Blog

March 30th, 2015

active_directoryBy: Dan Bremner

I had a conversation with a client recently about Active Directory, and why it was a good idea, even for very small businesses. Like many business owners, my client had heard of Active Directory, but wasn’t really sure what it is.

Without getting into too much technical detail, Active Directory is a basically a list of the computers and people in an organization that all the computers share. It means each computer doesn’t need its own list, because they delegate the responsibility for authenticating users and setting permissions to a central location. In simple terms, it means that we can enter a user account once, and all the computers on the network know about that user, and know what things that user is and isn’t allowed to do. Without it, we would have to create that user account on every computer in the network.

Active Directory certainly isn’t a new technology, having been introduced by Microsoft in Windows 2000 (and built on LDAP and other technologies that are even older). However, if you don’t live and breathe technology every day, you may not realize all the good stuff that comes from having Active Directory as the framework for your computer network.

I’ve been asked, “When is a business large enough that they should use Active Directory?” With the ascendance of “the cloud” in recent years, there is also a school of thought that servers in the traditional sense aren’t needed anymore. I would answer that the foundation of Active Directory is still important for any business, and an inexpensive server like Windows Server Essentials is often the most cost-effective way to do it for the smallest businesses. (Although there are cloud options, too, including Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory.)

I’m going to turn that question around and say, “When is a business too small to use Active Directory?” My answer would be that a business with only a single owner/employee who does everything, and who doesn’t plan to hire anyone else, probably doesn’t need it. For just about everyone else, AD has benefits that make it worth considering. It’s part of the foundation that lets you build a scalable business.

Here are a few of the benefits of Active Directory for small businesses:

  • Single sign-on. Log into your computer and have access to all the resources you need on the network.
  • Permission schemes using Security Groups so things don’t have to be re-engineered when you add or remove employees.
  • Group Policy is an extremely powerful tool that can set standards for security, permissions, passwords, standardize appearance, install software, and connect to printers, all based on Active Directory attributes.
  • End-user PCs can be logged on by any user, which makes replacing, or restoring PCs take much less time, and enables employees to use another computer in a pinch.
  • Security auditing, if needed, is far easier with centralized authentication.
  • If someone leaves, or changes roles, there is one place to change their security settings, and it takes effect on all computers.

Active Directory may not be sexy technology, but it’s a solid tool for businesses that are serious about growing and scaling their operations.

Topic Articles
March 12th, 2015

Office_Mar12_AIt’s been a long time coming, but Microsoft has finally unveiled its latest version of the Office for Mac suite of productivity applications. The first refresh that the package has seen since 2011 takes it closer to delivering the experience enjoyed by users of its Windows sibling, and it brings Office 365 and the power of cloud computing to the masses. Best of all, the whole thing is free of charge for a limited period – here are some of the features to look out for in Office for Mac 2016.

Cloud power

Office for Mac 2016 takes the power of the cloud and puts it to full use, bringing the advantages of its cloud-oriented Office 365 applications to its flagship package. As a result, you can now access your Office documents whenever and wherever, and no matter which device you are using. Aside from Office 365, the new software is also integrated with OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, and SharePoint.

It’s now possible to jointly author Word and PowerPoint documents with colleagues, and to make challenges simultaneously. Much like Google Docs, you can run a chat conversation alongside the document, in order to discuss the changes you are each making. Word and PowerPoint automatically flag up updates to the document that you might not have spotted already. These features are already available to Windows-based users of Office.

Sharing documents also becomes simpler, with a dedicated sharing button in the applications’ top right corner that allows you to invite colleagues to collaborate on the document you’re working on. It’s possible to share a document either as an attachment or as a link, and of course to control access rights for each person to whom you give access. You can open others’ Office documents right from your email account and get straight to editing.

Ribbon refresh

Until now, there have been differences in the options available on the ‘ribbon’ of icons that appear beneath the File, Edit and other menus at the top of the screen. You might see one thing on your Mac but another on your PC, and another still on your tablet. With Office for Mac 2016, Microsoft has taken the opportunity to fix those inconsistencies, so you’ll now find the options you need in the same places across all the platforms you use. A new task pane is also intended to help simplify graphics editing.

Email grouping

The updates to Outlook, and OneNote too, were actually released in 2014 and so are technically not new with this release. But one such useful update that is carried through to Office for Mac 2016 is the organization of Outlook emails by conversation, as is the case with Gmail. Emails can be sorted using a variety of other criteria, too.

Presentation aids

Office for Mac 2016 makes life a little easier for those presenting using PowerPoint slides. While your audience is shown the final product on your big screen, you can benefit from having ‘presenter view’ open on your monitor. This dedicated view gives you access to all of your presentation’s slides, any associated notes and also a timer to help you keep pace.

The entire suite of Office for Mac 2016 applications – including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook – is available for free upgrade during Microsoft’s preview period, which runs until later this year. Once that comes to an end, you’ll need an Office 365 subscription or perpetual licence in order to keep making the most of the package’s features.

To find out more about boosting your company’s productivity with Microsoft Office applications, give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
March 9th, 2015

BusinessContinuity_Mar09_AYou’ve been putting that business continuity plan off for months now, but you’ve finally decided to go through with it. You start by talking to members of your staff, partners and service providers. And it doesn’t take long to see that everyone has a different opinion about what to recover first when disaster strikes. The head of your IT department demands your servers are top priority, while your Vice President argues that without network security being reestablished pronto, your business is left vulnerable to even further damage. Who’s right? It may be difficult to decide. That’s why we’ve compiled these fundamental ideas to consider when drafting your business continuity plan.

Speak to many members of your organization

And not just your IT department – which may sound like a bit of an oxymoron coming from an IT provider’s blog. However, the reason behind this is simple. Suppose you have an IT staff member called Jane, who is responsible for a series of applications that automate your e-commerce system. If you call a business continuity meeting concerning to identify assets to prioritize during a disaster, what do you think Jane will say? She’ll likely point to her group of applications, since to her this is what she prioritizes and spends her days on. And it’s not just Jane; each staff member will probably voice that their particular job (whether that’s security, server maintenance or something entirely different) needs to be prioritized. It’s human nature to think of your responsibility and role first. We all do it.

The key is to get more than one opinion. It’s not a bad idea to start with the leaders of your company, and then work your way down. Leaders generally think in a broader sense about your organization as a whole, rather than one particular facet of it.

Consider where your business is going

When developing your business continuity plan, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking about your business as it is today. While you’ll draft your plan in the present, it needs to be created with the future in mind. For example, if you’re considering joining the Cloud or virtualizing your servers in the next year or so, how is this going to impact your plan? It’s smart to think of this sooner rather than later, as it could cause a major shift in your priorities. If you start deploying your business continuity plan but then have to switch gears further down the line, it’ll likely cost your company a lot of money.

Examine the interdependency of your business

Remember to connect the dots between your IT department and business processes. For instance, if your email system can’t run without the use of a particular IT application, it will do no good for you to have your email system as a priority 1 issue and that IT application as a priority 3. In this scenario, the IT application would need the same priority as the email system – if not higher, or else your email system will simply not work.

The point is to map out the interdepencies of your business processes and IT, so that you know what depends on what. That way you’re not left in a pickle when disaster strikes.

Need help getting started with your business continuity plan? Contact us today to learn how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
March 5th, 2015

GoogleApps_Jan27_ASmartphone apps are there to make life easier, and maybe more fun – that’s the whole point of them. But while you might already be a keen user of the core suite of Google Apps – the likes of Drive, Gmail and Calendar – and perhaps have a few other essential apps on your phone that you use for a mixture of work and play, Google has a whole raft of other apps up its sleeve that you’ve probably never even heard of. The right apps can boost your productivity in and out of the office – here are five to consider adding to your phone’s home screen.

Google Wallet

For a long time PayPal has been the default digital payment system – the one that instantly comes to mind when you think of paying for goods or services online. Now that has begun to change, with the launch of Google Wallet and more recently Apple Pay, which are designed to make it easy for consumers to make payments with just a couple of taps on both mobile devices and more conventional platforms. In the latest change to this developing sector, Google Wallet has teamed up with payment processor WePay, which provides the technology behind invoicing programs, e-commerce platforms and charitable donation and crowdfunding sites. The move expands the reach of Google Wallet – and Apple is said to be not far behind, with a similar deal – and makes now a good time to equip yourself with one or both apps. Expect mobile platforms like these to play an increasingly visible role in both online transactions and physical, face-to-face purchases in retail outlets and elsewhere.

Need to quickly track down contacts, messages, applications and other data and files on your phone? Google Gesture Search may only be available for Android devices at the moment, but it can speed up the process of searching for that elusive file or folder. The app allows you to use your finger to draw letters, numbers or symbols on your phone’s screen to identify the item you are searching for. The app is also intelligent in that the more you use it, the more it learns from your search history and makes better, more accurate guesses at what you’re hunting for. Clunky text searches that either yield hundreds of irrelevant results, or none at all, are a thing of the past.

Google Waze

Waze is designed to help you avoid traffic jams and smooth the pain of your travels, while it also allowing you to out for pesky speed cameras. However, it isn’t proving as popular with law enforcement. Perhaps understandably in the wake of recent shootings, authorities fear the police finding feature of the app – primarily intended to give a heads-up on speed traps – could make it all too easy for those so inclined to locate and attack police. All the same, because the app is based on crowdsourced data about congestion and cameras as submitted by users, it isn’t a totally comprehensive map and doesn’t contain anything that couldn’t already be spread by word of mouth. But it’s probably enough to make your next journey that little bit easier.

Google Translate

Okay, so you already know about this popular translation app, which can help you switch text between around eighty languages. You might even be aware that the app already offers support for voice-to-text translation, whereby you can speak or play a recording of a foreign language into your microphone and have Google instantly translate it into the language of your choice. But at the moment, you have to know which language the original recording is in, in order to select it from within the app – and that is what is about to change. Though there is currently no definite timeframe for release, it is reported that Google is expecting to roll out new features to enable the app to automatically detect a number of common languages and translate without the need for any further human input.

Google Authenticator

It’s not only your laptop that should be protected with a secure password – with the number of apps and volume of data likely held in the cloud via your Google account, an intruder gaining access could leave you and your organization at serious risk of a data leak or other security breach. More secure than a regular password alone, Google Authenticator makes it easy for you to put into place two-step verification – which security experts recommend should be standard practice. Once you have this app fighting your corner, logging in to your Google account involves entering your regular password alongside a random code generated by the app – making it far harder for outsiders to break their way in. And because the code is actually generated on the device itself rather than sent from a Google server, it doesn’t even matter if your phone is offline or lacking mobile connection at the time.

Want to learn more about how Google Apps can transform your business and help you work more efficiently? Get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
March 3rd, 2015

Productivity_Mar3_AHow much time in your organization is spent reading, sending and replying to emails? Chances are, the answer is “too much”. It’s a modern day epidemic – we all spend far too much time in our inboxes, and we rely on email too much to keep us in check and on task. But even before you get to the body of the email itself, by focusing on writing concise and consistently structured email subject lines, you can make life easier and more productive for both you and your recipient. Foster a culture of email subject discipline in your company and you’ll see the results in improved productivity and efficiency – here are three tips to get you started.

Specific subjects spell success

If someone sends you an email that’s headed simply with the word “report”, how are you meant to know what they want from you? Do they need you to write a new report, proofread one they’ve already written, or print a report for them? You inevitably start reading the email without the first idea of what it is you’re being asked to do.

In an ideal situation, when you receive a new email you want to know in an instant – just from the subject line – what the message is about. And that is something you should make possible for recipients of your own emails too. So structure your subject line using keywords – for instance, change that “Report” to “Sales Report for February 2015”. Better still, give your colleague all they need to know at a glance – “Draft Sales Report for February 2015 by Monday, 1pm” – so that the body of the message is preserved for you to get down to details as succinctly as possible.

Use prefixes and suffixes

Another simple way to help your recipient understand at a glance what you need from them – and to make it easier for them to categorize their incoming emails, too – is to specify right in the subject line what type of message it is that you are sending them. Emails come in all shapes and sizes, and by placing a prefix before or a suffix after your main subject line, you’ll get quicker results.

For instance, if your email needs a definitive response from the recipient, start it with “ACTION:” followed by the subject. An example would be “ACTION: Draft Sales Report for February 2015 by Monday, 1pm”. If, on the other hand, you are simply dropping your colleagues a quick notification that the printer is out of order, you can use one or both of “FYI” (for your information) and “NRN” (no reply needed). For example: “FYI: Printer out of order until further notice” or “NRN: Printer out of order until further notice.”

You can take this one stop further. If you can get your entire message across in the subject line alone, then that’s exactly what you should aim to do. That way, your colleague can read the subject line, add the task to their to-do list and delete it straight out of their inbox. To quickly signal that there’s nothing in the email body, you can suffix your subject line with “EOM” (end of message) – for example, “FYI: Printer out of order until further notice. EOM”.

Keep it consistent

These tricks will only help you beat a never-ending inbox if they’re adopted and applied consistently across your organization. Make them a part of your company’s basic IT training, and encourage your staff to use them in their own work and to pull up others who fall back into bad habits. They may be skeptical at first, but they’ll soon jump on the bandwagon once they start to realize how much less time they spend managing their email account!

Think too about introducing standardized formats for subjects of emails you and your teams send on a recurring basis. For example, if you regularly send reports around for review, prefix your subject line with “Report for Review:”, followed by the topic of the report. Or if your employees send you a weekly update on their workstreams, have them title it “Weekly Update:” followed by the date. That way, you can set up filters in your inbox and have those emails smartly stored in one place, ready for you to look through when the time is right, rather than clogging up your inbox and making it look like you have more urgent tasks to complete than you actually do.

Want to learn how to use email systems efficiently to boost your firm’s productivity? Chat to us today about the innovative email solutions we can provide.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Productivity
March 1st, 2015

web_Dec26_AEvery business, regardless of size and industry, needs to have an online presence these days. The first step to take, when establishing this, is to create a website. While developing your site, you are going to need to find a way to establish it online using a Web host. If this is an area you are unfamiliar with then here is an overview of what exactly a Web host is, and the two most common types of hosting.

What exactly is a Web host?

When creating a website, you are going to need to find a way to get the files and pages that make up your site online and available for all Internet users to see. In order to do this, you are going to need to work with a Web host who provides space on a server for you to host your website files (what the user sees when they visit your site).

A good way to think of a Web host is as being similar to a company that businesses rent premises from. You pay the company to rent space to host your Website so that you can run your business. Many Web hosts also offer a service called domain hosting, which allows you to create a Web address so users can access your website e.g., google.com, inc.com, etc. Combine these two services together and you have the main foundations for your website.

Beyond simply hosting your website, Web hosts often host domain-based email addresses, website databases, videos, etc. Essentially, whatever needs to go on your website will need to be stored with your Web host.

When you sign up with a Web host you will usually pay a monthly fee, which the company uses to maintain and invest in new servers for hosting, decreased access speeds, and better services.

What are the two most common types of Web hosting?

There are hundreds, if not thousands of Web hosts around the world, but you can fit almost all of them in one of two categories:

  1. Shared hosting - Hosting where multiple, different websites are stored on one physical hosting server. Sites avet their own partition (section of storage) that is kept separate from other sites on the same server.
  2. Dedicated hosting - Hosting where one website is hosted per server. This means you have all of the server’s capacity to yourself. No other websites beyond yours and the other sites you run are hosted.

Which one is best for my business website?

The vast majority of websites on the Internet are hosted via shared hosting services. This is because this way is more affordable, while still offering generally stable access and access speeds. For almost all small to medium businesses who want fairly simple websites, or sites with minimal features, a shared host is ideal.

If your website is going to be large, e.g., thousands of pages, and you are going to need to host complex features like advanced ecommerce, streaming, etc., then it would be best to opt for a dedicated hosting service.

As a general rule of thumb, for most business needs a shared hosting service is sufficient. Dedicated hosting is more suitable for large sites like Google, Amazon, government sites, etc.

There are a wide-variety of Web hosts out there and it can be a challenge to select one that works well for your business. What we recommend is contacting us. With our expertise and solutions, we can help find a Web host that will work best for your website and business needs. Contact us today to shine the spotlight on your online presence.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Web
February 27th, 2015

BASEThe smartest businesses are already using the potential of the Cloud to work together and collaborate on documents across teams, timezones and locations. Alongside Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox is a popular Cloud-based platform for sharing files among colleagues. But for the platform to truly aid your company’s productivity, it needs to work seamlessly across both desktop and mobile – and that’s where Dropbox has fallen short, at least until recently. Now using Dropbox to share files to Android and iOS mobile devices is easy as it is to desktops.

The change, which is now available by updating your existing Dropbox app, relates to the way your phone handles shared file links you receive from others. Essentially, the app now equips your phone to properly support those links, in a way that it hasn’t done before.

When a colleague shares a file with you via Dropbox, you receive a notification that includes a link to allow you to open the shared file. Until now, if you attempted to open this link through your Android or iOS Dropbox app, your phone would unhelpfully navigate out of the app and instead attempt to open the link in your default web browser. That’s hardly helpful when you want to seamlessly access your files all from within the Dropbox app’s own navigation – which is why the changes brought about by this update are so welcome.

Now when you click that shared link, the file or folder will open before your very eyes – right within the app. You can see a preview of the document or photo, and with a tap you can save it to your Dropbox account and then choose to move or rename it, or add it to your list of favorites for speedier opening and even offline access. If it’s a Microsoft Office file and you have the Office apps installed on your device, you can even go right ahead and edit the contents of the document on your phone.

The key here is that this seemingly simple update makes it even more straightforward for you to receive and handle documents from your colleagues, even if you’re not sitting in front of your desktop or laptop. Dropbox is making strides in increasing the ease with which its platform works across mobile devices, and part of that is reducing the number of buttons you need to tap to achieve your goals. All of which is great news for busy business owners and your staff. After all, it further enhances one of the Cloud’s biggest selling points – to literally be able to do anything you could ordinarily do from your office, no matter where in the world you are.

To find out more about implementing Cloud technologies to boost your company’s productivity, drop us a line today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Web
February 4th, 2015

BI_Feb4_AThe business intelligence market is changing. While most of you are probably familiar with business intelligence software such as Excel, the new wave of BI products is making it easier for you to track down data and organize it into easily viewable graphs and reports. So if you’re looking for data on how well a new product sold this past year, you can save time by not having to gather that information and organize it yourself. Now Microsoft is joining the scene and trying to make noise with its free Power BI product offer.

What is Power BI?

Power BI is a Cloud service which mainly functions as a self-service data analysis tool. What makes it unique is its use of advanced visualization options (graphs, charts, etc.) and the ability to find data by using natural language to ask questions and get answers. For example, you can simply type, “which department had the lowest sales profits last month?” and then get a chart that will visually display the sales from the different departments.

Another distinct characteristic of Power BI is its ability to collect and analyze data from various applications and services. These include Salesforce.com, Marketo, Excel, Zendesk and more.

And lastly, being a Cloud based service, the data is easily shareable, and employees can access it whether they’re in the office or on another continent.

Do I really need data analysis for my business?

It’s easier to get ahead of the competition if you know where you’ve been. With knowledge of your past failings or successes, you’ll know what methods and strategies are working and which ones aren’t. Then you can make appropriate business decisions based on facts and not assumptions.

For some, Excel may give you the ability to track all the Business Intelligence you desire – if the data you need is relatively simple and is kept all in one place. But if you have large amounts of data over various applications, then a product like Power BI can be a huge time saver since you won’t have to waste hours finding and organizing it.

If Power BI is so awesome, why is it free?

Power BI comes in two versions: the free one and a pro version for $9.99 a month. The pro version will feature more support for streaming data, quicker scheduled data refresh, and more storage. But light to medium data analysis users will still gain much from the free version.

Likely the real reason for the free version of Power BI is to capture market share from Tableau software, which currently dominates the self-service analytics market. Microsoft appears to be trying to create a simpler data analytic system that will be less complex than Tableau and more appealing to non-tech users.

And once they get sign-ups, Microsoft can then use this as a gateway to sell other Microsoft business products.

Want to discover how Microsoft’s Power BI or other Business Intelligence products can give your business an edge? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
January 14th, 2015

GoogleApps_Jan12_ATime is at a premium for every small business owner and, for all its benefits in modern communication, email is one of the major drains on your schedule. If you’re feeling choked by the amount of time you spend dealing with email on a day-to-day basis, try some of these Gmail productivity hacks to give your schedule a new lease of life in 2015.

Customize your email address and harness filters

Did you know that, if you use Gmail, you can customize your existing email address? Whether you have a regular @gmail.com or @company.com address, you can adjust your username depending on who you are giving it to and what you are likely to receive. For example, if your basic address is theboss@company.com, you could give theboss+friends@company.com to friends and use theboss+blog@company.com to invite blog comments.

Combine this feature with Gmail’s native filters to add labels to emails depending on which address they are sent to – so you can keep work and play separate, or file blog comments to deal with at a set time. Don’t want to see Facebook email notifications? Change your profile to use the email address theboss+spam@company.com and set up a filter to direct those messages to the trash. Your email is compartmentalized and you can see what you need to, when you really need to.

Can frequent responses to save time

Do you get similar email enquiries every day? If you currently pen a fresh reply to each message that arrives, then kick that habit right now and save yourself a heap of time. Gmail’s built in Canned Responses function allows you to store messages that you frequently send so they are ready to use at the touch of a button.

Enable Canned Responses from the Labs tab of the Gmail settings page, then when composing a new message just click the arrow icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen and select Canned Responses. From here you can use an existing canned response or add a new one. Then just hit send!

Schedule emails and reminders with Boomerang

The Boomerang add-on, which comes as a web extension for Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers and as an Android app, enables you to bounce new emails right out of your inbox and schedule their return when it suits you. The emails are stored remotely, freeing you up to concentrate on more urgent tasks.

Likewise, if you need to send one or more emails at a specific time but won’t be at your desk, with Boomerang you can schedule the emails in advance to send automatically when you need them to. You can also put this feature to use to schedule emails to send to yourself that act as task reminders.

Quick question? Chat instead

Don’t underestimate the value of Gmail’s chat system, or Hangouts as it is known in the age of Google+. Save yourself the time spent composing a long-form email, and the back-and-forth of conversation between recipients, by penning a brief chat message when you just need to ask a question.

Chances are too that colleagues will be less daunted by an instant message than an email, and more likely to respond right away than put it off. Hangouts need not be limited to one-to-one conversations – to start a group chat, open a chat with one colleague and then click the stick person icon beneath their name. You’ll see a list of contacts that you can add to the conversation.

Treat your email like a relay race

Of course, the best way to save time on email is to limit the amount of time you spend on it – one great way is by using the browser extension Mail Timer. This nifty add-on allows you to set yourself a maximum amount of time – say two minutes – to respond to each email. After that, a pop-up message will let you know you’re out of time and encourage you to continue to your next message. Not only will Mail Timer train you to be more concise in crafting emails, but it is a great way to get into the habit of swiftly clearing your inbox of messages that only need a brief reply – you can archive others to deal with at a set time (or use Boomerang to bring them back automatically when it suits you).

If you would like to learn more about using Gmail, or any other Google app, please get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
January 14th, 2015

Security_Jan12_CThe scale of the recent security breaches at Sony, which led to the cancellation of The Interview’s theatrical release, can make the company’s problems seem beyond the realm of the average small business. But the security mishaps that created the circumstances for the hack are as applicable to modest local and regional companies as they are to multimillion dollar corporations. These three tips will take you back to security basics and help avert your own big-screen drama.

Don’t let basic security habits slip

Our modern-day instinct tells us that the answer to potential security breaches is to install new layers of antivirus software, firewalls and further encryption systems. While these are all worthy additions to your company’s armor of security shields, they will do little to help if good old-fashioned protective habits are allowed to slide.

Instill a disciplined, security-conscious mentality in your organization, and keep the messages simple so that staff remember and follow them. Focus on regularly changing passwords and keeping them secret, being vigilant about avoiding unexpected links in email messages, and limiting network access for the likes of external contractors to that which is absolutely necessary.

One of the ways hackers made their way into the Sony network was by tricking administrators into thinking they had a legitimate need for access: teach your staff to be careful, and praise cautiousness even if it turns out access is warranted. Encourage staff to flag up potential security lapses, and make sure they know that reports will be followed up and loopholes closed.

Take a flexible and agile approach to IT

IT changes, and so do the ways best suited to keeping it safe. This means it is vitally important to keep your IT systems up to date, and where necessary to do away with outdated practices that could leave your business technology exposed. This involves more than just ensuring that your network is running updated antivirus software to catch the latest bugs and worms – it means staying abreast of emerging methods to mitigate potential threats from hackers worldwide.

All of this uses staff and resources that your small business might not have – which is where outsourced managed services come in. Using a managed service provider as an add-on to your own IT team can give you extra flexibility and the ability to keep abreast of industry security developments, even when you lack the time to do so yourself.

Equally, know when it is time to ditch data – think of emerging social networks like Snapchat, which set messages to self-destruct after a set time, as your cue to make your data retention policy less permanent, particularly in relation to email. If you no longer have a business need or a regulatory requirement to retain information, then delete it – in the process you can limit the possible damage even if the worst should occur and you fall victim to an external attack.

Backup, backup, backup

The last thing you want in the event of a security breach is for it to hit your day-to-day operations – the potential damage caused by the hack itself is likely to give you enough to worry about. But that is exactly the situation Sony found itself in after its latest hack, with its email system down and staff forced to return to the days of pen, paper and even the fax machine.

As well as ensuring alternative means of communication remain open to your business in the aftermath of a possible attack, it is also vital to make sure that you retain access to the information most critical to your work. Regular, secured backups help ensure that, whatever happens, the show is able to go on and your firm’s productivity and revenue are not unduly hit. Engaging professionals to undertake your backups on a managed service basis also means this can happen routinely and without fail, while you stay focused on running your business.

Want to learn more about how to reduce your IT network’s vulnerability to attack? Get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Security