Tag Archives: remote working

Using SD-WAN to Enhance Hybrid Work

n the last several years, remote and hybrid work environments have become common. Many offices have at least a partially remote workforce, and this calls for communications applications that are always on and helping workers to collaborate effectively. To learn about leveraging software-defined wide area networks for seamless communication, read on.

 

What SD-WAN and Why it Matters

 

With remote and hybrid work more common, and teams using popular platforms, seamless Internet connectivity, stability and reliability are essential. Software-defined wide area networking, or SD-WAN, is a cloud-based approach to WAN management that brings together multiple providers to offer the connectivity needed. The infrastructure is in the cloud, eliminating the need for customers to manage and maintain their own. All they need is an internet connection and an appliance at each connection point (remote office). Additional appliances can be added as needed.  SD-WAN uses multiple transports including business-class broadband and networking as well as MPLS already used in WANs, to route traffic effectively for a hybrid workforce. 

 

Software-Defined Wide Area Network offers numerous benefits. First, it reduces capital expense by eliminating the need for companies to maintain on-premise infrastructure. Operational expense is decreased by reducing the need for IT professionals to make trips out to fix problems. Instead, monitoring and troubleshooting is centralized. Like the cloud in general. SD-WAN is scalable, with devices easily added to the network. And by using multiple providers, data is moved reliably to where it’s needed as a result of increased bandwidth.

 

Security Considerations in SD-WAN

 

Readers might be wondering about security.  How can so much data in transit be protected? At first thought, security might be a problem with data being routed to multiple locations. Only by ensuring that the security is fully integrated and traffic is transparent can SD-WAN enhance security, instead of being yet another attack vector.

 

Software-defined wide area networks use the cloud to enhance the communication and collaboration the hybrid office environment requires. For guidance in your company’s SD-WAN decisions, contact your trusted technology advisor today. 

Protect Your Network Using Defense in Depth

The old defenses against cyberattacks–firewalls, antivirus programs and operating system patches–worked well when the security perimeter was the office. Now that remote work is here to stay and more devices are connected to company networks, protecting networks is more complicated. Read on to learn how defense in depth, an integration of individual tools, can help you better protect your technological assets.

The Significance of Defense in Depth

 

With business operations having altered in the last several years, more endpoints are connected to networks, and the threat surface expands. Not every remote worker may have the most up-to-date antivirus protection, for example. Bad actors could use brute-force attacks, seeking entry into numerous parts of the network. With defense in depth, other controls would keep the criminals from getting very far. This redundancy can give administrators time to enact countermeasures to keep the intruder from penetrating the network deeply

Typically, defense in depth involves three layers of controls–administrative, physical and technical. Administrative controls have to do with the policies and procedures that workers follow; for example, restricting permission to certain portions of the network, and allowing access to the data and applications they need to do their work (least privilege). Another layer involves physical security, and protects data centers and IT systems from threats like data theft. These controls include guards, security cameras and biometrics and/or ID cards. The layers of controls are working at different layers yet are integrated to provide a strong defense against cyberattack.

 

Getting Started with Defense in Depth

 

But where to start? CompTIA’s article on the topic makes several suggestions. One is to identify what malicious activity might look like for your business. Analyze data to develop a baseline for what’s normal in order to detect any anomalies when they happen. What are your most critical technological assets, and what do you need to do to protect them? These assets would be the core from which to build other layers of protection. What intrusion detection systems do you have? Are there others you can implement? Once you have your systems in place, it’s time to penetration-test your environment to find any weak spots.

 

Individual technology tools like firewalls, patches and network monitoring can work even better when they are integrated into a defense-in-depth system. For guidance in getting started, contact your trusted technology advisor today.

Use Desktop as a Service to Secure Remote Work

More than ever, your employees are working outside the office; this trend is expected to continue. Therefore your company needs the flexibility, reliability and security of a virtual connection. Read on to learn about Desktop as a Service (DaaS) and how it can help you keep your business running smoothly.

 

Make Desktop as a Service (DaaS) Work for You

Desktop as a Service (DaaS), with its flexibility, reliability and security, is invaluable for businesses with remote workers. Workers can access systems, data and applications via the cloud, with just an Internet connection and a web browser. The service provider furnishes the infrastructure, network resources and storage in the cloud, and users’ computers are connected to the virtual desktop, and can access data and applications. Rapid deployment means that a new device can be connected to the virtual desktop, and later disconnected if needed; this will help businesses cope with fluctuating demand at different times of the day or year. If demand on one server is too great, all machines can be migrated to a different server.  Remote IT support can be given by the service provider, preventing downtime and keeping your systems running. 

 

Desktop as a Service is Affordable and Secure

Desktop as a Service can be affordable by managing consumption during peak business hours and the cloud subscription model allows companies to pay just for the resources they use. Service providers can help manage consumption by reducing available resources during off-peak hours. When it comes to security, IT service providers can quickly create a new desktop in case of a ransomware attack, so that data and applications are not accessed via the affected device. 

 

Considerations for Desktop as a Service

While Desktop as a Service is a secure model for remote work, considerations remain. First, workers need to know best practice security procedures–both cybersecurity and physical security. Maintaining strong passwords, awareness of social engineering, and even guarding their device from non-business use–all of these still apply. On a management level, companies need to ensure that their Cloud service provider meets industry standards for regulatory compliance as required.  

 

Desktop as a Service, a flexible and affordable cloud offering, can help keep your remote workers busy and your company secure. To learn more about DaaS, contact us today. 

Technologies That Support Remote Work

Many companies realized the benefit of remote employees working from home. With companies competing to be the employer of choice, ability to work remotely has become a benefit many job hunters are looking for. With remote work becoming even more popular, technologies like cloud, software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) and more have helped to provide a fast, secure and connected work environment. Read on to learn more about how cloud-based technologies support the remote-work experience

 

Take Advantage of the Cloud

 

Since it’s unlikely for remote workers to have IT infrastructure at home, the cloud supports remote access to a company’s applications and data. With just an Internet connection and a web browser needed to access a virtual desktop, remote workers can easily communicate, collaborate and complete tasks. Data and applications reside within the cloud, accessible to workers in their home offices. Better yet, SD-WAN can help keep traffic moving and business running smoothly.

 

Keep Things Moving with SD-WAN

 

A software-defined wide-area network, or SD-WAN, keeps bandwidth moving in order to give workers and customers a seamless and enjoyable user experience. Based on criteria that are set up ahead of time, SD-WAN can direct traffic in the most efficient way; if one route is bottlenecked or down for some reason, traffic gets redirected efficiently and your employees remain productive. Unlike traditional wide area networking, SD-WAN provides users a direct route to cloud resources. Not only is SD-WAN fast, it is secure even with transmission of great amounts of data. With such robust technology, workers can communicate and collaborate even more effectively.

 

Collaborate Using Unified Communications

 

Another technology supporting efficient remote work is Unified Communications (UC). With Unified Communications numerous communication and collaboration applications–VoIP, chat, customer relationship management and videoconferencing–are streamlined and available via a single Internet interface. Little or no hardware is needed(reducing capital expense), and even vast amounts of data can be transmitted between workers and with customers. Costs are reduced, and resources are scalable according to fluctuations in demand. Workers and customers are treated to an enjoyable user experience.

 

Technology that facilitates productivity and enhances the user experience are invaluable to remote work. To learn how to harness the power of cloud computing to speed remote work and keep your business running, contact us today.

UCaaS

Unified Communications Can Help Remote Workers Collaborate

With working from home more and more common, companies benefit from their workers collaborating and communicating easily with each other. One solution to consider is Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)–an integrated, Internet-based platform that helps workers access videoconferencing, chat, file sharing and more. Remote work is potentially easier and more efficient. Read on to learn more about this cloud-based technology.

 

The Benefits of Unified Communications for Remote Work

 

The tools workers need to be efficient and productive are inherently part of this cloud-based solution. With Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), all that is needed to access the integrated system is an Internet connection. Workers can then use video conferencing tools like Teams, Webex and Zoom, can share files via email, and can even access customer information almost instantly to quickly serve clients. Voice mails are converted to emails, making it easy to access messages anywhere. The consistent reliability of UCaaS is provided by redundancy, with data in numerous data centers; if one goes offline, others can provide failover to keep communication running smoothly. 

 

Considerations for Unified Communications in Remote Work

 

When looking for a provider for this cloud platform, security protocol is one primary concern. What security features do they have to protect your critical communications and conversations? Is the data encrypted in transit and at rest? How many users can be accommodated? Another thing to ask about is whether the provider offers training in the different tools that UCaaS provides. You might also need to train your workers in collaboration skills like clear verbal and written communication; managing time, projects and deadlines; and the ability to adapt when problems occur (such as outages and login problems). Do your workers’ cyber security awareness skills need refreshing, so they know how to protect themselves and your network? 

 

Unified Communications as a Service can be a great offering for your remote workers, with its integrated platform and capacity for real-time response. For assistance with using this capability, contact us today. 

Cloud Security

Review Your Strategy For Cloud Security

Many businesses have taken advantage of cloud computing for its benefits–its flexibility, ability to help companies scale use according to demand, and a subscription-based pricing model, among others. When migrating to the Cloud it is important that you develop a cloud security strategy. Your company can exert a good deal of control over cloud security concerns with proper policy, training and technology. Read on to learn more about what to include in your cloud security strategy in order to protect technology assets.

 

Assessing Your Strategy for Cloud Security

 

Reacting to problems is vital, of course. But what if you could prevent many problems before they even occur? Powerful technologies like Cloud Computing can also create complexity, so it is important to have a strategy that includes policies for protecting your applications and their data. If you already have a security strategy, it’s not too soon to assess it and to adjust accordingly. 

 

Implementing your Cloud Security Strategy

According to an article on cloud security mitigation by CompTIA, access control is a top cause of problems. Examples include lack of specification of who can have access to your business applications, or holes in security that could leave you vulnerable to a full-blown data breach. It may be time to update your security policies, using the “zero-trust” model to authenticate every single request for access to the network. Setting policy to limit administrative access minimizes risks and avoids unexpected consequences. Other considerations in your cloud security strategy deal with handling a data breach or loss, and the role and how to quickly revoke access as needed (e.g. revoking access of a past employee). 

 

No single tool can prevent all problems. When these tools are part of an overall strategy that supports your company’s goals, many attacks can be prevented. For help with your cloud security strategy, contact us today.

 

IT worker

Consider Managed Services for Help with Your IT Workload

It’s said that few can get along without some help from others. If your business has grown, and your technology needs along with it, managing IT on a daily basis may be more challenging. Now may be the time to consider outside assistance. Read on to learn how supplemental IT support via managed services can help save time and money, not to mention help you reach your business goals. 

 

Benefits of Supplemental IT Support

 

Supplemental support (also called “outsourcing” or “co-managed IT”), is the practice of partnering with a managed service provider (MSP), one that can provide help with one or more of a company’s IT functions. For companies with no IT department, or those with a small department overloaded with daily tasks, managed services offers numerous benefits. First, a Managed Service Provider (MSP) can help a company make the most of their technology investment by taking on responsibility for a company’s IT infrastructure via a flat fee subscription model. 

 

What to expect from IT Managed Services

Indeed, according to a CompTIA buying guide, more than 6% of surveyed of companies using MSPs reduce their internal IT staff. These services–including helpdesk, data protection and network monitoring–can free up internal IT staff to help reach your company’s strategic goals. Network monitoring can be done remotely 24-7, detecting and solving issues before they become major problems. Monitoring also produces data analytics in real time, showing how the company’s network is functioning. With all these benefits, your business also needs to consider its goals, and work with an MSP to develop a service level agreement.

 

Considerations in Using Managed Services

 

Even with the real benefits (and perceived benefits like peace of mind), your company needs to take a close look at a managed service provider to determine if the MSP provides these benefits. How do they protect data and help your company comply with industry compliance regulations? What if a problem crops up — how will the MSP work to solve it? How much flexibility and control might your company need to give up in exchange for peace of mind? These are important questions to consider in formulating the service level agreement with the managed service provider. 

 

If you have reached the point of needing supplemental IT support, and you don’t know where to start, contact us today. 

 

Prepare Your Network for Unified Communications with Software-Defined Wide Area Networking

Over the past several years, both Unified Communications (UC) and Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN) have grown more popular. Even a few years ago, IDC predicted that the SD-WAN market would grow to $8.05 billion by this year. Together, Unified Communications and SD-WAN allow your company to stay connected at all times. Read on to learn more about the connections between these two technologies, and to discover whether your company’s network is up to the task.

 

Software-Defined Wide Area Networks Support Unified Communications Performance

 

Unified Communications is technology that allows workers to work from anywhere, at any time.  Unified Communications, or UC, supports the ability to communicate by voice or email and send information back and forth. This technology brings together various modes of communication–phone, text, web conferencing and email–providing a streamlined way to keep businesses connected, using Voice-Over IP (VoIP) technology. 

Employees can hold video conferences, share data with other workers, and handle customer service tasks–even from remote offices. However, UC depends on a robust and secure network to keep traffic moving. This is where Software-Defined Wide Area Networks come in. 

 

SD-WAN Provides Performance at Competitive Cost

 

Unified Communication can test your network. Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN) can provide a mix-and-match solution, using multiple carriers so that if one carrier goes offline another can keep traffic moving. A company can fall back on this robust network to keep workers communicating with each other and with customers. What’s more, SD-WAN can help a company transition from legacy systems and enjoy more flexibility.  At its best, SD-WAN can provide excellent performance at a competitive price. 

 

Considerations for Your Network

 

All of this sounds wonderful, and it is. However, your network needs to be ready. On the technology side, your network needs to have current anti-virus and anti-malware definitions. While SD-WAN can supply failover and dependable connectivity, it also needs a strong, secure network. What’s more, your workers need to be trained in cybersecurity policies and best practices. This, along with network monitoring, can help your network remain secure.

 

To learn more about the potential of SD-WANs to support Unified Communication, and to assess your network’s readiness, contact us today. 

Work Anywhere Securely with the Cloud

With remote work a fixture in our economy, technology has risen to meet the challenge. From virtual desktops to unified communications, it is easy to work anywhere.  Read on to learn how technology based in the Cloud can keep your business robust in 2021 and beyond.

 

Stay Connected with Unified Communications

Unified Communications as a Service (UcaaS) provides phone, chat, text, email, web conferencing and more as an integrated solution available in the Cloud. Voice over IP (VoIP) and other Cloud technologies remove the dependency of on-premise hardware and the need for expensive phone and conferencing equipment. This lets you route calls efficiently to communicate in real time all over the world. 

 

Work Securely with DeskTop as a Service

Adopting Desktop as a Service (DaaS) means you can work anywhere, get customer information instantly and securely from home or all over the world. With Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), your access is more secure because all systems and applications are managed virtually with a defined level of security that can be centrally managed from a remote location. Since the data is in the Cloud, it doesn’t reside on individual devices, thereby increasing security. Individual users still need to practice effective password management as well as best practices in security policy. With Desktop as a Service (DaaS), the Cloud provider manages and operates the infrastructure, including security. 

 

Work Anywhere with Software as a Service

Software as a Service (SaaS), also based in the Cloud, supports a wide variety of applications, including business applications like CRM, accounting, human resources and more. With the ability to access your applications anywhere from any device (including desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile) you always have information and applications at your fingertips whether you are at home or abroad.

 

Benefits of the Cloud

What all these technologies have in common is the Cloud; expandable computing power available as service. Cloud computing makes it possible to access applications and data with just an Internet connection. The infrastructure resides with the Cloud service provider instead of on-premises, converting a capital expense to an operating expense and saving money. Cloud’s flexibility and scalability allows a company to provision more or less computing resources, according to demand. Private and public Cloud environments are available for differing business needs.   

 

Technologies used in on-site and remote work will continue to be in high demand. To learn how you can take advantage of the benefits of the Cloud and its applications, contact us today.

Requirements for Remote Office

With remote workers becoming the ‘new normal’ in these strange times, remote office security and communication become increasingly important. Read on to learn more about preparing your employees and business for remote work.

Remote Office Security Best Practices

Let remote workers know they are just as responsible for keeping the network safe at home as at the office. Have them maintain a dedicated work space in their home office, where they do only work, and not personal, computing. Physical security is important too; make sure that other family members, if any, don’t have access to equipment used for work. The remote worker will need to conduct phone calls where any confidential information can’t be overheard. Anything the remote employee prints should be shredded after use. Another good practice is keeping the office door locked if not in use. Logging off is an important practice, even if only leaving the computer for a moment. If the remote employee is using their own computer, it needs current anti-malware and antivirus protection, backup and  operating system patches. A firewall with a subnet for personal vs. business should also be established. Businesses responsible for complying with regulations such as HIPAA have even more stringent security requirements. Learn more about managing a mobile workforce here

Just as you’ve been busy, so have cybercriminals. A common practice is phishing using social engineering. A cybercriminal can send an email that looks like it’s from a government source, providing links to sites that will automatically download ransomware. Remote employees need to be trained how to verify if the email is genuine; if it isn’t, they need to report and delete it. 

Supply Remote Workers with the Right Equipment

In order to succeed working remotely, workers will need access to basic equipment. A computer, of course, is a must, along with phone access. If the worker has their own computer, it will need to be checked and brought up to date with anti-virus and malware prevention. This will prevent any malware that could steal company credentials to sensitive data, or the data itself. Ideally, remote workers can connect to the office network with a broadband Internet connection) via a VPN. As for phones, many businesses are turning to cloud solutions for VoIP and other collaboration solutions.  Many of these turn your desktop or laptop into a virtual phone. As long as the employee has a broadband Internet connection, they will be prepared to take part in videoconferencing as well.

Keep Lines of Communication Open

Thanks to videoconferencing, a manager can–and should–hold regular meetings with those workers comfortable with that type of communication. Whatever type of communication is used, communicate with your workers your expectations for them. Perhaps they are working on the basis of results; they can work whenever they wish as long as the work is done. Let your workers know what to do and not to do on a work-issued computer. Common sense says if you wouldn’t do it at the office, you won’t do it at home, either. That applies to safeguarding the security of the computer and its connection to the company network.

To learn more about what’s required to work remotely, stay in communication with your workers, and stay secure in the process, contact your trusted technology advisor today.