Posts tagged "data"

Internet of Things

Buzzword Breakdown: “Internet of Things”

August 10th, 2018 Posted by Cloud, Community, Data, Desktop, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services, Staff 0 thoughts on “Buzzword Breakdown: “Internet of Things””

What is the “Internet of Things”?

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the connection of devices that send and receive data through the Internet. Any stand-alone internet-connected device that can be monitored and/or controlled from a remote location is considered an IoT device.

Cars, appliances, lighting, fitness trackers, healthcare and home security can all be connected through the IoT since they contain sensing devices that talk to other machines and trigger additional actions. As smaller, more powerful chips are developed and integrated into devices, the IoT will continue to grow.

Internet of Things
There are 7 main IoT characteristics:

  1. Connectivity – Devices and sensors need to be connected to an item, to each other, actuators, a process and to the Internet or another network to be part of the IoT.
  2. Things – A connected device is only an IoT connected device when “things” (i.e., endpoints) are uniquely addressable, using an IP address or Uniform Resource Identifier.
  3. Data – Data is the glue of the IoT; the first step towards action and intelligence.
  4. Communication – Devices get connected so they can communicate data and this data can be analyzed.
  5. Intelligence – Intelligence is the ability of IoT devices to gather data analytics.
  6. Action – This can be manual action, decision-making or automation.
  7. Ecosystem – The place of the IoT from the perspective of other technologies, communities, goals and the picture in which the IoT fits.

The Internet of Things is Not a “Thing”

The IoT consists of many devices, but also an ecosystem of related processes and other technologies. The IoT includes the hardware, software, connectivity and communication protocols, middleware and much more. The IoT also encompasses many processes and technologies, including big data, analytics, cloud, edge computing or fog computing, IoT platform software, IoT gateways, and more.

Security & Privacy

As devices become more connected within the IoT, security and privacy are a primary concern. Despite these concerns, IoT adoption continues to grow. In fact, smart speaker adoption in the U.S. grew 54% from December 2017 to February 2018, according to a 2018 comScore survey.

4 Tips to make your IoT more secure:

  1. Evaluate your security settings – Examine the settings, especially security settings, and select options that meet your needs without putting you at increased risk. If you install a new version of software or if you become aware of something that might affect your device, reevaluate your settings.
  2. Ensure your software if up-to-date – Patches are software updates that fix a particular issue or vulnerability within your device’s software. Make sure to apply relevant patches as soon as possible to protect your devices.
  3. Connect carefully – When a device is connected to the Internet, it’s also connected to millions of other computers, which could allow attackers access to the device. Consider whether continuous connectivity to the Internet is needed.
  4. Use strong passwords – Some Internet-enabled devices are configured with default passwords to simplify setup. These default passwords can be easily found online, providing limited protection. Choose strong passwords to help secure your device.

Questions?

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.

Sources: US-CERT, Business Insider, i-SCOOP

Channel Futures MSP 501 2018 Winner

Think Ranked Among Top 501 Global MSPs

August 8th, 2018 Posted by Awards, Best Practices, Cloud, Data, Desktop, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “Think Ranked Among Top 501 Global MSPs”

Durango, Colo., August 8, 2018 – Think Network Technologies (Think) ranks among the world’s 501 most strategic and innovative managed service providers (MSPs), according to Channel Future’s 11th-annual MSP 501 Worldwide Company Rankings.

The MSP 501 is the first, largest and most comprehensive ranking of managed service providers worldwide. This year, Channel Futures received a record number of submissions from companies in Europe, Asia, South America, and beyond. Channel Futures teamed with Clarity Channel Advisors to evaluate these progressive and forward-leaning companies. MSP’s revenue figures are weighted according to how well the applicant’s business strategy anticipates trends in the fast-evolving channel ecosystem.

“We are proud to be recognized amongst other outstanding MSPs throughout the world. This honor is a testament to the expertise, hard work, loyalty, and dedication of our team,” commented Melissa Glick, Think CEO.

“This year’s applicant pool was the largest and most diverse in the history of the survey, and our winners represent the health and progressivity of the managed services market,” says Kris Blackmon, Channel Futures content director and editor of the MSP 501. “They’re growing their revenue, expanding their customer influence and exploring new technology that will propel them for years to come.”

The 2018 MSP 501 list is based on data collected by Channel Futures and its sister site, Channel Partners. Data was collected online from Feb. 28 through May 31, 2018. The MSP 501 list recognizes top managed service providers based on metrics including recurring revenue, growth and other factors. The complete 2018 MSP 501 list can be viewed online here.

Think Network Technologies is an award-winning IT solutions provider based in Durango, CO and servicing the Four Corners, specializing in managed services, enterprise solutions, cloud solutions, and IT consulting. Since 2003, our local, family-owned business has become the outsourced IT department and trusted adviser for over 100 businesses. With offices throughout the Southwest, Think is strategically positioned to serve the Four Corners region.

For more information about this topic, please email us.

Newest Team Members

A Look Behind the Scenes

July 19th, 2018 Posted by Cloud, Community, Data, Desktop, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services, Staff 0 thoughts on “A Look Behind the Scenes”

Meet the Team Members Who Run the Show!

At Think, we seek employees with a passion for IT and can deliver exceptional customer service. Our team members share our core values – one of which is teamwork. We approach our work as a team, we celebrate success as a team and we learn from failures as a team. Our company is structured thoughtfully – we maximize employees’ individual skill sets to promote synergy and benefit operations for our business and for our clients.

Our close-knit culture works in harmony with our innovative business solutions to fuel success. In order to take care of our business we must first take care of our employees and we believe that fostering a positive culture in the workplace will extend to positive interactions with our clients. We work hard and we play hard – we like to have fun!

We truly value our employees and it goes without saying that we also value our employees’ families – they are the force and support behind our talented team. That said, we want to introduce the Think team members that really run the show – our employees’ pets! If you stop by our office, you might even see some of them taking care of “business”…

Think Org Chart
ColoradoBiz Top 100 Woman-Owned Companies 2018

Think Recognized on Top 100 Woman-Owned Companies 2018 List

July 11th, 2018 Posted by Awards, Best Practices, Cloud, Data, Desktop, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “Think Recognized on Top 100 Woman-Owned Companies 2018 List”

Durango, Colo., July 2, 2018 – Think Network Technologies (Think) ranked 91 on ColoradoBiz Magazine’s annual Top 100 Woman-Owned Companies list for the second consecutive year. Melissa Glick is CEO and Co-Owner of Think, a Southwest Colorado IT solutions provider.

“I hope the female leaders recognized on this list will inspire more women to be courageous and to pursue their professional goals,” said Glick. “I am proud that Think was listed amongst other female-led companies that bring innovative products and services to the market, create jobs and contribute to their communities.”

Glick credits past mentors as well as family, in providing her with solid values and strong business acumen that have contributed to Think’s business success.

“Women in Colorado are making an impact in every industry, enterprise and workplace role imaginable. They are CEOs, startup founders, strategists and irreplaceable employees who not only are instrumental in their own organization’s success; through their daily actions and achievements they set a precedent of possibilities for the next generation of women in business to build upon,” said ColoradoBiz Magazine.

The full ColoradoBiz Magazine Top 100 Woman-Owned Companies 2018 list can be viewed online here.

Think Network Technologies is an award-winning IT solutions provider based in Durango, CO and servicing the Four Corners, specializing in managed services, enterprise solutions, cloud solutions, and IT consulting. Since 2003, our local, family-owned business has become the outsourced IT department and trusted adviser for over 100 businesses. With offices throughout the Southwest, Think is strategically positioned to serve the Four Corners region.

For more information about this topic, please email us.

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

Disaster Readiness

Disaster Readiness: Are You Prepared?

May 16th, 2018 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Data, Desktop, Disaster, Hosted Services, Services 0 thoughts on “Disaster Readiness: Are You Prepared?”

Fire is a Real Threat

On Sunday, May 21, 2017 a fire engulfed 1111 Camino del Rio in Durango, CO.  This location was the former home of Think Network Technologies.

Disasters are real and business owners should have a disaster readiness plan in place to continue business operations during and after a disaster. There is no time like the present to review and/or implement data backup, disaster recovery and business continuity plans. So what can you do to ensure you’re prepared before disaster strikes?

First, it’s important to understand the definition of data backup, disaster recovery and business continuity and how they relate to business processes. Data backup, disaster recovery and business continuity are used interchangeably are different, but equally important and interconnected facets to protecting your business. Second, it’s important to employ an IT partner to develop a comprehensive strategy and plans that fit your business.

What is “Data Backup”?

Data backup is the process of creating copies of your important data and storing in another location that would not be affected by the same factors that could affect your primary copy of data.

Some things to keep in mind:

  1. Your backups should include all important business data.
  2. At least one up-to-date copy should be stored off-site.
  3. Backups should be monitored regularly to make sure they are working properly.
  4. Restoration tests should be conducted regularly to make sure data can be recovered from the backups when needed.
  5. Periodic reviews should be made to ensure that all critical data is being backed up. A set-it-and-forget-it approach can lead to future important data not being backed up.

What is “Disaster Recovery”?

Disaster recovery is the concept and strategy for recovering key IT systems and processes in a timely manner in the event of some form of disruption to these systems.  It’s critical to have a plan for how to use data backups in the event of a server failure or physical destruction of property, e.g. fire or flood.

What is “Business Continuity”?

Business continuity is the plan and processes that a business has in place to to continue business while key IT systems are unavailable or are being recovered. While disaster recovery is focused on how to recover key IT systems and business processes, business continuity is the plan for how to continue business operations while IT systems and data are being recovered. A business continuity plan should answer the following key questions:

  1. What people, equipment, resources, and information need to be available so that business can continue without key IT systems?
  2. What steps can be taken to manually complete normal, day-to-day business processes with impaired IT systems or completely unavailable IT systems?

We Can Help…

As you can see from the above, data backup, disaster recovery and business continuity are equally important. Having one of these processes without the others, is like having a car with seat belts but no brakes. Having strategies for backups, disaster recovery and a business continuity in place can help protect your business during and after a disaster.

Think Network Technologies can help you develop strategies tailored to your business, systems, and processes.  We can also help execute these strategies if and when disaster strikes.

For more information about this topic and how we can support your business, contact us.

Cisco Spark Demos

September 13th, 2017 Posted by Best Practices, Communication, Data, Devices, Networks, Newsletters 0 thoughts on “Cisco Spark Demos”

Communication is about more than simply being able to dial or send a message to employees or partners. It’s about being able to message, meet, and call instantly in a way that strengthens relationships and increases productivity.

And now communication needs to be agile. Mobile. Collaborative. All thanks to mobile devices and evolving innovations in infrastructure and applications for voice, video, messaging, and content sharing. The Cisco Spark service makes instant communications and live meetings possible through a deeply integrated set of industry-leading communications tools for an unmatched collaboration experience—that only the Cisco cloud can deliver.

Message. Meet. Call.

With the Cisco Spark solution, you can:

Message: Business messaging lets you prepare, share, and iterate on content. Enjoy 1:1 and team messaging in virtual rooms with persistent content and context for team interactions. Cisco Spark services break down communication barriers and make it incredibly simple to work with anyone.

Meet: Connect teams and meet customers easily with the added benefits of messaging and content sharing before, during, and after the meeting. It’s easy to schedule or join a meeting at the main office, a branch office, at home, on the road, or from a room-based video system. Every meeting is video-centric. Users shouldn’t have to think about what type of conferencing they need before scheduling; after all, it’s just a meeting.

Call: The service enables voice and video communications via mobile, desktop, and room-based devices. Simply connect your existing PSTN1 services to Spark to enjoy one-touch directory dialing and join meetings from anywhere on any device. Mobile users get features such as single number reach, single voicemail service, video services, and the ability to seamlessly move between devices during a call.

 

Designed for the Way You Do Business

The Cisco Spark service delivers a powerful set of communications services for all the ways you need to communicate. Maybe you’re a startup business with an ad hoc solution, or you have an outdated key system or PBX and want to upgrade. Perhaps you’ve already made the move to IP or deployed a cloud-based service and want to expand your capabilities even further. Cisco Spark will take your communications to the next level by providing the benefits of a complete business collaboration service for everyone in your company: one service, one experience, for everyone.

 

The Next Step

To learn more about how the Cisco Spark service can transform your communications, please contact the Think specialists to schedule a demo! Contact our sales team at sales@thinknettech.com if you would like to schedule or hear more about the Cisco Spark Board.

How Secure Is Your BYOD Policy?

August 8th, 2017 Posted by Best Practices, byod, Data, Devices, Networks, Newsletters, Phone, Security, Staff 0 thoughts on “How Secure Is Your BYOD Policy?”

It only takes one unsecured device that’s plugged into your network to lead to a network breach. That’s why it’s so important to have a bring your own device (BYOD) policy.

BYOD has its pros and cons, and organizations that already have a policy in place or are contemplating implementing one need to tick some boxes to make sure it runs as smoothly and securely as possible.

 

The Upside

BYOD has obvious advantages for staff who like the convenience and familiarity of working on their own devices. It could also lead to productivity gains, as users have an affinity for their own personal devices and how they use them.

Personal laptops, tablets and smartphones are usually more cutting edge, given that companies often don’t update their desktops for years on end. BYOD also allows staff to carry only one or two devices around with them, rather than different ones for work and personal use.

BYOD policies can save organizations money, as they don’t have to spend as much on their IT hardware while allowing workers increased mobility.

 

The Downside

Having said that, BYOD practices are not free from security concerns. More and more mobile devices provide greater scope for ways to breach a company’s IT infrastructure.

Some employees may not be as stringent as they should be about the information they bring home that could be highly sensitive or confidential. Once they take it out of the office, there’s nothing stopping them from sharing it across devices, networks, emails or even showing it to their family and friends.

Disgruntled employees about to walk out the door pose an even bigger threat. If they are leaving to work for a competitor, BYOD makes it easier for them to take intellectual property with them. Alternatively, if an employee uses a smartphone to access the company network then loses it or it’s stolen, an unauthorized person could retrieve unsecured data on the device. Staff can also sell their devices or give them away and forget to wipe company data beforehand.

 

And the Essentials

A good BYOD policy should contain two critical components: an application or software program for managing the devices connected to your organization’s networks, and a written agreement that clearly states the responsibilities of employers and staff.

For example, IT departments wishing to monitor the use of personal devices must ensure that they only monitor activities that access company information.

Software developers and device manufacturers are constantly releasing security patches and updates for threats such as viruses and malware. BYOD policies should have the necessary processes in place to automatically apply those patches across all the agreed BYOD devices.

Additionally, organizations can simplify the whole process by limiting the number or make of devices allowed in their BYOD programs and the systems they have to support. Supporting a broad range of devices could become an administrative nightmare.

The IT department should also have permission to remotely wipe the device if it’s lost, the employee leaves or if it detects a data breach, virus or any other threat to its infrastructure.

BYOD should satisfy employees and management alike, as long as there’s a clear understanding of everyone’s responsibilities. Before settling on the best BYOD policy for your organization, it’s worth getting input from HR, IT, finance, legal and anyone else who has a stake in the matter.

 

Let the Think specialists help you and your company! Please contact our sales team at sales@thinknettech.com if you would like our recommendations or a quote.

Ask the Engineer – Online or Desktop?

July 19th, 2017 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Data, Desktop, Disaster, Internet, Networks, Newsletters, Security 2 thoughts on “Ask the Engineer – Online or Desktop?”

In our last newsletter, we asked our readers about what topics they had the most questions about and we shared those questions with our technical team.  This month is about online bookkeeping programs.

Reader Question:  Online bookkeeping programs – how secure are they? What is the probability of someone hacking into your personal or business information through them vs. the probability of a desktop bookkeeping solution? Are there minimum security requirements across the board for online bookkeeping providers and, if so, are they realistic and effective at protecting information?

Ask the Engineer Response:

Software that you run online or through your desktop is vulnerable to security threats, so the real question is, “Is online software more secure than desktop software”?

For most SMBs, the answer is yes.  To understand why, we’ve compiled some information about all the vulnerabilities of using software.

 

Desktop Software:

Desktop software vulnerabilities are all located in one place, on your desktop or laptop. This is your point of access for everything; the point of storage for your accounting software, your data files, and your point of connection to the internet.

Sadly, many businesses don’t realize the importance of security. From technical measures such as anti-virus and firewalls to physical means such as locked doors and anti-theft cable solutions. Businesses also spend little or no time/money on educating their staff about best security practices.

Your office computer is faced with a greater range of internet-based attacks than online software would. Keep in mind that it is also much more susceptible to physical dangers such as fire, flood or theft.

If an emergency does happen, do you have a game plan to restore your software? Probably not, according to most SMBs. Backup is treated as an afterthought for many businesses, but this process could save you many hours or days when you need to return to full operation. Check out our other article to read more about backups, disaster recovery, and business continuity – Fire is a Real Threat.

 

Online Software:

Online software points of vulnerability are shared between the vendor and the user. It is still the user’s responsibility to secure the point of access while viewing the software though.

The good news is that the storage of the accounting software and the data file is not the user’s responsibility, but the vendor’s. These software companies have enterprise grade data centers with highly advanced defenses that run your online software.

Behind the scenes at one of these data centers would make any SMB server room look like a kid’s playroom.  The facility would be protected by guards while access would be regulated by key cards, fingerprint recognition, and iris scanners. There would also be a physical protection system that would include firefighting defenses, generators in case of blackouts, and flood resistant areas.

These data centers would have numerous, lightning fast high-speed internet connections. Their networks would be protected around the clock by current security technologies with a team of IT security specialists.

Online software companies store your data on the same server as hundreds of other businesses, so there is also security in anonymity.  If a server fails it can automatically push your data onto another server. You can imagine the detailed backup procedures that these companies have in case a software bug causes a crash. The best known online software programs only have several hours of downtime in a whole year.

No matter what the threat is, going with online software is usually a safer bet than a desktop program. Hackers are intelligent and have sophisticated methods for penetrating files.  They have two main ways of hacking into online software from the user’s computer. One is a password guessing program that cycles through billions of sequences until they get a match. Otherwise, they nose around on a network until they can grab a password that passes between the desktop and the data center.  The most successful forms of hacking have nothing to do with online software itself. The weakest link in the chain is usually the user.

But, these advanced attacks are practically impossible against online accounting software that’s distributed by mainstream vendors.

You can minimize the risk of a breach by:

  • Using a complicated password and keeping it somewhere secure.
  • A password manager is great for storing difficult passwords.
  • You should never, ever reveal your password. If someone asks, there’s a good chance they don’t have the best intentions.
  • Don’t use public computers, stick with your own laptop or computer.
  • As tempting as it is, don’t use public wifi networks. These public wifi networks can be compromised.

For more information, please contact our engineers at 888-98-THINK.

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