Get Enterprise-Level IT for Less with Managed Services

If you’re like most small or medium-sized businesses, you’ve become increasingly dependent on IT—and you want your IT to provide the functionality and security that large enterprises enjoy. But cost is an issue. The expense required to design, deploy, and maintain such an environment is often too great for small and medium-sized organizations. Today, however, you don’t have to choose between the best IT and the most cost-effective option—because with Managed Services, they’re often the same. Managed Services is an IT model that provides IT management and security remotely. Using the latest technology, we proactively monitor and manage your network, identity potential problems, and fix them before they put your business in a standstill. The benefits are twofold: Better IT: With Managed Services, you can gain the functionality and security that was previously only available to large organizations. Lower cost: And, you can do it cost effectively. Due to economies of scale, Managed Services allows you to build an infrastructure that provides critical IT services to employees and customers without creating or supporting these services internally. Talk to us today to find out how our Managed Services can help improve your IT and save you money.

Why You Can’t Survive without a Disaster Recovery Plan

It’s simple: Businesses that suffer data losses usually fail as a result. That’s according to a study by the Department for Trade and Industry, which found that 70 percent of small businesses suffering a major data loss are out of business within 18 months. What this means is most small businesses have failed to protect themselves from a plethora of problems. According to Ontrack, data loss is the result of human error 44% of the time, hardware or system malfunction 32% of the time, software malfunction 14% of the time, computer virus 7% of the time, and site disaster 3% of the time. And data loss is bad, because your data is your business. To illustrate, consider the impact if you lost access to your IT systems, including: Customer databases Supplier details Financial documents, from invoices to tax records Product catalogues Marketing materials Letters and emails Document templates Staff records You already have insurance to protect your business assets, and the same principle applies to your data. Regardless of where your data is, it needs to be protected—and protected continuously—from every possible threat. The good news: a solid disaster recovery plan, including a good backup solution, will allow you to get back to business within minutes or hours in most cases. So protect your data, and secure your business. Ask us how.

Why Investing in Technology can Actually Save you Money

Money is tight and hard to come by, and a lot of companies are looking to cut costs and sacrifice the non-essentials. For many, taking off a chunk out of the IT budget is one of the ways to try to save money. However, when it comes to IT services, chances are a bit more investment may actually save money in the long run, since many technologies make operations more efficient and increase of productivity. An article from Inc. Technology shares 10 very helpful tips on how investing in certain technologies can help your business better weather the recession. The article lists specific technology investments worth forking out money for, including Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), Web conferencing, and Virtualization Software among others. There are also many practical tips on making IT work more cost effectively. To find out more, read the article here: http://technology.inc.com/managing/articles/200803/moneysaving.html

Business on the Go with Tablet Devices

Anticipation for Apple’s iPad, the company’s entry into the nascent “ tablet PC ” market, has been building especially since it hits retail stores this April. While early adopters such as Apple fans, tech mavens, and fashionistas are widely expected to become the first customers for the device, it seems that business users are not that far behind. A recent business survey conducted by Information Technology Intelligence Corp. (ITIC) found that 42 percent of participants plan to purchase an iPad within the first six to nine months. Only 14 percent said “no,” leaving the remaining 44 percent as “possibly” or “undecided.” When asked how they’ll use the iPad, 64 percent of respondents said for business, 31 percent for personal use, and 86 percent for both. The idea behind Tablet PCs is not new. The concept of carrying keyboard-less and mouse-free PCs using a stylus or touchscreen has been around since the early 90s. What the iPad has done, however, is bring back interest in the device – so much so that other manufacturers such as HP , Dell and Asus are introducing their own versions. More importantly, the iPad has increased interest in using tablets for business. Here are some reasons why: Versatility and ease of use. The nice thing about tablets is their size, which is smaller than laptops, but supposedly more intuitive and easier to use than netbooks. They can be used for data entry, as a communication device, remote data access device, or presentation tool – as well as an ebook reader or a device to access documents from cloud services such as Google Apps . Power and portability. Devices on the market today or coming soon also feature longer battery life, and are designed for mobility. For people in the field such as sales or support personnel, the device makes a viable alternative for all-day computing on the go. Apps designed for mobility. While it’s too early to tell, the iPad could usher in new types of applications specifically designed for the tablet’s form and mobility. As an example, Apple promised to release a new set of apps specifically designed for the iPad, such as Keynote and Numbers. Even IBM is getting into the game with an announcement that it will develop apps for the platform soon. Microsoft of course has its Windows for TabletPCs . Are you interested in tablet devices? Will you use it for your business? Want advice? Contact us – we can provide insight and advice.

Are You Opening Your Spam Email Messages?

A survey conducted by the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group or MAAWG reveals that a almost half of computer users in North America and Western Europe not only open spam emails, but also click on the links and open attachments found within these messages intentionally. This not only invites more spam, but potentially exposes them to a large number of security risks as well. Data from the survey revealed that: Nearly half of those who have accessed spam (46%) have done so intentionally – to unsubscribe, out of curiosity, or out of interest in the products or services being offered. Four in ten (43%) say that they have opened an email that they suspected was spam. Among those who have opened a suspicious email, over half (57%) say  they have done so because they weren’t sure it was spam and one third (33%) say they have done so by accident. 84% were aware of the concept of bots. Yet, most think that they are immune from these viruses, with only a third saying they consider it likely that they could get a bot on their computer. Spammers have mechanisms which allow them to track whether their emails are accessed or not. Opening or even unsubscribing from spam messages further invites them to send even more spam. Furthermore, Spam messages these days are not only vehicles to solicit or sell goods and services of dubious source and value, but are increasingly being used as vectors to spread malicious software or malware. Clicking on a link, opening an attachment, or just viewing it can potentially open users’ computers to vulnerabilities in the operating system or installed applications. This in turn can turn compromised systems into “bots”, or unwitting accomplices in spreading more spam or malware. It pays to be aware of this next time you receive suspicious email – and make sure that your employees understand the risks as well. Sometimes even your antivirus software isn’t enough to protect you – so please ask us about our Managed Security Services and how we can help you not only fight spam but prevent it from reaching your Inbox in the first place. Related articles: Survey: Millions of users open spam emails, click on links (zdnet.com) Twitter spam drops to under 1 percent (networkworld.com) ‎ Brazil-originated spam levels topping 13% says Panda Security (infosecurity.com)

Software on Energizer Battery Charger has Malware

Do you use the the Energizer DUO USB battery charger? If so, you’ll be interested to know that the United States Computer Emergency Response Team (US-CERT) has warned that software included in this charger contains a software “backdoor” or Trojan that allows hackers to remotely access vulnerable systems. In its advisory , the US-CERT warned that the installer for the Energizer DUO software places files in your system that allow an attacker to potentially remotely control your system, including the ability to list directories, send and receive files, and execute programs. The backdoor operates with your logged-on privileges and starts every time you start your computer. Furthermore, the Trojan operates whether the charging device it works with is connected or not. Energizer has acknowledged the issue in a statement released at its website. The company said it has discontinued sale of this product and has removed the site to download the software. In addition, Energizer is directing consumers to uninstall or otherwise remove the software from your computers. This incident illustrates the fact that these days threats to your computer and/or network can come from anywhere–including something as seemingly innocuous as your USB battery charger. As always, we advise our clients to be constantly vigilant against such threats. If you don’t have the time or resources to do this yourself (and most don’t!), perhaps it’s time to consider our Managed Security services. Give us a call – we’ll be glad to help. Related articles: Energizer Announces Duo Charger and USB Charger Software Problem (marketwatch.com) Sony Music CDs surreptitiously install DRM Trojan horses on PCs (zdnet.com) Malware hitches a ride on digital devices (securityfocus.com)

Thinking about Security in the Cloud

As we begin to store more and more of our data on the Internet and in the “Cloud,” the threat of that data being accessed and used by someone or something outside of our knowledge or control becomes very real. Data such as credit card information, banking transactions, work history, private addresses and numbers, email and much more are now stored and searchable in everything from Facebook, Google, Twitter, and a host of other applications. In a June report titled “ Assessing the Security Risks of Cloud Computing “, analyst firm Gartner recommends that businesses work closely with their IT department or trusted IT services provider and consultant to understand the risks of storing data in the cloud. Not stopping there, Microsoft has called for even greater government oversight. Recently, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith travelled to Washington to urge the US Congress to enact legislation that would protect information that’s stored in the cloud. Microsoft is proposing legislation that would call for: Reforming the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Modernizing the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Helping consumers and businesses manage how their information is collected and shared Addressing data access issues globally The move coincides with Microsoft’s recent efforts to offer cloud-based services not only for its consumer and corporate customers, but the government as well. Is your business ready for the cloud? What security and privacy policies do you have in place regarding your employees’ use of cloud-based services? Not sure? Contact us today to find out how we can help. Related links: Microsoft’s thoughts on cloud computing (microsoftontheissues.com) Challenges of cloud computing (techsling.com) Gartner: Seven cloud-computing security risks (infoworld.com)