Software

9 Network Vulnerabilities You Should Address Now

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Finish the year on a secure note

Research from Spiceworks, a network of IT professionals, highlighted more than 70% of respondents rated security as their top concern for 2018. With the hacking epidemic on the rise, here are nine things involving hardware and software that can be done to help stop you from worrying about your business' security.

Hardware

Sure, software is the greater hacking risk, but many hardware vulnerabilities are software-based. Older equipment is often missing new built-in security features like:

  • Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) with Secure Boot

  • Self-healing basic input/output system (BIOS)

  • Pre-boot authentication (PBA)

  • Self-encrypting drives

That’s why you should be auditing and planning to remove:

  1. Computers with conventional BIOS- They can’t run Secure Boot, which helps to prevent malware loading during the boot process.

  2. Computers lacking pre-boot authentication or a trusted platform module (TPM), which stop the operating system from loading until the user enters authentication information, such as a password.

  3. Old routers, which can have easily hacked vulnerabilities.

  4. Drives that don't self-encrypt- Self-encrypting drives (SEDs) need a password (in addition to the OS login password), and the technology automatically encrypts and decrypts data on the drive.

On a side note, old drives leave you vulnerable in another way: you could lose data when they fail, which they will.

Software

Getting your hardware straight will almost always involve spending money, but fixing up software could be as simple as running those free updates you never got around to. Here’s what to look at:

  1. Unpatched or out-of-date operating systems- Windows XP has been beyond its support period for nearly three years but is still running all over the world despite there being no updates, no technical assistance, and limited efficacy with anti-virus. And old operating systems always have fewer security features than new ones.

  2. Unpatched or out-of-date productivity software- It’s highly risky to run unpatched versions of Microsoft Office, especially older versions like Office 2002, Office 2003, and Office 2007. They can give a hacker access to the rest of a system, with particularly catastrophic consequences if the user has administrative privileges.

  3. Legacy custom applications- If running an old version of Office is a risk, imagine the danger of running legacy custom software, particularly if you’re no longer doing business with the vendor (or the vendor is no longer in business). When your legacy software was being coded, the vendor probably wasn’t thinking of the sort of security attacks that are common today.

  4. Unpatched web browsers- No browser is entirely free of security vulnerabilities. Common vulnerabilities include URL spoofing, cross-site scripting, injection attacks, exploitable viruses, buffer overflow, ActiveX exploits, and many more. Always, always run the most recent version.

  5. Out-of-date plug-ins- Everybody loves a plug-in, but they have a high potential for disaster, especially if you’re not running the latest versions.

Outdated Hardware or Software Shouldn't Stop You

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Why Smart Money Is Moving To The Cloud

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The benefits of owning equipment are thin when what you have bought will be outpaced within months by the next generation. The new equipment will be faster, more powerful, and cost less to run.

Outsourcing to cloud specialists means running services on better equipment at a lower cost. And not buying equipment means those costs shift from capital to operating expenses. All the expenses are deductible in a single tax year. No more carrying depreciation.

When enterprises make the decision to free up real estate, skilled staff and time by moving to the cloud, the first things they move tend to be email, accounting, software and backups.

Accounting

"An accounting file on a server or desktop is difficult to access by anyone who is not in front of the computer,” says Sholto Macpherson, editor of Digital First, a website dedicated to accounting technology. “Once it is in the cloud, a company can access it from anywhere and share it with external accountants, auditors, company directors and senior management."

That is why the cloud is where innovation is, Macpherson says. “Accounting software in the cloud can plug into many sources of data, such as e-commerce platforms, inventory and warehouse management, analytics and CRM software. Software developers are prioritizing online software, so the cloud then becomes the best source of innovation."

Email

Email is an area where vendors have significant cloud experience and supporting infrastructure. That makes it another good choice for a first move in transitioning to the cloud.

Cost savings are just one reason. When the US government’s CIO told agencies to identify at least three legacy systems to move to the cloud, many chose email. Their reasons included cost savings and also the potential to:

  • Provide more reliable services

  • Upgrade faster

  • Offer new collaboration capabilities

Software

Software as a service means lower initial costs. And there is no need to add hardware, software or bandwidth as the user base grows, because that is up to the software provider.

The software provider also manages all updates and upgrades, so there are no patches for customers to download or install.

Backup

Cloud backup avoids a common problem in backup infrastructure: a company adds storage in the primary environment but forgets to add additional capacity to match it in the backup environment. With cloud backup, you simply take as much as you need. As you add storage in the primary environment, your cloud service scales to match it.

You reduce your costs because you are not responsible for the infrastructure. And those costs can be predictable with fixed pricing.

The vendor might also offer additional benefits, like making replication between sites and keeping multiple copies.

Switching To The Cloud Is Easier Than You Think!

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Worried About Defending Your Data From Hackers?

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Why the Best Defense Against Viruses Might be Off Site


If you’ve handed over responsibility for your IT to a managed service provider (MSP), the decision probably included the following considerations.

  • They’re experts.
  • It’s cheaper.
  • You don’t need to have as many (or any) IT employees in your office.

It can feel like a huge weight is off your shoulders, but for your MSP to make those things true, it needs tools. One of them is remote monitoring and management (RMM) software. Being able to access and service your systems from their office, not yours, is part of what makes managed service providers so cost effective and it saves everybody time.

What is RMM?

You might have heard of RMM as “network management” or “remote service software.” Whatever you call it, it’s software that lets MSPs remotely monitor client endpoints, networks, and computers.

RMM is particularly important when it comes to your security. With malicious code becoming a faster-moving problem every year, you want every device patched and secured without waiting for a technician to make the rounds.

Enter the Agent

RMM works through a piece of software—called an agent—that is installed by your MSP on workstations, servers, mobile devices, and other endpoints. These bits of software feed information back to the MSP about the machine’s health and status.

With this information, the MSP can see what’s going on in your network. It can target endpoints that need maintenance or updating. It can see where issues are about to happen and act on them without needing to go to your office. That’s less inconvenient for you, and it keeps down the MSP’s costs, which it can pass on to you.

The ability to keep your security up to date is especially beneficial to both parties. When an MSP contract includes support through a security breach, the costs to both the client and the MSP can mount quickly. Both parties have a vested interest in keeping anti-virus software up to date and patching holes before there’s a problem.

Raising Alarms

Your MSP doesn’t need to have someone sitting in front of a screen to keep an eye on your system 24/7. That’s what the agent is for.

When an agent finds a problem, like a virus or other malicious code it creates an alert or opens a ticket that is sent to the MSP so it can take the action that’s needed.

First and Fast

In short, RMM is essential if your MSP is to keep your network secure. It’s going to alert the MSP to issues before they arise, and if something does slip through the net, the MSP will get an early warning to fix it.

Why the Best Off Site Defense Solution is Current Technologies

Current Technologies has been providing businesses in the Chicago land area and beyond with superior IT services for 20 years. Offering companies a hybrid solution of regularly scheduled onsite maintenance visits with a specifically assigned consultant, along with 24/7 remote monitoring and support we can deliver an IT Service framework that is among the best in the industry. Current Technologies uses top of the line Auvik monitoring software to ensure your data is safe as can be. With this level of protection you will be able to rest easy at night knowing your information is secure.

Check out our infrastructure management overview PDF below to see all of the ways Current Technologies can help your business run safer and smoother.

Get Protected Before it's too Late

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We pride ourselves on having the capabilities of a large firm while still providing the personal attention of a small firm
— Phil Hanson, Project & Service Manager- Current Technologies Corporation

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Allocating Your SMB's IT Budget in Today's Environment

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Where Small- Medium Businesses are Currently Spending their IT Budgets

Businesses are in a tricky spot in 2018.  Global political uncertainty and flat company revenues mean IT budgets most likely won't be increasing. The good news is technological advances are allowing businesses to get more for less, and with a properly allocated budget your business can do the same.

Hardware and software

Research from Spiceworks, a network of IT professionals, suggests the bulk of financial allotment for the year ahead should remain with hardware (37% of overall budget) and software (31%). A combined 68% from these hand-in-hand tools is no surprise since these are the essential building blocks of any business. In order to skyrocket your business, you need a solid foundation. 

What will force IT departments to spend money on software this year is less likely to be new features than simple end-of-life replacements. According to Spiceworks, 46% of companies still use Microsoft Office 2003 on at least one computer. Even more startling is the ghost of Office 97 is still haunting 3% of companies. Software that is old enough to have a beer needs to be dropped in order to get the most out of your employees and their time.

Virtualization and productivity are at the top of the tree when it comes to priority updates.

Cloud and Hosted Services

This coming year there will be more spending than ever on cloud-based services – 38% of respondents consider the cloud very or extremely important to their current business practices (compared to 29% last year). This is due to the cloud's increased safety and ease of use in recent years. Email hosting is predicted to take up much of the 14% overall budget allocation in the cloud sector with online backup and recovery a close second.

Managed Service Projects

Remote Management and outsourcing of company IT infrastructure will take up 13% of the budget total. As headcounts shrink, IT departments are going to have to be more strategic in how they use people and outsourcing to managed service providers will become a necessity.

AI, VR and 3D

Artificial intelligence, virtual reality and 3D printing are out of the lab and into real world applications. The remaining 5% of budget spend is predicted to be invested in making these systems a part of everyday use.

For the Visuals out There

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What do I do with this Information?

As you know by now every business is vastly different in their needs and budgets. This is a snapshot of where businesses like yours are currently allocating their IT budget. Also take into account that as technology advances and becomes more practical, you can expect to see the percentages allotted to the cloud and AI increase. Being on top of new technology in your industry can really set your business apart from competition and make your employees much more efficent.

Get Custom Solutions Tailored To Your Budget And Needs

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