Monthly Archives: February 2012

Happy Leap Day!

Every four years we all get something we all need in our busy lives, more time.  How we use that extra day may determine whether we become more productive or efficient.  Maybe that gift of an extra day will make us more relaxed.  This year February 29th falls on a workday, so here are a few ideas to consider.

Decide to upgrade your network.  PCs, servers routers and other IT assets typically have a useful life of three to five years.  As technology advances at a rapid pace, your hardware and software assets become obsolete.  Your systems may become slow, sluggish and unreliable.  Obsolete hardware and software can contribute to loss of employee productivity or worse.  You may be a victim of malicious software attacks or malware because your old network is out of O/S patch compliance.  Like changing the battery in your smoke detector, consider upgrading that network at least every four years.

Evaluate your line of business applications.  Has your business grown or changed? Does that accounting system continue to meet your needs?  Many businesses will outgrow their line of business applications within 5 years.  Use Leap Day to consider if your account software meets your current set of business rules.  If your policies and procedures have changed since the time you first implemented your account software, perhaps the system is holding you back.  Now is a good time to make sure your technology is in line with your business strategy.

Update your technology roadmap. Now that you have an extra 24 hours, consider your future business and growth strategies.  Think through how those strategies may need to be supported by your information technology infrastructure.  Is your business moving online to an eCommerce business model?  Are you planning to expand locations and need a wide area network (WAN)?  Are industry regulations creating requirements for you to store more documents and data?  Will your current data storage keep up with those demands?

It only happens once every four years, so make the most of February 29th.  Happy Leap Day!

Adopting an Integrated IT Strategy

Are you thrilled with your IT infrastructure? Chances are you do not want to think about it at all. In fact, the less you worry about your IT Infrastructure and assets the better – right? Small and medium businesses (SMBs) rely on hardware, software, email and data to run daily operations. The slightest hiccup can turn into a huge distraction resulting in loss of productivity for your employees and company.

What can you do to take the worry out of your IT? One solution is to adopt an integrated IT strategy. Instead of managing a variety of tools for data protection, remote backup, anti-virus and anti-malware yourself, have your IT Service Provider manage your infrastructure for you. Do you really have time to ensure all your systems are up to date with operating systems (O/S) patches to protect you from the latest security threats? Remember, your network is only as secure as your most vulnerable device. If you miss a patch on one device, your entire network may be out of compliance and compromised.

There are plenty of benefits from adopting an integrated approach to managing your IT assets. For starters, having a single source IT Service Provider means you have one organization to call when you have a problem. If you have service level agreement (SLA) in place, you will get a rapid resolution when you run into problems. What’s more, by using the latest remote monitoring and management technologies, your IT Service Provider will identify and resolve problems before you even realize you have them.

By proactively managing and monitoring your IT Systems, you will run into fewer problems. Even better, you can fix the cost of IT Service delivery by implementing a Managed IT Services model. Not only will you have fewer problems, but the cost of your IT Services will be predictable month after month.

By adopting an integrated IT strategy and implementing a managed service model you will have faster response time, fewer problems and predictable costs of IT Service delivery. All this means less downtime, higher availability and improved productivity for your employees. By taking the hassle out of IT, you have more time to focus on running your business. Isn’t that enough to worry about each day?

How Safe is Your Password?

If you Google “how safe is your password,” you will find more than one billion webpages dedicated to password protection. Near the top of the list is “How I would Hack your weak password”. Here are a few suggestions for keeping your password and your critical data protected.

Keep Business and Personal Separate. Don’t use your business email and password combination for personal use. Last month Zappos (owned by amazon) let their users know that their systems had been hacked and that customers’ email and password combinations may have been compromised. If Amazon can loose your password, think about how many other sites can as well. It is bad enough to compromise your personal data, but imagine exposing your internal systems at work. Keep business and pleasure protected so you don’t risk your business data in case your password and email combination fall into the wrong hands.

Change Your Password Regularly. Just like changing the batteries in your smoke detector, changing your password keeps you ahead of the game. While some say it is a hassle to change your password, it may protect you from someone who obtained your credentials without authorization. Employees who have left your company will also be challenged if they try to hack your systems.

Set a strong password. I know strong passwords may be hard to remember, but they are also hard for someone to hack. Use combinations of capital and lower case letters. Include numbers if possible and also other special characters if your system allows for this. Consider using numbers to replace letters in familiar words or include special keys instead of vowels (for example @ for a or ! for L). This may help you with that hard to r3m3mb3r password. After all, you don’t write them down, do you?

Protect against malware. There are malicous software programs (“malware” for short) that can get downloaded and installed on your devices. Unlike a virus that intends to reduce systems performance or corrupt and destroy data, malware may go undetected with the intent of capturing critical information such as credit card numbers and email /password combinations.

Some malware programs are designed to “phish” for your password. While logging in, malware may transmit your password without your knowledge. Make sure you block against the latest malware in addition to keeping your anti-virus definitions and operating systems patches up to date.

This is by no way a comprehensive list or guarantee to avoid getting hacked or having your password compromised. However, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to password protection.