We Are Like Having Insurance on Top of Your Insurance

Insurance companies will write a policy for anything that makes them profit. For example, British Insurance has collected over $3 million from Californians who have bought alien abduction insurance. You likely have insurance protecting your company’s assets from every kind of threat, even the extraterrestrial kind, but do you have an insurance policy for your company’s data?

While you can give British Insurance a call and probe them about their alien abduction insurance policy, you would be hard pressed to find an insurance company that will insure your company’s data. The reality of not finding coverage for your data is actually crazier than believing in aliens, because data is what a business runs on, and if something were to happen to your data, and it could not be recovered, then your business would have a higher risk of going under.

Managed IT services from VentureNet can protect your business from the risk of data loss. We even go one step further by remotely maintaining and supporting your technology; and as far as we’re concerned, we think this is better than insurance. This is because a traditional insurance policy will only take effect after a disaster happens, whereas managed IT services from VentureNet will help to prevent disasters.

To be clear, you will still want to have insurance for your office and hardware. In the event of a disaster, it’s advantageous to have a check that covers your losses. You can think of VentureNet as the perfect way to supplement your current insurance policy. If you have both traditional insurance and our managed IT services protecting your business, then you will have your hardware and your software covered, which makes for a strong business continuity plan. Here are three managed IT services from VentureNet that will essentially be like getting insurance for your insurance.

 

Backup and Disaster Recovery Solution

A BDR solution continuously backs up your company’s data and recovers it in the event of a disaster. Even if a major disaster where to hit your business, like an alien death ray vaporizing your entire office, your data would be safe because a BDR will have it redundantly backed up to an offsite cloud server. After the aliens are defeated by Will Smith, and your new equipment is bought and installed, a BDR solution will then transfer your data to your new hardware and your business will be up and running again.

 

IT Vendor Management

Another way VentureNet is better than insurance is because we are dedicated to solving your technology problems. As great as insurance companies are at customer service, finding new ways to solve your problems is typically outside their scope of service.

Our IT vendor management service is a great example of how we go above and beyond to try and solve your technology problems. This service covers your technology that we do not specialize in repairing. If a piece of equipment covered by a vendor breaks, like a copy machine, we will contact the vendor on your behalf and schedule a fix, saving you hassle and making us your one point of contact for all your technology problems.

 

Managed Proactive IT Service

With our remote monitoring and maintenance tools, we can service and support all of your company’s servers and workstations from our end. Our managed IT services go beyond fixing broken computers, it provides your IT infrastructure with regular maintenance so all of your technology will run smoothly, which means that you will have fewer breakdowns.

Having your computers properly maintained is like having your car maintained by a professional mechanic every night while it’s parked in your garage. You will still want to have your car insured, but with proper maintenance, your car will last longer. Having proper car maintenance means there’s less of a chance you will need to cash in your insurance policy from your vehicle breaking down. In this same way, all of our managed IT services will protect the technology you think is valuable enough to insure.

If you want the best possible protection for your company’s technology by having your data backed up, making sure that all the equipment in your office is covered, and having your servers and workstations run at maximum efficiency, then give VentureNet a call at 214-343-3550.

3 Mistakes that can Slice Through Your Security

One technology misstep a business will make is to think that having one good antivirus program is all they need. Having strong security software is just one part of the security equation; the habits of the user are equally important and are often neglected. An inexperienced user can void even the best security software.

You can think of your company’s network like a power tool. It’s designed to make your job easier, but like a power tool, when it’s mishandled, it can be dangerous. The blade that can so easily cut hardwood will also cut through bone. Even with all the security features that come with a power tool, in the hands of a dummy, a hand may be lost.

Training employees to properly use your computers is just as important as having shop class for a young craftsman. Nobody who values safety will give a teenager a circular saw and say, “Build me a piece of ornate furniture.” If you want to have an inexperienced woodworker build you a chair using a bandsaw, then it would be smart to have a first-aid kit handy.

Before you give a new hire login credentials and grant them access to your network, you will first want to send them to network security shop class. Here are three security practices you will want to train your new employees in that will keep your data and everybody’s fingers safe.

 

Be Careful What You Download

All it takes is one slip up to bring down your entire system with a single bad download. Without clear Internet usage policies in place, or if an employer doesn’t take the time to assess their new employee’s understanding of security fundamentals, then you are leaving your network vulnerable to malware from bad downloads.

One common scenario where bad downloads happen is when an employee finds a better way to do their job using different software than what your company provides. They will then download this software, even if it means clicking “override” when your fancy anti-virus software warns them of the risks. An employee that hits “override” may not understand that their favorite software may have been developed by a third-party company, and they come loaded with malware and spyware that will wreak havoc on your network.

To be clear, it’s okay to have employees download and use different software, but if you want to prevent disasters like this, then you will need to first train your team in the basics of network security, or at least have them first communicate to your IT support team what they want to download so it can be tested.

 

Don’t Make Wireless Access Too Easy

If your wireless network was not setup with strong security in mind, then it’s possible that an amateur may have thrown together your wireless router and passwords in an effort to quickly get everything up and running. It’s easy to setup a wireless network (many wireless devices are designed for plug and play), but it takes effort to properly stay on top of wireless security. This means using complex passwords, regularly making new passwords, giving each user their own login credentials, and more.

A common mistake that a network administrator will make is to have one easy-to-remember password, like “guest,” for everybody in the company to use. This approach to wireless network security can be detrimental because it also makes access to the network easy for hackers.

Think about how many different employees have come and gone since your wireless network was set up. Employees may have unintentionally passed on their working passwords to the wrong people, giving strangers full access to your company’s files. This is a classic human error that can override even the best security software.

 

Know What Email Scams Look Like

E-mail threats are well known, and some scams are obvious, like the one’s promising miracle pills. Then there are the email scams that are more deceptive and use the logo of your bank or pretend to be from a long lost friend. Even some of the brightest employees can fall for these scams.

A failure like this often stems from a lack of training and doesn’t necessarily reflect on the intelligence of the victim. For example, a high school student who has perfect grades yet lacks training on how to handle a power tool, will make a fool of themselves in advanced shop class, and may even lose a finger or two.

When an employee falls for an email scam, it works the same way as when bad software is downloaded. Even though your anti-virus software may warn, “This attachment is bad,” a determined employee can still click “Override” because they really want to claim that prize.

There is a variety of email scams hitting your inbox all the time, and new ones are being dreamed up every day. If you include even a 30 minute overview of what to look for with email scams with your new hire orientation, then you will be saved a major security headache down the road.

Don’t get us wrong, having strong security software on your network is vital, and to that end we recommend our Unified Threat Management tool. A UTM solution can filter out the Internet’s most dangerous websites and keep track of which employees are doing what online; but even our bulletproof UTM can be brought down by an untrained 9 fingered employee.

If you would like more information about our UTM security solution, or you would like assistance in training your employees on how to safely use your network, then give VentureNet a call at 214-343-3550!

Call in the Professionals to Assist With Your Upgrade

As your business grows, it’s inevitable that you will have to upgrade your technology in order to accommodate the growing demands on your network. Even if your business isn’t growing, your technology will age. Sooner or later, you will have to upgrade. When it comes time to upgrade, you can get the most out of your purchases with professional assistance.

Business technology is a major investment, and not just because of the large price tag. Equipping your office with the right solutions can be very profitable to your bottom line. If you understand what you’re paying for, and know how it will increase your productivity and revenue, then you will see the value of upgrading and do it with confidence. The IT professionals at VentureNet want to help you find an affordable technology solution that’s a perfect fit for your needs. We do this by taking the time to develop a business relationship with you. Here are 3 ways that a business relationship with VentureNet can help you get the most from your upgrade.

 

Having an Understanding of Your Goals and Needs

The advantage of a business relationship is that it’s rooted in providing you outstanding customer service. This comes from VentureNet taking the time to learn about the goals and the needs of your company, and then taking that knowledge to match what you need, with technology solutions you can afford.

Shopping for new technology can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t know exactly what you need. By not a having a clear grasp on what you really need, it’s easy to fall for clever marketing ploys and buy an overpriced device just because an advertisement said it was the best. It’s kind of like going to the grocery store while you are hungry and buying the expensive junk food at the front of the store because of the cartoon characters on the packaging, when all you really need is one inexpensive and nutritious meal.

 

Knowing the Technology You Own

Why do you feel the need to upgrade from your old technology? Is it because feel the pains of using outdated equipment, or is it because you think your technology looks outdated? It may be that some of your old equipment is working fine, or just in need of an inexpensive tune up, instead of complete overhaul. It may even be that the piece of equipment you perceive to be in need of an upgrade, may actually be working fine, and your issue lies with a different piece of technology.

It’s a bad feeling when you drop the money to replace something that’s not broken, only to find out the issue lies somewhere else. Part of the business relationship equation means that we take the time to assess your current IT infrastructure; this way, you can have confidence in the equipment you are upgrading to, and get the most out of the technology you have by extending its life.

 

Predicting Your Future Needs

With these two big business relationship pieces in place, (us knowing your needs and your IT infrastructure), we can now work with you and accurately predict your future IT needs. We have a deep understanding of how technology affects business, along with the technology trends. We can also analyze your company’s growth projections to get a clear picture of what technology you will need in the next one-to-five years. You can think of this service as a form of insurance so you don’t get stuck having to replace equipment that you just purchased because your business outgrew it in only a few short months.

It’s reasonable to expect at least five years of use out of most computer network devices. When buying new technology, one mistake that businesses often make is only taking into consideration the current needs of their company. Having an IT Roadmap put together for you by VentureNet will empower you to shop smarter so you can buy exactly what you need, right when you need it. A good IT roadmap will also allow you to budget for your upgrades; this way, you won’t get stuck with an unexpected bill when your old equipment breaks.

Upgrading your network is a major expense. To upgrade properly, you will needs to take into consideration your company’s budget, needs and goals, plans for growth, as well as being aware of the technicalities of how the equipment works. Otherwise, you might buy the wrong technology and waste your time and money. With an important purchase like this, it’s good to have professional help. Give VentureNet a call at 214-343-3550 and let us get to know your business so we can help you upgrade your technology, along with your bottom line!

Network Security Basics

The modern threat landscape is filled with horror stories of people that have been the victim of software vulnerabilities, hackers, and situations that could have been managed differently. Today, we will go over some of the best ways to keep your business from being a victim of a data breach, data theft, or malware attack.

Authentication

The best place to start is at the beginning. The first tip is to have strong authentication procedure. Most machines, network-attached devices, and wireless devices that use company Wi-Fi will already have a password-based authorization system. With strong enough passwords in place, a password-only system can be enough to keep most threats out, but these days your business depends on you being sure that all threats are prevented. A multi-factor authentication (MFA) system is a great solution to this issue. Often deployed with two-factor authentication (2FA), an authentication system works to make getting into a system more difficult, therefore enhancing security.

 

The way two-factor authentication works to secure authorization is pretty simple. A login system with a password is used as normal, but after the login and password are entered, instead of taking the user to the information, it takes them to another screen that requires a randomly-created code processed by a third-party authentication app to be entered. Most people choose to use their mobile device to facilitate (and expediate) the entire process. If this is the case, the device has to be given authorization by an administrator of the 2FA system. Ultimately, for the modern small business, 2FA can improve their authentication procedures enough to ensure security is maintained.

Protecting Your Environment

For the Local Area Network or Wide Area Network, security best practices are pretty straight forward. First, you start with authentication (of course), but in order to secure the machines and data that make up the computing network, there needs to be a dedication to three entirely separate strategies. They are: software, physical security, and training.

Software

Software has long been a part of a comprehensive network security strategy. Firewalls, antivirus, content filtering, spam detection, and other software tools are deployed to protect organizational data. Some organizations are now using email encryption systems to ensure that business messages aren’t able to be intercepted.

 

Tip: To find the right software solutions, and where to deploy them, consider your organization’s data flow. The more you know how your data flows, the easier–and more cost effective–implementing security will be.

Physical Security

You may not think that physical security is that important to protect network security, but all it takes is one person to gain one set of login credentials to put your whole endeavor in jeopardy. Deploying biometric authorization for your business and server room has become en vogue recently, while a dedicated surveillance system with alarms and cameras can make all the difference in protecting your physical hardware and access information.

 

Tip: To ascertain what kind of physical security you need to implement for your business, hiring an outside consultant may be the best way to get the kind of security-first perspective you need to ensure your data, hardware, and staff remains safe.

Training

With so many threats out there, every business needs to have a comprehensive training platform in place to help educate and test your staff, who are statistically the weakest link in your whole organization’s network security strategy. You need to make sure they know what threats are out there; and, what their responsibility is in keeping your network free from threats.

 

Tip: Phishing is the number one problem for businesses and individuals, alike. Start there and move to more complex issues as needed. Everyone will be more effective the more cognizant they are of phishing tactics and remediation practices.

Remote Solutions

Nowadays, organizations need solutions to protect their physical networks, but they also need to ensure that their staff’s mobile devices don’t bring in unwanted problems onto the network; and that workers that work outside the confines of the LAN or WAN can have access to company files and resources.

 

Cloud computing has been one of the fastest-growing technologies for businesses. Since it transfers costs and eliminates some major capital expenses, it is being rolled out more now than ever before. The cloud also gives people outside the network the ability to access data and applications remotely. Many cloud platforms come completely managed and with powerful security and privacy options to ensure resources are secure.

 

Since most people nowadays rely on their mobile devices, businesses have to have a plan on how to manage them–or, better yet, use them–to the organization’s benefit. Creating a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy that utilizes powerful mobile device management software to give you control over endpoints is the smart way to handle these problems.

 

Network security needs to be a major component of your IT strategy. For more information about how VentureNet can help, call us today at 214-343-3550.

The Best Way to Value Managed IT Services

Can you place a value on your organization’s IT solutions? Sure, but the true value of them is really how much money they save you in the grand scheme of things. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the amount of capital your technology solutions cost could completely sink any profits your business pulls in. How can you optimize efficiency? After all, you can make as many sales out there as you want, but if you have no way of keeping track of things, you’re asking for a failed business venture. The answer is simple: managed IT services.

 

In the past, some businesses thought they could get away with administering the bare minimum amount of maintenance. This would entail fixing technology if and only if it ever experienced technical issues. The problem with this model was that it eventually became incredibly costly to small businesses. Yet, due to limitations on their budgets, they felt that they had little choice, as it was next to impossible to find an affordable IT administrator who could manage and maintain their in-house infrastructure.

 

The main difference between managed IT and other models of service stems from the issue of downtime. When a business is not running at its best, it starts to lose money. Technology that was initially implemented to save money wound up costing you in the short term, despite addressing the issue and resolving it. The issue is that it happened after the fact, and thus, downtime took hold and created unnecessary expenditures.

 

Managed IT seeks to actively prevent downtime through remote monitoring and maintenance. By preventing problems from happening in the first place, you can save money by correcting these issues before they become massive pitfalls for your budget. Since managed IT can be leveraged on a per-month basis at an affordable price, you have no excuse to not properly maintain your technology solutions. Ask yourself this question: if you could save money in the long term with a small monthly payment, wouldn’t you want to do it?

 

VentureNet’s managed IT business model is perfect for small and medium-sized businesses due to how easy it is to fit into just about any budget out there. To learn more about how we can make technology work for you, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.

Boost Your Organization’s Productivity

Productivity is a hot-button issue in the workplace. On one hand, you want to make sure that your employees have all the tools they need to succeed. On the other, you need to be sure that they are using the tools to get their work done and remain as productive as possible. How can you be sure that your employees are staying on-task and focused? It starts by understanding their motivations and their long-term goals.

Understanding the Employee Perspective

What’s in it for your employees? Depending on who you ask, you’ll get different answers to this question. Some are in it for the money, while others might be using the experience to learn and move on to a different workplace. Some might be in it for the long haul, and they might see themselves at a business for years or even decades. Regardless, understanding your employees’ hopes, dreams, and aspirations will make it easier for you to motivate them in the direction of productivity.

 

To this end, you’ll need to give employees reasons to invest in your company and do their best. Keep in mind that doing the job for the sake of doing the job might not be their ultimate goal; they might be trying to develop certain skills, learn about industries, etc. You should do what you can to help them foster the skills they want to develop (within reason, of course), because it might make or break their experience with the company. Plus, if you stifle their personal growth, you might inadvertently stifle your business’ growth due to decreased motivation and productivity.

Augmenting Productivity

Productivity is required in order to maintain operations without a loss, so you should do your best to establish principles and guidelines for your employees to follow. We’ve established a couple of ways you can augment productivity, but before we dig too deep into these, keep in mind that the following could have the exact opposite effect if you fail to address the above, which is the last thing you want.

 

  • Establish KPIs for friendly competition: Key performance indicators can help you establish metrics for whether employees are completing tasks on-time and on-budget. However, rather than advertise it as a minimum guideline for productivity, market it as a chance to establish competition between departments or workers. If they are working to one-up others in the company, they will surely reach your established goals. Plus, if they are more aware of their own performance, they can address issues as they become known.
  • Implement a content filter to keep folks on task: We all know the Internet has all of the content in the world, and it’s easy to become distracted with websites like social media and YouTube around every corner. While self-policing is always encouraged, there might be certain problem employees who can’t seem to keep themselves away from these websites. You can implement a content filter to help them stay focused during the workday.

 

VentureNet can help you implement technology solutions to keep your employees focused and on-task, boosting productivity in the process. To learn more about what we can offer your organization, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.

How to Value a Managed Help Desk

A world without any technical issues bogging down your organization is rather picturesque, wouldn’t you agree? The issue here is that it’s often not possible for businesses that struggle with payment to make ends meet–particularly in regard to technology maintenance. You can potentially prevent a mound of problems in the future by providing your team with the technology assistance needed to get them through their day-to-day duties.

 

A help desk solution from VentureNet is a great way to get around the age-old issue of not having enough resources to pay for services necessary for operations. We understand that not all businesses have access to reliable IT support from an in-house department, as hiring technicians can be costly; however, businesses have differing budgets, so what is affordable for one might not be the same for another.

 

Thankfully, a managed help desk solution alleviates the cost considerably, and it removes the risk of employees administering IT maintenance themselves and performing quick fixes incorrectly. Consider how much time you will save if you know that your staff have someone they can contact at any time for questions about a particular software solution or process. Place these two situations side by side and you’ll see much less risk and downtime involved.

 

Outsourcing your help desk solution will prove to be just as effective as an in-house IT help desk. Since remote technology is at an all-time high, we can provide support for your organization from anywhere, and we can act as the single point of contact that your business needs to guarantee minimum downtime.

 

VentureNet can help you put together the best help desk solution for your organization. To learn more, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.

Important Elements of Disaster Recovery

Imagine having a data backup and disaster recovery solution, thinking you’re prepared to handle anything that comes your way. Then disaster strikes and recovery is impossible. If you had tested your solution beforehand, it may have been possible to prevent this misstep entirely. What kind of disasters need to be prepared for, and how can you make sure your testing takes them into account?

 

What Kind of Disasters Do You Need to Prepare For?

First, you’ll need to outline the disasters that you should be prepared for. As they say, you should always plan for the worst-case scenario, and no event should be kept from consideration.

 

  • User Error: Everyone makes mistakes, and the results vary wildly from minor inconveniences to major problems that affect multiple users. This includes accidental deletions, shadow IT, and other issues that could place your business in a bad spot if unprepared for.
  • Key Staff Unavailability: What would happen if someone with important knowledge or permissions were to suddenly be away from the office due to some accident, personal emergency, or other reason? If this access is exclusive, your business could be placed in a precarious situation.
  • Equipment Failure: Most modern businesses rely heavily on technology of some sort, and that technology requires an infrastructure. If these were to fail, what would you do? Important processes and procedures could be interrupted.
  • Malware: Malware is a constant threat to businesses, and it has evolved over the years to become a force to be reckoned with. Considering how many different ways there are for hackers to initiate threats, you need to be vigilant at all times to avoid it from becoming an issue.
  • Natural Disasters: Most businesses fear natural disasters of certain types, and it’s largely due to their geographic location. Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, electrical storms… these are all risks that businesses need to consider when planning out their disaster recovery plan. While not all organizations will be susceptible to the same types of disasters, they all need to have a plan to address the specific situations they might find themselves in.
  • The Unexpected: Some scenarios are impossible to imagine, so it’s best to simply prepare for anything.

 

How to Be Sure You’re Properly Prepared

When it comes to preparing and evaluating your data backup solutions, you should regularly go through the process to make sure that the strategy is sufficient. You need to make a routine out of it so that the plan can be administered in a moment’s notice. Malware, natural disasters, and other threats aren’t going to wait until you’re prepared, so take time to evaluate your processes and ensure your employees are aware of them, too.

 

This frequent testing should be designed to evaluate the technical aspect of your disaster recovery plan, as well as your team’s ability to carry it out. As you collect data from these tests, you need to update the plan and resolve any issues that become known. There is no room for error in your recovery tests, as the future of your business depends on it.

 

Tests to Run

Here are some of the types of backup tests that you should administer on a semi-regular basis:

 

  • Walkthrough Test: This is simply a basic review of the plan, reading it over to ensure that everyone involved remains updated to any possible changes that may have been made.
  • Tabletop Test: Similar to a tabletop game, someone from each department comes in and is given a hypothetical disaster scenario. Each team member should explain what they would do in their given scenario. This is useful in revealing possible shortcomings in a business’ existing strategy.
  • Parallel Test: These tests are meant to evaluate how well the restoration process works, using a virtual machine to “restore” your system, which continues to run in your usual infrastructure.
  • Full Interruption Testing: This test is one of the most in-depth, but also the most risk-laden, as it could lead to actual downtime. In fact, some industries have regulations barring this kind of test, so be sure to double-check with your IT resource that this option is available to you.

 

Disaster recovery is such an important part of business that you can’t take any chances with it. If you want help making sure that your solution will work as intended when you need it to most, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.

We Get You the Right Tech

What kind of hardware and software solutions make up your technology infrastructure? You should know that all businesses have different needs, and not everyone will manage and acquire the same tools. Some businesses don’t even know what their needs are, prompting many to turn to technology professionals for assistance. We want to be the ones you turn to for your hardware and software needs.

Understanding Your Needs

The first step to figuring out your organization’s hardware and software procurement process is understanding what it needs to succeed. It’s critical that you understand that what works for one organization will differ drastically from what you might need. That being said, understanding your business’ needs can go a long way toward preventing server lag, network bottlenecking, or sluggish workstations, as well as buggy and outdated software.

 

By taking a close look at your organization’s needs, you can select specific solutions that address issues and improve operations. More than this, a close look at your infrastructure means looking for weak points and ways to fix them. VentureNet can give your business a network audit designed specifically to address these problems.

Discovering Vendors

Once you know what solutions you would like to implement, you can take the appropriate next steps toward finding a vendor. Finding the best connections, though, can be challenging without an existing network. VentureNet can help you find the best price point for your solution of choice.

Implementing Solutions

Once you’ve found where to get your solutions, the process of implementing them can begin. To this end, trained IT technicians are essential. Otherwise, you run the risk of the process not going according to plan, leading to wasted time and resources. VentureNet can help you implement your IT solutions in a way that makes for optimal return on investment. To learn more, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.

Popular Windows OS Facing End of Support

Whenever a Windows operating system reaches its End of Support or End of Life, there is always a period of chaos where companies are scrambling to react in time. Is your business one of them? If you fail to take proactive measures by implementing new software solutions before the end of support date, you could be exposing your business to unprecedented danger–especially considering how popular Windows 7 is with the user base.

 

Yes, that’s right. Windows 7, along with Windows Server 2008 R2, will reach its end of support date on January 14th, 2020. While it might seem like it’s a long way off, we assure you that it will arrive sooner than you expect. That being said, it takes longer than just a couple of weeks to implement the fix for an end of support date. Let’s take a look.

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