or execute software on USB devices. Malware can also reside in data stored on USB drives that can be triggered when the files are opened. For many companies, unmonitored USB devices also expose the company to the risk of unauthorized theft or exposure of sensitive, confidential data.

You can limit the risks posed by using USB devices a variety of ways. One is to make sure your threat management systems, such as antivirus software, are updated and are set to monitor USB drives connected to your laptop or PC. To protect data on your computers and network, you can use data encryption tools or monitoring systems that log access to sensitive information. A clear policy on the acceptable and proper use of the company’s computing and network resources can help as well. Of course, the safest policy of all is to disable USB devices on company PCs and laptops altogether.

Need more information on how to manage the use of USB portable storage devices in your company? Contact us to find out how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
June 29th, 2010

It’s not uncommon for many small and medium-sized companies to use file sharing and peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms as a means to share information and data – especially when it comes to larger files that are difficult and sometimes impossible to attach to emails.

And why not? File sharing and P2P is easy to use, simple, and inexpensive. And never mind if some employees download some personal files on the side – a song or a movie here and there never hurt anyone. Right?

Wrong.

The big catch when using P2P programs and common file sharing platforms is that it compromises your company’s security. Exposing your computers and your system to such a mode is filled with all sorts of risks.

First, people can accidentally share files that aren’t supposed to be for public consumption. They may also inadvertently download viruses and Trojans that infiltrate your system, steal sensitive information, and cause untold damage. If you are on a network, even if just one computer becomes infected, it can spread to all other workstations on the network. Some unscrupulous P2P abusers even use other people’s computers to remotely store illegal data, such as child pornography.

It’s very important that you have a secure system in place to handle large file transfers that cannot be shared through email. Guarding your network from outside infiltration is a must, but you don’t have to sacrifice efficiency and ease of use. So if you’d like to explore your options for secure file sharing, we’d be happy to lay out a plan that will fit your specific needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
June 25th, 2010

Managed Services provide enterprise-level IT capabilities without a large initial capital investment for a predictable monthly fee—which can be appealing to small and medium-sized businesses such as yours.

Are you a candidate for Managed Services?
Take our quiz below.

Managed Services checklist

o   We’re having difficulty staffing qualified IT professionals.

o   We’re concerned about the security of our data.

o   We’re concerned about the security of our transactions.

o   We’re concerned about the security of our communications.

o   We aren’t always able to respond quickly to market demands.

o   We need to reduce overhead costs

o   Staying up to date with evolving technologies is difficult for us.

o   Maintaining current hardware and software is time consuming.

o   We need to operate in real time to meet 24-hour demand.

o   We need to deliver services to remote offices or workers.

o   Our growth depends on our implementation of new technology.

o   We need to upgrade our infrastructure.

o   We need to relocate our infrastructure.

o   We’re undergoing a merger or acquisition.

o   The scale of our operations is going to change.

o   We want to expand into new markets.

o   We’d like to focus our efforts on our core competencies.

o   We need to focus only on mission-critical activities.

o   We need to implement a global IT network, but we lack the resources.

o   We’re concerned about our ability to keep up with the latest security threats.

o   We’re affected by privacy or security regulations.

o   We’re experiencing dynamic business growth but have a hiring freeze.

o   We need to maintain our current IT capabilities but are downsizing.

If any of the items apply to you, you may want to consider Managed Services. Bring your completed list to us today, and we’ll let you know how can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
June 23rd, 2010

Of course we’ve all heard of the saying “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” And really, to some degree, that saying holds true.

When it comes to technology, though, reality favors the opposite. You might have hardware right now that’s a bit old by industry standards but is still working, so there seems to be no need to upgrade or replace it. Sooner or later though, it’s going to cause you a lot more trouble than it’s worth.

For instance, what if you are in a middle of a major project your hardware breaks down? Hardware manufacturers constantly upgrade their technology, leaving past models behind. This means that the older your hardware is, the harder it will be for you to find support or spare parts when things go wrong. Unless you have a backup plan, this scenario can turn into a big nightmare. And IF (that’s a big “if”) you can find the replacement parts you need, you’ll probably wait for weeks for them to arrive and for the repairs to get done, making you lose precious time and profit.

The advantage of upgrading your equipment is that the more advanced it is, the higher the quality of your output. Your workflow can be made much easier and more efficient with better performing hardware specs and added features that come in newer models. And with the right support from manufacturers, any glitch or problem can be fixed within a reasonable period of time since parts and other replacement components are in stock and readily available.

Of course, you don’t need to upgrade each time a new model is released. The key is to know when give your hardware a boost. If your upgrades are properly planned, you can change systems and replace equipment without compromising your productivity or output.

So if you want to assess your current hardware, we’d be happy to sit down with you to create a roadmap for your future upgrades.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
June 18th, 2010

Business impact analysis is an often misunderstood component of your business continuity plan—but it doesn’t have to be.

First, let’s review business continuity planning, which is simply the creation and validation of a plan for how your business will recover critical activities after an extended disruption, such as a disaster.

Business impact analysis is one of the first steps in creating a business continuity plan in that it simply seeks to identify your business’s exposure to a sudden disruption of critical activities.

How do you conduct a business impact analysis? Many resources, including templates, are available. Let’s review the basic steps.

First, when looking at your firm’s activities and the cost of their loss during a business disruption, you’ll want to be sure you consider both financial costs and non-financial costs (such as customer service, supplier confidence, and market perception). Be sure to consider a number of possible scenarios. For example, what if your building is completely destroyed? What if some key personnel are not available? What if the disruption occurs during a peak period for your business?

Second, you’ll decide what’s critical and what’s not. An activity is probably critical if (a) its functionality is required by law, or (b) you consider its disruption unacceptable.

Third, for each critical activity, you’ll then assign two values: a recovery point objective, which is the acceptable amount of data that will be recovered, and a recovery time objective, which is the acceptable amount of time to restore the activity.

You may want to perform a business impact analysis before you create a business continuity plan—and your IT infrastructure will play a big role in both. Is your data backed up? How often? Give us a call and let us help guide you through answering these questions and developing a plan for your critical business needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
June 10th, 2010

Online security website OneITSecurity recently interviewed Charlie Miller, second-year Pwn2Own contest champion, and he shared several interesting insights on browser security – especially with the use of Adobe’s Flash plugin. In Pwn2Own, a contest held in CansecWest Conference, participants are offered a reward for finding vulnerabilities in popular software and operating systems.

Charlie’s interview is particularly relevant with the recent headline mentions of Adobe Flash with Apple’s refusal to make Flash work with their popular iPod, iPhone, and now iPad products, citing its instability and poor security. Microsoft, in its most recent Security Intelligence Report, pointed to Flash was as the most commonly exploited browser vulnerability in the first half of last year.

Charlie seems to share the same view, citing security issues as evidenced by the long list of security patches alone this past few months. His tip? Use Microsoft IE 8 on Windows 7 without Flash to be as secure as possible. If you can’t avoid using Flash, make sure you are using the most up-to-date version with all security fixes and patches applied.

Too busy to do it yourself? Get in touch with us and we can do it for you as one of the many tasks we take care of with Managed Services.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles