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April 11th, 2014

Security_Apr11_CThe security of your systems and communication, especially those that utilize the Internet should be paramount for any business. Over the past few weeks a massive new security flaw has been uncovered. This flaw, codenamed Heartbleed, could potentially expose all your vital data and communications that flows between your computer and websites online. All businesses and Internet users should be aware of this Heartbleed so that they can take steps to stay safe.

Background info about secure transmission of information on the Web

Most sites on the Internet rely on Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology to ensure that information is transmitted securely from a computer to server. SSL and the slightly older Transport Layer Security (TLS) are the main technology used to essentially verify that the site you are trying to access is indeed that site, and not a fake one which could contain malware or any other form of security threat. They essentially ensure that the keys needed to confirm that a site is legitimate and communication can be securely exchanged.

You can tell sites are using SSL/TLS by looking at the URL bar of your browser. If there is a padlock or HTTPS:// before the Web address, the site is likely using SSL or TLS verifications to help ensure that the site is legitimate and communication will be secure. These technologies work well and are an essential part of the modern Internet. The problem is not actually with this technology but with a software library called OpenSSL. This breach is called Heartbleed, and has apparently been open for a number of years now.

About Heartbleed

OpenSSL is an open-source version of SSL and TSL. This means that anyone can use it to gain SSL/TSL encryption for their site, and indeed a rather large percentage of sites on the Internet use this software library. The problem is, there was a small software glitch that can be exploited. This glitch is heartbleed.

Heartbleed is a bug/glitch that allows anyone on the Internet to access and read the memory of systems that are using certain versions of OpenSSL software. People who choose to exploit the bugs in the specific versions of OpenSSL can actually access or 'grab' bits of data that should be secured. This data is often related to the 'handshake' or key that is used to encrypt data which can then be observed and copied, allowing others to see what should be secure information.

The problem with Heartbleed

There are two major problems with this bug. The first being that if an attacker can uncover the SSL handshake used by your computer and the server that hosts the site when you login or transmit data they will be able to see this information. This information usually is made up of your login name, password, text messages, content and even your credit card numbers. In other words, anything that gets transmitted to the site using that version of SSL can be viewed.

Scary right? Well, the second problem is much, much bigger. The hacker won't only be able to see the data you transmit, but how the site receiving it employs the SSL code. If a hacker sees this, they can copy it and use it to create spoof sites that use the same handshake code, tricking your browser into thinking the site is legitimate. These sites could be made to look exactly same as the legitimate site, but may contain malware or even data capture software. It's kind of like a criminal getting the key to your house instead of breaking the window.

But wait, it gets worse. This bug has been present in certain versions of OpenSSL for almost two years which means the sites that have been using the version of OpenSSL may have led to exposure of your data and communication. And any attacks that were carried out can't usually be traced.

Am I affected by this?

What makes this so different from other security glitches is that OpenSSL is used by a large percentage of websites. What this means is that you are likely affected. In fact, a report published by Netcraft cited that 66% of active sites on the Internet used OpenSSL. This software is also used to secure chat systems, Virtual Private Networks, and even some email servers.

We have to make it clear here however: Just because OpenSSL is used by a vast percentage of the Internet, it doesn't mean every site is affected by the glitch.

The latest versions of OpenSSL have already patched this issue and any website using these versions will still be secure. The version with Heartbleed came out in 2011. The issue is while sites may not be using the 2011 version now, they likely did in the past meaning your data could have been at risk. On the other hand, there are still a wide number of sites using this version of OpenSSL.

What should I do?

This is a big issue, regardless of whether a website uses this version of OpenSSL or not. The absolute first thing you should do is go and change your passwords for everything. When we say everything, we mean everything. Make the passwords as different as possible from the old ones and ensure that they are strong.

It can be hard to tell whether your data or communications were or are actually exposed or not, but it is safe to assume that at some time or another it was. Changing your passwords should be the first step to ensuring that you are secure and that the SSL/TSL transmissions are secure. Another thing you should be aware of is what sites are actually using this version of OpenSSL. According to articles on the Web some of the most popular sites have used the version with the bug, or are as of the writing of this article, using it. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Gmail
  • Yahoo
  • Yahoo Mail
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Amazon Web Services
  • GoDaddy
  • Intuit
It would be a good idea to visit the blogs of each service to see whether they have updated to a new version of OpenSSL. As of the writing of this article, most had actually done so but some were still looking into upgrading. For a full list of sites, check out this Mashable article.

If you have a website that uses SSL/TSL and OpenSSL you should update it to the latest version ASAP. This isn't a large update but it needs to be done properly, so it is best to contact an IT partner like us who can help ensure the upgrade goes smoothly and that all communication is infact secure.

Contact us today to see how we can help ensure that your company is secure.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
April 9th, 2014

SocialMedia_April07_CBusiness customers can be largely visual creatures; judging a company by how it looks. When it comes to social media campaigns if the content of your business posts is not visually appealing you may find it hard to engage your clients. The question is, what tools can you can use to create visual content, especially if you aren't a Photoshop expert or graphic designer.

In this day and age where compelling visuals are possible online, it is extremely important to learn how to create attractive visuals to aid your social media marketing campaigns. You at least need a working knowledge of how to enhance your photos and make them more attention-grabbing. There are a number of free or highly affordable tools out there that can help you do just that.

PIXLR - This advanced photo editor works like Photoshop, only it is easier to use and therefore ideal for beginners. You can create images from scratch or perform advanced image editing. Using fairly simple tools can maximize the potential of images. For quick editing, there’s PIXLR EXPRESS or PIXLR O-MATIC, which are free to use. Visit the PIXLR website to learn more and start use these programs.

PicMonkey’s Online Photo Editor - This photo editor can transform ordinary images into fantastic photographs in just a few clicks. Select the image that you want to modify and add special effects such as fancy text, or simply crop and re-size. The photos edited using PicMonkey can be uploaded on Facebook and other social media platforms. PicMonkey is free to use so you can just go to the website and start editing away. For added frames and special effects there’s a premium version you can upgrade to for USD $33.33 per year.

LiveLuvCreate - This website can be used without any charge and offers a variety of design layouts and graphics. Using this platform you can edit your own images and there are also a ton of images created by users on its library that can help give you inspiration. Among the tools available are borders, filters, and photo effects, as well as fonts, colours, and styles. Visit the website to set up an account and start editing your images today.

Canva - If you want to create your Facebook cover photos from scratch, or if you want to design some blog images, this is a free application that might prove useful. This tool is very convenient and can be used to create business cards, invitations, posters, and presentations. Visit the website today to start creating your own visuals.

Quozio - If you are into quotes, Quozio lets you upload famous and favorite quotes, visualize them, and then share them on your social network. Simply enter an interesting quote and then select a background image. Instead of simply posting what’s on your mind, you can make a quote more attractive and appealing by transforming it into a visual using this free app. Visit the site today to visualize your next quote.

Whether you are posting on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social network, your content cannot come alive without the use of quality graphics and images. If Photoshop does not work for you, these other tools are ideal substitutes for creating appealing graphics for a variety of social media platforms.

Make sure to share your own list of top photo tools for everyone to see! And, if you would like to learn more about leveraging social media in your business, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
April 8th, 2014

Office365_Apr07_CThe latest version of Microsoft OneNote was released in 2013 and is now available for download for free. This cross-platform application lets you create notes online and access them on any device where OneNote is installed. It also allows sharing and collaboration with other users, making it easier to work on a continuing project and keep up to date. You can save what you like on your notes, including images, tables, and more.

If you are looking for a powerful note program, OneNote has some great features.

Access and edit notes anywhere

Windows PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone all support OneNote. Install the appropriate version and you can access your notebooks from any of these devices. Previous versions require that you manually sync your notebooks to make them accessible on all devices. However, with the latest version this is no longer required as your notes are automatically synced on your OneDrive. This means you can view and edit them anywhere where you have an Internet connection.

You can access notes on your mobile device that you originally created on your computer. If you have access to a computer that does not have OneNote installed you can easily find the application on the Web. If you go to OneNote’s page on the Web you can log in to the account linked with your installed versions of OneNote and use as you normally would.

Organize data in notebooks

OneNote is a great tool for organizing different data and files. You can create various notebooks that contain information on specific subjects. For instance, you could create a notebook for personal use, a notebook containing client information, etc. Each of these notebooks can then contain various sections with color coded tabs, making it easy to organize files.

This feature is helpful, especially if you are working with a large volume of data. Searching for specific information or data is also straightforward with a convenient search function. You can simply type your keyword in the search field and wait for the result. Click on your chosen result and you will be taken to that particular note.

Third party integration

The latest version of OneNote also has a new cloud API that allows third party applications to be used. This allows users to enjoy more features, as they are not just confined to the features that are native to OneNote. One of the apps that you can use is OneNote Clipper. Install this on your browser and use it to automatically save clippings from the Web in just one click.

Work on important tables

Tables are often used for creating databases or for comparing and listing data. Creating tables in OneNote 2013 is more convenient as it now allows you sort data within a table, designate header rows, as well as change the color of the cells. You can also insert an Excel spreadsheet into your notes.

Write handwritten notes

If you are using a touch capable device you can write notes or draw using a stylus or your fingers. This is especially helpful for jotting down quick notes or reminders about what to insert on a page. Circling or underlining a word or group of words is quick and easy to do.

Organized data and files are easy to access, which is vital when you need this information at your fingertips. OneNote keeps data in order so you can easily find what you need when you need it.

Find out how OneNote and other tech innovations and updates can support your business productivity. Get in touch today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

April 4th, 2014

Security_March31_CComputers must have appropriate protection from malware attacks. Aside from creating annoyances, malware infections can also affect the performance of your computer. Furthermore, the data on your system and confidential information that you use online may also be tracked and used without your knowledge. Because of the severity of the problems that it can cause you need to be very cautious about preventing malware infections, and know how to deal with them properly.

Signs of a malware infection

Before proceeding with the steps on how to respond to malware infections, we first need to learn about the signs and symptoms of a malware infection. These include:
  • Several pop-ups appear even when not browsing the Web.
  • Unusual slowness of the computer and Internet connection.
  • System hangs or freezes.
  • Corrupted programs.
  • Antivirus is disabled.
  • E-mails sent to or from your account which you did not send.
  • High network activity, even when not using large programs or accessing huge data.
  • Redirected access to some sites.

How to respond to a malware infection

In case you experience any of these symptoms, the first thing to do is to ensure that your antivirus and antispyware program is updated. This is to make sure that they detect the latest known threats on their database. You should then run scans to see if an infection is detected. If it is, the programs usually have a way to remove the infection. You then need to follow the steps the program recommends.

If this doesn't work, disconnect the infected computer from the network to prevent the spread of the malware. Furthermore, avoid accessing the Web and using vital information such as bank account and credit card information. Let the technical department or your IT partner handle the concern since they are trained in determining and eradicating system malware infections.

Once the problem has been pinpointed, a tech specialist will go through the process of eliminating the infection. This includes backing up data on the computer and restoring the system to its original state. Depending on the extent of the infection, the computer may need to be wiped clean, or reformatted before restoring backed-up files.

After the whole process, the computer must be tested to ensure that the infection has been totally removed. Moreover, further investigation and studies must also be done to determine where the problem started, as well as to create a strategy as to how to prevent this from happening in the future.

How to prevent a malware attack

Prevention is better than a cure and this definitely applies to malware infections. It’s best to arm yourself with knowledge on how to avoid malware attacks and prevent your systems from being infected.
  1. Ensure that security protection is always updated and that you run system scans on a regular basis.
  2. Avoid downloading attachments or clicking links from unknown sites or senders.
  3. Enable firewall protection.
Malware can hugely affect business operations and the security of private information. One of the best ways to prevent this is to work with an IT partner, like us, who can help recommend and install protection systems. You might want to think about getting help in managing these solutions too, to ensure that your systems are secure at all times.

If you have questions or concerns with regards to malware prevention and resolution, feel free to call us. Our support team is always ready to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
April 2nd, 2014

HealthcareIT_Apr02_AChief Information Officer (CIO) Denis Tanguay’s workload has quadrupled over the past few years, and he has been struggling to stay on top ensuring that systems are secure and available when his employees need it. How did he overcome these struggles? He found a solution in outsourcing.

As the CIO for Central Maine Healthcare explained in a Health Care IT News article, getting ready for Stage 2 meaningful use attestation and transitioning to ICD-10 put tremendous pressure on him and his 70-person IT staff.

A few years ago, Tanguay began working with an IT provider, which took work off his staff’s plate. Central Maine Healthcare uses IT providers in a number of ways, from service requests for new PCs, keyboards, and software installations to help with user calls. They’re essentially an “insurance policy," says Tanguay. "They have already blazed those trails and made sure that whatever we're going to be using has already been tested, what versions of firmware and software work well."

Tanguay says the result of outsourcing some IT functionality has resulted in easier software upgrades, quicker response time, greater system stability, improved data security, and better disaster recovery procedures.

Moreover, outsourcing has allowed Tanguay to focus more on the things that are important. “My CEO has a line,” he says. “’We're not in the IT business; we're in the healthcare business.’”

When it comes to IT outsourcing, health-care providers have the option of doing a little or a lot,” says another recent article. They can turn over an entire IT function, or farm out small portions. If you are struggling with managing IT systems in your practice, or would like a little help ensuring compliance with the always changing regulations, contact us today to see how our managed services can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

April 1st, 2014

Facebook_March31_CEvolution is one of the most important aspects of any Internet based company. Organizations like Facebook implement near constant changes. Some of the most common adaptations are made to the News Feed algorithm which determines what content users will see. These changes can often make it more difficult for companies to get their content seen without the use of ads, but there are still ways to do so.

There are many ways you can improve your News Feed performance and the best is to improve the reach of your content. Before we get into how you can do this, we should first describe what your Facebook reach is. Basically, your reach on Facebook is the number of unique users who see the content you post and your updates. When it comes to reach there are four actions you can take to influence it:

  1. Posting content on your own Page - This is commonly referred to as organic reach by Facebook.
  2. Facebook users interacting with your content - When users interact with the content on your Page e.g., commenting or sharing, this is shown in their News Feed, an act which Facebook calls viral reach.
  3. Sending users to view your content - This could be as simple as putting a link to your content on an email, or even on your website asking people to visit your Page. This is a form of organic reach.
  4. Paying to get content in front of people - This is using Facebook's ad services and paying to target your content to specific audiences, thereby increasing the chance they see and interact with it. This is commonly referred to as paid reach.
By combining these four actions together, you can get a picture of your overall reach. By increasing the reach of each post through the above actions you stand a higher chance of getting your content in front of other people. The more people who see your updates the higher the chance of interaction with your company on Facebook or through other mediums, including avenues of sales.

The question is: How can a company do this? Here are seven of the most effective ways to improve your News Feed and its performance.

1. Develop a strategy

The key to posts being shared is that they need to be useful and interesting to your audience. Take a look at your Page's Insights (Open your Page's Admin panel and click on Insights) to see what content has been popular with your followers. From there develop a content strategy that covers what content to produce, when it should be produced, and when it should be shared.

Take a look at the most popular posts and see when they were interacted with most. This will give you a good idea of when your followers are most active and likely to interact with your content - thus increasing reach and overall effectiveness of your posts.

2. Know your audience

This will take time and research, but you should be able to paint a pretty solid picture as to who your audience is. If you can define a few personalities or even target individuals, you can better come up with content your audience will be more willing to interact with, or be more receptive to should you promote it.

3. Let people interact with your Page

Some companies have allowed users to post content on their News Feed or even tag companies, having the post show up on the company's News Feed, only for the content to be trolling or negative. This can potentially harm your company brand and reputation.

While there is a chance of this happening, the benefits of allowing your fans and followers to mention you in their posts far outweighs the potential negative outcomes of a few. This is because when a user mentions or tags you in a post on their News Feed, their friends are more likely to see it too. In other words, this can be a massive contributor to your overall viral reach.

4. Be active after you post your content

Don't just post content onto your Page and leave it. If people are interacting with it by commenting then you should make an effort to reply to the comments. This shows that you are interested and responsive, and willing to communicate and create a dialogue.

Mentioning the poster using @username when you comment will highlight the name and post your comment on their News Feed, thereby increasing the number of people who view your original content and encouraging the commenter to return to your Page.

5. Don't be afraid to repost

If you have had successful posts in the past, don't be afraid to reintroduce them. You could try updating the content a bit if need be and reposting it. This will increase the chance of other users seeing content they may have missed and interacting with it. Just be sure to comment somewhere that this content is a repost. You could comment that it was popular in the past and you think it is still relevant to today.

Be sure not to recycle too often however, as this can be viewed as lazy and turn users off. Aim for one to two posts every couple of months.

6. Integrate successful posts with other aspects of your online presence

While there is a good chance that your posts will be seen on Facebook, try boosting this by sharing your most popular content on other mediums. For example, paste the link into your email signature asking people to check it out, or add a list of your most popular posts to newsletters. This will encourage more people to visit the content and even interact with it.

In order to tell what is working, use the information on your Page's Insight panel.

7. Don't be afraid to be innovative

If you hit on a strategy that works, that's great! But, you should not be afraid to try new ideas. If, for example, you see that captions on photo posts are becoming popular with your audience give one a try to see how it works. The key here is to be resourceful and always on the lookout for new ideas.

Looking to get more out of Facebook? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 27th, 2014

AndroidTablet_March24_COutlook allows users to conveniently check e-mail messages from various accounts, including Microsoft Outlook accounts, without signing in to different email clients. As you likely know, this is one of the applications that comes with Microsoft Office. Did you know that it can also be accessed while on the go by installing the Outlook.com application on your Android tablet.

Add Outlook.com to your tablet

The Outlook.com app was developed through a partnership of Microsoft and SEVEN Networks. If you wish to install it on your Android tablet, you may download the application from the Google Play Store for free. You may also access the Web version of Outlook using your tablet’s browser by going to Outlook.com. However, if you are looking for a better mobile experience, then the app is a good option.

Here’s how you can add an Outlook.com e-mail on your tablet:

  1. Go to Google Play Store and search for Outlook.com.
  2. Tap Install to download and install the application.
  3. Launch the app once installation is complete.
  4. Sign in with your Outlook account. If your company uses Outlook in your office, use your usual email address or login name and password and it should work.
  5. Tap Yes to allow app permissions.
  6. Choose a nickname for the account and choose how much of each email you wish to see on your device, then tap Next.
  7. Select if you wish to sync your device’s contacts and calendar by tapping on the box next to this option. Tap Next. You should now be able to access your Outlook account.
It’s also possible to add more email accounts on Outlook.com. Here’s how: If you’re in your Inbox, swipe to the right to show your list of folders. You may also tap the arrow pointing left to go to the same screen.
  1. Tap the up arrow on the left side of your account name.
  2. Select Add Account.
  3. Enter your new email account and save.

Outlook.com app features

The Outlook.com app had several enhancements added with its updates, improving user experience. Here are some of the more popular features.
  • Server-side search - the original Outlook.com app required that emails were downloaded on your phone first before being able to be found when doing a search. An update has been made allowing you to search for emails. even if they aren't downloaded to your phone.
  • Supports alias - messages can be sent to a different email address and come into the inbox of your primary account. Outlook's alias feature is available with the app.
  • More themes - blue is no longer the only color option for the app’s theme. There are now 11 color themes to choose from, letting you personalize the application to your taste. These colors include pink, dark red, orange, light green, green, teal and light blue.
  • Unlimited mail download - downloading all messages in one tap is also possible so you don’t have to select each message one by one, making it faster and more convenient to access your emails..
  • Vacation reply - managing vacation replies can be done from your app too, which is useful if you are away from the office and offline and need to reassure contacts that you haven't just gone off radar.
If you don’t have Outlook.com app on your tablet yet, why not give it a try and start accessing your account anytime, anywhere.

For inquiries or any concerns that you may have with regards to the Outlook.com app, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our support team is always ready and happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 26th, 2014

Office365_Mar24_CMicrosoft Office is a collection of desktop applications from Microsoft, designed for Windows and Mac computers. In 2011, Office 365, which is a cloud-based version of the suite, was introduced. This allows users to access these applications on the Web, including Excel. Microsoft Excel contains spreadsheets which are often used in creating and managing databases, finances, and more. Did you know that the rows and columns of cells can be renamed for easy identification?

Like other spreadsheet applications, Microsoft Excel documents are based on cells that can be arranged into rows and columns. It is within these cells that data is entered when creating a worksheet for various functions including data management and computations, etc. Each cell in the spreadsheet has a corresponding name, which is identified by its column letter and row number.

For instance, the cell under column A that belongs to row 1 has the default name A1. You will see this in the name box, which is located on the upper left side of the spreadsheet, next to the formula bar. This name can actually be changed however.

Why name cells in Excel

As mentioned, the default name for each cell in an Excel spreadsheet is based on the relevant column and row. One of the reasons why you may want to change this name is to make it easier to find what you are looking for, especially when there’s a lot of information in a particular spreadsheet. For instance, if you name a particular cell 'Total', searching for this word is much faster than scrolling through the spreadsheet to find the correct cell or trying to remember its specific column and row.

This is also the case when creating formulas for computations. Instead of using the cells’ column letter and row number, it’s more convenient to use a name that you can easily understand. For example, naming one cell 'GrossIncome' and the other one 'Deductions' makes it easier for you to compute net income by subtracting Deductions from GrossIncome for the result.

Another benefit of naming cells is that it is easier for other users to understand. If you are sharing the spreadsheet or workbook with other colleagues or business associates, using cell names that are easy for everyone to identify reduces potential confusion.

How to name cells in Excel

Naming cells in Excel can be done in two ways. The first is by changing the name directly on the name box and the other one is by defining names under the Formulas menu. The difference is that when naming a cell through the define name feature of the menu you can select its specific scope.

This determines where the specific name will be recognized as having the same value, such as in the entire workbook or in a specific spreadsheet only. Changing the name in the name box will automatically determine the workbook as its scope rather than the whole spreadsheet.

Changing a cell name in the name box:

  1. Select the cell that you want to name.
  2. Go to the name box and type the name you prefer.
  3. Hit enter on your keyboard.

Defining a cell name:

  1. Select the cell that you wish to name.
  2. Click the Formulas menu.
  3. Choose Define Name.
  4. Type the name of the cell in the new window that pops up.
  5. Select the Scope.
  6. Click OK.
Remember that a cell name should not contain any spaces. The uppercase and lowercase letters R and C are also not available as cell names, since they represent column and row. Furthermore, aside from letters, the first character of a cell name can also be a backslash or an underscore. The rest can be a combination of letters, underscores, periods and numbers, which can be up to 255 characters.

If you have further questions about changing the cell name in Excel, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 20th, 2014

Security_Mar17_CAny business that employs technology in any aspect will eventually begin to worry about how secure their systems are. In order to ensure security, many companies implement a security strategy. While these strategies are a great way to ensure the security of your business systems and data, there is one element that many business owners forget: The audit.

Auditing and the security security strategy

Auditing your company's security is important, the only problem business owners run across is where and what they should be auditing. The easiest way to do this is to first look at the common elements of developing security strategies.

These elements are: assess, assign, audit. When you develop a plan, or work with an IT partner to develop one, you follow the three steps above, and it may be obvious at the end. In truth however, you should be auditing at each stage of the plan. That means you first need to know what goes on in each stage.

During the assessment phase you or your IT partner will need to look at the existing security you have in place. This includes on every computer and server and also focuses on who has access to what, and what programs are being used. Doing an assessment should give you an overview of how secure your business currently is, along with any weak points that need to be improved.

The assignment phase looks at actually carrying out the changes you identified in the assessment phase. This could include adding improved security measures, deleting unused programs or even updating systems for improved security. The main goal in this phase is to ensure that your systems and networks are secure.

Auditing happens after the changes have been made and aims to ensure that your systems are actually secure and have been implemented properly. Throughout the process you will actually need to continually audit and adjust your strategy.

What exactly should be audited?

When conducting an audit, there are three factors you should focus on:
  1. The state of your security - Changing or introducing a security plan usually begins with an audit of sorts. In order to do this however, you need to know about how your security has changed in between audits. Tracking this state and how it changed in between audits allows you to more efficiently audit how your system is working now and to also implement changes easier. If you don't know how the state of your security has changed in between audits, you could risk implementing ineffective security measures or leaving older solutions open to risk.
  2. The changes made - Auditing the state of your security is important, but you should also be auditing the changes made to your systems. For example, if a new program is installed, or a new firewall is implemented, you will need to audit how well it is working before you can deem your security plan to be fully implemented. Basically, you are looking for any changes made to your system that could influence security while you are implementing a new system. If by auditing at this point, you find that security has been compromised, you will need to go back to the first step and assess why before moving forward.
  3. Who has access to what - There is a good chance that every system you have will not need to be accessed by every employee. It would be a good idea that once a security solution is in place, that you audit who has access to what systems and how often they use them. This stage of the process needs to be proactive and constantly carried out. if you find that access changes or system access needs change, it would be a good idea to adapt your the security strategy; starting with the first stage.
If you are looking for help developing a security strategy for your business, contact us today to see how our managed solutions can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
March 19th, 2014

BCP_Marc17_CIsn’t it disturbing how a disaster (whether man made or natural) can devastate your business? While disasters are inevitable, you can mitigate risks and lessen the damage to your business in the event of one through a DRP (Disaster Recovery Plan). While it may not seem important to some businesses, especially if yours has never been faced with a disaster, a DRP would be a good idea.

While there are several facets to a DRP that are going to determine whether it will be effective or not, making sure that you’ve considered these 5 tips is definitely a good start.

1.) Commitment from management

Because the managers are the ones who will coordinate the development of the plan and be the central figures who implement the recovery plan, it’s crucial that they are committed to it and are willing to back it up.

They will also be responsible for setting an allocated budget and manpower to creating the actual plan. That said, it’s very important that they know the concept behind it and how huge of an impact a DRP can have on a business.

2.) A representative on each department should be available when creating a DRP

It’s unthinkable to believe that your DRP is well optimized when you haven’t had a representative from each department coordinate with you while creating the recovery program.

Considering how they themselves are the front line of your organization with the best knowledge about how their department works, it’s a huge plus that you should take advantage of when creating a DRP.

With the representatives on your team, you’ll be able to see things from their perspective and gain first-hand knowledge from those who do the actual work.

3.) Remember to prioritize

In an ideal world, you should be able to restore everything at the same time after a disaster strikes. But since most businesses usually have a limited amount of resources, you will usually have to recover systems one at a time.

Because of this, you need to have a hierarchy or a sense of priority when determining which systems should be recovered first. That way, the most important systems are immediately brought back up while the less important ones are then queued in order of their importance.

4.) Determining your recovery strategies

This is one of the main focal points of a DRP since this phase tackles the actual strategies or steps that you’ll implement to recover your systems.

When determining your actual strategies, it's important that you brainstorm and think about all the options that you have to recovering your systems. Don’t simply stick with the cheapest possible strategy or even the most expensive ones.

You have to remember though that the simplest strategy to implement is probably the best one. That is, as long as the simplest strategy covers the critical aspects of your system recovery.

That said, avoid over complicating your strategies as you might face unnecessary challenges when it comes to the implementation of the recovery strategy.

5.) Do a dry run at least once a year

Your DRP shouldn’t end with the concept alone. No matter how foolproof you think your strategy is, if you haven’t tested it you most likely have missed something important.

It's during the dry run phase that the need for extra steps (or the removal of one) are made even more evident. You can then start polishing your strategies according to how your dry run plays out. It would also be a good year to practice your plan each year and update it accordingly.

These tips will help you ensure that your DRP will remain effective should a disaster occur. If you’re having a hard time figuring out how to go about the process of creating a DRP, then give us a call now and we’ll help you with the process.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.