Posts in Devices

The SMB’s Cybersecurity Checklist

December 10th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Data, Devices, Internet, Networks, Security, Services, Staff 0 thoughts on “The SMB’s Cybersecurity Checklist”

The landscape of digital security has changed, and we want to make sure that small to medium-sized businesses (SMB’s) have the information they need to keep up and keep their businesses, customers, and employees protected. To that end, we’ve prepared a cybersecurity checklist to get you started.

First thing’s first: Your business is not too small to be targeted for an attack.

The data you collect is just as valuable as any other business, and hackers have learned that it’s more likely to be vulnerable. Too many SMB’s rely on the hope that they’re “invisible” to hackers and don’t ensure that they have the proper cybersecurity measures in place. Cybersecurity is just as vital to your business as it is for a Fortune 500 company.

The best foundation for a strong cybersecurity plan is a thorough understanding of your company’s resources and risk factors. If this kind of review is outside the skillset of anyone in your company (or if you simply don’t have the resources to get it done in a timely fashion), we encourage you to consider bringing in a managed service provider (MSP) to do an internal audit and report of all your systems. This audit will then serve as the backbone for your cybersecurity strategy.

Armed with the knowledge you need to evaluate your situation, you can move forward with the checklist and help ensure the success and security of your business.

  • Continuous Education: The majority of security breaches happen because of human error, like losing a password or submitting credentials on a phishing site. Comprehensive training can help your employees understand the risks and avoid them. IT training also makes your employees more valuable by enabling them to be more productive. It’s well worth the time and effort.
  • Regular Risk Assessments and Security Audits: “The best offense is a good defense” certainly applies to cybersecurity. If you take the time to regularly audit and assess your company’s cybersecurity, you’re much more likely to catch a flaw before it’s exploited.
  • Disaster Response Plan: The best way to recover from a disaster is to be prepared ahead of time. Imagine how much easier it would be to respond to a security breach if you know that you have secure backups, security consultants available to assess and repair the breach, a communication plan to notify customers and staff, and a recovery process to get everything back on track.
  • BYOD: Allowing employees to bring their own devices to work allows for a new level of flexibility and connectivity, but it can compromise your security. Developing a comprehensive approach to BYOD security policies can save your business.
  • Layers of Security: From endpoint and mobile devices to networks and users, ensure that each facet of your company has the right protection. No one piece can protect you on its own, but tiered defenses tailored to your business can provide a strong defense against cybercrime
  • Cyber insurance: You have insurance to protect your physical assets, and now it’s time to get insurance that will cover your computer systems and data. Cyber insurance will help protect you against electronic threats that can result in stolen or damaged data as well as expensive liability and recovery costs.

5 Bad Habits of IT Departments

September 23rd, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Devices, Security, Staff 0 thoughts on “5 Bad Habits of IT Departments”

Even the best of intentions can be sabotaged by bad habits, and IT departments are no exception. In this post we’ll share with you the top 5 bad habits you’ll want to watch out for in your IT department.

  1. Bad timing with new technologies

With technology moving in leaps and bounds, the phrase “Timing is everything” has taken on a whole new meaning. If a technology is adopted too early, your business and employees will have to suffer through all the bugs, outages, and partially-formed processes that are a given with emerging tech. But, if the new technology is adopted too late, you’ll be in a mad scramble just to keep up with your industry. The right timing is crucial to ensure that technology is an asset or even a competitive edge.

  1. The wrong focus in hiring

Too often when a role opens in IT, too much emphasis is put on specific knowledge of certain software, hardware, and processes. These laundry lists of tech knowledge can scare away great candidates who may be a great fit for the company, even if they would need to pick up a new skill or two. At the end of the day, ensuring that a new employee is going to fit well into your company culture and is willing (and enthusiastic!) about learning new skills will have a much more positive outcome for your business.

  1. A rigid course

Having a plan for your business is essential, and the IT department should have a plan that supports your business plan. But being too rigid can cause major issues. It’s important to leave enough flexibility to allow for circumstances to change and new opportunities that may become available. If your IT department is focusing on specific software or hardware instead of which direction will best support your business goals, you could end up locked into a course that becomes obsolete or cumbersome by the time it’s put into motion.

  1. People pleasing

In a culture where we have so many different options and rarely have to choose just one, employees can get in the habit of asking the IT department to support any and all of their favorite applications and services. And, because they want to keep everyone happy, the IT department says “yes” without really looking at the potential consequences. What ends up happening is your business network becomes flooded with too many applications and services for your IT department to manage efficiently or safely. Each of these applications or services is a potential security breach, and each can fail or glitch at any time. Does your IT department have the skills and time to support all of this? Is it how you want them to spend their time? Or is it better to risk ruffling a few feathers to keep your IT streamlined, efficient, and secure?

  1. Skipping the training

All the high-end technology in the world can’t help your business if no one knows how to use it. If your IT department isn’t providing your employees with comprehensive training and documentation, you’re wasting your money. Think of the videoconferencing or projection equipment you’ve seen collecting dust on so many conference tables. Or the phone system features that have never been utilized. These tools could be a major benefit to the business, but your staff isn’t comfortable relying on something they can’t confidently operate.

Your Business Needs These 3 Types of IT Resources

April 10th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Devices, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services, Staff 0 thoughts on “Your Business Needs These 3 Types of IT Resources”

As technology becomes more essential, more versatile, and more complex, it also becomes increasingly difficult to manage. This can be especially true for SMBs as they balance the need to grow and stay competitive with limited budgets and less IT expertise. Luckily, there’s more than one way to look at IT, and how you approach it makes all the difference.

 

The Challenges

As the demands of your business reach the limit of your IT department’s ability to keep up, you may find yourself experiencing some of the following growing pains:

  • IT is spending most of their time putting out fires, which means recurring problems are becoming more common.
  • Deployment of software, apps, and initiatives is getting more complex, and you’re seeing more delays, failures, and down time.
  • Keeping up with break/fix work is keeping your IT staff from focusing on developing strategies and solutions that will benefit the business long term.
  • System down time is becoming more frequent, and it’s resulting in a loss of productivity and profit.

 

The Right Team with the Right Resources

As the role of IT expands, it’s important that you have the right team in place with the right expertise. It’s not just about having more staff; it’s about having access to expertise in cyber security, cloud migration, data mining, collaboration, etc. But, while you need access to these types of expertise and support, it doesn’t make sense for most SMBs to have these high-level experts on staff full time. Which is why many businesses are excited to discover the benefits of Managed Services.

To get the most out of your IT, both internal and through outsourced partnerships, make sure to have these three types of resources covered:

Generalists

These are your “go to” people. They’ve got the basic knowledge necessary to solve most of the day-to-day issues that your employees will encounter quickly and reliably, and they have the people-savvy necessary to provide high-quality service. This is a point of pride at Think. Our Support Desk staff is carefully selected, highly trained, and respond to most service tickets in an hour or less.

 

Specialists

With the rapid advancements in tech, IT departments are often expected to be experts in a variety of ever-changing specialties. To keep all the different aspects of your business tech running smoothly, you need access to a wide range of specialized skill sets. But, while these specialties are vital, they’re not necessarily something you’ll need forty hours a week. This is where the collective experience of a Managed Services team is key. With the right partner, you get the expertise and experience you need when you need it.

 

Advisors

IT has evolved from a convenience to a catalyst for innovation and future growth. But with each department working from their own perspective and towards their own goals, it can be difficult to see the broader picture and create a strategic place for IT in your business. An IT advisor with an outside perspective, a solid understanding of business and tech, and the ability to help you develop a plan to move your business forward is in an invaluable asset that can change the course of your entire organization for the better.

 

Bottom Line

Balancing the needs of your business with budget considerations is an ongoing challenge, and IT is no exception. But with the right combination of resources, you can ensure that your business receives all the benefits IT has to offer without sacrificing in other areas. For many organizations, this is where teaming up with a Managed Services partner gives them what they need, when they need it.

Help Your Business and Your Community this Earth Day

April 10th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Community, Devices, E-Waste, Services 0 thoughts on “Help Your Business and Your Community this Earth Day”

At Think we value the beautiful area we live in, the growing community we support, and the businesses we serve. So, to celebrate this Earth Day (April 22), we want to share with you an easy way to help all three: eRecycling.

Put simply, eRecycling is the recycling of computers and other electronic equipment.

As our businesses become more reliant on technology, and as technology continues to evolve, we can easily end up with a collection of outdated printers, keyboards, monitors, phones, and other bits of tech. These usually occupy the corner of some office or closet, collecting dust and spiderwebs. While you don’t want your business hampered by outdated tech, it doesn’t have to waste space in your office either.

Various components in computers and other electronics can be recycled and used to build new machines. This reduces the need for new components, which helps us preserve and stretch our natural resources. It also means less material in our landfills and less stress on our local environment.

Recycling also helps support our local recycling center, which means supporting local jobs.

And your business benefits by clearing out the clutter and making room for equipment that supports your growth and success. (A tech replacement plan makes this process easy and simple.)

This Earth Day is a great chance for you to do something good for your community, the environment, and your business.

You can learn more about our Durango Recycling Center here.

Continuous Adaptation: The new role of IT in your business

April 10th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Devices, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “Continuous Adaptation: The new role of IT in your business”

There was a time when critical business applications changed every few years at most. This gave you and your employees plenty of time to plan for major changes and adjust to them while your business continued to operate and grow. But, thanks to the power of cloud technologies, the pace of change has accelerated. While businesses are eager to take advantage of the benefits cloud computing has to offer, it’s important to ensure that your business and your employees are prepared to get the most out of the transition.

 

New pace, new approach

Growth and adaptation are essential to any business, and as a result the “set it and forget it” mode of thinking is out. This applies to both the software and hardware you’re using as well as the policies, procedures, and culture surrounding IT. It’s not enough to have the right applications and the newest hardware if your employees don’t have the motivation and support necessary to integrate these new resources into their daily routines and tasks.

 

Changing face of IT

Your company’s IT is no longer about fixing broken computers or installing software occasionally. It now plays an integral role, continuously engaging with everything from security to end user education and support. Adjusting the way you think about this vital asset to your business can improve your ability to adapt to change, respond to new opportunities, and cultivate your most valuable asset – your people.

 

The pace of change will only continue to increase, and it’s important that you have the support and expertise you need to help your business navigate and thrive. If you’re ready to see what IT can really do for your business, contact our engineers today.

How a Technology Replacement Plan Will Save You Time and Money

March 18th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Devices, Managed Service Provider 0 thoughts on “How a Technology Replacement Plan Will Save You Time and Money”

Would you like to help your employees be more productive? How about helping them collaborate more easily? And knowing in advance when and what you’ll be spending on IT?

If these sound good to you, then a Technology Replacement Plan is definitely worth looking into.

 

What is a Technology Replacement Plan?

Put simply, this is the plan for how you will replace technology in upcoming years. It can be as straightforward as a list of what equipment you currently have, when it was purchased, and when you want to replace it.

 

What are the benefits of a Replacement Plan?

For something so simple, a replacement plan can have a big positive impact for your business. It can be a useful tool to help:

  • Increase Productivity – Old equipment can slow down everything from opening emails to saving files. If each instance adds just 30 seconds to a task, and it happens 12 times a day, that adds up to over 13 hours of lost time over the course of a year. Thirteen hours of your employee’s time spent waiting on an outdated piece of equipment that could easily be upgraded. And that’s true for every employee who’s dealing with outdated equipment. It adds up fast.
  • Make the Most of New Options – Technology changes more quickly all the time, and these changes can bring new benefits to your business. Such as enhanced collaboration between employees or more secure storage options, just to name a couple.
  • Smooth Budgeting – No one likes out of the blue expenses. Especially when they come from all directions at once, which seems to happen just because it can. But, with a technology replacement plan, you can plan years in advance for the purchase of everything from monitors to printers.
  • Ensure Compatibility – It’s important that any new equipment works with your current system. Having a replacement plan ensures that you will be able to plan around any major changes and create a solution before you’re having problems with a pricey new setup.

 

No Time Like the Present

You don’t have to wait for the new year or the next budget meeting. You can start your Technology Replacement Plan today. If you’re unsure about where to start or how long to wait between upgrades, our Think engineers would be happy to help you create a replacement plan that suits your business, keeps your employees productive, and helps keep your budgeting as easy as possible. Just contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Pros and Cons: Cloud Computing

March 18th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Data, Devices, Internet, Managed Service Provider 0 thoughts on “Pros and Cons: Cloud Computing”

Should you be entrusting your data to the cloud or keeping it down to earth on your own servers? This is a decision facing every business. It’s one you’ll be forced to consider carefully, because it’ll impact your business practices and expenses for the foreseeable future. There’s plenty to be said for both cloud storage and dedicated servers, which makes the question which one is right for you. In this post we’ll be covering the pros and cons of the cloud.

Advantages of the Cloud

Cost Savings
One of the biggest benefits of cloud computing is the cost savings. With cloud computing, you can save substantial IT costs by eliminating the need to purchase, operate, and maintain server equipment. You pay for what you use, and you can stop whenever you like. This can make cloud computing ideal for some businesses all by itself. Though it is worth noting that in some instances an on-site server can actually be less expensive than using the cloud.

Reliability
With a managed service platform, your business can benefit from a large pool of IT resources that are dedicated to ensuring a reliable connection to your data at all times. These generally include redundancies that most businesses wouldn’t have built into their own personal servers.

Manageability
With a service level agreement (SLA) you get all the benefits of a high-end system without the hassle of performing updates and maintenance yourself.

Strategic Edge
The ease and accessibility of computer resources can give you a competitive edge, since the time you require for upgrading your IT resources to meet the needs of your business is basically nothing. This allows you to focus on moving your business forward.

Disadvantages of the Cloud

Downtime
If the internet is down, you have no access to your data and possibly the applications you use to run your business. Depending on the quality of internet service available in your area, this could be a significant disadvantage.

Security
Cloud service providers do everything they can to ensure the security of your data. But any time you’re storing data and important files with external service providers, it opens up some risk. It’s unlikely to be an issue, but you should consider the potential consequences any time you’re trusting someone else to safeguard your business’s information.

Vendor Lock-In
Moving to the cloud can be a quick, easy process. But moving between cloud services can get rather difficult. Not all services are cross-compatible, and you may end up staying with a less-than-ideal set up for a few features that you’re not sure how to do without.

Limited Control
Since the cloud infrastructure is entirely owned, monitored, and managed by the service provider, control over what you can change, update, or access is limited to the applications, data, and services you’re paying to use.

The advantages of cloud computing are many, and it’s well worth considering as an option for your business. But don’t forget about on-site servers just yet, because they have some pretty great advantages of their own. We’ll discuss both the advantages and disadvantages of on-site servers in our next blog post.

If you’re considering the future of your business IT and want input from the experts, our engineers here at Think would be happy to help. Contact us to schedule a consultation.

Windows 7 & Windows Server 2008 r2 Are On Their Way Out

February 14th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Communication, Data, Desktop, Devices, Disaster, Hackers, Managed Service Provider, Security, Services, Windows 7 0 thoughts on “Windows 7 & Windows Server 2008 r2 Are On Their Way Out”

All good things come to an end, and that includes operating systems. This time around it’s Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 r2. As of January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates for these systems. This means that any devices running on these operating systems will become vulnerable to security threats after January 14, 2020.

What You Can Do

We encourage you to begin planning for the upgrade of these devices to a newer, more secure operating system. The sooner you start this process, the easier it will be to ensure that you can:

  1. Have time to determine the most beneficial IT solutions for your business.
  2. Work in the transition period during a more convenient time for you and your staff.
  3. Plan for the expense of the upgrade.

What You Don’t Want to Do

Put it off until the last minute. Something this vital to your business operations and security isn’t something you want to rush or push to the side.

We’re Happy to Help

Here at Think our engineers are ready to help you find the best IT solutions for your business. And with their extensive experience and knowledge, they can help make the transition as smooth and convenient as possible for your business and your staff. To schedule a consultation with a Think engineer, contact us today.

For more information from Microsoft, you can read their information page here.

Phishing

How to Avoid a Phishing Attack

July 10th, 2018 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Communication, Devices, Internet, Security 2 thoughts on “How to Avoid a Phishing Attack”

90% of Data Breaches Involve a Phishing Attack

First things first – what is phishing? Phishing is an email technique used to fraudulently obtain sensitive information. Phishing emails are designed to look like they’re from a brand or institution you trust. They typically prompt you to download malware (malicious software), click on a link that redirects you to a malicious website or enter personal information. This can enable hackers to steal your identity, breach your employer’s systems, and more. The best way to defend yourself against phishing attacks is to identify phony emails before you click on them.

5 Tips for Identifying Phishing Emails

  1. Who’s the real sender? – Make sure the organization’s name in the “From” field matches the address between the brackets. Watch out for addresses that contain typos in the organization name (think amaz0n.com).
    Phishing - Who's the real sender?
  2. Check the salutation – If you do business with an organization, the first line of the email should contain your name. Don’t trust impersonal introductions like “Dear Customer.”
    Phishing - Check the salutation
  3. Use your mouse hover – Hover over an email link to see the full URL it will direct you to. Do not click the link – just hover. If the address isn’t where you’d expect it to go, don’t click it. Check all the links – if the URLs are all the same, it’s likely a phishing email.
    Phishing - Who's the real sender?
  4. What’s in the footer? – The footer of any legitimate email should contain, at minimum, a physical address for the brand or institution and an unsubscribe button. If either of these items are missing, it’s probably fake.
    Phishing - What's in the footer?
  5. Look for other content clues – Does the content have spelling and grammar errors, ask for personal or sensitive information, convey a high sense of urgency and/or privacy, offer incentives through threat or reward, or contain links or attachments? These are all clues pointing toward a phishing email.

When in Doubt, Delete

If something seems off, delete the email. If it’s not fake, the sender will contact you another way or send the message again.

We Can Help…

Think Network Technologies offers IT Consulting services to can help your organization keep systems and information secure. For more information about this topic and how we can support your business, contact us.

Source: Webroot Inc.

Server

Rising Temperatures, Rising Server Threats

June 13th, 2018 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Communication, Devices, Internet, Security 0 thoughts on “Rising Temperatures, Rising Server Threats”

Why is it important to monitor server room temperatures?

With temperatures on the rise, server threats also increase. When servers overheat they can shut down. Whether you’re running a huge data center or a server room with just a few servers it is important to monitor room temperature to prevent downtime, loss of productivity and ultimately loss of revenue for your business.

Monitoring your servers’ temperature information is a starting point. However, monitoring the room temperature is a more proactive approach and will add another layer of security to ensure your server never reaches high temperatures. Monitoring the room temperature will provide an early indication if something is wrong, so you have enough time to react early and avoid serious problems.

5 benefits of monitoring server room temperature

  1. Prevent downtime – Temperature monitoring sensors and software will allow you to configure alerts that notify key personnel via email or text message if and when temperatures reach predefined thresholds so that someone can take action. Excessive temperature is one of the leading causes for having to replace hardware, and in most cases, it is easily prevented.
  2. Ensure efficient airflow inlet and exhaust – Placing temperature sensors on the front and back of your server racks will allow you to measure the temperature of the air going in and coming out of your servers. This is important to know to make sure cold airflow is not being mixed with hot air circulating in the room, as well as to ensure hot air exhaust from your servers is within the proper ranges. Airflow sensors can monitor the presence of airflow into your server room and will alert you if it stops.
  3. Reduce power consumption and increase energy efficiency – If you are actively monitoring the temperature in your server room, you should be able to identify trends and baselines. This data should indicate if your AC unit is able to keep up with the load and if there are cost savings to be had. Many times, room temperature will be set lower than necessary to compensate for not knowing exactly how effectively your servers are being cooled.
  4. Server room planning and scaling – Using the data collected from your temperature monitoring sensors, you will have insight into the cooling loads and airflow distribution of your current layout. You can use these insights to plan for the additional heat load of adding new equipment and how to maintain a proper layout for best airflow.
  5. Extend the life of your equipment – Last but not least, maintaining the proper server room temperature range will help extend the lifespan of your equipment by preventing excessive temperatures going unnoticed and causing unnecessary wear on your equipment. Short spikes of excessive temperatures can reduce reliability and can lead to hardware failure months later.

How do you monitor your server room temperature?

There are many vendors that offer physical sensors for measuring not only temperature, but also humidity, power, flooding and more. Think Network Technologies can help your business implement a server temperature monitoring solution. Contact us today to learn more.

Sources: enviromon.net, Paessler Blog

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