Data Management and the Small Business

All businesses need to be as efficient with their resources as possible. You might be surprised by the difference you can make simply by using your data more effectively. Stronger data management platforms, or DMPs, can put you in a better position to understand your organization’s needs, including its market and its customers. It’s time to look at how a DMP can make your business more effective and resource-efficient.

 

Data Management

If you’re new to data management, you might be surprised to find out that your organization creates, receives, and stores a considerable amount of data that can be leveraged to its benefit. Unfortunately, most businesses have this data not in one single location, but strewn across their entire network. Some of this data might even be found on old servers, in the cloud, or on disk drives.

 

First, you’ll have to determine what your business’ storage needs are. You should aim to centralize your storage without making it too complicated, all while keeping costs to a minimum. VentureNet can help you make the choice that’s best for your business. Once your data is in a convenient location, your data management system will be much more effective.

 

Data Warehousing

Business intelligence platforms can allow your organization to take advantage of high-end business analysis, but you’ll need a data warehousing solution before you can truly leverage it. A data warehouse is a location where you can run business intelligence (BI) and business analytics (BA) software to improve your business. Innovative software can help you crawl through standing data to discover new trends.

 

What are BI and BA?

While they might sound similar, BI and BA are two different things. Business analysis is the act of defining how certain strategies and processes work, as well as outlining why they are used. The business analyst will generally identify ways in which these processes aren’t used as efficiently as they could be, or even predict the outcome of a particular situation.

 

Business intelligence, on the other hand, is using your business’ data to determine what your business is doing, how it’s being done, and the results of such actions. You can use business intelligence to determine metrics for measuring the effectiveness of your business.

 

Data Backup

Of course, when you have so much data being used in everyday operations, you’ll want to make sure it’s backed up. VentureNet offers a comprehensive data backup solution that you’re sure to find valuable. To learn more about ways to use and protect your organization’s data, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.

Make Sure Your Staff Understands How Data Disasters Come to Be

Disasters lurk around every corner in the workplace, even on an end-user level. All employees of a business should understand how to identify specific office disasters and what to do when they are encountered. We’ll discuss some of the most common (and deceptive) disasters, as well as how your team should handle them on the off chance they show themselves.

 

User Error

People make mistakes; it’s a fact of life. Unfortunately, making mistakes in the workplace carries with it a stigma of being chastised, slapped on the wrist, or punished, making it enticing for employees to either not admit to mistakes, or actively seek to hide them from those who should certainly be notified of them. As a thought leader and professional in a business environment, you need to take some time to sit down with your employees and reinforce the fact that it’s okay to own up to mistakes–especially when they cause downtime or lead to considerable issues for your organization.

 

Hardware Failure and Technology Issues

Users need to speak up if they are experiencing technology troubles. Productivity suffers if users aren’t getting the most out of their technology. Think about it–if your workstations are constantly at odds with your workers, they can’t get anything of substance done. Hardware failure in particular is nasty to deal with, as it can cost your business a considerable sum while keeping your employees from getting work done. Have them report anything out of the ordinary with your devices before they suffer the consequences.

 

Phishing Scams

This goes hand-in-hand with user error to an extent. Phishing scams are known to cause considerable trouble for even the most hardened business professionals. These scams convince users to send their sensitive credentials to them by posing as tech support or other professionals within your organization. Some even take this step a bit too far by posing as your organization’s CEO. Be on the lookout for suspicious messages that shouldn’t be sent your way, and never hand over information unless you can guarantee the authenticity of the sender.

 

A good data backup system can go a long way toward mitigating issues for your business. To learn more, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.

Here is a Short Introduction to File Versioning

There are certain instances where you might think having multiple versions of a file is important. After all, nobody is perfect. A file can be lost, damaged, or altered beyond belief, and you’d be none the wiser unless you have multiple versions of it. In this sense, file versioning is crucial to the success of any business that has an eye on the future and a fear of losing progress. Let’s take a look at how file versioning works and why you should take advantage of it.

 

What is File Versioning?

File versioning in its most basic form is when you store multiple versions of the same file in an inventory that you can view or restore at a later time as needed. Basically, multiple versions of the files can be stored, with the specific number of copies varying with the solution. The administrator can assign values for how many versions of files it can store, as well as how many there are.

 

It’s likely that you may have already seen file versioning in action. One of the best examples is the most recent version of any Microsoft Office application. If you shut down your device while a document is still open, you can restore these versions of the file if they are needed. Even if it’s a limited aspect of file versioning, it’s a good example of how your business can benefit from it.

 

Why Would This Benefit You?

Everyone makes mistakes, even the best and the brightest. If you use file versioning software, you’ll be able to have a safety net whenever you’re having trouble with your files. This is especially the case if the most recent version of the file isn’t available for whatever reason. In a way, it’s very similar to snapshot-based data backup and disaster recovery, and it has a preventative component that can be a valuable asset.

 

Does your business need a way to take advantage of file versioning? VentureNet can help. To learn more, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.

Here Are Some Hacks You Should Be Cognizant Of

In today’s modern business environment, your organization faces untold danger. There are several threats out there that your organization’s users could fall prey to. We’ve put together a list of some of the most dangerous ones out there, as well as how your business can respond to them.

 

Malware

Malicious software is one of the oldest threats out there, and damage caused by it can range from minor to incredibly awful. A particularly nasty variant is ransomware, which can encrypt files on your computer so that they are inaccessible to users. The user must then pay a ransom to unlock the files with a decryption key. We always urge users to never pay the ransom, as there is never a guarantee that you’ll get your data back. Instead, we recommend preventative measures as the best way to make sure ransomware doesn’t become a problem for your business. Be wary of spam messages, and make sure that you have a quality data backup and disaster recovery solution and are sure it works.

 

Phishing Attempts

Phishing attempts, spread via email and spam, are also a considerable threat to be on the lookout for. Phishing attacks are used to steal sensitive credentials and information from users by posing as someone else. While they are typically spread through email, attacks can come via phone or social media. It’s critical to keep in mind that credentials should never be handed over to anyone via email, or in general. If you cannot verify who sent the message internally, then be careful about sending any information to them at all.

 

Password Hacks

There’s no doubt that you’ve seen the countless high-profile hacks out there that make great headlines with the media. Sometimes these hacks will include passwords and other sensitive data that will be posted for sale on the dark web. Password hacks like these mean that millions of users could be put at risk at any given time. The best way to avoid this is to change your passwords often, or whenever there’s an indication that they have been stolen or hacked.

 

Denial of Service Attacks

Distributed denial of service attacks, or DDoS, are targeted attempts to launch so much activity at a server that it can’t possibly handle it all, thus bringing down whatever services or solutions are on it. These attacks are often orchestrated by botnets, large groups of infected computers that have been rigged to launch traffic at the server or infrastructure and bring it down.

 

Man in the Middle

Man in the middle attacks occur when an attacker inserts themselves directly between communications between two parties. This can happen quite often over an unsecured wireless network. A hacker can send data to both parties and interact with them, often without either party knowing.

 

Drive-By Downloads

Downloads can happen without the device owner’s consent. Malware or other threats can trigger the download by clicking on the wrong tab, a bad download link, or a dialog box. Drive-by downloads are dangerous because the user has no way of knowing what they have just downloaded until it’s too late, meaning that it could be something potentially incriminating or dangerous.

 

VentureNet can help you keep your business’ computers safe from threats of all kinds. To learn more about comprehensive security management, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.

To Backup Your Business’ Data, You Can’t Rely on Tape

To Backup Your Business' Data, You Can't Rely on Tape

These days, it’s unheard of to run a business without some form of data backup and disaster recovery in place, no matter how basic or crude. In a worst-case scenario, you could lose so much more than just your business’ data. All of the future ramifications of such an event compound and can snowball into a situation that makes it borderline impossible for your organization to recover. Therefore, the best way to approach this situation is to make sure that it doesn’t happen in the first place.

For a long time, the most prominent data backup solution took advantage of magnetic tape to store data. The cassette would then be stored either off-site or on site to be used in the event of a disaster. These tape backups are also subject to user error, so unfortunately, they cannot be as reliable as a solution that is automated. As such, tape backup pales in comparison to the gold standard of data backup and disaster recovery, BDR, which takes advantage of the cloud.

When it comes to tape backup, the lack of automation really hurts its chances of being a viable solution. An employee would have to set a tape backup so that it could be successful, and without doing so, no backup is taken. Since there is no room for user error, tape backup is naturally an inferior option compared to the automated systems you get from a network-attached BDR. If someone fails to set the tape backup, an entire day’s worth of data could be put in jeopardy.

Tape backup is also far from the ideal solution because it is limited in its ability to really help your business. Since tape backup is too resource-intensive to happen more than once a day, it has to be done after-hours when there is less strain on the network. This means that more data could potentially be lost. Furthermore, physical tape backups can be destroyed by fires and floods or corrupted by hacking attacks. They can be destroyed just as easily as the rest of your organization, and as such, must be stored off-site for maximum recovery potential.

Just about all of the issues that you might have with tape backup are resolved by working with a BDR solution. BDR technology allows your organization to keep downtime and data loss to a minimum. BDR can take backups as often as every fifteen minutes, making it the ideal solution to an organization that can’t risk losing anything (hint: that’s yours). Since data is stored off-site in a safe location, you don’t need to worry about external sources messing with your odds of survival.

CRM or ERP: Which Is Right for You?

CRM or ERP: Which Is Right for You?

At first glance, a customer relationship management (CRM) solution and an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution might seem quite similar. They are both ways to help you get the most out of what you have using technology solutions, but they have specific uses in a business environment.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Simply put, a CRM is designed to provide businesses with a way to seamlessly communicate with and manage both current and prospective clients. CRM solutions are often used to automate certain operations and generally make the sales process much easier and more efficient. Here are some of the major ways a CRM can help a business:

Better customer communicationsOrganization for your sales teamsRevenue creationAbility to target potential customersCustomer loyalty and satisfaction

Ultimately, a CRM is designed to keep your business’ customers engaged with your brand or product. This helps to retain and improve sales figures, all while helping you build and maintain relationships with clients. It’s the ideal way to manage operations, onboard new clients, and push them through your sales process.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) In direct contrast to the customer-side of the business model, the enterprise resource planning solution looks internally to better manage operations and internal data. It’s a one-stop resource for sharing data—-all of which represents the different parts of your business. Typically used in manufacturing, the ERP presents quite a few options to manage the supply chain as well as internal business operations. The ERP can provide the following benefits to a business:

Provide resources to employees for the purposes of planning and collaboratingStreamline internal processes with seamless access to important data and resourcesImprove collaboration and visibility of important internal functions

In short, an ERP can be thought of as the central nervous system of your business. It provides near-constant access to information and resources that are required for streamlining internal operations, making it crucial for the success of any organization.

Are Healthcare Providers Meeting HITECH Standards?

Are Healthcare Providers Meeting HITECH Standards?

Compliance can be difficult for some businesses. They might know that it’s a necessity–and may even know what they have to do–but they just have trouble implementing practices that are designed to guarantee the meet their regulatory responsibilities. HIPAA and HITECH compliance laws in particular are difficult to navigate, and the results of failing to adhere to them can be dire.

Automation Helps Deliver Secure Networks and Infrastructure

Automation Helps Deliver Secure Networks and Infrastructure

If you do it manually, your business is spending countless hours on implementing patches and security updates. That’s not even mentioning the many other tasks that pile up if your technicians are simply too busy to get to them. Wouldn’t it be nice if these routine maintenances could be issued without the need for an on-site visit? Automation maintenance and management can certainly be worth the investment.

Highly Regulated Industries Come with Their Own Demands

Highly Regulated Industries Come with Their Own Demands

Regulations are put on certain data constructs for a reason: the data within is sensitive. Today, there are seemingly more regulations than ever, and as the GDPR kicks in for organizations that deal with EU-based organizations, we thought it would be a good time to talk about how to navigate these highly-regulated environments to ensure success and security.

While there are movements of industry professionals lobbying for improvements to some personal data protection laws, not much has been done about it by legislators in the U.S. The regulations that are on the books work to protect certain types of personal information, but there isn’t that overreaching article that states there will be consequences for losing someone else’s personal information. Within certain environments however, it is extremely important to know how to navigate as not to mistakenly expose information that has no business being shared.

In Healthcare We’ll start with healthcare, as it is the most prevalent. Healthcare data is protected, and that protection is regulated, and all for good reason. This information is the most personal information a person can reveal and has no business being in possession of anyone but the provider, the insurer, and the patient. The most well-known regulation for healthcare in the United States is called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It was constructed to keep personal healthcare data secure as new systems of transfer and new insurance practices were being implemented.

Healthcare information isn’t all handled the same. There are a multitude of organizations that oversee different parts of the healthcare process. The Center for Medicare/Medicaid services focuses on patient care, while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) focuses on the safety of workers. This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. With so many regulatory agencies thumbing around it can be difficult to ascertain which practices are the best practices, and which strategies work to keep every party involved insulated from having their sensitive information compromised.

For the healthcare providers it can be pretty harrowing, since they are for-profit businesses and need to keep certain information on the ready to facilitate solid operational integrity, as well as to ensure that rising costs aren’t sinking their practice. So many providers are constantly revisiting the best ways to stay compliant, while transforming their policies around the existing standards of data protection. This creates a lot of headaches and toiling over policy. One of the best ways to navigate this arena is to set defined practices that work to mitigate redundancy.

Is the Internet of Things Growing Too Fast for Everyone’s Good?

Is the Internet of Things Growing Too Fast for Everyone's Good?

The Internet of Things is no longer a pipe dream that could become a major influencer in the technology market. It is now a reality, and as such, you need to take measures to ensure that it doesn’t become a major issue for your business. How big is the Internet of Things, truly, and how does this influence your business? Is there even any hope that you can protect yourself from it? Read on to find out.

In fact, it wasn’t so long ago that the Internet of Things became a notoriously dangerous entity, and it’s all thanks to a little something called a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. A DDoS attack is an attack that uses many hacked devices to target a system. In this case, the devices were infected with a malware variant known as Mirai. Together, the devices created a massive botnet that was used to attack Dyn, one of the largest domain name providers out there. But the real victims of this attack were much more widespread than just Dyn–any services that relied on its services, including Amazon and Twitter, were also influenced by the attack.

This fear of a major mobile device botnet is what fuels the debate about the future of the Internet of Things and brings into question whether or not its rapid growth is something to be concerned about. When millions of devices can be connected to create a malicious network and orchestrate a massive attack that downs even the sturdiest of networks, you know that you’re dealing with a formidable force. The Mirai botnet specifically targeted devices that haven’t changed their default passwords and considering how few users actually change them in the first place, it seems that this tactic was quite successful.

If you take a moment to consider this, it seems likely that the more devices are out there, the more contentious security becomes – not just for the business environment, but on a personal level as well. Most of the devices used in this way aren’t devices that you would typically think of as having connected features. Some examples are automobiles, kitchen appliances, and even home controlling devices such as lights or thermostats. Naturally, the more devices you have in any given area, the more likely it is that there will be security issues in regard to them, so how can your organization ensure that it’s not going to be taken advantage of by a rogue botnet?

It’s incredibly important that your business prepare for any instances of potential malicious activity both on and around your mobile devices, including any connected devices on your network. If possible, change any default passwords found on your devices, and protect your devices with a mobile device management solution. All of this should be in preparation of a worst-case scenario–a device being controlled remotely by an external threat.