Newly Discovered Security Flaws Put Windows Users at Serious Risk

Is Windows Secure

Microsoft Vulnerability Affects Most Recent Operating Systems

Learn about two recently discovered vulnerabilities that could put your company’s computers and operations at risk and what Microsoft is doing to fix the issue.

Is Windows Secure

Two newly discovered security vulnerabilities could put Windows users at risk of attack if they do not download and install security patches Microsoft recently issued.

What Are the New Microsoft Security Flaws?

Nicknamed DejaBlue, the two security flaws are designated CVE-2019-1181 and CVE-2019-1182. They are similar to the BlueKeep vulnerabilities Microsoft issued patches for in May 2019. The newest flaws, like Bluekeep, could allow hackers to create so-called “wormable” attacks that easily can be spread from one computer to another without any interaction from a user.

The main difference is that the newer security vulnerabilities are potential threats to newer versions of Windows products.

What Systems Does DejaBlue Affect?

There are potentially hundreds of thousands of computers that could be affected by the Windows worm. They sit within the Windows Remote Desktop Services (RDS) package. According to Microsoft, the vulnerabilities could affect the following systems:

  • Windows 7 SP1
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows 10 (all supported versions, including server versions)

That’s a massive number of potential targets that could be infected if the patches are not deployed and active monitoring tools are not in place.

Windows XP, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2003 are not affected.

How Does DejaBlue Work?

Like with BlueKeep, the vulnerabilities can be used to exploit RDP, a tool that administrators use to connect to other computers on a network. Hackers could then use that exploit to code and load a worm that is automated. It would “jump” from one computer to another, potentially affecting millions of computers quickly.

What makes the DejaBlue and Bluekeep vulnerabilities so dangerous is that they can propagate without any user interaction.

What’s more dangerous is that the new vulnerabilities differ from BlueKeep, which targeted Windows 7 operating systems. The new exposures could affect Windows 7 and all recent versions of Microsoft’s operating systems. That amplifies both the risk and the potential impact.

“At this point, nearly every contemporary Windows computer needs to patch, before hackers can reverse engineer those fixes for clues that might help create exploits,” notes Wired magazine.

While a British intelligence agency, GCHQ, is credited with identifying BlueKeep, Microsoft notes that it identified the new threats itself. To date, no evidence that exists that indicates the vulnerabilities were known to third parties, the company said.

“These vulnerabilities were discovered by Microsoft during hardening of Remote Desktop Services as part of our continual focus on strengthening the security of our products,” Microsoft said in a release.

The scale of the potential damage is extraordinary. As of July 2019, there were as many as 800,000 computers worldwide that were still vulnerable to BlueKeep, with a much larger potential threat from DejaBlue.

What Can We Do to Protect Against Cybersecurity Threats?

The key to maintaining a secure network is developing a comprehensive, multilayered security strategy. A managed services provider can partner with you to develop a cybersecurity plan that includes:

  • Comprehensive network perimeter monitoring using next-generation firewalls to detect, contain, disable and destroy threats
  • Continuous monitoring of systems, endpoints and users
  • Automated downloading and installation of software and firmware updates, upgrades and patches that respond to emerging threats
  • Anti-malware, anti-spam and anti-virus software installed on each user’s machine or device, updated automatically, and analyzed to determine potential threats
  • Email and data encryption
  • Password security, including multifactor authorization
  • Mobile device management, including remote location finding, disabling and wiping functions
  • Cloud solutions for secure hosting of data, apps and operating systems
  • Business continuity and disaster recovery planning
  • Employee training

Having the right security in place greatly reduces your risk of being affected by a cyberattack that can debilitate your business, ruin its reputation and cost thousands to repair.

Six Advantages to Hiring a Local IT Company

Local IT Services Company

Local IT Services Company

Why You Should Choose a Local IT Services Company

Learn about 6 advantages to hiring a local IT services company to support your technology needs, including knowledge of the local economy and proximity when you need support. 

Having a technology partner that understands your business, its needs and its priorities is vital. Technological advantages can differentiate your company from the competition, improve efficiency and improve the bottom line.

One oft-overlooked criterion when choosing a technology company is its location. You want a technology partner that is close to your business and can be available when you need support, guidance or advice.

Here are 6 reasons why choosing a local IT company is the right decision.

1. Faster Response Times

When there’s an emergency, you need to make sure your company’s networks, devices, software, data and connections are available, working and uncompromised. While technology allows many IT issues to be handled remotely, in an emergency, you may want or need in-person expertise to address the issues.

Geographical proximity is also an advantage if you’d prefer someone come on-site to provide an expert assessment.

2. Local Personnel on Your Account

Having a local account manager overseeing your account is a tremendous asset. Having an account manager and other lead staff members locally allows for more physical interactions that allow for better working relationships, strategy development and a stronger long-term relationship.

3. Knowledge of Local Business Market and Climate

By choosing a local organization to support your IT, you’re partnering with a fellow member of your local business community. A local IT services provider knows the makeup of businesses in your area, the strengths and challenges of working in your community and the opportunities available due to location. If your business is in an industry that has many companies working in the same geographical area, your local IT support partner will know about the industry standards and expectations. The local IT company also will be aware of the technology infrastructure available, such as access to the Internet and Internet speed. Armed with that knowledge of the local business scene, your MSP can recommend customized solutions that fully leverage the local characteristics in which you do business.

4. Budget Advantages

Having a local It services provider can save you money. For one, you will not incur large travel costs; usually, the clock starts on onsite service time charges as soon as a tech steps out of the building. Having a long-distance MSP means more downtime for your business while waiting for a technician or consultant to arrive.

5. Same Time Zone

Having a local IT company in the same time zone as your company has an advantage. While ideally, you will partner with an MSP that provides 24-hour support, it’s more convenient to have a partner that has more staff working and available during the same work hours your business is operating. That can make a big difference in terms of responsiveness and resolution time.

6. Peace of Mind

A local IT services company makes life easier on so many levels. With a business partner you can contact easily, can respond to your needs faster, understands your local economy and technical infrastructure and is a member of the same community, you will have more peace of mind. A local MSP provides more reliability and availability when you need it most.

Having a local IT services company as your strategic technology partner is a smart choice.

Will Your Business Be Impacted by the End of Microsoft Exchange 2010?

End of support Microsoft Exchange 2010

End of support Microsoft Exchange 2010

Will Your Business Be Impacted by the End of Microsoft Exchange 2010?

Exchange 2010 has been a great program for businesses for many years, but its time is now winding down. Find out what this means for your business. 

All good things must come to an end. For Microsoft Exchange 2010, that end will happen at a date in the very near future: January 14, 2020. Migrating away from an integral piece of business software can take some time, so if you’re not already planning this shift for your business it’s time to get started! While Microsoft is encouraging people to shift away from the perpetual license option and go towards Office 365, you can also move to Microsoft Exchange 2016 if you don’t want to move to the cloud. At the end of a product’s lifecycle, the manufacturer determines that the vast majority of individuals and businesses have already moved on to a new platform, and they stop providing new features, security and bug fixes, time zone updates and support. In today’s world, your email server is your first line of defense against malware and ransomware — making the lack of security updates a key reason for taking the time to upgrade before time runs out on your support.

What Does the End of a Software Lifecycle Really Mean?

As with most software companies, there are several stages in the lifecycle of Microsoft Exchange and other Microsoft Office products. They are generally defined as mainstream support, extended support and service pack support. Mainstream support is generally guaranteed for a minimum of five years after product ships and is valid while the vast majority of people are still actively using the platform. Extended support generally lasts another five years, and includes a more limited support infrastructure. There are limitations on the work that the software teams are willing to do on products in this stage of life: non-security hotfixes are not released and there are no new functionalities added to the platform. While the platform is still considered secure and supported, this stage is an indication that it’s time to start your search for what comes next. In the final stage, you only receive critical security updates and little else in terms of support.

Why It’s Time to Move On . . . Quickly

Exchange 2010 doesn’t support an in-place upgrade, meaning you’ll need to find the time and IT staff hours to migrate completely — setting up new servers and mailboxes if you decide to go the route of another perpetual license option. Moving to Office 365 may be a good option for your business, but there is still a bit of setup required before you can make this move. With only a few months left before security updates are no longer provided, many organizations are scrambling to be sure they beat the deadline and maintain a platform that is fully protected and receives regular security patches. Email is a mission-critical application for your business, making it crucial to ensure that you’ve made a decision and have a game plan in place long before January 2020.

Upgrade Options Available

There are a few different ways to get out of the woods if you’re still running Exchange 2010. It may seem intuitive to simply upgrade to Exchange 2013, but that product has already completed Phase I and II of its lifecycle and is no longer receiving cumulative updates. Exchange Server 2016 is a better option if you prefer to stick with perpetual licensing models, but the product is already several years old. Updating to the most recent version of Exchange 2019, which was released in late 2018, seems like the best option — but it’s important to note that you must first upgrade to 2016 before making the jump to 2019 versions. Moving to Exchange Server 365 may provide a range of benefits for your organization such as better integration, improved security and continuous updates but it’s also important to note that there are additional decisions to be made around the other aspects of Office online.

Finding the right solution for your business does take time and analysis, but it’s vital that you take the first steps soon to reduce the risk to your organization. Critical patches for Microsoft products are released on a fairly regular basis, and your business can be opened to cyberattackers if you miss a single update — much less several security updates. Completing your migration will provide your technology team with peace of mind knowing that your most important channel of business communication is fully protected by an up-to-date Exchange server.

How to Protect Your Business from SHTML Phishing

Email Phishing

Email Phishing

Protecting Your Data from SHTML Phishing

Data security is vital to any business. Learn how SHTML phishing works and how to minimize the risk of your data falling into the hands of attackers.

Email phishing has been in the playbook of hackers since, well, email. What’s alarming is the scope in which criminals can conduct these attacks, the amount of data potentially at risk, and how vulnerable many businesses are to phishing attempts. Here’s what you need to know to spot the hook and protect your data from being reeled in.

How Does Email Phishing Work?

A phishing email typically contains an attachment in the form of a server-parsed HTML (SHTML) file. When opened, these shady files redirect the user to a malicious website often disguised as a legitimate product or service provider. The website then requests sensitive information such as the user’s address, date of birth, social security number, bank account number, etc. in exchange for providing said product or service.

Users who comply end up giving their information to a criminal who may then sell it to various illegal organizations. Victims may end up losing money and having their identity connected to criminal activity. The attackers may even offer to sell the information back to the owner for a hefty ransom. For businesses, the damages can be irreparable. Phishing is often the launchpad for large-scale cyber attacks, and businesses that fall victim can lose not only cash and assets, but the trust of current and would-be customers.

Who Does SHTML Phishing Target?

While many individuals fall victim to phishing, the main targets are businesses in the banking and finance sector. The sender may use a seemingly legitimate email address, often posing as a trusted, reputable organization. They may goad users to open attachments by claiming to be the IRS, a wealthy businessman offering a lucrative deal, or, ironically, a security provider offering to scan the user’s computer for vulnerabilities. While many phishing attempts are obvious, some can be convincing, and all it takes is a hasty click to give the phisher what they want.

Types of SHTML Phishing

Depending on the attacker, a phishing attempt can range from simple and generic to detailed and personalized to fit the target. For businesses that conduct large quantities of transactions, a phisher may send a simple email claiming to provide a receipt for their purchase. Others may send invoices. Sophisticated attackers may gather information about the business including its suppliers, partners, and even names of individual employees. They may then create fake accounts disguised as these trusted entities, fooling the target into giving away sensitive data. While most phishing attempts fail, a convincing premise combined with a busy, distracted user can equal success – and disaster.

Potential Signs of SHTML Phishing

Being proactive and training your employees to spot phishing is the best line of defense. Here are some potential red flags that may, but not always, indicate that an email is a phishing attack:

  • Poor spelling and grammar
  • Strange characters and punctuation
  • Email addresses comprised of a seemingly random combination of letters and numbers
  • Emails claiming to offer large sums of money
  • Emails claiming that you owe a large sum of money
  • Emails claiming that your data is at risk and offering protection
  • An overly lengthy or short email body
  • Attachments with file types you don’t recognize

How to Protect Your Business from SHTML Phishing

While there’s no way to guarantee that your business will be 100% safe from phishing attacks, you can take precautions to greatly minimize your risk of becoming a victim. Many email clients have rules that automatically filter out suspicious or spam emails. Savvy IT professionals can create additional rules to identify and block phishing emails.

The greatest defense is training every employee to recognize the red flags, especially the not-so-obvious ones. Make basic data security a part of the onboarding process, and hold presentations and seminars several times a year to keep employees aware and bring to light any new threats they should look for.

Data security is more relevant than ever, and businesses need to stay up to date on the latest cybersecurity threats. Is your business taking the necessary precautions to keep phishers away?

Why Every Business Needs Cybersecurity

Business Investment in Cybersecurity

Business Investment in Cybersecurity

Why Every Business Should Invest in Cybersecurity

Cyber security is essential to businesses of all sizes. Learn how to keep your business up to date and protected from the most common digital threats.  

Cybersecurity is no longer a concern exclusive to large corporations. Since the infamous attacks on Equifax, Target, and Apple, cybercriminals have started to shift their focus towards smaller businesses. Without proper security protocols, small businesses are sitting ducks even for novice hackers.

In recent years, the cost of data theft targeting small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) has risen significantly. The Ponemon Institute reports a 17% increase in the average cost of theft and damages, and a 26% increase in the average cost of disruption to operations. The threat has prompted many SMBs to invest more heavily in third-party data security services.

Cybersecurity in a Continuously Evolving Digital Space

Ever-evolving technology makes the world more connected, but also makes data more vulnerable to attackers. Gone are the days when an antivirus, firewall, and email filter were enough to earn a passing cybersecurity grade. As criminals refine and improve their methods of attack, businesses and IT professionals must step up their defenses.

The most recent trend in cyberattacks is a shift towards SMBs, many of which lack the breadth and depth of data security that larger corporations are likely to have. Illicit tactics such as email phishing, direct hacking, and installing ransomware can spell big trouble for SMBs. If your data is compromised, the results can extend to your customers and other members of your supply chain.

Consequences of a Data Breach

The fallout from a data breach depends on the scale of the attack and the value of the data stolen. Hackers may be able to seize control of accounts, drain funds, freeze assets, and access sensitive customer information. If you operate in the healthcare or financial sectors, you may be liable to pay reparations in addition to suffering the cost of stolen capital and the inability to continue operations. The cost of a large-scale data breach can devastate even the wealthiest of corporations, and will most certainly overwhelm a small business.

How to Improve Cybersecurity

A common misconception is that only large corporations can afford effective cybersecurity. In most cases, implementing cybersecurity isn’t merely a matter of money, but of proper training and awareness. A Ponemon Institute study linked 54 percent of data breaches to employee or contractor negligence. This includes email phishing, which is often the first step attackers use to conduct large scale theft of usernames, passwords, and other sensitive data.

Educating and training your employees on cybersecurity minimizes the risk of data theft at the point of contact. Your business should have protocols to identify signs of phishing, choose secure passwords, and grant or deny access to information. You can also inform your customers about how to keep their information secure. Taking this two-pronged approach shows customers how committed you are to keeping their data safe.

Being proactive and spreading the word on cybersecurity threats will help you protect your business from hackers. Whether you’re a multinational corporation or a two-person mom-and-pop shop, your customers rely on you to safeguard their data. Implementing the latest security practices lets them know that you value their trust.

Clearing Up The Cloud – Have You Harnessed Its Strategic Advantages?

Cloud Services

Cloud Services

The cloud may still feel like a new technology – but in reality, it’s been around for more than 10 years now.

Does that make you feel old?

Let’s be clear about something – the cloud is here to stay. In recent years you may have still heard the occasional “industry insider” suggest that the world may be moving too quickly to an untested and unsure platform in cloud computing, but no more. The cloud is now an integral part of daily life for private consumer and business users alike.

What Is The Cloud?

The cloud is a network of technologies that allows access to computing resources, such as storage, processing power, and more. That’s where the data is – in these data centers all around the world. Which data center your data is in depends on what cloud service provider you’re working with.

The Cloud’s Many Layers

Public Cloud

Ideal for small businesses that may have trouble budgeting for any other type of cloud deployment, a public cloud is simple and cost-effective. Your data is stored in a “communal” data center, which, while not offering the best possible security or compliance guarantees, is often sufficient enough for organizations that aren’t required to maintain regulated compliance.

Private Cloud

A secure, dedicated environment to ensure maximum performance, security, and functionality for your business applications and employees. This is usually deployed for complaint-driven businesses such as healthcare and finance.

A Hybrid Cloud

This is like a dedicated cloud computing resource on Office 365 and Azure Stack with an extension to on-premise resources for maximum performance, control, security, and functionality. This is for businesses that require maximum control and scalability.

Instead of entrusting your legacy solutions to a public or private cloud, many businesses are opting for a hybrid cloud. They use a mix of on-premise, private and third-party public cloud services because this provides an infrastructure where one or many touchpoints exist between the environments.

Using a hybrid cloud gives you the freedom to choose which applications and resources you want to keep in the data center and which ones you want to store in the Cloud.

The Cloud Isn’t As New As You Might Think…

Would you say the cloud is “new”?

To some, this may seem like a question with an obvious answer, but it’s not that simple.

The way in which we think about technology can lead to something feeling new for a lot longer than would make sense otherwise.

After all, the cloud is more than a decade old, but a lot of people still think of it as a new technology.

For context, it was 2006 when Google and Amazon began using the term “cloud computing” – not necessarily the beginning of the cloud, but as good a point to choose as any.

In that year, the now woefully dated Crash won Best Picture at the Oscars. The Tesla Roadster was still two years from hitting the streets. Netflix was more than a year away from launching its now prolific streaming services.

Does that put it in perspective?

How Is The Cloud-Delivered?

SaaS (Software as a Service)

Software as a Service (SaaS) applications are being adopted at a much faster pace today than in the past. These are productivity applications like Microsoft Office 365, cloud-based practice management solutions, accounting programs, and more.

Your SaaS provider helps you identify and select line of business applications that will run well in the cloud. They can migrate your data and integrate it with software platforms in your current premise or cloud technology stack, or help you implement new ones.

PaaS (Platform as a Service)
This is whole cloth delivery of web applications that are based in the cloud, all via a comprehensive platform. The idea is that, in accessing this platform, you can utilize, develop and even deliver applications based on resources that you don’t need to maintain on-site.

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) delivers IT infrastructure on an outsourced basis and provides hardware, storage, servers, data center space, and software if needed. It’s used on-demand, rather than requiring you to purchase their own equipment. That means you don’t have to expend the capital to invest in new hardware.

Why Should You Use With The Cloud?
For the same reasons that thousands of other businesses around the world have already adopted cloud computing:

  • Computing Power: The cloud has the ability to activate tens of thousands of CPUs. This unparalleled power can quickly perform deep analytics of your data, and process nearly any ad-hoc queries that you require.
  • Reliable Costs: The cloud services subscription model offers the strategic advantage of low-cost, low-risk opt-in combined with a simple, predictable monthly fee.
  • Easy Scalability: Cloud services have the unique strategic characteristic of being able to stretch or shrink to suit your current level of demand. This is especially useful for businesses of scale or companies that go through seasons of activity.
  • Real-Time Collaboration: With cloud technology, your staff doesn’t have to wait for each other to be done with their part of the document or project in order to tackle their own aspect. They can all work on the same project at the same time to maximize productivity.
  • Remote Work Capability: This cloud feature allows you and your employees to work remotely as need be, which will give your business members the flexibility they desire to have a more balanced home/work life.

You Need To Keep An Eye On Your Cloud

As beneficial as the cloud can be, it’s important to note that it can also pose risks if it isn’t managed properly. It all comes down to the classic binary relationship between convenience and security.

The cloud gives you unparalleled access to your data from anywhere with an Internet connection. That means that external parties (including cybercriminals) can have undue access to your data as well if you don’t take the necessary steps to secure your environment.

That’s why you need to monitor your cloud. No matter who you entrust your data to, you should ensure that you or someone in your organization is given appropriate visibility over your cloud environment. That way, you can guarantee that security and compliance standards are being maintained.

If you don’t have the resources to manage this type of ongoing monitoring, then it would be wise to work with the right third party IT services company. Doing so will allow you to outsource the migration, management, and monitoring of your cloud. You’ll get the best of both world – security and convenience.

5 Incredible Benefits of Effective Managed IT Services

Business Meeting Talking About Managed IT Services

Business Meeting Talking About Managed IT Services

5 Incredible Benefits of Effective Managed IT Services

Managed IT services are one of the many ways an organization can choose to handle their IT needs. With managed IT services, a third-party handles the entirety of the tasks and responsibilities regarding managing IT and keeping the company running. The difference between this and many traditional third-party services is that it’s provided for a set cost. Instead of having access to an hourly consultant rate, you’ll be paying a flat rate monthly (or annually) in exchange for total coverage.

Every arrangement is slightly different and must be outlined very clearly in the Service Level Agreement (also known as the SLA). This document will arrange not only the cost structure, but also the exact services that are included in the partnership, and the metrics that are used to define success or failure.

There are many reasons that companies elect to go with managed IT services to handle their day-to-day needs. Here are five of the most compelling reasons:

1. Provides Total Alignment Between Both Parties

In a managed services agreement, both parties are aligned for maximum efficiency and performance. Since it’s not an hourly rate, the third-party is incentivized to handle your IT in an efficient and effective manner. Otherwise, they have to spend more time and manpower resolving your issues, which brings down their effective hourly rate.

Additionally, if they don’t live up to the metrics set forth by the SLA, they may be liable for penalties or even complete termination of the contract. In this way, it’s in both companies interest to do the very best job possible.

2. Focuses on Being Proactive versus Reactive

If you’re paying by the hour, the services you’ll receive are going to be reactive. When your company notices an issue, they’ll reach out to the third-party to help fix it. Managed services provide proactive support. Since they’re working for you no matter if there’s a problem or not, much of their time is spent preventing problems in the first place. This results in much smoother daily operations and the avoidance of problems that could potentially hurt your businesses but would be unavoidable with another type of arrangement.

3. Contains Simple Cost Structure

The simple cost structure of managed IT services will be much appreciated by your accounting department and whoever is setting the budget. Instead of seeing costs vary wildly by the amount of support required in a particular month, the amount will be a flat fee. You’ll also likely save a great deal of money versus hiring a fully functional team in-house since you won’t need to pay for things like recruiting, onboarding, benefits, and continued training.

4. Makes Projects Easier to Manage

When you need to roll out a brand-new technology or simply update an existing one, it can take a great deal of time and resources. This is especially true if the third-party isn’t used to the way your business operates each day and has to fit the entire roll out into a small window of time. If you have continuous support, however, it’s a much more manageable process. They can work on the project when they have a spare moment in the day. Since they’re fully integrated into your day-to-day processes, they’ll have a much better idea of how to implement a new system from end-to-end, including training and providing post-launch support.

5. Offers Access to True Experts

Unless you’re a massive organization, it’s unlikely that you can afford to recruit, train, and maintain the very best in the IT field. With an agreement with a top-notch IT firm, you gain access to experience and perspectives that you would be unlikely to otherwise access. These talented professionals will be able to help you with all of your IT needs, from daily maintenance to improving upon your existing systems and processes.

Managed IT services are only one of the many ways that a company can choose to handle its IT needs. However, it offers many advantages over some of the other options, including handling IT in-house and going with an hourly consultant-based fee schedule. If you believe that your business could benefit from controlled costs, improved support, and access to an incredible variety of IT talent, managed IT services might be the best option for your business.

What Is Network Segmentation?

Email User On Segmented Network

What Is Network Segmentation?

Businesses that offer WiFi to their customers or have sensitive data needs should consider network segmentation as a necessary component of their IT solution.

Email User On Segmented Network

With network segmentation, your wireless services are separated into different parts, allowing you to better control access and data flow.

Network segmentation splits your wireless services into different segments or subnetworks. By establishing separate networks, you significantly reduce your company’s security risks.

Instead of putting all your corporate and guest traffic on the same WiFi network, segment the activity to keep sensitive data apart from visitors, reduce risk.

Why?

When devices are connected to the same network, by default they can “talk” to other devices on the same network. That increases the potential for devices to listen to network traffic without any rules or monitoring in place.

The risk is lower if all the devices on your network are trusted and managed by your company. However, you could have a problem when less trustworthy devices are connected, such as guest and visitor smartphones, legacy computers and servers, or employee personal devices.

How Does Network Segmentation Work?

Network segments are designed with their own hardware and only allow credentialed users to access the services. Rules are built into network configurations to determine how devices on subnetworks can connect with each other.

Network segmentation limits the impact if there is a system intrusion by containing the threat within a subnetwork.

What Does a Typical Segmented Network Look Like?

For many small- and medium-sized businesses, there is only a need for a simple, two-subnetwork structure. A corporate subnetwork would be used for company-owned and -managed devices, providing access to the internal company subnetwork and, through a firewall, to the internet.

A guest subnetwork would be built to provide access to the internet only, also through a firewall. It keeps those guest devices disconnected from the corporate subnetwork from the start. Employee-owned devices can also be connected to a guest subnetwork.

Your business, whether it’s a medical practice, retail operation, auto dealership or professional services firm, may want visitors and guests to have WiFi access. It’s an appreciated service for those who need connectivity and do not want to use up their allotted data. If that service is the expectation or norm, you want to make sure it’s done carefully.

What Are the Security Benefits of Network Segmentation?

Security is the primary reason to choose network segmentation. The benefits are considerable

  • Stronger Security Standards. Segmentation allows you to better protect your most sensitive data. With layers of separation among your segmented networks, you’re putting up additional barriers to all users — whether well-intended or not.
  • Slowed Access for Attackers. If there is a breach to one segment of your network, it will be more difficult and take more time for the attacker to reach other parts of your system.
  • Minimized Threat from Outside Devices. Outside devices may have been hacked for the sole purpose of accessing corporate networks when connected. Often hackers install programs that lie dormant until connected to a wireless network. If compromised guest devices are contained within a subnetwork, the impact is minimal.
  • Better Policy Development. Strong network segmentation means your company can better restrict user access. Using a policy of least privilege lets you limit user access to files and systems to only what’s necessary.
  • Limited Damage. Network segmentation lets you reduce any damage inflicted by successful attacks. A breach to a single device within a subnetwork will mean less time and money to repair the damage of a widespread, system-wide assault.
  • Improved Performance. An added benefit of having segmented networks are the performance gains. With fewer devices on each subnetwork, local traffic is minimized and broadcast traffic can be isolated and prioritized.

What’s Needed to Start Network Segmentation?

If your internal IT staff does not have experience with network configuration, it’s a smart move to work with a local managed services provider to complete the project. Your business should do the following in preparation for a segmentation project:

  • Identify your network and data security needs, including the sensitivity of data you use and the business impact of compromised data and system downtime
  • Know where the data you want to keep safe is stored and how they could be separated
  • Determine who needs access to information on your network and limit access to only what is necessary by department or role
  • Identify those who will be responsible for monitoring and maintaining your network. A managed IT services company can do both remotely with net-generation firewall solutions

Network segmentation is a strategic move to keep data protected and accessible only by those who need it.

How to Know When to Outsource IT

Group of people discussing Outsourcing IT

Nearly every company must now rely on technology on a daily basis. For most companies, the role of technology will only grow in the future, making it even more important for all companies to have the tech support they need at all times. Depending on the situation, companies may hire employees to handle IT in-house, or they may outsource IT to a third-party provider.

Group of people discussing Outsourcing IT

The information below will help you determine whether it is time for your business to consider IT outsourcing.

Benefits of Outsourcing IT

Before you can decide whether outsourcing is right for you, you must first understand the reasons you might choose this path. Below are some of the potential benefits of outsourcing IT:

  • Fewer headaches – When you outsource IT, you no longer have to worry about maintenance, upgrades, repairs or any other technological problems.
  • Fewer expenses – Outsourcing IT is cost-effective, as you won’t have to pay for full-time employees to handle IT.
  • Scalability – Outsourced IT services can be scaled up or down to meet your needs as your company evolves.
  • No interruptions – When IT is outsourced, you won’t need to deal with downtime or other workflow interruptions related to IT issues.
  • Better use of in-house resources – Many businesses delegate IT responsibilities to existing employees when they can’t afford to hire full time IT personnel. With outsourcing, you will no longer need to split your employees’ focus in this way.

Downsides of Outsourcing

Although outsourcing IT offers several benefits, there are downsides as well. For example, you won’t have as much control over your operations as you would have if you kept IT in-house. In addition, if your provider is in a different time zone or has a heavy workload, communication can be problematic. Finally, if your business is small, outsourcing may be too expensive.

Should You Outsource?

Deciding whether to outsource IT to a third-party provider can be a challenge for any company, and there are many factors to consider. If you aren’t sure whether outsourcing IT is right for your company, simply compare your options and weigh the pros and cons. Remember to evaluate the potential for cost savings, as well as the impact on your day-to-day operations. It’s also a good idea to learn about the services available to you so you will know what you should expect if you choose to outsource.
If you decide to proceed with outsourcing, it is important to consider multiple providers before making a selection. Choosing the right IT provider can make all the difference in the success of your company. Remember that the cost of outsourced services is not the most important factor. Making sure that you are receiving reliable, high-quality services is essential. Interview each of the providers you are considering and ask them about the services they provide, the fees they charge and the customer support they offer. You should also read reviews from past customers to find out how others have felt about the services they received from the provider in question.

How Do I Choose a Cloud Computing Model?

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing

How Do I Choose a Cloud Computing Model?

No matter what your company or organization specializes in, it’s sure that you have some form or forms of data that needs to be stored, well, somewhere.

Before the invention of cloud computing, most company data was always stored on-site — that is, in the hard drives at a place of business. Additionally, some businesses may have had data stored on remotely-located hard drives or discs; but the majority of data was “in the building.”

Naturally, you can see how this would be dangerous — both for you as a business owner and your clients, customers, and investors. Sensitive data such as customer specs or financial information could be easily stolen, corrupted, lost because of a computer glitch, or even destroyed in a fire.

Today, with the advent of cloud computing. The bulk of these worries are gone. Nearly all major companies, organizations, governments, and many individuals use the cloud.

What is the cloud and what is “cloud computing”?

The first thing to know about “the cloud” is that it’s not a physical thing like a computer or a hard drive. Instead, this term refers to a virtual space or a select part of the Internet — the part that stores data.

Just as you can surf the web from anywhere in the world as long as you have an Internet connection, you can also access the cloud from anywhere in the world — plus whatever you store there. Again, you simply need an Internet connection. In this way, many people simply define the “cloud” as a metaphor for the Internet.

“Cloud computing” is the generally recognized term for all computing actions done in or via the cloud. Therefore, cloud computing refers to cloud-based data storage, but it also means cloud-based:

  • Data management
  • Content delivery
  • Access to applications and software
  • Delivery of services

Should your business be using cloud computing?

Before we dive into how to choose a cloud computing method, let’s talk about why you should be using cloud computing — and you absolutely should be.

Cloud computing provides numerous benefits that old-fashioned computing methods just can’t live up to. Specifically, cloud computing provides:

  • Mobility and Efficiency: You can work on the cloud from anywhere. Allow your employees, customers, clients, and investors to access the best that your company has to offer, without worrying about weighing down the system or collapsing your infrastructure.
  • Ultimate Security: The cloud provides the best security available when it comes to storing your sensitive data. Even when hardware and equipment fails, you know your data will be stored safely and backed up.
  • Scalability and Flexibility: With non-cloud computing solutions, you must anticipate the extent to which you’ll use your storage space and other computing needs beforehand. Cloud computing allows you to scale your cloud services up or down, based on your unique needs.
  • Strategic Value: Cloud computing methods are always updated with the latest software and the newest tech. This gives your company a competitive edge. Plus, there’s no need to toss outdated technology or revamp your entire network, which would otherwise set your company timeline back significantly.

What method of cloud computing should my business use?

This depends on the organization’s specifications, needs, and goals. There are three basic methods of cloud computing to choose from.

Private Cloud Computing

This model of cloud computing provides dedicated use to your company’s data and systems over a private IT infrastructure. This is a good model to choose if you are particularly concerned about confidentiality and security. Only a trusted third-party or your company’s internal resources team should manage a private model of cloud computing, and you should only give access to those within your company.

Public Cloud Computing

This method of cloud computing allows your business’s resources (software, platforms, infrastructure) to be available to the general public. In some cases, these types of cloud computing models are offered to the public for free, but they may also be sold by a pay-per-usage model.

Hybrid Cloud Computing

As the name suggests, the hybrid cloud computing model blends a public cloud and a private cloud. The hybrid model is mostly by companies who need to operate both models, and thus, the two are integrated into one overarching system.

Resources in the cloud are easier to access, manage, and recover after an equipment malfunction. By switching your business to one of the cloud computing models outlined above, you’ll have a competitive edge and complete control of your company’s data and systems.