Technology Tuesday

Collaboration Today

The way most business conduct business today is a lot different than it was only 10-years back. Now we have many businesses with remote users working from home and remote office locations and they can work together like they were in the same building with VoIP and video collaboration tools. It wasn’t too long ago that working from home was limited to a phone and a basic internet connection and no real day-to-day interaction with co-workers besides an email or phone call.

Today we have many options to consider. VoIP phones have brought multi-location organizations together that are managed under one roof. Collaboration tools like WebEx has been around for a while as has GoToMeeting and most people in business have experienced both of these collaboration platforms in the past. Both have been continuously improved upon by their makers with new bells and whistles over time and now we have some new kids on the block penetrating the market with their offerings.

Microsoft made the acquisition of Skype a number of years back and paid a lot of money and many people wondered why at the time… Now Microsoft has used the Skype VoIP platform to fully developed their collaboration platform built around Skype for Business including PBX, video conferencing, and full collaboration capabilities that I use almost every day. Something to consider if you are looking at a new phone system and especially if you have a workforce that is spread around.

The funny thing is many Office 365 email users already have Skype for Business and they’re not taking advantage of the technology for one reason or another. It maybe that they are not familiar how to use it or they think it’s not a real business productivity and collaboration tool. Well it really is a great platform and something to consider. Check it out if you haven’t already especially if you already have it included in your Office 365 subscription plan.

Now the newest platform to come along is Amazon Chime…. The service looks like a nice offering and like others it will bring you face-to-face with people that are either down the hall or on the other side of the world. Chime will provide screen sharing from any of the participants and has all the features most businesses need. It will even call you to the meeting… Pretty cool stuff out there today so check it out.

Video collaboration really works well for anyone doing business outside your geographic region. You can get online with a client, vendor, or co-worker and meet up, review documents, view a presentation or just chat. You can get a lot of work accomplished without the expense of travel and the speed of the process could be a great thing if you have a time sensitive action item.

All you need is a low-cost camera with a microphone and today a smartphone will handle it with ease. Most laptops and tablets are ready to go too so give it a try and let me know what you think…

Look for weekly Technology Tuesday Tidbits published by Netready IT to remind everyone that IT runs your business and to make sure you have a good understanding of what is needed to survive and prosper...

Technology Tuesday

Monitor & Maintain Equipment

Most businesses today have hardware in place to help protect them from outside intrusion and other threats. You can have the best hardware money can buy but if you don’t maintain the equipment and update it with software patches and firmware updates you may become exposed to security threats.

Just recently Netgear made public that many of their routers and cable-modem routers have a security vulnerability that hackers can exploit. Netgear has released firmware updates for the routers that are effected. If you have a Netgear cable-modem router that was provided by your Internet service provider the provider will update your product. Until that happens Netgear has a work around to help protect you. Check the link here to find out more….

This type of thing happens all the time and Netgear makes good products and is not the only manufacture that has been impacted by new found vulnerabilities. That’s why monitoring and maintaining your equipment is a must. Knowing what you have installed in your infrastructure is critical to making sure it is up-to-date and secure. Since most Small to Medium businesses rely on an IT professional to monitor and maintain their equipment this is something you may not think about.

You should review with your IT management team or your Managed Services Provider on an annual basis to make sure you are up-to-date and replace older outdated critical components of your business network. The always-on business network is what runs your business and is only getting to be more complex so you need to be aware and budget for new hardware and maintain what you have.

Look for weekly Technology Tuesday Tidbits published by Netready IT to remind everyone that IT runs your business and to make sure you have a good understanding of what is needed to survive and prosper...

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Where does your data reside?

With more businesses now having remote users and multiple locations accessing your apps and data can be simple or a bit more complex. If your applications are all cloud based and nothing is local all users access in the same manner via the Internet. If the data is local on premise at the main office the remote users must come to the data which makes the process a little more complicated. In this scenario, the local users access via the LAN in most cases and the remote users use a Terminal Server or some other Remote Desktop method.

If your business has multiple locations and each location has its own server and data set this can get a little messy if other locations need to access the other remote locations or the corporate data that is not synchronized to a single location. Some businesses use third-party software to synchronize all the data from multiple locations. From our experience this really is not the best solution and should be avoided.

The best method is to have all users go to the data at a single location, whether it’s in your main office or at a data center. This method provides better business continuity and you are less likely to have any issues with data being out of sync, lost, or compromised.

With all your data located at a single point it is much easier to secure, maintain your backup, and provide for disaster recovery and improve business continuity. If you do have multiple locations or a number of remote users, then you may want to consider hosting your server/apps at a data center or in the cloud (Azure/AWS/Etc.) The cost for hosting is something to consider but as the prices come down this may be a good solution for businesses with multiple locations or a roaming workforce.

If you don’t want your data in a shared environment in the cloud, consider placing your own server(s) at a quality data center. This way you own the hardware and you are creating a hybrid cloud. In some situations, this is the best solution. If you have a high-speed Internet connection at your main office, then host the server(s) at your location for a private cloud and you won’t have any co-location expense.

As technology marches forward we must consider all the options to keep up with business requirements and regulatory compliance.

Look for weekly Technology Tuesday Tidbits published by Netready IT to remind everyone that IT runs your business and to make sure you have a good understanding of what is needed to survive and prosper....

Election Day 2016!!

Rather than writing about technology today I feel it is better to remind all to get out and vote!

 It really does make a difference and as American’s we all need to exercise our right to vote every chance we get. If not, then you get what everyone else voted for like it or not. You may or may not agree with the main stream media that tries to sell us their candidates and measures so you really do need to decide what is best for our country and vote for what you feel is right.

This election will determine the direction of our country for the next few decades and beyond. There is a lot on the table and there seems to be a big split with the population and the Presidential races looks to be a coin flip as the polls are very close.

Whether you vote left or right or somewhere in-between please do you part and vote so America remains the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave!

Look for weekly Technology Tuesday Tidbits published by Netready IT to remind everyone that IT runs your business and to make sure you have a good understanding of what is needed to survive and prosper....

Technology Tuesday - Ransomware!!

With the ever-evolving methods that the crooks are attempting to get access to your computers and hold your data at ransom you and your users must be on the lookout for suspicious email coming in to your in-box.

Once infected ransomware will request you pay an amount of money usually in bit-coins to the perpetrator. They only give you a limited amount of time to pay or they increase the ransom.

There are different types of malware that are similar; “scareware” this will try and scare you into buying new anti-virus software to rid your computer of the threat. This type of malware is usually eliminated by a good quality anti-virus or anti-malware software.  Anti-virus and Anti-malware makers do not use this to try and sell you a new product so be aware.

Screen Lockers; this type of malware will lock your computer so you can’t access it. If you get hit with this type of malware you will usually see some sort of official looking screen impersonating the FBI or DOJ that says they see illegal activity on your computer and you must pay a fine. For this you usually need to do a full restore of your computer or boot from an external device to try to clean it. The FBI or DOJ will never do this as they will go through the proper channels if they suspect illegal activity.

Encrypting Ransomware; This is the bad stuff you don’t want to experience. The latest is the “Thor” variant. This little bugger is nasty and it’s been seen from multiple sources. This encrypts all your files and they give you a limited amount of time to pay up or they increase the ransom amount. This is where a good business continuity plan comes into play with a backup that includes a disaster recovery (BDR) solution that you can recover from.

The best solution is good prevention methods. Invest in quality cybersecurity software including anti-virus with active monitoring. Add security filters (content, SPAM, etc.) to help reduce your exposure from incoming threats before they enter your network or in-box. Have secure backups of your system and data that you can restore from in a timely manner.

Stay informed and be aware of social media exploits as this is a common method of infection.

Use Common Sense!! If you are unsure about an email even if you know the sender be cautious and think before you click!

Look for weekly Technology Tuesday Tidbits published by Netready IT to remind everyone that IT runs your business and to make sure you have a good understanding of what is needed to survive and prosper....

Technology Tuesday

Is your back-up working?

Have you tested your back-up lately?

Is your back-up being monitored to make sure it is working?

What would happen to your business if you were hit by a disaster?

Could you recover quickly from a disaster?

If you don't know or answered no to any of these questions you should perform an IT Review and look to improve your business continuity plan. Today you need a back-up with disaster recovery capabilities if you plan on recovering from a major disaster in a timely manner. If not, you could be out of business...