Tag Archives: mobility

Mobile Hotspots – Is Your Business At Risk?

With almost one billion mobile connections in place, it is easy to understand why these devices are targeted by hackers. Employees connecting at Starbucks, in airports, on planes and in hotels open themselves up to additional security breach risk by accessing information through mobile hotspots. Mobile hotspots can be easy targets for hackers by setting up spoofs to get your employees to unknowingly log into unsecure networks, making them vulnerable to Man in the Middle (MitM) exploits. As an employer, it may be impossible to prevent employees from using hotspots, so it is very important to take steps to protect your business. Below is an example of how hotspot hacking works and how businesses with mobile users can protect themselves.

Is Your Mobile Device Hackable?

According to research by Gartner, almost half of us will first turn to a mobile device for online tasks. Business users in particular rely on mobile connectivity to be productive. Using a open Wi-Fi hotspot may put you and your business at risk of hacking. Most people are aware of the risks, however it comes down to convenience. Hackers can use software that makes a mobile device appear to be connected to a familiar Wi-Fi network, but in reality, all traffic is routed through an imposter that captures your data (MitM). Many mobile applications attempt to stop this type of proxy attack by ensuring a secure, end-to-end SSL connection refusing to make an unencrypted login. However, mobile applications may not always verify the secure SSL connection is actually secure.

Does Your Business Needs a VPN to Protect Mobile Users?

A Virtual Private Network  (VPN) is a network that is constructed by using public wires — usually the Internet — to connect to a private network, such as a company’s internal network. There are a number of systems that enable you to create private networks using the Internet as a way for transporting data. These systems use encryption and other security mechanisms to allow only authorized users to have access. One benefit of having a VPN service is the ability to integrate network security policy and enforcement under a single management platform, meaning remote VPN clients automatically inherit a standard set of policies upon login.

Stay Safe by Educating Your Employees

We may know not to use unsecure Wi-Fi, but getting your employees to do so, may be harder. Educating your employees is a first line of defense to prevent data loss and data leak. Training on the threat, exposure and risk of a data leak or loss reminds your employees to be aware.

If you feel your network should be more secure, contact your IT Service Provider to find out how to protect your network within your budget and the security requirements of your business.

Moving to the Cloud: The Advantages

Advantages of Moving to CloudAccording to the International Data Corporation (IDC), total public IT Cloud services (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS) spending will reach $127 billion in 2018. Compared to the 4.1% compound annual growth rate the IT market will experience from 2013-2018, the public Cloud will grow at a 22.8% compound annual growth rate. That’s five and a half times more than the total IT market spending! The Cloud is unquestionably the most significant trend ever to hit the IT industry. Understanding these figures warrants a thorough review of the advantages associated with moving your organization to the Cloud.

Cost Savings

The prime advantage of Cloud computing is the ability to pay for what’s being used instead of being compelled to pay for unused services. It’s just smart business sense to cut out unnecessary spending. Large Cloud providers are able to offer more computing power at a lower cost, as they benefit from huge economies from scale. Just make sure Cloud services are not over-provisioned, and only use what you need.

Advantages of Both Public and Private Models

Organizations have a lot of options when it comes to Cloud models, but most people are confused about the difference between the public and private model. Public Cloud services are designed for a market and not a single enterprise. It is open to all potential users and is shared among unrelated consumers, while private Cloud services are shared within an enterprise but have restrictions on access. These Cloud services can be either onsite or offsite and can be managed by either a third party or in-house staff. There are advantages to both models. The public Cloud model offers a pay-per-use model, the speed of access to resources, and the flexibility to add and drop capacity. On the other hand, the private Cloud model offers the highest levels of management visibility, control, security, privacy, and proximity to physical data.

Speed and Flexibility

Speed is perhaps the greatest reason to move to the Cloud. While time to implement services can take weeks, a company can use its Cloud provider to get services up and running within a matter of hours. Long gone are the days of waiting months for an IT department to order and configure a new server; a virtual one can be delivered almost instantly. In addition, the Cloud offers amazing flexibility for you and your employees. Employees can now access company data from a variety of devices and a variety of locations.

Many small to medium sized businesses are migrating to the Cloud because of the backups, better security, and the assurance that your company is always up to date without having to continually invest more time and money. If you are considering moving your business to the Cloud, contact your trusted IT advisor to get more helpful tips on migrating to the Cloud.

Bandwidth Bottleneck Coming to an End?

Telcos Bandwidth BottleneckIt is predicted that by 2017, there will be around 268 billion app downloads. The average person already uses 26 different apps per month. This growth is clearly driven by the younger work force, who use their mobile devices and tablets for both work and play. All of these apps use a lot of data, and so there is a problem on the horizon: all of this data use will lead to pervasive network strain, which will in turn result in performance problems in both apps and network-based services. This data overload creates frustration in both users and providers. App users will simply delete apps that do not perform well. This means fewer customers for Telcos and app providers.

The Data Challenge for Telcos

Therefore, Telcos have a challenge in front of them: invent new ways to improve user experience by making them more data efficient and scalable. The question on a lot of IT experts’ minds is: is it finally time for Telcos and app providers to work together to unclog the bandwidth bottleneck? The answer is still unclear, but intelligent data distribution is one solution everyone can agree on at the moment, i.e. Telcos can optimize their current network assets while app developers work to design more apps that use less data.

The Importance of Wide Area Networks Within Telcos

In order to stay sustainable, Telcos need to offer more in connectivity. A solid Wide Area Network (WAN) is essential in accelerating applications and keeping traffic separate. It is also critical for day to day business operations; it both reduces operating costs and provides a level of predictability for system performance. Wide Area Networks consolidate costly tools, such as printers, phone lines, file storage, bandwidth, and security, because these items do not have to be purchased for each individual computer. Telcos are also learning that not taking advantage of Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) is putting their business at a competitive disadvantage. Telcos need to be able to interconnect multiple locations and ensure the highest level of data connectivity performance between multiple locations. Equally important for Telcos is the advent of Ethernet over Copper (EoC). For small to medium businesses, EoC can gain greater bandwidth and flexibility in order to support various IP-based applications, including disaster recovery, Cloud, and IP voice services.

Users Drive Telco and App Developer Success

Consumers will ultimately drive Telco and app developers’ transformations. If Telcos and app developers do not address the bandwidth bottleneck, app users will quickly become frustrated. The initial shock will fall to the app providers – users will not go to Telco providers when an app does not work to their liking; they will simply delete the problem application(s). But, ultimately, everybody loses if the bottleneck remains. Eventually consumers will be able to see a data rating for each app in the app store. And, if users stop downloading certain apps, both Telcos and app providers will lose revenue. Consequently, users can expect more streamlined apps from providers and more efficient networks from Telcos in the future. For more information on the future of applications, contact your trusted Telco service provider today.

Do You Have an Effective BYOD Policy?

According to new IDC data, vendors shipped 327.6 million smartphones in the third quarter, an increase of 25.2%, when compared to the same quarter last year. This means that global smartphone shipments have topped 300 million shipments for the second quarter in a row. Although there have been rumors of a slowing market, the data clearly states otherwise. As technology pushes small to medium sized businesses towards smartphones and other mobile devices in the workplace, it is more important than ever to establish an effective BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy.

1.     Decide What Mobile Devices Are Allowed

 If your company allows your employees to bring their own devices to work, it can be a nightmare for IT to have to support multiple platforms. Therefore, it is important to decide what devices are allowed to be used for work. Decide whether it is more cost-effective to purchase your own company devices to hand out to employees.

2.     Establish BYOD Security Policies

It is important for your company to establish an “acceptable use policy” for their mobile devices. This will curb employee distractions and reduce risks for harmful viruses and malware. Your company should also develop a monitoring system and disciplinary action for employees who disobey the policy. Although this may seem harsh, it may avoid a security breach down the road.

3.     Employee Exit Policy

In addition to creating an acceptable use policy, it is equally important to come up with an exit policy for when employees leave the company. Document in your employee exit checklist to ensure you remove the employee from access to information on the network, business email, or other applications. If you need help developing an effective BYOD policy for your business, contact your trusted IT advisor today.

Tablet Computers to Outsell PCs in 2015 – What You Need to Know

Tablet Computers are set to outsell PCs in 2015, according to a recent report. According to industry analysts Gartner Group, world wide tablet computer shipments will climb to nearly 321 million units next year.  Meanwhile, Gartner predicts PC shipments will fall to 262 million units in 2015, putting Tablet Computers on track to lead the transition from traditional computing to mobile and cloud technologies.

Here are some key points you should consider about this trend.

Tablets Computers Provide Cross Platform Support for Cloud Applications

Many cloud applications support not only traditional PCs, desktops, and laptops, but also tablet computers, smart phones, and other mobile devices. Tablets allow your employees to work anywhere and in a variety of environments. Because tablet computers take up less space and are WiFi enabled, employees at counters, in the field, on factory and retail floors, in the healthcare sector, or on constructions sites.

Other Benefits of Tablet Computers

The latest tablet computers are outfitted with a variety of features that are native to the device. They have the ability to take pictures and track location information. They also have touch screen and pen based interface.  Case workers in the field can easily capture images, take notes, and tag locations to case files. Retail workers can look up inventory, architects can have access to drawings, and lawyers can access case files.  The possibilities are limitless with a well designed application.

Using Tablet Computers in the Workplace

It is important to consider wireless access, network security, and mobile device policy and management when you deploy tablet computers in your business. Limited wireless network access may leave your employees unproductive.

Because these devices are mobile in nature, they are at risk for loss or theft. Accordingly, the devices and networks should have a managed security policy to prevent unauthorized access to applications and application data.

If you are considering bringing tablet computers into the workplace or have questions or concerns about your tablet computer strategy, contact your IT Consulting Service Professional.

Does Your Company Have a Mobile Computing Strategy?

Meeting the challenges of mobile computing is top-of-mind for most IT executives and business owners.  According to research firm Gartner, table computing shipments surpassed desktop computer shipments for the first time during 2013.  According to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), mobile workforce dynamics are driven by traveling employees and those employees bringing work home. These competitive market forces mandate (require) companies to develop a mobile computing strategy for their businesses.

Why Have a Mobile Computing Strategy?

Cloud computing, broadband Internet, and consumerization of IT are fueling the demand for mobile computing.  Supporting employees in the field and traveling employees and connecting with customers are top areas of focus for IT today.  Support for employees working from home and mobile commerce also drive the demand for mobile computing.  The outbreak of mobile computing raises a number of concerns, including device theft and loss, mobile-specific virus/malware, and personal use of business devices. Additionally, mobile users may put additional strain on your corporate network and WiFi connections.

Responsible Mobile Computing

There are a number of factors to help reduce the risks of mobile computing.  Requiring a passcode to unlock a device may be the first line of defense but may not be enough to fully protect your corporate applications and data.  Using encryption for data on the device and in transit can keep your information secure if your device is lost, stolen, or exploited by a mobile virus or malware.  As a last resort, having the ability to track and wipe a compromised device (e.g. having a kill switch) is another option to protect your critical information from falling into the wrong hands. Also, be sure to test your corporate network bandwidth and security to ensure that they meet the demands of your mobile users

Focus on the Mobile User

Awareness of your employees is a key consideration of your mobile device plan.  It is important that your mobile employees have a clear understanding of the threats and risks of mobile computing.  Keeping mobile devices up to date with O/S security updates, anti-virus, and anti-malware protection is key.  Training your employees to identify phishing schemes and having a protocol for reporting lost or stolen devices and data breach improve your organization’s readiness for adopting a mobile-computing strategy.

The adoption of mobile computing is expected to continue at a rapid pace over the next few years.  This growth will meet the demands of the mobile workforce and the desire for businesses to improve customer satisfaction through connected applications.  Having a proactive plan for securing mobile devices and their access to corporate applications and data is critical.  It is equally important to educate your mobile employees on the threats, risks, and responsibilities of a mobile computing user. Contact your Mobile Computing Expert to help deploy mobile computing within your organization.

Mobile Security: Does Your SmartPhone need a Kill Switch?

Many Smartphones and Tablet computers have access to corporate applications and their data through Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies and corporate-sponsored mobility strategies.  Mobile Security has become a popular topic for good reason.  According to CIO Insights, mobile data traffic is expected to increase eleven-fold by 2018. Because of increasing data traffic on mobile devices, some government agencies are looking at legislation to require manufacturers to add a smartphone kill switch to remotely wipe a mobile device if it is lost or stolen.

Keeping in mind that a four-digit iPhone passcode could be hacked in minutes, this begs the question:

Does your Smartphone Need a Kill Switch?

Having a smartphone Kill Switch may give a sense of false security.  Adding a kill switch to protect your privacy and corporate information is reactive, rather than proactive.  If not done properly, you could wipe your employees’ irreplaceable information, such as family photos.  A Kill Switch may also make the phone entirely unrecoverable.  This means you will surely need to replace the device once the remote kill switch is invoked.

Proactive Mobile Security

Before you hit the Kill Switch consider proactive mobile-security measures. Smartphones and Tablets are great innovations that allow your employees to stay in touch and work anywhere.  Access to email, operational data, financial information, and customer information through a mobile device can empower your employees and increase their productivity.  Access to this information should be password-protected at all times.  Additionally, any corporate data should be encrypted in transit and at rest. Only approved applications should be allowed on the mobile device and personal data should be stored in a separate “container” from company information.

Beyond Mobile-Device Management

In addition to protecting the information stored on and accessed by a mobile device, you should take the time to train employees on your mobile-security policy.  Your mobile security policies and training should touch on topics such as what is an acceptable use of a Mobile Device in the workplace, why mobile security is important, and how to report a mobile-security incident.

Requiring manufacturers to include a Kill Switch in a mobile device does not go far enough to protect your company information assets.  Having a comprehensive mobile security plan, however, will go further to prevent data loss in the long run.

Will Smartphones and Tablets Kill the PC?

With Windows XP support ending soon for millions of PCs, many companies are considering a variety of replacement strategies.  The adoption of smartphones and tablets is clearly on the rise.  According to IDC, PC shipments are expected to decline by 6% in 2014, and that trend is expected to continue.  Meanwhile, shipments of tablets surpassed shipments of PCs in 2013 and are expected to outpace shipments of PCs by 2015.  Does this mean death to the PC?  Likely not, here is why…

The Case for Smartphones and Tablets

The portable form factor of smartphones and tablets allows users to access corporate applications and their data at home, while traveling, and out in the field.  Because of the touch-screen interface, they are operated easily without the need for a keyboard or mouse.  This makes smartphones and tablets ideal applications for employees who are standing or travelling without access to a desk.  Because these devices typically connect via WiFi cellular network and run on battery power, they don’t have the wires, cables, and plugs associated with a PC.  Tablets and smartphones find their way on retail counters that may have limited workspace. They may also be easier to clean when they may be exposed to biohazardous materials, dust, or dirt.

Smartphones and Tablets vs. the PC

If you require a large monitor to view spreadsheets, create powerpoints, or edit documents, a PC may be right for you.  While many touchscreen smartphones, tablets, and convertible PCs connect with a keyboard by using a variety of interfaces, such as bluetooth, there are clear design tradeoffs for office productivity and mobile productivity.  PCs and laptops, combined with keyboard, mouse, and monitor, increase the productivity of your workforce while in the office.  Accountants, writers, and designers will quickly choose a Desktop PC or Laptop with a monitor to get their work done efficiently and effectively.

Because Windows XP support will quickly end, millions of PCs will retire in the coming months.  Many cash registers, factory controllers, and other industrial devices running Windows XP may quickly be replaced by tablet computers.  Other laptops and some desktops may be replaced by tablets, smartphones, or convertible PCs with touchscreen interface.  Some workers may find themselves with multiple devices that connect to one another via Cloud Computing.  This trend may not accelerate the growth of the PC to the heights of smartphones and Tablet PCs; however, expect both the desktop computer and tablet to have a place in our IT infrastructure for a long time to come.

Mobile Security: Why Should I Care?

Mobile security is top of mind when it comes to concerns for IT Managers.  According to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) risk of loss is the number one concern related to Mobile security. For the first time last year, more smart phones and tablets shipped than PC desktops.   It is no surprise that mobile devices are the target of mobile security threats.

Chances are most people in your company have a smartphone, tablet or both.  In some cases these devices connect to your company network using WiFi.  It is equally likely that these devices access company information via email, mobile applications or file synch to company data.  Now that these devices are universal, it is important to have a plan if they are lost or stolen. Keep in mind, your four digit password may be the only thing between an intruder and your data.  Here are some additional considerations for mobile security.

Mobile Security Policy

While you can remotely wipe a Mobile devices when it is lost or stolen, this may not be enough.  That four digit passcode can be easily hacked in minutes.  It is important that employees know how to report a lost or stolen device immediately.  Also consider, there may be personal information on the device that is property of your employee.  This data may not be backed up and could be impossible to recover. There may be local laws that prevent you from wiping this type of data from personal devices.  If your employees access your corporate systems, be sure they sign and acknowledge your company policy for acceptable use, including policy for reporting lost or stolen devices and mobile device policy for storage of personal data on a company owned mobile device.

Mobile Security Training

Some social networks are designed to harvest contact information that may be synched with corporate contacts.  Publishing privacy data without consent may be considered a data breach.  Train your employees on the importance of mobile security policy and the related mobile security risks.

In addition to mobile anti-virus, mobile anti-malware detection, device management, mobile phishing protection, your knowledgeable employees are one of your first lines of defense against the threat of a mobile security breach.  If you feel your employees need training or your mobile security policy is not up to date, contact your mobile security professional today!

2013 Technology in Review

As always, a lot has changed in the Technology world in the past year. Systems are updating, while new technologies are becoming more prevalent. Windows XP, the operating system that 33 percent of personal computers rely on, is on the way out. Windows 8.1 has become the standard. Also, personal computers are leaving the scene. Small businesses are moving to the compact and portable Tablet. Business On the Go has never been easier. During the past year most companies adopted cloud computing.  While many advances have been made in these technological areas, Cyber security threats and related losses are reportedly on the rise.

Why You Should Care About Windows 8

Now that Windows 8 is on the market, it is important to consider the switch. Although it is difficult to change from Windows XP or Vista to 8, having the latest operating system is an important security issue. One option is to do a Clean Install of Windows 8. The other option is to replace XP machines with Windows 8 for potential tax incentives.

Mobile Computing Hits Main Street

Technology companies continue to release a wide array of Touch Devices and there popularity continues to increase. 2014 will be the first year that tablet sales surpass personal computer sales. This shift to touch devices in the workplace will lead to increased mobility, functionality, and profitability in the work place.

Cloud Computing Adoption on the Rise

A research report by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) 90 % of companies surveyed adopted cloud architectures as part of the IT infrastructure during 2013. In some cases, Cloud Computing deployments occur without assistants of IT Professionals putting security and compliance at risk.

Cyber Security and You

A 2013 study by Verizon indicates that Cyber attacks are on the rise. Cyber attacks are on the increase, in particular to companies with under 100 employees. Here are some things you can do to prepare: keep your network secure by updating O/S patches and maintain anti-virus/anti-malware definitions current, establish clear policies for acceptable use of mobile devices, mobile applications and data and train employees on cyber threats, including how to spot a threat and report a breach.

These landmark moments in technology will influence business in 2014. Touch technology and Windows 8 will allow business to be efficient and cost effective. Cloud computing growth is expected to continue.  There is no expectation that Cyber security threats will decrease in 2014 so maintain a strong defense.