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February 20th, 2012

Thinking of adopting a "bring your own device", or BYOD, policy at work? Learn more about what it is, why it's becoming popular – and what you need to consider before rolling it out.

You may have noticed more and more of your employees or colleagues bringing their own computing devices to work—be it their mobile phone, tablet, or laptop. Or perhaps in your company or in other companies you may have seen, they have let people decide which device they prefer because they are used to it at home. You may not realize it, but this is all part of a large trend called the "consumerization" of IT, in which the influence of consumer technology is being increasingly felt in the workplace. With the wide availability of cheap but powerful mobile devices and online services, a growing number of people are being exposed to the latest technology at home first—adopting them at a rate faster than most businesses are able to manage. This flips on its head the old paradigm in which traditionally new technologies would be rolled out to businesses first, before they would find their way to consumers.

This trend, plus the increasing sophistication of young workers today and their frustration with the tools available to them at the office, is pushing some companies to adopt a "bring your own device" or BYOD policy at work. They are not alone. According to research by technology analyst group Gartner, end users, not the IT department, will soon be responsible for 50 percent of business IT procurement decisions—ultimately bringing and running their own systems on company networks. Meanwhile, according to management consultants Accenture, around one-third of today's younger generation of workers (a group called "millenials") not only wants to use the computer of their choice at work, but also wants control of the applications they use too.

The benefits companies cite to adopting a BYOD policy are many, among them:

  • Savings on capital expenses and training costs in using company equipment—compensating employees instead via other means such as flexible work hours, subsidized purchases, insurance, and other benefits.
  • Less management headache—effectively letting employees decide what to use releases the company from some overhead and management responsibilities.
  • Improved employee satisfaction—by giving employees the freedom to use devices and applications that they prefer.
However, before you consider letting employees bring their own personal technology to the work place, be aware that there are also disadvantages, and sometimes very real dangers in doing so. These include:
  • Non-standardization of hardware, operating systems, and applications. If your business operations require that some equipment is integrated with others, then BYOD can in the long run actually increase IT management costs and decrease efficiency.
  • Exposing your network to malware or security vulnerabilities and breaches. When your employees bring their own devices to work, you lose important control over their security. Consumer devices often don't employ comparable bullet-proof security technologies mandated by businesses.
  • Leakage of confidential or proprietary information. Employees will naturally do what they want with the data on their devices, even if it doesn't belong to them, or it's against company policies. Employees can also lose precious company data when they misplace or damage their personal devices.
  • Lower economies of scale in procurement. Essentially because everyone is buying devices on their own, you miss out on the chance to consolidate purchases and lower purchase costs for everybody.
Have you adopted a BYOD policy at work? Thinking about it? Worried about this trend? If you need to understand BYOD better so you can define a policy for your staff, contact us and see how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 9th, 2012

A worldwide shortage of hard drives is expected in the near future as many of the Thai-based factories continue to struggle with flooding.

In the same way the massive earthquake and tsunami damaged Japan’s electronics industry, the flood crisis in Thailand is causing concern for companies that require hard drives for production.

The majority of the world's hard drives are produced in factories located in Thailand, where the flood crisis has put a damper on many industries, hard drive producers included.

According to reports, the shortage is already driving hard drive costs up and may just be the beginning of that trend. As companies like Hewlett Packard respond to the situation, the outlook remains unclear. PC sales could be affected well into 2012 and beyond. With flooding still an issue for some producers the shortage could expand.

As of now, there is still no concrete solution in sight for the problem with the supply of hard drives in the world, and while reconstruction efforts in Thailand are ongoing, getting the hard drive industry on its feet will take a while. As for the effects on the computing world as a whole, PC prices will likely rise as pre-flood inventories are sold out and replacement stock is delayed.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic General Tech
December 23rd, 2011

ShoreTel’s new Mobility solution is the holy grail of Unified Communication, allowing you to use your smartphone as the primary endpoint on your company’s pbx. That’s right – now you can use your iPhone, Blackberry or Droid cell phone as your primary extension on your company’s phone system, while retaining your own personal cell phone “identity” as well.

The solution is comprised of two parts: a hardware router that sits on the host side and a software application for the mobile device. Depending upon the manufacturer, ShoreTel either replaces or modifies the mobile device’s dialer to add pbx style functionality like a display of the user’s pbx extension and options for transfers and conferencing.

In areas where WiFi coverage is available, the ShoreTel Roam Anywhere Dialer (RAD) uses the WiFi connection to make a PBX call. The software is constantly monitoring for WiFi connections and automatially creates a VPN tunnel back to the Mobility Router – no user intervention is required.

This technology can result in massive cost savings in International roaming scenarios, because instead of connecting via the cellular network and incurring exorbitant international roaming charges, road warriors can connect via WiFi at a hotel or coffee shop and place and receive calls over a standard data connection. The technology also feature a virtually seamless handoff to 3G and 4G data networks; should the user move out of the WiFi coverage, the software automatically moves the call over to the cellular data network if there is sufficient coverage/bandwidth. After a delay of 4-5 seconds during the hand-off, the call continues uninterrupted.

In terms of useability, users can dial internal four digit extensions and the app is smart enought to know to place the call in pbx mode, which shows the user’s company caller ID. Likewise, users can flag certain contacts as personal so calls placed to those contacts go out via the regular cell phone, thus showing the caller’s cell phone caller ID.

The ShoreTel Mobility Solution doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to user presence; ShoreTel users on smart phones can display their presence just as they do on regular desktop handsets.

The best part about the ShoreTel Mobility Solution? You don’t have to have a ShoreTel system in place to take advantage of it – it works with all of the major PBX manufacturers!

December 19th, 2011

Employees using their own mobile devices for work may seem like a good idea at first it's less expense for you, the employer, and they can also make employees more productive. However, it also means that you are allowing potentially unsecure devices to access your company's data. The solution? An effective IT security policy that balances personal freedom to use these devices and your need to secure important business information.

As technology continues to become more affordable and accessible to consumers, it's an inevitable fact that employers will see more and more of their employees using their own personal devices such as laptops and mobile phones to access the company's IT system.

This can be a dangerous thing. Since these devices aren't company owned and regulated, you have limited access and control over how they are used. Employees could download all sorts of malware and viruses on their devices and pass the infection along to your IT system when they access it.

The solution: a comprehensive IT security policy. It's important that you find a compromise between the freedom of the employee to use the device as desired and your need to keep your IT system safe from viruses and other threats to your data's security. Steps such as having employees run mobile device management (MDM) software on their devices is one of many actions you can take to lessen the risk of security breaches. You may also want to implement applications and software that check and screen for malware, both for laptops and mobile devices. And don't forget that while Android seems to have a bigger problem with malicious software, Apple isn't exactly virus-free, either.

Employees have a right to use their personal devices as they see fit, but not at the expense of important company information stored in your IT system. Running a tight ship in terms of security is an effective way to protect your business interests and your sensitive company data. If you are interested in knowing more about developing a concrete and effective IT security policy for personal device use as well as general system access, please don't hesitate to give us a call so we can sit down with you and discuss a custom security blueprint that's just right for you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 12th, 2011

Fact: all it takes is one security breach to destroy a company. But few - especially small businesses - seem to realize it, according to a recent survey released by StaySafeOnline.org. Results show that few small businesses see themselves as a target of online thieves or hackers, resulting in many having only token security policies in place.

StaySafeOnline.org, a website of the National Cyber Security Alliance, has recently released a study that chronicles the cyber security practices and attitudes of small businesses. Conducted in partnership with Visa, the study shows some interesting, if not disturbing, results.

It turns out that many small businesses (about 65% of the respondents) are highly dependent on their computer / IT / data systems, where they store important information, from sensitive company financial records to personal client information such as credit card info, addresses and phone numbers, and more. However, as many as 85% believe that they will not be targeted by hackers and online thieves, and less than half have data security systems in which they are confident. In general, small businesses have, at best, a mediocre security system.

Few realize, though, that it only takes one breach to compromise a company's finances and relationships with clients. And if you have less than stellar security, stealing from you is easier. You might not have as many online assets as big businesses, but hackers can make a hefty profit by victimizing several easy marks as opposed to bigger and riskier efforts with more secure systems of larger firms.

Don't take a risk with important data, and don't compromise the relationships and reputation you've built with your clients over the years. Good security is always worth it. If you're interested in knowing more about beefing up your security through company policies, software, and user education, please don't hesitate to contact us. We'd be happy to sit down with you and discuss a security blueprint that's cost effective and custom built to meet your specific needs.

Reference: National Small Business Study

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic General Tech
November 28th, 2011

A word of caution for Facebook users: Hackers and scam artists are now using promotions and all other sorts of come-ons to victimize users into falling for phishing traps or giving up personal information. It is important to know what to do to avoid becoming a victim as well as securing your system to prevent any unwanted data breaches.

As more and more people continue to use Facebook both for personal and business purposes it seems to follow that all sorts of unscrupulous individuals and groups will find ways to exploit this popularity for their own illicit benefit.

In the same way people are phished through email, hackers and scammers use similar techniques to fool Facebook users into falling for their tricks. The combination of curiosity and trust is what hackers rely on to make users fill in contact details for non-existent promotions, visit suspicious websites, or download fake software, all through Facebook. While Facebook has instituted some additional security measures to counter this threat, the consensus is that it is a generally lukewarm, or even cursory response to the issue.

What makes it worse is that you aren't usually the first victim – those links and whatnot appear on your News Feed courtesy of a contact who has fallen into the same trap. So always be wary of events or promos your contacts invite you to join.

The most important thing is to have both the right knowledge and software to prevent getting scammed not only on Facebook, but anywhere else on the Web. Facebook is just a new medium for scammers and hackers to steal information and data and they'll do the same thing once the next big thing on the Web comes along.

If you want to know more about Facebook scams and how you can better protect yourself both through training and the right software solutions – please feel free to give us a call so we can help you set up a more secure system for your business that's custom-built to meet your specific needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic General Tech
November 21st, 2011

I’ve been looking for a reliable, easy-to-use application to access my PC and network from my iPad, and after trying several apps, I can recommend iTap RDP. I use this app almost every day and it’s extremely reliable and useful. With a few seconds of quick setup, you can easily access a Terminal Server in your network, or directly access your desktop. It’s easy to pan and zoom, easy to use a keyboard, or even issue a CTRL+ALT+DEL.

I use iTap RDP and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an easy way to use an iPad to access the corporate Windows network or Windows PC. You can download a trial version on the app store, or learn more on the website: http://itap-mobile.com/itap-rdp

November 21st, 2011

Long-term cost-effectiveness. Simple, but comprehensive and updated solutions. Dependable and stable. These are just some of the advantages of using Managed Services to deliver efficient and custom designed IT solutions that meet your specific needs.

Many large businesses prefer the use of Managed Services to meet their IT needs, but many smaller organizations continue to be skeptical of this solution. Here are five reasons that will make you think twice about dismissing Managed Services:

Managed Services help control costs. In any kind of business, it's important to be as cost-effective as possible. Especially in IT, where unbridled or poorly managed systems cost way more that they're worth, it's essential to have a system that works with your budget but doesn't compromise on quality. Managed Services is the most feasible and practical way to accomplish that, especially in the long term.

Managed Services help you deal with increasingly complex IT solutions. With both hardware and software components of IT systems constantly evolving, businesses with limited resources may very well find themselves left behind after a while. But with Managed Services, you are able to enjoy the advantages of the latest IT solutions at a fraction of the cost – enabling you to provide the best possible service to your clients.

Managed Services give you a better, more dependable IT infrastructure. Especially for smaller businesses, it can be tedious to maintain an in-house IT arm; and you run the risk of stretching resources too thinly, which can compromise the quality and output of your IT department. Managed Services allow you to have a stable and dependable IT arm that's dedicated to meeting your specific needs in a cost-effective manner.

Managed Services offer more comprehensive and complete IT solutions. More often than not, small and undermanned IT departments are more of a burden to the organization they belong to – errors are more likely to occur, response and problem solving is a slow process, and staff members are probably overworked and underpaid, making them both unhappy and less productive. Managed Services, on the other hand, are completely the opposite, allowing you to utilize efficient and comprehensive solutions that are tailor-made to fit your specific requirements.

Managed Services help you maintain compliance. With the marketplace becoming more and more competitive, meeting different regulatory compliances has become a fundamental need. From Sarbanes-Oxley to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), smaller companies can often find themselves lost. It’s Managed Services that helps these companies not only fully understand the requirements of these regulations, but also comply with them.

If you want to know more about how Managed Services can directly benefit your day to day operations, please do not hesitate to give us a call – we'd be happy to sit down and discuss a custom solution that works for you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic General Tech
November 14th, 2011

For businesses, social networks like Facebook and Twitter can be used to connect your businesses with the general public. But through a unique social networking platform called LinkedIn, you have access to a symposium or conference of sorts, where you can connect with fellow professionals and businesses.

Among the many social networks on the World Wide Web today, one stands out from the pack: LinkedIn. It stands out because it is one of the few (if there are any like it to begin with) that uses the principle behind social networking but adapts it to suit business and professional purposes.

If regular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can help a business, LinkedIn can do so even more since it is specifically targeted for businesses and professionals. With LinkedIn, you make contacts that are more relevant to your line of work minus the clutter, noise, and nonsense compared to the more social feedback, comments, and discussions you are inevitably going to have from content you put out on Facebook and Twitter.

Another advantage to LinkedIn is that you are more likely to connect with people and businesses that help you move forward be it additional staff, suppliers, or clients. The site's recommendation feature and referrals from other contacts will help you find what you are looking for faster. Also, you are able to better connect to people who are in your own industry or are doing similar things, allowing you to better assess what else you can do to give your business an added edge.

Using LinkedIn is a definite advantage, regardless of what business you are in. If you are interested in knowing more, please don't hesitate to contact us so we can sit down with you and talk about various custom LinkedIn strategies that meet your specific needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic General Tech
November 4th, 2011

While online banking can be a very convenient way for your business to manage and keep track of finances, a weak security system can make it more possible for cyber-thieves and hackers to steal your hard-earned money. It is important to make sure that all possible steps are taken to prevent this from happening.

Online banking is a tool that many businesses utilize because of the ease, efficiency, and convenience it offers. Especially when it comes to small and medium-sized businesses, online banking is a great way to manage and track finances for day-to-day operations.

However, the increase in online banking also has the unfortunate effect of luring unsavoury parties such as cyber-thieves and hackers who target and steal from the businesses who use it. This is why security experts are urging companies to beef up their security systems to keep them safe from cyber and identity theft. The more companies rely on the internet, especially when it comes to managing finances through online banking, the more prudent it is to take steps to prevent that hard-earned money from being stolen.

One tip experts give is to establish proper protocols for transacting with the bank, such as requiring two people to verify a transaction before it is approved. This helps create a checks-and-balance system that hackers will be hard-pressed to get around. Having a dedicated workstation used for only online financial transactions is also recommended, as this lessens the likelihood of it being infiltrated by Trojans, viruses, spyware, and other malware that may come from the machine being used for other purposes. Having the right anti-virus and anti-malware software as well as regularly updating it can also go a long way in keeping your online banking transactions safe from unfriendly eyes.

Your finances are the lifeblood of your business, so if you are interested in how you can make your online banking experience safe and secure, we'd be happy to sit down with you to discuss security solutions that are tailor-fit to your specific requirements and needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic General Tech