Ten Cyber Security Tips for Small Businesses

The Internet has revolutionized every single field, and business certainly is no exception. Businesses (even small ones) can now grow rapidly transcending borders, thanks to the Internet. Solutions like broadband connectivity and online business make it possible for businesses to grow beyond borders and allow for jobs to be created anywhere. But there is a major downside to using the Internet for your business; growing theft of digital information.

Don’t worry; that can be kept at bay with a few tweaks in your cybersecurity strategy.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has shared ten essential tips to make sure your business is secure. Nothing will beat having a trustworthy Orlando IT Support team to help; but for some, here are the basic 10 points the FCC wants to share:

  1. Train employees in security principles: Establish basic security practices to make sure all your employees know how to handle and protect vital business and customer information. Also let them know that there will be penalties for violating business policies.
  2. Protect information, computers and networks: Make sure all the computers used for business are protected with antivirus and antispyware software that are regularly updated (consider scheduling the updates for midnight when the computer usage is the least). Don’t forget to set the software to do the scan after it is updated. And if you would like additional protection, there are plenty of software packages that offer subscriptions to “security service” applications.
  3. Provide firewall security for your internet connection: See to it that firewalls are installed and maintained between your internal network and the Internet. Don’t forget to ensure that home systems of employees who work from their homes are secured with firewalls as well. Computers (including laptops) used while conducting business are other things that require firewall protection.
  4. Download and install software updates for your operating system: The updates come regularly which help you correct security problems and improve functionality; download and install them when available. OR, you can also configure all software to install such updates automatically.
  5. Back up your data: This is essential, and it is of vital importance that you do it regularly. We recommend a robust backup and disaster recovery be in use with all businesses.
  6. Control physical access to your computers and network components: Don’t let unauthorized individuals use business computers; and keep laptops, which are vulnerable to theft, away from danger by locking them up when not in use.
  7. Secure your Wi-Fi network: Make sure it is secured with passwords and its name is hidden (or not broadcasted). Don’t forget to change the administrative password that was on the device when it was first purchased.
  8. Provide employees with separate accounts: Each employee must be given a separate account that is protected with a strong password, and provide administrative privileges only to trusted IT staff and key personnel.
  9. Limit employee access and authority: Employees should be given access only to specific data systems they need to do their jobs, not the entire data system; and they should seek permission before installing any software.
  10. Regularly change passwords: Change passwords regularly, at least once in every three months.

Do you have questions about your IT security and how you can protect your business? ASysTech is here to help you. We consult with many small businesses throughout the Orlando area, helping many deal with day-to-day IT needs, as well as keeping their business information as secure as possible. Contact our team of Orlando IT professionals today for your no obligation review of business IT needs.

Microsoft Support Will no Longer Be Offered for Some Versions of Windows

For Windows XP and Vista users, there is bad news AND there is good news.

Let’s get done with the bad news first. The bad news is that support is ending for some versions of Windows which includes Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) for which support ends on July 12, 2011. And in case you didn’t know, support for Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2) has already ended on July 13, 2010 which means if you are using any of these versions, you won’t get security updates for Windows after support ends.

However, users of the 64-bit version of Windows XP running it with SP2 need not worry as this version of Windows will continue to have Microsoft support and receive updates until April 8, 2014.

Now, we understand this is devastating news to some of you who elected to hold onto Windows XP but now is the perfect time to sit down and talk with your Orlando IT professionals about Windows 7.

In our opinion it is the better option for today’s business. Windows 7 simplifies your everyday tasks, makes your PC safer, and makes new things possible. For those “do it yourself” folks, make sure you download Upgrade Advisor to see if your PC can run Windows 7 before you run out and buy it. Compare versions to find out why Windows 7 is the better option and then and only then should you buy it.

Even better, call us and we can help your business determine the right version of Windows 7.

Not ready to shift to Windows 7 right now? Don’t worry, there are two things you can do: get Windows XP SP3 (a free update) or get Windows Vista SP2 (which is a free update too).

Windows XP SP3 includes all previously-released updates and a small number of new updates. There is no SP3 for the 64-bit version of Windows XP though, but you can use it with SP2 and you will continue to get support till April 8, 2014, as aforementioned. Likewise, Windows Vista SP2 includes support for new types of hardware and includes all of the updates that have been released since Windows Vista SP1.

As your Orlando Microsoft Partner, we can help you get the most out of your business IT. Talk with us today. To learn more about Microsoft retirement of Windows visit http://windows.microsoft.com/eos.

10 Questions to Ask Your Computing vendor

Cloud computing is undoubtedly promising and is expected to transform the IT landscape.

It helps companies efficiently use its hardware and software investments and save a great deal of money via subscription-based cloud platforms. But finding a suitable cloud computing vendor is difficult as most of them promise you the moon but don’t deliver much. So, if you are on the lookout for a good vendor, ask them questions on the following issues which will help you decide whether to sign the contract or not:

  1. The Basics: Begin right at the beginning. Learn as much as you can about the vendors by finding out their location, the kinds of services they offer, their experience, their support service and so on. If they seem unsure about what they are talking about, run away as fast as you can and don’t look back.
  2. Security and Availability: How do they deal with and watch security issues, install patches and perform maintenance updates? Do the security measures live up to your expectations? Where do they host data and in what kind of environment? Don’t hesitate to ask the vendor these questions. Also find out about their servers, infrastructures, and disaster recovery plans.
  3. Migration Services: Ask your cloud vendor about the migration-related services it provides like dedicated, allocated resource for migration and whether the process is done automatically or manually. Don’t forget to ask the vendor how much time it will take them.
  4. Integration: Find out if integration of the service is possible with your existing solutions. How do they do it and what is their contingency plan if the integration fails?
  5. Support professionals: Find out all about the support service of the vendor like the number of support professionals deployed, their qualifications, the location of the support center and between what times they can be contacted.
  6. Uptime Metrics and Reports: This is an issue most people fail to look into. Learn how your vendor measures uptime and which infrastructures are taken into account during the calculation. How are major outages handled? Do they have a SWOT team in place? And how do they communicate with customers? These are other questions to ask.
  7. Assess the Vendor’s Sales Process: Don’t just get your solutions out of the box as you may end up dissatisfied with the service. Observe the process in which the vendor makes sales to find out if you will be given the right kind of service.
  8. Pricing: Learn everything you can about the pricing – right from the billing and pricing structure to the renewal of the contract.
  9. Multiple Services: See if your vendor is capable of helping you merge all your IT as you may need it in the future.
  10. Ask for references: Do some research to find out how successful the vendor has been via industry recognition, peer reviews and awards.

ASysTech provides Orlando IT consulting services. We are watching the cloud and its impact on business. We can help you understand what cloud services may be right for your business and which ones you may need to steer clear of. Not every business is right for cloud computing, not yet. But some services can be moved online to help your business run more efficiently. This is where we come in. We can help you get the most from the cloud.

What Can We Learn From Japan About Business Continuity

In March 2011, a mighty earthquake shook Japan to its roots; and for many days to come, the media went rife with news about the catastrophe and what it had done to the country and its people. Though the tremor was felt only in Japan, it did not fail to make a global impact, especially on businesses. Besides businesses in Japan, those in America also suffered due to the disaster, mainly the ones that depend on Japan for supplies. At least 35 companies derive 15 percent or more of their sales from Japan, according to Bloomberg; and among those affected are Aflac, Rambus and Coach to name a few. And it is no ordinary role Japan plays in these companies. Aflac, for instance, generated about 75 percent of its sales from Japan in the year 2010. The fact that the Port of Los Angeles temporarily suspended the transfer of hazardous materials and bunkering fuel operations suggests that a large number of American ports and shippers were also affected.

So, what does this teach us?

Your business must have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and make it scalable and flexible.

As the unfortunate event in Japan has already taught us, the rarity of catastrophes should not be taken as an excuse to stay laid back. It is high time small businesses took the initiative and devised a BCP. Disasters, whether machine-made or man-made, can strike any company at any time; and in the absence of recovery plans, it will take years for businesses to get back to normal, not to mention the money it will cost them. Natural disasters, sabotage, theft, or equipment failure are things that are difficult to prevent, but their effects can be mitigated with BCPs. Should you have a significant data loss or network downtime, a BCP will help you get back to normal. And you shouldn’t rest assured just because you already have a BCP. Make sure that your data is backed up regularly and properly and see to it that your storage and recovery systems are continually updated.

Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery and making sure your business is protected in the first place are just part of our services. While we focus on being your trusted Orlando IT Professionals, making sure you have a complete plan in place is something we can help with. Our disaster recovery solutions are designed to prevent a disruption to your business; and if a disaster strikes, the plan dictates how we get your back up and running quickly.

Don’t trust one of your most valuable business assets to just any Orlando IT Consulting firm who claims they can prevent a disaster from happening. Turn to our team who can prove to you that we protect your business.