Archive for the ‘Managed Services’ Category:

Secure Business Mobility with Office 365

Securely Work Anywhere with Office 365
Image Source

Mobile and Remote Employees can put business data at risk.

Most businesses have employees that often work away from the office desk. Employees work from home, on the road or even roam the office/retail floor with mobile devices. Businesses also implement BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) to give employees flexibility to work from anywhere. Unfortunately most businesses do not have a security strategy for their business mobility.

Without a secure business mobility strategy, business data and devices are at risk of theft. Businesses also need to provide a consistent work experience for employees in and out of the office. Employee productivity can be impacted when employees have to work with different applications outside the office.

Securely Enable Business Mobility with Office 365

Office 365 provides employees maximum flexibility to work anywhere, while business can maintain control of business activities. It also helps businesses manage and protect company’s devices, data and budget while simultaneously giving companies a competitive advantage.

Employees can use a mix of business and personal devices to access business applications such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook. It also provides consistent experience across Windows, iOS and Android desktops, laptops, phones and tablets

Office 365 Business Premium has built-in security features and fully installed versions of Office apps on employee’s choice of desktop, tablet, or phone. This provides improved collaboration across devices so teams in different locations can work together more efficiently. Employees can also hold “face-to-face” meetings from any location through Skype for Business, improving teamwork and boosting productivity.

Businesses can have more control of their data and devices by using Office 365 E3 and Enterprise Mobility Suite plans.

Office 365 Enterprise E3 includes everything in Business Premium and advanced capabilities for data protection and compliance tools. This helps businesses maintain regulatory compliance while employees work away from the office.

The Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) can protect company assets while enabling workers to stay productive from practically anywhere. It provides capabilities for securely managing mobile devices and applications.

Contact us to find out how we can help your business securely implement business mobility.

Improve Collaboration and Communication with Office 365

Collaboration and Communication
Image Source

Poor Collaboration and Communication Reduces Business Productivity

Employees work on teams that are spread across office space, across the city, country or even across the world. Having employees spread across multiple locations means employees need to effectively collaborate and communicate to successfully get work done.

We have all worked on projects that missed deadlines due to lack of proper documentation and communications. The likelihood of this happening increases exponentially when teams are spread across multiple locations.

Lack of good communication tools impact employee productivity. Imagine employees walking across the hall to communicate with other employees. This can easily add up to hour of wasted productivity in a week.

When employees can easily work together and communicate with each other, their productivity increases.

Office 365 Provides Cloud tools to Improve Business Collaboration and Communication

Office 365 provide cloud tools to help employees work together better. The Office 365 Business Essential plan cost $5/user/month. This will help businesses make the most of their IT budget and resources.

This provides each user with Cloud Applications for better collaboration and communication.

  • Exchange Online provides business-class email and calendaring.
    With OneDrive for Business, each user gets one terabyte of cloud storage for file storage and sharing.
  • Businesses also get an intranet site through SharePoint Online so it can easily to host resources and documentation for your team to access and share.
  • TeamSites provide employees with collaboration and communication tools that will enable them to connect to documents and information, collaborate on content with colleagues, and share files virtually anywhere, any time.
  • Skype provide the ability to host online meeting and networking tools that will help employees connect and make decisions more quickly. It also includes instant messaging (IM), audio, video, or web conferencing. Employees can host virtual whiteboard with employees from across the world.
  • To improve communication, businesses can adopt Yammer. This provides an internal social networking platform.

Businesses can upgrade Microsoft Office Applications to Office 365 Business Premium Plan for even better collaboration and communication. This provides features like Modern Attachments, which automatically updates emailed attachments. The plan also provides users with fully installed Office applications on up to 5 devices.

Contact us to find out how we can help your employees collaborate and communicate more effectively.

Always have the Latest Office Applications with Office 365

Office 365
Image Source

Upgrade On-site Office to Office 365

Before the cloud and SAAS (Software As A Service), business softwares were acquired via a one-time purchase and installation. When it was time to upgrade to the latest versions, businesses had to go through the same process again.

This was an expensive experience for businesses because of the huge upfront investment for the purchase of the software, installation cost and business downtime.

Businesses were also stuck with current installation of Office software till the next purchase and installation. This meant they missed out on any new features that were added after the purchase was made.

Get the Latest Office Applications with Office 365

Businesses can always have the latest Office Application with Office 365. Businesses can upgrade from existing on-site Office installation like Office 2010 and Office 2013.

Office 365 is subscription based which means you only pay for what you need when you need it. Since it’s a cloud based software, users will regularly get the latest features regardless of whether they’re using desktop, mobile, or tablet devices.

Office 365 Business plan for $8.25/user/month provides users with full desktop version of Office on up to five PCs or Macs, as well as rights to use Office on virtually any device for up to five tablets and five phones.

This also includes OneDrive for Business to easily share and store documents. It also enables them to share, collaborate and edit files from a computer, tablet, or smartphone

Businesses can gradually move to the cloud by adopting Office 365 applications and keep email systems onsite. When ready, on-site email servers can also be moved to the cloud with Office 365 Business Premium Plans. This includes applications like Exchange Online, SharePoint, Skype for Business, and Yammer at no additional cost.

Users also get a single login for all applications and are able to transition between apps without having to log in with different accounts.

Office 365 enables employees to work more productively because it’s a one-stop shop–all their apps and tools are integrated into a single experience.

Contact us to find out how we can help upgrade on-site Office Applications to Office 365.

Do I Need A Server For My Small Business?


I get asked this questions quite a bit, especially by new business owners. A lot of current businesses also want to get rid of their office existing server and move to the cloud.

Moving an office server to the cloud is always an option with the right internet bandwidth and large enough budget but this post is about exploring the need for onsite server in a small business.

Before deciding on whether a server is needed or not, below are some of the uses/benefits of a server in a small business are:

  • Line of Business Application Requirement.
  • User authentication for computers (Active Directory)
  • File server for business data.
  • Backup location for computers.

A few factors need to be considered before this question can be accurately answered. I will list the factors below and later explain how it impacts the sever or no server decision.

1) Regulatory Compliance
2) Employee Assigned Computers.
3) Employee Size
4) Line of Business Application.

1) Regulatory Compliance: Compliance requirements like HIPAA § 164.308(a)(4)Information Access Management requires each employee have a unique user ID for all Information Systems, so employee activities can be logged and audited on each system. This can be done without a server (Active Directory) but a server makes the management of user IDs and password a lot easier than managing each user on each computer.

2) Employee Assigned Computers: If your employer have permanent assigned computers then you will only need to manage one or maybe two logins on each computer. This becomes more complicated if employees roam between available computers like a Doctor’s office. Imagine managing different credentials for 10 employees on 10 computers, this quickly becomes an avalanche of IDs (100) to manage. An active directory server makes this easier to manage, by  managing all 10 IDs from one server.

3) Employee Size: User authentication is a little easier to managed for a business with five or less employees. Even with regulatory compliance and non-assigned computers, you will be managing at most 25 IDs on five computers for a five person company.

4) Line Of Business Application: If your primary line of business (LOB) requires a Server to function, then you will need a server. There is no away around, you might be able to go with a cloud server but it still depends on the LOB and your internet bandwidth.

After considering all the factors listed above, my answer to question varies from business to business. If your business is not affected by any of the criteria above, then you can do away with an on-site server or at least move to the cloud with a cloud server.

CyberSecurity Tips


Cybersecurity Statistics Sheet
eBook – Cybersecurity Tips for Employees
Quick Tips – 5 Ways to Stay Secure Online
NIST – Small Business Information Security Fundamentals.

5 Steps For Protecting Patients Data (PHI).

According to Health IT Outcomes security breaches cost healthcare $6 billion annually. Patients medical records are now 10 times more valuable than credit card numbers to hackers. Hackers monetize patients medical record in different ways and the market is for it is growing. Protecting your patients’ data should be a high priority at your practice. We have listed some steps below to get you started.

Assign a security officer. Most businesses, especially small ones do not have anyone in charge of IT security. The security officer handles all the security related issues or works with a contracted IT firm. A security officer also provides the employee with a resource for any security related questions.

Perform a Risk Analysis. Details of a Risk Analysis can be found here. A risk analysis reveals potential holes in your IT infrastructure hackers can use to steal patient data. Once the holes are revealed you need to take steps to address these holes.

Employee Training. Employee blunders is the second leading cause of HIPAA breaches. Employees need to be trained on the right way to handle patients data and the impact if its not handled with the highest security.

Inventory of Equipment/Software Storing Patient Data. Most business do not know all the places patients data is stored. You can only protect patient data if you know where its stored. You should also restrict access to the data based on job responsibilities.

Install Technical Safeguards. You need to technical safeguards in place that prevents hackers from gaining access to your network. Most businesses have some in place but they are either not monitored, reviewed or updated. This responsibility can be handled by your assigned security officer or outsourced to an outside firm. Some technical safeguards are listed below:

  • Firewall.
  • Antivirus.
  • Software Patches.
  • Backup and Recovery.

The steps listed above should you get you started. Achieving HIPAA compliance is not as hard when you prioritize protecting your patients’ data.

HIPAA Security Risk Analysis

A risk analysis is the first step towards HIPAA compliance. A Security Risk Analysis basically identifies what is wrong. HIPAA defines a Risk Analysis as:

An accurate and thorough assessment of the potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic protected health information held by the [organization].

Risk analysis and risk assessment are sometimes used interchangeably but they are different as defined by HIPAA. A risk analysis is a required step towards HIPAA compliance while a risk assessment is conducted if there is a breach. You conduct a risk assessment after a breach to determine if patients’ protected health information (PHI) has been compromised. This will also determine if you need to implement the HIPAA breach notification.

You don’t need any special tools or qualifications to perform a risk analysis. There are tool available that make the process a lot easier and less time consuming. Any covered entity can choose to perform the risk analysis in-house, if you have the time and expertise to do so.

Regardless of how you conduct your Risk Analysis there are certain elements it must include. Elements of a Risk Analysis are:

Scope Of The Analysis.
Data Collection.
Identify and Document Potential Threats and Vulnerabilities.
Assess Current Security Measures.
Determine the Likelihood of Threat Occurrence.
Determine the Potential Impact of Threat Occurrence.
Determine the Level of Risk.
Finalize Documentation.
Periodic Review and Updates to the Risk Assessment.

No matter how you conduct your Risk Analysis, make sure all the elements above are covered and documented. Conducting a Risk Analysis does not mean you are HIPAA compliant, its only the first step towards compliance.

Computer Security and Protection

I spent the better part of last week removing viruses and spyware from a local business’s computers. Half of the computers in the office were infected with a virus. The only reason the others were not infected was because the users were either on vacation or the computers had not been used recently.

Unlike some businesses I have come across, the business owner had antivirus software installed on the computers but nobody was responsible for keeping the computers secure and protected. You can have the best antivirus software but if you are not monitoring the antivirus software, running regular scans and making sure the virus definitions are updated then new and unknown viruses are bound to infect your computers.

Regular antivirus scans should be done at least twice a week or preferably everyday if you can. This makes sure viruses are removed from your computers before they cause any damage. The most important thing is to make sure the virus definitions of your antivirus software are up to date. If your antivirus software virus definitions are not up to date then your antivirus software does not have any information about the virus and its unable to protect your computers against it. An updated virus definition gives you the maximum protection against computer viruses out there.

The total cost to remove the viruses and save most of his business data  cost more than two year’s worth of our managed security service.

Antivirus and anti-malware software are just one step in protecting your computer network. Employee training is another important aspect. Your employees should be trained not to open emails and/or attachments from email addresses they do not recognize. This is the number one way viruses bypass antivirus software and enter your network.

Our managed security services not only protects your computers but we regularly assess your computer network for security vulnerabilities. We recommend/implement ways that make your network secured and protected.

Contact Us today for a free security assessment and how we can protect your computer network.

Data Backup For Your Business

As a small business owner, your most important asset is your business data. It is literally the life blood of your business especially if you have been in business for a while. Hardware failures and natural disasters happen more often than you realize and you have to be able to recover from them as fast as possible.

Backing up your business data gives you the ability to recover from disaster and keeps you in business. I usually tell my clients to think of data backup like their home or rental insurance. You might never have to use but you will be happy you have it if the situation ever arises. There are different forms of data backup you can implement for your business.

Local Data Backup
This is the simplest and oldest form of data backup. It could be as simple as backing up to an external hard drive or USB stick or implementing a full tape backup system. This is also the fastest form of data backup; you can backup as much data and as often as you want. You are only limited by the size of your backup device. Every business should at least implement something as simple as this. The major downside of a local backup is the safety of the local device in the event of theft, disaster or failure.

Online/Cloud Data Backup
With cloud backup another company handles the transmission and storage of your data. Your data is backed up to the hard drives of the company providing the service. The data is transmitted to the company over the internet and it is encrypted during transmission and at rest. Your data is always secure in the cloud no matter what happens at your place of business. The major disadvantage of cloud backup is the speed of data backup and recovery. This is usually not a problem when you are backing up your data but restoring your data can take days depending on the size of your data and speed of your internet connection.

Hybrid Data Backup
Hybrid data backup gives you the best features of the other two forms of backup and also stores your data in multiple places so you are more protected. It gives you the speed of a local backup and the safety of a cloud backup. You get a storage device that data is constantly backed up locally and later uploaded to the cloud. This is currently the form of backup we recommend to our client. We can even bring up a copy of your server in cloud within minutes so you be back in business in the event of a disaster.

Whatever form of backup you employ, it is only as good as the data recovery. The only way you can guarantee your data recovery is through testing. We schedule monthly data recovery test for our clients. This guarantees we can readily restore the data if needed. The worst thing that can happen is to find out your backup has not been working when you need it.


Why Every Small Business Should Invest In Technology

As a small business one of your main priorities is staying ahead of your competitions or at least keeping up with them.

One of the best ways to do this is by investing in the right technology for your business. I am firm believer that excellent customer service gives you the best competitive advantage in any business. Investing in the right technology is a close second.

Technology Gives You Better ROI.
72% of respondents to the Fifth Annual Brother Small Business Survey indicated new technology is a better return on investment than new employees. When you compare the cost (Training, Salary & Benefits) of new employees against investing in your small business specific software/technology; you realize how much money you save. Your industry specific technology also makes your current employees more efficient and productive. This also cuts your cost which gets passed on to your customers.

Invest In The Right Technology.
You have to make sure you invest in the right technology for your business and market. You might be hesitant to invest in Technology because you don’t know what product to invest in or when to make the investment.
There are three main factors to consider when choosing the right technology for your small business.
1) Will it make my employees more Productive and Efficient?
2) Will it improve my customer service and customer experience?
3) Is it secure, will my business and customer data remain secure?

A simple example is an orthopedic surgeon that does not have an in-house X-Ray machine. He/She sends his patients to other clinics to get the x-ray done. The x-ray images are saved to disc and given to the patient.
Investing in an in-house x-ray machines satisfies the three factors above:
1) Employees no longer have to rely on patients to get the x-ray done and bring it along.
2) Patients’ don’t have to drive to another facility to get the x-ray done.
3) Patients’ information is safe from loss or theft.

It is also very important to have a technology partner that will help in deciding which technology to invest in and when. An ideal partner will help in the decision, integration and support of such technology