Tag Archives: Device

The Hidden Dangers Of “Shadow IT” To Your Business

14 Jun 17
lverbik
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We all know that using information technology — programs, apps, or internet browsing — carries a certain amount of risk. Nobody wants to have their secure data compromised, but technology brings enough benefits that the risk is worth it. So you vet certain systems, you establish protocols, you update and patch your software, and you keep track of the technology used at work.

But what about the technology your employees are using that isn’t part of your official plan? We’re talking about messaging apps, Excel macros, cloud data storage, collaboration spaces, and even hardware like USB drives, smartphone storage, and personal laptops that you don’t control.

We call this “shadow IT,” and that’s a whole lot of potential holes to cover!

Even if you ignore the dangers of having accounts hacked, data stolen, and websites vandalized, shadow IT can be very inefficient. You don’t control it, so you don’t know where important information is or what work is being done. It makes it hard to avoid duplication of efforts and even harder to manage employee productivity. What are you to do?

Well, your gut reflex might be to “crack down” on using unauthorized technology for work purposes. Swallow that reaction, though — you can’t stop it, and you’ll just harm morale. You’ll also drive usage even further underground; your people won’t be honest with you for fear of reprisal. That means that if a compromise occurs, you’ll be the last to know.

Instead, keep an eye on the situation. Make it clear that you support employees using the tools they need to get the job done, as long as they let you know what those tools are. If your people start using cloud storage apps, that’s fine — but have them explain how they’ll keep that data secure. Just as you empower them to find their own tools, empower them to keep things secure.

You probably can’t come up with a list of all the shadow IT that’s being used at your work, but you can keep an eye on the trends as they develop. Research the technology that’s being used and watch the headlines for data breaches or other compromises.

In some cases, you will have to crack down on specific apps, programs, or devices being used at your work; they’re just too risky. If you’ve worked with employees and fostered good communication, this shouldn’t be an issue. Remember to avoid blaming employees when shadow IT becomes a problem — especially if they bring the issue to your attention themselves. There’s nothing wrong with asking your people to stop using a specific program or device, as long as you’re transparent and have good reasons.

Last, but not least, try to look on the bright side. Shadow IT may be a little risky, but it also presents opportunities for employees to drive productivity and try out new best practices. If they’re using a piece of technology, it’s probably doing something that the currently “approved” tech is not. They’re also showing self-starter tendencies and trying to do their job better. And that’s always something you should support!

Lost Employee Smartphone? Do This NOW!

15 Feb 17
lverbik
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“Hey boss, I lost my smartphone.”

How well have you prepared for this moment? It will happen sooner or later. If your company has a plan in place, no big deal. If not, you may suddenly get that sinking feeling in your gut …

And well you might. You now have three big worries:

Compliance Issues – If your employee had access to information covered by any number of regulations, your company could be subject to stiff penalties. One employer we know of wound up with a $900,000 fine.

Data Security – Sensitive company data in the wrong hands could spell disaster. Access to your network, secure sites, proprietary files, work-related e-mails and corporate secrets may now be out of your control. You must move quickly to prevent serious financial harm.

Employee Privacy and Property Concerns – If a valued employee had family photos and movies on the device, and you remotely delete all data on the phone, you may now have a disgruntled, or even uncooperative, employee. Especially if company policy regarding BYOD (bring your own device) and data loss were not clearly stated and agreed to up-front.

So how do you prevent a relatively minor incident from blowing up into a big problem? Here are seven smart measures you can take right now to prepare for the day an employee smartphone is lost or stolen:

  1. Install a mobile device management (MDM) system on any employee device to be used at work. This software can create a virtual wall separating work data from personal. It facilitates any security measures you wish to impose. And to protect employee privacy, it can limit company access to work data only.
  1. Determine which devices will be allowed and which types of company data people may access from them.
  1. Require that employees agree with an Acceptable Use Policy before they connect to your network. Make sure these include notice as to conditions in which company data may be “wiped” – i.e., destroyed. Also include specific policies regarding device inspection and removal of company records.
  1. Put strong data protection practices in place. Require use of hard-to-crack passwords and auto-locking after periods of inactivity. Establish protocols for reporting lost or stolen devices. Mandate antivirus and other protective software as well as regular backups.
  1. Designate someone at your company to authorize access to software and critical data. This person can also be your main point of contact for questions about BYOD policy and practices. It might also work well to distribute a resource page or FAQ document to your employees.
  1. Establish a standard protocol for what to do when a device is lost or stolen. Both Android and iOS phones have features that allow device owners to locate, lock and/or “wipe” all data on their phones. Make sure your policy requires that these features are set up in advance. Then, when a device is lost or stolen, your employee can be instructed to take appropriate action according to your protocol in order to protect company data.
  1. And finally, your best protection is to implement a well-crafted BYOD policy in advance. Develop it in partnership with risk management and operations personnel, as well as legal counsel and IT professionals, to come up with an effective and comprehensive plan.

Do not delay on this – it is a serious vulnerability that can and must be addressed in order to assure the safety of your company’s data and systems.

 

Lost Employee Smartphone? Do This NOW!

07 Sep 16
lverbik
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“Hey boss, I lost my smartphone.”
How well have you prepared for this moment? It will happen sooner or later. If your company has a plan in place, no big deal. If not, you may suddenly get that sinking feeling in your gut …
And well you might. You now have three big worries:
Compliance Issues – If your employee had access to information covered by any number of regulations, your company could be subject to stiff penalties. One employer we know of wound up with a $900,000 fine.
Data Security – Sensitive company data in the wrong hands could spell disaster. Access to your network, secure sites, proprietary files, work-related e-mails and corporate secrets may now be out of your control. You must move quickly to prevent serious financial harm.
Employee Privacy and Property Concerns – If a valued employee had family photos and movies on the device, and you remotely delete all data on the phone, you may now have a disgruntled, or even uncooperative, employee. Especially if company policy regarding BYOD (bring your own device) and data loss were not clearly stated and agreed to up-front.
So how do you prevent a relatively minor incident from blowing up into a big problem? Here are seven smart measures you can take right now to prepare for the day an employee smartphone is lost or stolen:
1. Install a mobile device management (MDM) system on any employee device to be used at work. This software can create a virtual wall separating work data from personal. It facilitates any security measures you wish to impose. And to protect employee privacy, it can limit company access to work data only.
2. Determine which devices will be allowed and which types of company data people may access from them.
3. Require that employees agree with an Acceptable Use Policy before they connect to your network. Make sure these include notice as to conditions in which company data may be “wiped” – i.e., destroyed. Also include specific policies regarding device inspection and removal of company records.
4. Put strong data protection practices in place. Require use of hard-to-crack passwords and auto-locking after periods of inactivity. Establish protocols for reporting lost or stolen devices. Mandate antivirus and other protective software as well as regular backups.
5. Designate someone at your company to authorize access to software and critical data. This person can also be your main point of contact for questions about BYOD policy and practices. It might also work well to distribute a resource page or FAQ document to your employees.
6. Establish a standard protocol for what to do when a device is lost or stolen. Both Android and iOS phones have features that allow device owners to locate, lock and/or “wipe” all data on their phones. Make sure your policy requires that these features are set up in advance. Then, when a device is lost or stolen, your employee can be instructed to take appropriate action according to your protocol in order to protect company data.
7. And finally, your best protection is to implement a well-crafted BYOD policy in advance. Develop it in partnership with risk management and operations personnel, as well as legal counsel and IT professionals, to come up with an effective and comprehensive plan.
Don’t risk waiting until an incident occurs!
This is a serious vulnerability that can and must be addressed in order to assure the safety of your company’s data and systems.
Contact a Techno Pro today to see how we can help.

How To Make Your Smartphone A Mobile Office Workhorse

27 Jul 16
lverbik
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lady on smartphoneSmartphones are a workplace double-edged sword. On one side, they are mobile computers, capable of performing useful functions, and getting real work done. On the other, they can be a distraction: texting, web browsing, gaming and more. The temptation to goof off is real, but so is the productivity power.

The threat of off-task usage is often a major point against using (or having) the devices in the workplace. The trick to staying productive is not just having the willpower to avoid distraction, but also knowing how to get the most out of the device. Communication and boundaries must be clear from the get-go.

Using a smartphone when it’s appropriate:

As a second screen — When you don’t have the luxury of a second monitor, a smartphone can make itself useful doubling as a “second screen.” Use it as a companion to your desktop when you have several windows open and need ready access to e-mail or another document. Or use it while you step away from your desk.

Smartphones and tablets can keep us productive while we move—whether we are moving to a meeting across the building, or across town. It could be used to write or edit documents, check and respond to e-mail.

Voice/note/image recording — Record audio from a meeting or phone call. Some smartphones have an audio recorder built right in. Those that don’t can use a number of apps to get the job done, such as Cogi Notes & Voice Recorder.

If you need to take down a few notes, like the audio recorder, many smartphones have a note app installed. Alternatively, an app like Evernote can sync with other devices, meaning you have your notes wherever you need them. No more misplaced or lost notes!

Cameras are ubiquitous on smartphones. Take a picture of a whiteboard scribbled with the meeting notes, or grab a shot of documents for later use. A smartphone camera is particularly useful when you don’t have a scanner handy.

Document editing — Many mobile office suites, such as Microsoft Office Mobile (Excel, PowerPoint, and Word) make creating and editing documents on the go nearly as easy as working on their desktop counterparts.

When you are conscious of the ways your smartphone or tablet can help in the workplace, it can make sense to use it in concert with a desktop computer. If using an additional device boosts productivity or efficiency, then the risk of distraction can be worth the reward. Smartphones and other mobile devices aren’t for every workplace. They have value, if you achieve a boost in productivity.

Top 4 Data Backup Devices for Small Business

13 Jan 15
lverbik
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You already know you need good, regular backups of all of your business data, but you may get stuck figuring out the best way to manage them. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a scary amount of money to buy and set up a reliable backup system.  Let’s look at a selection of reliable and affordable backup devices to use in your small business.

We’ll look at both locally-attached and network-attached backup devices. USB sticks and external USB hard drives are wonderful for making backups on a single computer, and network backup servers simplify data protection for your whole business.

USB Sticks

USB sticks are small in size and price, but mighty in capacity; you can get as much as 128 gigabytes storage capacity on a USB stick. You have a choice of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 devices, so which one should you buy? USB 3.0 is the current standard, and it is backwards-compatible so it works with computers that have only USB 2.0.

It only costs a little bit more, so you might as well go with 3.0 drives. USB 3.0 promises a transfer rate of 5 Gbits per second, compared to 480 Mbits for USB 2.0.  Not all USB sticks are created equal, and you want to stick with the best brands: SanDisk, Verbatim, Kingston, Lexar, and Corsair are all reliable and sturdy.

USB Hard Drives

When a USB stick isn’t big enough, USB hard drives offer the most storage for the buck. You can get a portable drive with a built-in USB port.  This type of drive offers capacity ranges from 500MB-2TB, has USB 3.0, and usually comes with a nice backup and recovery software.  Many models come with encryption, easy automatic backups, and a cloud backup option.  Pricing ranges from $60 to $120.

Solid-state Drives

A solid-state drive (also known as a solid-state disk or electronic disk, though it contains no actual disk, nor a drive motor to spin a disk) is a data storage device that uses integrated circuit assemblies as memory to store data persistently.  Solid-state drives (SSDs) are expensive in comparison to hard drives, but they’re durable, small, fast, and have low power requirements. SSDs are wonderful for workloads where it’s worth paying more for a speed boost, like for system files and multimedia production.

Network Storage Servers

A network-attached storage (NAS) server is a type of dedicated file storage device that provides local-area network (LAN) users with centralized, consolidated disk storage through a standard Ethernet connection. Each NAS device is connected to the LAN as an independent network device and assigned an IP address.  NAS allows more hard disk storage space to be added to a network that already utilizes servers without shutting them down for maintenance and upgrades.  You can use it exclusively for backups, or for file-sharing and multimedia streaming.  It will set you back $1,295 for 4TB of storage, and up to $1,895 for 16TB.  These extra-rugged drives run cooler, and they’re optimized for network storage.

Now that we’ve explored the different options, you should know that Techno Advantage offers a backup software option.  We have found that the pre-installed software on these types of devices is usually a watered down or freebie version that will not deliver the results you hope for in the event that a recovery is needed.  Need help deciding which devices and software are right for your business?  Contact a Techno Pro today!