Tag Archives: data

Is it Time to Go to the Cloud?

26 Jan 16
lverbik
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It’s a commonly asked question: Should we get a new server or go to the cloud? The answer differs, depending on who’s trying to sell you their services. So what’s the answer? Is there just one answer?

If you’ve maxxed out your old server and it’s coming to its life’s useful end, you have an important decision to make. Buying a new server and staying with a private cloud may be beneficial for a majority of businesses, but sometimes a public cloud may work best.

There’s one story, the word-on-the-street benefits of the cloud:

  • increased business efficiency and agility
  • save on IT costs
  • employees can access your company data easily wherever they are
  • easy file sharing, collaboration and conferencing
  • eliminate file backup worries
  • free storage
  • works from any device
  • cloud users enjoy higher revenues* according to a survey by accounting software provider MYOB

All true, the above benefits of the cloud may be best suited for:

  • startups
  • very small companies
  • virtual company
  • company with global locations
  • businesses with high internal IT costs
  • businesses who require mega computing power

But wait—here’s another story to consider. Most small and medium-sized businesses who make up the core of our country’s free enterprise system-the manufacturers, the service companies, the product distributors—these types with existing application housed on their old servers–are smart, savvy, and not switching to the cloud. They instead choose to buy new servers.

Why would they NOT choose the cloud? Didn’t the media world determine it was all-around cheaper and better for companies? The answer for a large segment of the business population—and possibly you—is no.

It’s a cost and ROI story. Established companies running their own applications are finding that migrating them to the cloud and operating them using cloud based applications is in fact too costly when all is said and done—oft times more expensive than the current situation. Companies who were surveyed and did so found that it came in at roughly the same price to switch over—about $100 per month per user. That was the 2013 price for a business to switch over its current infrastructure to one that is cloud based.

So what is the answer for you? Do your cost comparisons, start small and try some free and low cost cloud tools to get your feet wet, and use some free trials to see what may be to your benefit. And let TechnoAdvantage give you a cloud analysis to see if it’s right for you. You may find that the cloud is just too high in the sky so you’ll want to keep yourself grounded with good internal server and outside support from a company like us. Either way we’re here to help you make the wise choice for you.

Is Cryptovirus back as a worm?

03 Sep 15
lverbik
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19798163_s (2)Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does—it seems likely there is a new variant to the Cryptolocker virus—that insidious virus known to encrypt all your files and hold them ransom for $300. This new strain may or may not be Crypt, but it was reported recently to have been able to replicate to other workstations and begin encrypting user folders, though many IT peers do not believe that capability exists as yet.

Whether it is possible or not, it’s something to watch out for. The affected business not only was infected across multiple workstations, but also its server by way of mapped drives. The victim in this case saw a web page open at the workstation with a threatening hijack message and links to download the solution that unlocks the user’s data.

Its evil authors no doubt immediately began working on this new poison once researchers from FireEye and Fox-IT were able to reverse-engineer the virus and provide a solution to Cryptolocker’s victims in May of this year. Of course, half a million people had already been affected and 1.3 percent had paid cash to free their files from the criminals—to the tune of $3 million.

Following the forum discussion about this new case reveals that the most likely source of this virus may actually be a flash-based ad on a compromised site that many people in the office could have accessed. It is possible that someone shared a link containing the virus, or perhaps everyone had a program installed already that popped up an embedded ad that was clicked on.

No matter whether the new strain is able to actually replicate to other stations or not, this is a good reminder to take every measure available to safeguard your files. Number one, add this virus’s file names to your file screens: *.aaa and restore_. Two, backup always! Three, get legit anti-virus and monitoring software. Four, patch your workstations. Five, contact the team at Techno Advantage for help selecting the right cloud-based or on-premise backup and storage solutions.

Need more help deciding how to protect your business from a malware attack? Contact a Techno Pro today! And watch this blog for updates on any new malware. We want to keep you informed.

The Cloud Explained Part II – Public vs Private

22 Sep 14
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Cloud computing comes in three major forms: public clouds, private clouds, and hybrids clouds. Depending on the type of data you’re working with, you’ll want to compare public, private, and hybrid clouds in terms of the different levels of security and management required.

Private cloud

Private cloud is operated solely for a single organization, whether managed internally or by a third-party.  It can be hosted either internally or externally.  Undertaking a private cloud project requires a significant level of engagement and requires the organization to reevaluate decisions about existing resources. When done right, it can improve your business, but every step in the project raises security issues that must be addressed to prevent serious vulnerabilities. Self-run data centers can be expensive and have a significant physical footprint, requiring space, hardware, and environmental controls. These assets have to be refreshed periodically, resulting in additional expense.

On the other hand, there are compelling reasons why enterprises may choose a private cloud.  A private cloud can be customized to fit their unique requirements and security can be optimized to address legal compliance issues such as HIPAA.

Public cloud

A cloud is called a “public cloud” when the services are rendered over a network that is open for public use. Public cloud services may be free or offered on a pay-per-usage model.  Technically there may be little or no difference between public and private cloud architecture, however, the security consideration may be substantially different.   Generally, public cloud service providers like Amazon AWS, Microsoft and Google own and operate the infrastructure at their data center and access is generally via the Internet.  A few drawbacks of the public cloud are that you sacrifice a degree of security and you have no control over hardware performance.

Hybrid cloud

Gartner, Inc. defines a hybrid cloud service as a cloud computing service that is composed of some combination of private, public and community cloud services, from different service providers.   It allows one to extend either the capacity or the capability of a cloud service, by aggregation, integration or customization with another cloud service.

For example, an organization may store sensitive client data in-house on a private cloud application, but interconnect that application to a business intelligence application provided on a public cloud as a software service.

If security and privacy issues are a concern for your business, and you don’t want to build your own private cloud, a hybrid cloud system, your own gated community within the public cloud universe may be an option.

Stay tuned to the Techno Advantage blog for more helpful articles on cloud computing.

Have questions?  Contact a Techno Advantage team member today!

Protecting Your Data – Is your password strong enough?

18 Aug 14
lverbik
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Information security is an ongoing process, not something you do once and then forget about, right?

Right!  If you’re still keeping all your original passwords in a small dusty notebook on the corner of your desk…it’s time to rethink.

 

You’ll be relieved to know there are some really good online password management solutions you can use.  Passwordbox.com, Lastpass.com and Dash

The single best way to reduce the risk that hackers have zeroed in on your online credentials is to change passwords on a regular basis. As an extra precaution, you could create a distinct password for each website.  This lessens the chances that a crook could tap into all of a person’s web-based accounts, especially bank accounts.  Consumers could for example, preface an easy to remember password with the name of the store, such as “amazon_Zulu58!”lane.com can help computer users develop stronger passwords that are kept in a virtual vault, of sorts.  That way unencrypted data doesn’t stay in the user’s browser cache.  Some sites also have a repository for credit card numbers.

“Proceed with Caution”  is a good general rule of thumb to remember whenever you’re opening attachments, making purchases or logging in to a site.  Some local Indiana banks and businesses have been breached when the hacker sends an e-mail to an employee that contains a malicious attachment.  A single careless click installs key-logging software that harvests passwords.  Clever hackers may even go so far as figuring out a professional organization to which an employee belongs and creating custom e-mails to entice the reader to open and click.

While some online retail sites appear slick and compelling for consumers – often times they are traps for stealing consumer data.  Be cautious of sites that lack basics such as a phone number or office address on the site.  Also, look for whether it is a member of the Better Business Bureau or whether it has been reviewed or recognized by industry publications that might attest to the site’s authenticity.  When placing online orders, consumers also should watch that the URL on the browser indicates that the data is encrypted, such as displaying https: rather than http:.

Much of the earlier hacking focused on financial companies. But as those systems have been strengthened, hackers are turning to less robust systems operated by hospitals, small retailers and other industries.

Here are six keys to help keep your information secure:

1)      Use a different password for every website you visit.  We know it seems like password overload but it is a lot less work than dealing with getting hacked.

2)      Use a combination of upper case, lower case, numbers and symbols.  The more original you are the better.

3)      Change your passwords every three months.

4)      If it’s hard to remember all your passwords, try a password manager.  With most password managers, you have to put in a master password every time you want to use it, so it keeps hackers out.

5)      Make sure your computer has an anti-virus program.  Several companies such as Avast, McAfee, Webroot and Kaspersky offer suites of protection.

6)      Set-up two step log-ins.  Two step authentication asks you to sign in with your password, and then add a second sign-in – a numeric code sent by text, e-mail or a phone call.  Think of it as a double password.

 

Have questions?  Jay and his team at Techno Advantage want to help you ensure that you’re protected.  Click here to contact a Techno Pro!

**Don’t forget – Windows Server 2003 will officially be unsupported on July 14, 2015. **

Contact Techno Advantage for more information on migration solutions.  317.857.0150