How would your company react to the worst-case scenario of your technology failing during a critical moment? By this, we mean a server unit failing or a hardware failure causing a catastrophic loss of data. There are other situations where you experience a similar loss of data, including natural disasters that completely destroy physical infrastructure; yet, the end result is the same, and it keeps your business from functioning as intended.
Even something as simple as a hacking attack or user error could create complications for your company, impacting operations to the point where your organization can’t even run. In situations like these, it’s imperative that your company has a data backup and disaster recovery solution put into place. In practice, however, data backup and disaster recovery are two very different things. Both of them are crucial to the continued success of your business, though.
Data backup has traditionally taken advantage of magnetic tape that stores data. The reels are then kept on-site where they can be used in the event of an emergency. While these might sound adequate on paper, tape is actually one of the most inefficient ways to back up your data. In a worst-case scenario, you could lose as much as an entire day’s worth of data, and it could take hours to fully restore operations. Of course, all of this is still assuming that the natural disaster or data loss event wasn’t also enough to destroy the tape that you rely on to initiate a restoration. All of these combined factors make for a horribly inconvenient and difficult way to back up and restore data.
The ideal solution to your business’ data backup and disaster recovery woes is to implement a cloud-based backup and disaster recovery (BDR) tool from VentureNet. Cloud-based data backups can happen more frequently because they take advantage of what are known as snapshot-based backups. These backups only occur for information that has changed since the last one was taken, which means you get more frequent backups throughout the day–often as every fifteen minutes. Since you’re taking backups more often, you will lose minimal data during a disaster. Plus, your data will be stored both on-site and in the cloud, ready to go for whenever you need it most.
The greatest asset that cloud-based BDR provides is that it can be restored to any connected device–including the BDR device itself–in the event of a hardware failure or similar disaster. This means that you’ll experience minimal downtime, which is a considerable benefit in itself. You won’t have to worry about finding a new server to replace your old one–at least, not right away. It provides your business with the sustainability to keep operations moving as intended, even under the worst circumstances imaginable.
To learn more about BDR, reach out to VentureNet at 214-343-3550.
Without a reliable way to stay in touch during office hours, your business can suffer from miscommunications and other, worse consequences. With so many communication solutions available to the average business, how can you help your business be as productive as possible? It all starts by making sure that your employees stay connected.
A Social Intranet
An intranet can be used to stay connected to your staff and all of its resources. It works like a portal where any assets used by your company can be easily located. Imagine having one infrastructure dedicated to keeping your employees connected to each other, as well as where they can access important software, online resources, links, documents, and much more. You can even include a phone number or a link to your managed service provider’s help desk, making it easier than ever to take advantage of technology help and assistance when in a pinch.
If you have ever sent an email with the hopes of getting an immediate response, you’ll know the frustration that comes from waiting hours and hours just to get a response that has come far too late to do anything about. Instant messaging is a valuable tool that can help to alleviate this issue considerably. It’s perfect for the moments where an immediate response is needed. Many instant messaging applications also allow you to create group chats or private rooms where you can collaborate on projects.
Internal Blogs and Documentation
Your employees should want to do a better job than what they are currently doing, and in order to guide them toward this lofty goal, you should make internal blogs and other documentation available that they can consult for any information about a specific task. In fact, blogs and documentation can significantly cut down on any time spent training employees. After all, the best way to help someone do their job is to help them help themselves.
Just like with internal blogs and documentation, you can foster a conversation about ways to improve workflows or brainstorm new ideas through the less formal medium of discussion boards or open forums. Discussion boards are generally implemented with the idea of creating consumable and accessible content for your employees.
A Ticketing System (or Help Desk)
Chances are that your employees might be somewhat technologically savvy, but they are certainly no IT technicians. This can lead to wasted time and energy. It’s more efficient to simply reach out to someone who specializes in this craft. A ticketing system or an outsourced help desk from VentureNet can help your employees contact someone who can help them with their technology issues. We can provide specialized maintenance as per your service level agreement so that you can avoid costly downtime.
VentureNet wants to help your business stay connected to all of its crucial elements. To learn more, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.
The cloud is a great asset for any business, whether you’re a major enterprise or a small family-owned operation. However, there are different types of hosted solutions, and they all offer various benefits and hindrances for your business. What’s the best type of cloud for your organization, and how can you protect the security and integrity of the data stored in it?
There are generally three types of clouds: public, private, and hybrid. Each of these has their own distinct benefits, and depending on the type of business you run, you might be more inclined to select one over the other.
There are many reasons for a small business to select a public cloud as its preferred solution. For one, it removes the responsibility of management and maintenance from your company’s shoulders, allowing you to focus on operations. It has gotten to the point where public cloud solutions are both affordable and quite secure (for the most part), which means that even small businesses with limited budgets can take advantage of the basic aspects of a public cloud-hosted solution.
The main issue that businesses have with public clouds is that they don’t have as much control over their data–or the management of it. Basically, the public cloud is secured and maintained by those hosting it, which limits the ability of companies to implement secondary or more advanced security features. Consider whether your organization wants and needs this additional customization and security before investing in a public cloud.
A private cloud, however, is generally hosted in-house on your company’s hardware, which enhances the security of your cloud system. As long as you have the computing resources, you can customize and control your cloud solution as you see fit. This is the preferred method of cloud management for organizations that have in-house teams dedicated to maintaining advanced computing infrastructures.
Of course, for companies that don’t have internal IT departments, the lack of regular maintenance and management can lead to wasted resources and crippling disasters. If you don’t take care of your technology, it can come back to bite you when you need access to it most. Thankfully, there is a middle-ground solution that works for both small businesses and larger enterprises: a managed private cloud.
Our Managed Private Cloud Solution
Small businesses can take advantage of a private cloud solution without the need to maintain the server hardware or other technology required, and it’s all thanks to modern managed IT solutions. VentureNet can help your company implement an on-premise private cloud solution that we can remotely monitor and maintain. This keeps you more focused on daily operations and less on what could potentially go wrong. Since you have talented technology professionals working on your systems, you can keep operations moving forward relatively worry-free. Of course, if any issues do crop up, we will tend to them as needed.
If you’d rather your office didn’t have to worry about an in-house infrastructure, we can help you with that as well. We can partition off a portion of our in-house infrastructure to host your managed private cloud solution. Or for organizations that want the security of a private cloud with the cost reduction that often comes with a public cloud, we can set up a hybrid cloud interface. This will enable you to both manage and maintain the core computing construct of your business, while taking advantage of offsite resources for less-important parts of your computing infrastructure. All you will need is access to the Internet, and we’ll take care of the rest.
To learn more about hosted private cloud solutions from VentureNet, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.
Cloud computing has been a godsend for many businesses by providing the flexibility and scalability they need to grow and enhance their offerings. Cloud computing, of course, also provides some capital cost reduction. There is no question that the cloud brings plenty of benefits to companies small or large–they now have the ability to pay per month for the computing resources they were making hefty capital investments for not too long ago; and, by-in-large, these investments pay off.
One problem we’ve seen over the years is that companies are so enthusiastic about the prospects of moving data and business process to the cloud that they don’t properly plan their implementations. This can present organizations with wild scenarios where data is all over the place and that their once-reliable in-house computing environment is now disjointed and not working in concert with cloud-based resources.
In order to keep this from happening, organizations need to do their due diligence and find the cloud platform that is right for their needs, while proactively considering the threats their business faces by performing a hasty migration.
What’s missing from the cloud? For many businesses, proper planning.
Migration tips to consider
When moving to the cloud, you have to evaluate how you are going to get there with what you already have. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t consider their data, their applications, and their in-place integrations before committing, and pay for it afterwards.
- Start small and work from there– You wouldn’t dump everything on your on-premise network infrastructure, so why would you do it in the cloud? After all, these are still physical machines somewhere. Businesses should start with a single application, or process (like storage), or a new Internet-based application that is not critical for business use. Once this is successful, and you show clear metrics of success, you can start amping up your cloud migratory projects.
- Augment your existing infrastructure– A powerful benefit of the cloud is that it can extend what you are already in to. You don’t need to move all of your data and infrastructure to the cloud. Most businesses will benefit most from the hybrid-cloud platform. Moving non-essential infrastructure to the cloud can be a great way to utilize the power of hosted computing, without putting your business in jeopardy.
- Hosted solutions are hosted somewhere– You’d be amazed at how many people don’t consider how there is a physical data center hosting their “cloud-based” data and computing infrastructure. By selecting a cloud provider that uses industry-best practices in their management and security systems, you will know that your hosted data and infrastructure are kept on reliable and effective platforms.
- Cloud security has changed– Things have changed substantially in the past few years. Cloud computing has changed things in administration, but it has also changed things in security. With hosted computing that supported remote workers and anytime, anywhere access, network security couldn’t adopt the old “castle and moat” strategy because there were always too many holes in the firewall. This created the new security model where administrators and solutions focus on protecting data and providing managed access. If you are able to see the cloud as an extension of your on-premise infrastructure and create a model to ensure that data is secure and accessible, you are doing more than the typical organization who jumps into the cloud with both feet, only to fall right through. By looking at how you share and access data on your current infrastructure you will begin to understand where the potential security gaps in your system are, and then focus on patching them.
Call the Experts
If you are looking to move some or all of your computing resources to the cloud, you have to be more careful than you may think. The IT professionals at VentureNet can provide you with the resources you need to make a successful cloud migration–protecting the data and applications your staff depends on. For more information about hosted computing options in the cloud, or to talk to one of our knowledgeable technicians about moving some or all of your business’ data and infrastructure offsite, call us today at 214-343-3550.
Email is arguably the most popular method of business correspondence in existence. It’s fast, economical, securable, easy to store/archive, and searchable in a way that traditional, physical records can’t compete with. With billions of emails sent every day from all over the globe, there is a considerable amount of sensitive information transmitted within these communications. The criminal element is looking for every opportunity to steal and exploit personal data, as well as take advantage of vulnerabilities to gain access to a company’s data or network.
One particularly effective method of email fraud is impersonation. Sometimes falling under the categories of phishing, whaling, or SMiShing, impersonation email emulates a legitimate address from a non-threatening source that convinces the user to take an action. An example of an impersonating email fraud would be a user transferring funds to a 3rd party account on the order of what they believe is a legitimate message from their CEO, but actually originates from a spoofed email address. Another example would be if someone opened an email attachment that appeared to be a legitimate spreadsheet but actually introduces ransomware into their network.
Email Security by the Numbers
For those who are looking to visualize the risks associated with email fraud, here’s a look at a few recent statistics that show just how big of a problem it can be for a business.
- In 2017, the number of worldwide email users will top 3.7 billion, or about half of the worldwide population uses email in 2017.
- Phishing attacks make up about 91% of all attempted cyberattacks.
- Top three reasons people are duped by phishing emails are curiosity (13.7%), fear (13.4%), and urgency (13.2%).
- Email fraud was the 2nd most frequent successful external intrusion method in 2017.
- 0.5% of the top million domains are protected from impersonation by email authentication.
- Implementing email authentication would save the average company $8.1 million per year in cybercrime costs—$16.2 billion annually across the Fortune 2000.
- Business Email Compromise (BEC), also known as CEO impersonation, losses are up 1,300%
Reducing your Business’ Risk of Email Fraud
Most email security experts agree that implementing two encryption and authentication standards are the first steps to reducing the number of cyber security gaps that have been proven to increase risk of email fraud.
- DMARC: The first standard, Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance, or DMARC, authenticates an email domain, ensuring that the sender’s information aligns with the known information about the authenticated domain. DMARC has been found to detect the majority of email spoofing and impersonation and handle them according to the receiver’s procedure – usually by flagging them as spam.
- STARTTLS: The second standard, called STARTTLS, is a command that orders a secured connection that subsequently encrypts the email data being sent and received.
DMARC and STARTTLS standards have proved so effective at email fraud prevention that, on October 16, 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ordered ALL federal agencies to implement both of them within 90 days.
Federally Mandated Email Regulations for Businesses
DHS isn’t the only organization requiring email encryption as part of their technology regulations and compliances.
- HIPAA: Those entities in the healthcare industry that are required to be in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) must implement access controls, audit controls, integrity controls, ID authentication, and transmission security before an email correspondence that includes personal health information is considered to be “in compliance”.
- PCI-DSS: Companies that use customer credit card information are required to meet PCI data security standard. The PCI-DSS expressly advises organizations to never use email, encrypted or otherwise, to share credit card data. Because emails are generally stored for long periods of time, it violates the PCI rules regarding card information storage after authorization and maintenance of access control at all times. Still, many PCI compliant businesses choose to use email encryption as an additional security measure.
VentureNet Has Your Back!
For most small businesses, the idea of tackling any type of email fraud prevention on their own is extremely overwhelming. It’s a world of protocols and acronyms that the average IT decision maker often prefers to avoid altogether – and that’s just encryption. To get the maximum productivity while maintaining network and data security, modern businesses should leverage spam filters, antivirus and malware scanning, archiving/storage, hosting considerations, acceptable use policies, access control, and more. In the end, an email solution can have a large impact on a company’s daily operations.
The good news is that you don’t have to fight cybercriminals alone! VentureNet is well acquainted with all types of cybersecurity – including email authentication and encryption. Our experts will help you find the perfect email fraud protection strategy to meet the needs of your business. Contact us at 214-343-3550 and get secure.
Social media has an interesting place in the business world, sitting somewhere between incredibly helpful and downright dangerous for your organization. It’s important that you consider how your business is affected by social media so that you can both leverage it to your advantage and minimize the risks associated with it.
Many of the popular social media platforms are being used in the world of business, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and even other apps like Snapchat and Instagram–all of which have their own distinct uses. However, they all have considerable benefits and risks that extend beyond the individual platforms. Here are some of the benefits that social media can pose for your organization.
The primary benefit associated with social media is right in the name–it’s social. You provide your business with exposure across the Internet, meaning that your organization is being seen by prospective clients. On the other hand, you’re also being seen by competitors, who might choose to use the information that they see as a blueprint toward one-upping your organization’s outreach efforts. Either way, the point stands that you’re connecting with potential buyers or customers, which is a valuable way to make your organization known.
Despite the benefits, there are many risks associated with social media networks. Among the most important are security and productivity, both of which could derail operations as you know them.
- Security: When you sign your organization up for a social media network, you’re providing another outlet for a hacking attack. If your business has a website, you’re aware of the online threats that could pose a threat for your business. Many of the same threats, including password and username theft, can become a problem for organizations that aren’t careful. Even spam can be an issue, as you might be dealing with suspicious messages from “interested buyers.” The best way to stay safe while using social media for business purposes is to understand best practices. Don’t accept connections to suspicious individuals or organizations, and ensure that any passwords or usernames are as complex as can be.
- Productivity: In regards to employee productivity, your organization could face down a considerable loss of work quality or quantity as a result of personal social media use during work hours. What this means is that your employees might be too busy browsing cat videos or sharing memes with each other to focus on their work. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily apply to all of your hard-working employees, but all it takes is a few to ruin a good thing for everyone. Therefore, you need to take measures to keep employees from wasting time on social media when they are supposed to be working.
A content filtering solution as part of a Unified Threat Management (UTM) solution can keep employees from wasting time on social media or potentially dangerous websites on a per-user basis. This can keep problem employees from visiting these sites while also maintaining access for your marketing team and employees who can manage the access properly. To learn more, reach out to VentureNet at 214-343-3550.
The dissemination of data is of vital importance for your business, but do you understand why? Depending on the way your infrastructure is set up, you might be holding your organization back through the use of antiquated technologies. In a lot of ways, advances in technology have allowed businesses to achieve faster connection speeds–particularly in regards to connecting to the Internet.
Compared to old-fashioned cables, fiber-optic cables and connections could prove to be a spectacular way to transmit and receive information in the coming years. But what’s the major difference?
What is a Fiber Optic Cable?
What might seem like an ordinary network cable is truly something extraordinary. A fiber optic cable is constructed using glass fibers inside an insulated casing. They basically transfer data through the use of light pulses. Light travels through the core of the cable, which is insulated by countless glass strands that allow the light to travel through bends in them. There are two different kinds of fiber optic cables. Single-mode fibers use glass strands to generate light, while multi-mode fiber optic cables use LEDs to generate light. This light is responsible for the transfer of data.
How Fast is It?
Your business might be used to broadband Internet connections, but we’re going to use fiber optic cables for our example. Generally speaking, a broadband connection is going to be much slower than fiber optic cable networks. You might remember the painful experience that dial-up Internet provided many years ago, as well as how great of an upgrade broadband Internet was at the time. In much the same way, fiber optic cabling provides speeds that far exceed the expectations set by broadband.
For example, if you want to download a 45-minute television episode, the standard 20mbps speed offered by a broadband connection will finish the task in about 1.5 minutes. The same task could be accomplished by a fiber optic connection in around 1.7 seconds–a considerable improvement to say the least.
In addition to the much faster speeds offered by fiber optic cables, they also provide your organization with many other benefits, including the following:
- Higher capacity: Fiber optic cables provide more bandwidth for your organization’s connection.
- Higher signal strength: You can forget about signal boosters–light travels at a greater speed and distance without losing its strength.
- More consistent: Light-speed data is less susceptible to interference from electrical appliances, like the break room microwave.
Does your business need help with implementing a faster and more efficient network? Fiber optic cables are also an option for your organization’s in-house network. To learn more, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.
Network security is one thing that rarely stays the same for any business–especially with the ever-changing threat landscape on the Internet. No matter how much time you spend preparing for security troubles, you’ll always be caught unawares if you never assume that the worst will happen. You should be taking advantage of both traditional security solutions, as well as new and emerging tools that help you keep advanced threats at bay.
Regardless of how much your business’ technology grows, there is always going to be the possibility that even some basic threats could cause trouble for your organization. For example, your workstation will be vulnerable to threats like viruses, malware, spam, and many others if you choose to forego traditional protection solutions like an antivirus or firewall. Furthermore, even consumer-grade protections are often not enough to keep more advanced threats at bay.
It’s all a matter of cost. Managed service providers make these services more affordable for small businesses. A Unified Threat Management (UTM) tool is the ideal solution for many SMB security woes. A UTM includes enterprise-class solutions like a firewall and antivirus that keep threats from making an impact against your business, as well as spam protection and content filtering to keep issues out of your infrastructure in the first place. This saves you a considerable amount of time and money, as eliminating threats after the fact can be both wasteful and risky.
There are also other security solutions that you’ll want to consider, namely two-factor authentication and biometrics. Two-factor authentication allows your organization to add a secondary credential to any login portal so that hackers have more trouble accessing sensitive information. An example of a two-factor authentication system is having a code sent to your smart device, which would then be input following your password. Hackers don’t want to do more work than necessary, so if you make accessing your account challenging, they are less likely to pursue the opportunity.
Biometrics make things more complicated for hackers as well. Biometric technology uses your body’s natural identification systems to ensure that only you are accessing your accounts. Scanning your iris or fingerprints are two examples of biometrics that keep hackers from cracking your security protocol. Unless a hacker has a picture-perfect copy of your eyes or fingers, they’ll have a difficult time stealing anything from your accounts.
How does your business keep itself safe from hacking attacks? Regardless, VentureNet can help. To learn more, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.
For the modern business, having a strategy to manage your employees smartphone use is essential. This is because most of the people that work for you have smartphones. One study shows that upwards of 90 percent of people under 30 own a smartphone. If you have any design on running a business, or employing millennials (who are the largest generation in the current workforce), you’ll need to know what you are doing to protect your business from the increasing amount of threats that are out there targeting smartphones.
An annual Wi-Fi Security Report conducted by Wandera found that, out of a sample of 100,000 corporate-owned mobile devices, 74% of wireless data was transferred using a Wi-Fi network, 12 percent of Wi-Fi hotspots used by those people are open and lacking encryption, and only four percent of these corporate-owned devices have been exposed to malware through an accidental or deliberate man-in-the-middle attack.
The man-in-the-middle attack (MiTM) is one where a computer will pick up malware that allows an intermediary to intercept files and correspondence between the two machines, and upon connecting to a network via a Wi-Fi connection, transfers the malware onto the computing network–thus infecting the network with the malware that allows the hacker to intercept any communication.
It’s largely understood that cellular networks are more secure than Wi-Fi networks, as cellular networks utilize high-end encryption techniques. This doesn’t make them popular, however. People will typically use Wi-Fi that is available. In fact, one statistic suggests that people are so addicted to the use of Wi-Fi that upwards of 60 percent of people will connect to any available public Wi-Fi rather than use the cellular data, even if they don’t pay for it themselves. Symantec’s Wi-Fi Risk Report corroborates this notion, adding that roughly the same number of people believe their personal information is more secure transmitted over Wi-Fi, and that 53 percent cannot tell the difference between a secure and unsecure Wi-Fi network. The report goes on to state that nearly nine out of ten consumers have put their information at risk by using public Wi-Fi.
At the business level things get a little better. While individual Wi-Fi use remains similar, businesses typically do a much better job of securing their network to keep malicious entities out. One way they do this is by setting up a firewall to keep their Wi-Fi networks away from the rest of their network. Typically, when a person accesses your organization’s Wi-Fi, they are then able to access your whole entire network. If your servers and other confidential data are linked to your organizational Wi-Fi, then an intruder who can manage to connect will then have access. By separating your Wi-Fi from your network behind a firewall, you will not only protect yourself from ambitiously malignant people on your network, but also go a long way toward safeguarding your network from cyber attacks in general.
Another way that the business can ensure their mobile strategy won’t hamstring their company’s network is by instituting a Virtual Private Network (VPN). The VPN brings additional encryption to data communication by creating a secure tunnel in which to transfer data. For the small business a VPN has become an almost essential part of providing your staff with a workable remote computing situation. Not only does it work to secure your business’ data while using available remote connections, it makes it easier to scale a business by allowing new systems to connect to it with minimal configuration. In doing so, the deployment of a strategic VPN reduces capital investment and is a major benefit for organizational mobility.
If you haven’t already, your business is going to have to address your mobile security before it gets burned. If you would like to learn more about what you are up against, or how you can utilize today’s security technology to protect your business’ important data, call VentureNet today at 214-343-3550.
Data is one of the things in business that you collect naturally and can benefit from, but do you have a system in place that lets you collect and store it for future use? Considering how vital data collection is to the success of any organization, it’s reasonable to suggest that data storage can be a valuable investment for your business’s long-term futures and goals.
Here are some of the most important pieces of data that your organization will collect. While your business might focus on a specific industry, keep in mind that certain information can be collected and used across industries, making it incredibly valuable regardless of your business’s specialization.
Where would your business be if not for the patronage of various clientele? The people who buy your product or service will generally provide various types of information to your organization, which you can then store for later access should you lose it. Information that you will want to save for future communications with clients include email addresses, mailing addresses, and phone numbers. This is all vital to keeping communications open should you encounter a situation where it’s impossible to keep in touch with your clients.
Just like with your clients, you want your vendor communications and contacts to be stored somewhere in the event that these records are lost. Vendors are any organization whose services or products you depend on in order to facilitate operations. On the IT side of things, this could be a software developer or a hardware distributor. On the utilities side, you might have your Internet service provider, electric provider, air conditioning/heating, or otherwise. Your vendor information can constitute anything that allows your office to be an environment where work can be fulfilled. You will want to make sure that this information is available in the event a disaster strikes.
Big data is a concept of analyzing congregated data sets to reveal trends and associations within the data set. Any data that can be collected and stored with the intention of using it for your business’s future can, and likely should be analyzed. This includes extrapolating associations from data in a way that you can utilize it to shift business strategies or alter operational priorities. Big data analytics is often used to help a business set initiatives and eliminate wasted time and resources.
To begin to take full advantage of your business’s data, reach out to VentureNet at 214-343-3550.