investing2As a small or medium sized business owner, you likely have your hands full. Between managing your staff, looking for growth opportunities and keeping clients happy, you probably have little time to dedicate to new technology purchases. Being so busy, it can be easy to make a mistake when choosing an IT solution. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of common IT investment missteps that every business owner needs to avoid.

Investing in the newest technology instead of the best fit

It’s the job of every marketer to make you believe the newest technology on the market will resolve all your problems. And while the latest cloud or virtualization offering is likely to make things better for many individuals and organizations, it isn’t going to work for everyone.

Don’t let the flash and hype of a new product deceive you. Take the time to think about the results you’re trying to achieve with technology. Make a list of them, and when you’re done match those criteria with the product that fits. A GCInfotech professional will be happy to serve as your consultant to ensure you make the best choice.

Believing everything will magically work together

As technology evolves, it is inevitably becoming simpler to use. Consumers want user friendly products and solutions that are easy to implement, and nowadays that’s what they’re getting – at least most of the time. Because of this belief that all products are going to be plug-and-play, many business owners hold the misguided assumption that any new technology they implement is automatically going to synchronize with their other IT. It is simply not true.

Though many technologies are compatible with one another, your business is taking a big risk – that could result in massive downtime and wasted money – if you implement a new tool that doesn’t integrate well into your current system and workflow. Be smart, do some research or consult with a GCInfotech professional before making a purchase.

Assuming your team doesn’t need support and training

Now that you’ve found the perfect fit technology and you’re sure it will integrate into your current IT setup, you go ahead and purchase it. You let out a sigh of relief as you kick back and let your sparkly new IT solution power your company to new levels of success and profits in a SMB “happily ever after” fantasy. Sound too good to be true? That’s probably because it usually is.

Don’t forget that not all of your employees are going to instinctively know how to use the new technology. Consult with GCInfotech to review their support and training offerings for your particular technology solution.

Forgetting to create a budget

More and more IT solutions are packaged with pay-as-you-go monthly pricing. While this is a great way to help you avoid large upfront capital investment, if you implement too many different technologies too fast – and without thinking about the recurring costs – you could quickly run out of money before having properly created a complete technology platform.

Think about what you’re comfortable spending on IT before you open your wallet. Do some research, and either draft a budget on your own or acquire the assistance of a GCInfotech consultant to help you along.

Failing to get staff input

It’s wise to consult with the employees who will be using the new technology you implement, on a daily basis. It’s even wiser to do it before you purchase it.

The truth is that not all of your employees may be on board with the new product. They may actually even know some downsides to it you weren’t aware of. Regardless, it’s smart to consult with them beforehand, or you may find yourself in a constant fight getting them to adopt it.

Get a Single Source for all your Needs

Starting with your investment in new technology, and continuing through desktop services, cloud computing technologyremote IT solutions, remote disaster recovery, outsourcing disaster recovery and managed infrastructure services, GCInfotech is the one source you can count on for all of your support requirements. Because we can work on all aspects of your information technology, we can develop an end-to-end perspective to meet all your business computing needs-and thereby offer you better, integrated services than single-solution providers.

GCInfotech can help you take full advantage of your investment in a new technology solution, whether you’re just beginning the process of adopting it, or facing the challenges of upgrading, maintaining, and optimizing a system that’s already in place. Find out how with a complimentary consultation from GCInfotech.

Please contact us for more information or call 888-323-3066 to speak to our IT experts right away.

 

 

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org.  SOURCE

 

We all know technology is evolving rapidly – at times it can feel like software companies release a new update each week. It can be exhausting to keep up. But when it comes to business, technology is either helping your company to succeed or holding it back from doing better things. To make life easier, here are four ideas on how to use technology to keep costs down and staff productivity up.

Work together from anywhere

With the onset of Cloud technology, it’s now possible for your employees to work easily from anywhere – be it Bangkok, Belize or Boston. With Cloud-based suite products, employees can log on from remote locations and access company files. All they need is a web-enabled device.

Cloud-based technology also makes it easier than ever for your staff to collaborate. While one employee is in a coffee shop in Vancouver and another is at a desktop in your office, they can both be editing the same document at the same time. This makes it easy for your staff to remain on the same page, both literally and metaphorically, which in turn boosts both productivity and profits.

While many SMBs use public Cloud applications like Google Drive, Dropbox and Evernote, private pro-level options are available, which come with more security and more features.

Keep all your data in the Cloud

The fact is that searching through spreadsheets for information stored in bloated data sets can be a huge waste of time. By having all your data in the Cloud, all your information will be in one place. So when you’re looking for that critical client receipt for your taxes, you’ll know where it is immediately.

Thanks to its remote access and collaboration possibilities, the Cloud also gives you and your staff easy access to all of your data wherever in the world you are.

Identify bottlenecks and upgrade your technology

Facing the facts about your current technology is key to increasing productivity. Yes we know you love your tablet from way back in 2008. You even named her Susie, after your niece, because they’re both so darn creative. But let’s face it, Susie is old now and is slowing down your business. She’s served you well, but it’s time to upgrade.

And desktops aren’t the only technology that can slow you down. There are also unreliable internet connections, obsolete software and outdated email providers. The list goes on…

The solution is to take a careful inventory of your current IT technology and see what’s keeping your business from reaching its true productivity potential. After you have your list, update your technology accordingly. Then create a plan to regularly upgrade your IT resources, so your employees are never being slowed down.

Outsource your IT

As the old saying goes, ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Whether you have a part-time contractor or a fully-staffed IT department, the mere presence of tech staff onsite in your workplace can be a distraction. When you’re focusing on sales or setting up meetings with potential clients, a knock at your door from your IT colleague – because he or she has just discovered a glitch in your system – can take you out of the flow of the task at hand.

On the other hand, outsourced IT departments are proactive in preventing technical issues from popping up in the first place. They’ll fix problems without you even knowing they existed, and without distracting you from your core work. All of which means a great boost to your day-to-day productivity – and therefore profitability.

Want to know more ways IT can enhance your company’s productivity? Contact us today to learn how.

Your old PC may be costing you more than you think

In today‘s era of notebooks, tablets, and smartphones, mobility is a high priority-making small businesses more dynamic and responsive in an on-the-go world.

That reality, however, should not detract from the important role desktop PCs still play in today‘s business environment, delivering more power, more robust upgrade options, and more functionality compared to their portable counterparts.

While large enterprises typically refresh their desktop PCs once every three years, small businesses tend to hold on to their PCs for five to seven years [1]. Older hardware, however, often slows operations and sparks hidden costs. In fact, PCs more than four-and-a-half years old are estimated to cost 50 percent more to support and take 50 percent longer to perform many tasks [2].

So while retaining those still-functioning workhorse PCs purchased during the early-2000s might seem a prudent move, their continued use could be costing you more than you think. Here’s how:

slow-pc-solutionsRevealed Hidden Cost #1: Slow performance

As a PC ages, it slows and struggles to keep pace with current technology and business needs. Applications take longer to load, heat buildup causes Windows, the mouse, or keyboard to be unresponsive. Compatibility issues between older PCs and new software and printers all drain time, frustrate the user, and undermine productivity.

Modern desktops respond to today‘s multitasking, collaborative, and fast-paced business environment with productivity-driving features that allow workers to create rather than wait. New features include: touchscreens, fast-charging USB ports, and solid-state drives that reduce wait times when opening files or switching applications.

Revealed Hidden Cost #2: More maintenance

On average, 42 productive work hours are lost each year while an older computer is being repaired-two times that of a newer model. Annual maintenance costs for an older PC, meanwhile, sit at $561, about the cost of a new, mid-range desktop [3].

New desktops deliver a greater value in the present and the future. Their longer lifespan, platform stability, and increased durability stretch your budget further, and reduce the burden on your IT department.

Revealed Hidden Cost #3: Lower efficiency

Today‘s desktop PCs reflect the modern age with space- and energy-saving features unmatched by their older, bulkier peers, some of which have limited ports or require adapters to accommodate modern needs.

New form factors, such as All-in-Ones and mini desktops, embrace sleek, streamlined construction, reduce wire clutter with integrated components, and adapt to the task at hand. In addition to more efficient use of space, modern desktops also require less energy, as the power needed to perform a task requiring a fixed number of computations continues to fall in half every 18 months [4].

Revealed Hidden Cost #4: Security vulnerabilities

Hackers continue to view small businesses as easy targets, even more so following Microsoft’s end-of-support for Windows XP in 2014. According to Microsoft, existing XP users are “five times more vulnerable to security risks and viruses,” which makes moving to a new PC that can support a current operating system like Windows 8.1 the safest play [5].

Some new PC designs include built-in hardware and software security to help protect your devices, identity, and data. Most new PCs come with bundled tools that offer security from the start, with enhanced protection against virus attacks and other security threats, and is designed to help prevent data loss, and reduce downtime.

Doing the math

While those existing desktops had their time and place, the older hardware may now be hampering your team’s performance. Running a quick cost-benefit analysis addressing issues such as maintenance and lost productivity against the cost of new desktops might prove eye opening and inspire action.

With modern business-oriented desktop PCs, your small business can reap the benefits of technology’s rapid innovation with improved productivity, reduced costs, heightened efficiencies, and stronger security to keep the business running at an optimal level.

If you are looking to learn more about the replacement options that are available today, then let GCInfotech be your first call.

[1] Intel, How much is it costing your business to run old PCs?, 2013
[2] The Legislative Budget Board, Review of Replacement Schedules for Information Technology EquipmentJanuary 2013
[3] Techaisle.com, The Ageing PC Effect–Exposing Financial Impact for Small Businesses
[4] MIT Technology Review, The Computing Trend that Will Change Everything, 2012
[5] Microsoft, Windows XP support has ended

Published with permission from HP.com. SOURCE

In October of last year news broke about a new form of malware called Cryptolocker. This malware posed a particularly large threat to many business users and led to many quick and important security updates. Now, almost a year later, it appears that the second version of this – CryptoWall – has been released and is beginning to infect users.

What is Crypto malware?

cryptowall-exCrypto malware is a type of trojan horse that when installed onto computers or devices, holds the data and system hostage. This is done by locking valuable or important files with a strong encryption. You then see a pop-up open informing you that you have a set amount of time to pay for a key which will unlock the encryption. If you don’t pay before the deadline, your files are deleted.

When this malware surfaced last year, many users were understandably more than a little worried and took strong precautions to ensure they did not get infected. Despite these efforts, it really didn’t go away until earlier this year, when security experts introduced a number of online portals that can un-encrypt files affected by Cryptolocker, essentially neutralizing the threat, until now that is. A recently updated version is threatening users once again.

Cryptolocker 2.0, aka. CryptoWall

Possibly because of efforts by security firms to neutralize the Cryptolocker threat, the various developers of the malware have come back with an improved version, CryptoWall and it is a threat that all businesses should be aware of.

With CryptoWall, the transmission and infection methods remain the same as they did with the first version: It is most commonly found in zipped folders and PDF files sent over email. Most emails with the malware are disguised as invoices, bills, complaints, and other business messages that we are likely to open.

The developers did however make some “improvements” to the malware that make it more difficult to deal with for most users. These changes include:

  • Unique IDs are used for payment: These are addresses used to verify that the payment is unique and from one person only. If the address is used by another user, payment will now be rejected. This is different from the first version where one person who paid could share the unlock code with other infected users.
  • CryptoWall can securely delete files: In the older version of this threat, files were deleted if the ransom wasn’t paid, but they could be recovered easily. In the new version the encryption has increased security which ensures the file is deleted. This leaves you with either the option of paying the ransom or retrieving the file from a backup.
  • Payment servers can’t be blocked: With CryptoLocker, when authorities and security experts found the addresses of the servers that accepted payments they were able to add these to blacklists, thus ensuring no traffic would come from, or go to, these servers again. Essentially, this made it impossible for the malware to actually work. Now, it has been found that the developers are using their own servers and gateways which essentially makes them much, much more difficult to find and ban.

How do I prevent my systems and devices from being infected?

Unlike other viruses and malware, CryptoWall doesn’t go after passwords or account names, so the usual changing of your passwords won’t really help. The best ways to prevent this from getting onto your systems is:

  • Don’t open any suspicious attachments – Look at each and every email attachment that comes into your inbox. If you spot anything that looks odd, such as say a spelling mistake in the name, or a long string of characters together, then it is best to avoid opening it.
  • Don’t open emails from unknown sources – Be extra careful about emails from unknown sources, especially ones that say they provide business oriented information e.g., bank statements from banks you don’t have an account with or bills from a utilities company you don’t use. Chances are high that they contain some form of malware.

Should your files be attacked and encrypted by this malware, then the first thing you should do is to contact us. We can work with you to help find a solution that will not end up in you having to pay the ransom to recover your files.

If you are looking to learn more about CryptoWall malware and how to boost your security and protect your data and systems, then let GCInfotech be your first line of tech defense.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. SOURCE

In late September, Microsoft introduced the next version of Windows – Windows 10. At the announcement event, the company showed off a number of exciting new features that many users have been requesting. While it will be a while before it is released, here is a brief overview of some of the upcoming features you can look forward to.

Why Windows 10?

Windows-10-official-logo1When first announced, many eyebrows were raised regarding Windows 9 being skipped. In the tech world, missing out a number with a sequence is not the norm, yet Microsoft stated that they believe that the next version of Windows will be such a drastic improvement over Windows 8 that calling it Windows 9 would not do it justice. From what we can see of the new system, there really are some drastic improvements, including:

One operating system (OS), many systems

When Windows 8 was released, a slightly modified version of the OS was also released for mobile devices. While this was good news, especially for mobile users, the systems were still largely separate, with different apps, app stores, and more.

With Windows 10, Microsoft has noted that the OS has been designed to run across all systems. This means that different devices will likely have slightly different interaction experiences but the underlying system will be the same. For example, there will be one way to write programs for all devices, one app store, and updates will be applied to all versions of the same app, on all devices, at the same time.

A new, yet familiar, Start menu

Windows 8 was a drastic departure from the familiar Windows desktop layout. For the most part, it was despised by business users, who instead have largely bypassed this layout for the traditional Desktop mode. Windows 8.1 allowed users to boot directly into the Desktop, but one large feature has been lacking: a Start menu.

Windows 10 welcomes it back! As with older versions of Windows, the Start menu will be at the bottom-left of the screen, and pressing it will bring up the familiar menu of programs and options. Only now, the old Tile-based layout has also been merged into this section. Think of the traditional Start menu bar, but with a mini-tile based section to the right that will be customizable.

Everything opens in a window

If you’ve ever downloaded an app from the Windows App store, you likely have noticed that they automatically run in fullscreen mode. With Windows 10, any Windows Store apps will open in window-format, similar to any desktop app.

When apps open you will see the familiar taskbar, along with the maximize, minimize and close buttons. This will make it much easier to work in multiple programs at the same time.

Multiple Desktops

Microsoft Virtual Desktops is a feature that will allow users to create different desktops for different purposes and switch between them quickly and easily. While you will only need to install Windows 10 once, you can have a different desktop setup for say home, personal, and business use all under one user.

Each desktop can display different icons and layouts, but all desktops will have access to the programs installed for that user. Essentially, this will make it easier for business users who also use their devices for personal use or those who need to switch roles at work.

An enhanced File Explorer

File Explorer has been a part of Windows for a while now, and its main function is that it helps you to find your files and folders. In Windows 10, this feature will be upgraded to now search for not only your files and folders, but also to scan the Internet as well. You will also be able to quickly see recent and most popular files and folders, meaning you’ll be more likely to be able to find what you are looking for in less time.

When will it be available?

Microsoft has already released what they call a Technical Preview of Windows 10. Anyone can sign up to download Windows 10 and install it on their computers. We would advise against this however, as this version is incomplete and there will be bugs and compatibility issues.

The company has noted that this current version is really for tech experts to install on secondary computers and test, so business users will have to wait! At the time of this article there has been no actual release date set for Windows 10, but you can probably expect it sometime in early 2015. Microsoft has also been quiet about the price, but rumors are circulating that it will either be free or affordable for users to upgrade to if they already have an older version of Windows installed.

Get ahead of the curve and find out what benefits Windows 10 can bring to your business, by dropping us a line first. Tech peace of mind means the focus can be on creating a successful company instead. Contact us today to learn more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. SOURCE

FirewallCartoonWith the ever growing number of security threats faced by businesses around the world, the vast majority of business owners have adopted some form of security measures in an effort to keep their organizations secure. But, how do you know the measures you’ve implemented are actually keeping your systems safe? Here are five ways you can tell if your security measures aren’t sufficient.

1. Open wireless networks

Wireless networks are one of the most common ways businesses allow their employees to get online. With one main Internet line and a couple of wireless routers, you can theoretically have the whole office online. This method of connecting does save money, but there is an inherent security risk with this and that is an unsecure network.

Contrary to popular belief, simply plugging in a wireless router and creating a basic network won’t mean you are secure. If you don’t set a password on your routers, then anyone within range can connect. Hackers and criminal organizations are known to look for, and then target these networks. With fairly simple tools and a bit of know-how, they can start capturing data that goes in and out of the network, and even attacking the network and computers attached. In other words, unprotected networks are basically open invitations to hackers.

Therefore, you should take steps to ensure that all wireless networks in the office are secured with passwords that are not easy to guess. For example, many Internet Service Providers who install hardware when setting up networks will often just use the company’s main phone number as the password to the router. This is too easy to work out, so changing to a password that is a lot more difficult to guess is makes sense.

2. Email is not secure

Admittedly, most companies who have implemented a new email system in the past couple of years will likely be fairly secure. This is especially true if they use cloud-based options, or well-known email systems like Exchange which offer enhanced security and scanning, while using modern email transition methods.

The businesses at risk are those using older systems like POP, or systems that don’t encrypt passwords (what are known as ‘clear passwords’). If your system doesn’t encrypt information like this, anyone with the right tools and a bit of knowledge can capture login information and potentially compromise your systems and data.

If you are using older email systems, it is advisable to upgrade to newer ones, especially if they don’t encrypt important information.

3. Mobile devices that aren’t secure enough

Mobile devices, like tablets and smartphones, are being used more than ever before in business, and do offer a great way to stay connected and productive while out of the office. The issue with this however is that if you use your tablet or phone to connect to office systems, and don’t have security measures in place, you could find networks compromised.

For example, if you have linked your work email to your tablet, but don’t have a screen lock enabled and you lose your device anyone who picks it up will have access to your email and potentially sensitive information.

The same goes if you accidentally install a fake app with malware on it. You could find your systems infected. Therefore, you should take steps to ensure that your device is locked with at least a passcode, and you have anti-virus and malware scanners installed and running on a regular basis.

4. Anti-virus scanners that aren’t maintained

These days, it is essential that you have anti-virus, malware, and spyware scanners installed on all machines and devices in your company and that you take the time to configure these properly. It could be that scans are scheduled during business hours, or they just aren’t updated. If you install these solutions onto your systems, and they start to scan during work time, most employees will just turn the scanner off thus leaving systems wide-open.

The same goes for not properly ensuring that these systems are updated. Updates are important for scanners, because they implement new virus databases that contain newly discovered malware and viruses, and fixes for them.

Therefore, scanners need to be properly installed and maintained if they are going to even stand a chance of keeping systems secure.

5. Lack of firewalls

A firewall is a networking security tool that can be configured to block certain types of network access and data from leaving the network or being accessed from outside of the network. A properly configured firewall is necessary for network security, and while many modems include this, it’s often not robust enough for business use.

What you need instead is a firewall that covers the whole network at the point where data enters and exits (usually before the routers). These are business-centric tools that should be installed by an IT partner like us, in order for them to be most effective.

How do I ensure proper business security?

The absolute best way a business can ensure that their systems and networks are secure is to work with an IT partner like us. Our managed services can help ensure that you have proper security measures in place and the systems are set up and managed properly. Tech peace of mind means the focus can be on creating a successful company instead. Contact us today to learn more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. SOURCE

Microsoft Office 365 is made up of cloud versions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013, SharePoint 2013 and Microsoft Lync Server, which can all be accessed through a web browser interface. With so many different products in the Microsoft Office 365 Suite, comprehensively covering the migration process is a challenge. GCInfotech helped an organization migrate 600 mailboxes in multiple locations and didn’t miss a message.

Moving any organization to Office 365 is a multi-phased project that requires expertise in project management, change management, technical consulting, and technical support. For the small to mid-sized business (SMB), migrating to Office 365 comes with its own set of challenges, but support from GCInfotech can make this transition easier.bnr-office365-cloud

  • Your business may not have the level of Project Management skills required to plan and document every aspect of the migration.
  • You may have few (if any) IT staff with the extensive technical skills and experience needed to configure Office 365 correctly; move your emails without loss or interruption; and resolve any issues that occur.
  • You may well be restricted by budget or time, or worried about the disruption to your business, like many of our clients.

Take advantage of the many features without downtime, loss of communications, or difficult application migrations for your employees. Your business can continue to operate as usual while GCInfotech’s experienced technicians switch you over without interruption.

But even after a successful migration to Office 365, your needs for Office 365 support is likely to continue. As with most critical business applications, Microsoft provides Office 365 support and service upgrades on a regular basis-but unless you’re a technology guru, you might prefer to entrust an expert with implementing these key system changes. Here again, assistance from GCInfotech can help keep your infrastructure running at its maximum performance, and minimize the risk of interruption to your communications backbone.

What’s new to you is familiar to us: GCInfotech is in the business of providing Office 365 Support as well as supporting other IT technologies.

When we perform your migration to Office 365, you can rest assured that we’ve done it before and know how to do it right. Don’t “learn by doing” on your most critical applications, when GCInfotech can do it for you, quickly and reliably.

Invest in solutions, not headcount: GCInfotech’s personnel receive comprehensive training directly from Microsoft before they work on your system. That’s your assurance of expertise in performing your migration to Office 365 and continuing Office 365 support.

Count on depth of services: GCInfotech’s engineers, technicians, managers, and staff work as a team to ensure your satisfaction with every task we perform for you. Got an Office 365 support or upgrade question? Call us for the answers. We won’t stop working until you get the solutions you need to keep your business running smoothly.

Get a Single Source for all your Needs

Starting with your migration to Office 365, and continuing through desktop services, cloud computing technologyremote IT solutions, remote disaster recovery, outsourcing disaster recovery and managed infrastructure services, GCInfotech is the one source you can count on for all of your support requirements. Because we can work on all aspects of your information technology, we can develop an end-to-end perspective to meet all your business computing needs-and thereby offer you better, integrated services than single-solution providers.

GCInfotech can help you take full advantage of your investment in Microsoft’s Office 365 solution, whether you’re just beginning the process of adopting it, or facing the challenges of upgrading, maintaining, and optimizing a system that’s already in place. Find out how with a complimentary Microsoft Office 365 consultation from GCInfotech.

Please contact us for more information or call 888-323-3066 to speak to our IT experts right away.

As a small business owner you should worried about uptime.  In fact, it might be one of your major concerns.  If your computer systems aren’t up and running, then you are experiencing lost productivity, increased costs, lower levels of customer service, reduced employee morale and other problems you really don’t have time to deal with.  So what can you do about it? Plenty and GCInfotech can guide you each step of the way.

Many organizations start by completing an inventory of their IT equipment with the goal of identifying your Single Points of Failure (SPOFs).  GCInfotech can work with you on the inventory and identify your single points of failure, then devise a plan to implement corrective actions.  We’ll look at each component to determine if the failure of that device could cause an impact to your operations.  For example, if you only have one hard drive storing important company data, you have a single point of failure.

Once we have identified your SPOFs, the next step is to perform a business risk analysis of your equipment, systems, employees, and procedures.  We will make sure to include your email, operating systems and software applications.  The business risk analysis will identify the impact to your organization should you experience a specific IT related failure. For example, what is the impact to your organization should your internet connect go down or a printer stop functioning?

The business risk analysis examines time and its impact to your organization.  At what point does having your printer down move from low priority to medium to high?  Maybe you can last a couple of days without a printer or perhaps even weeks if you have other printers in your office.  If internet connectivity is important to you, and you only have one line, it may be high priority from the first hour of downtime.

Now that you have a business risk analysis and inventory of your IT equipment, the last step is a plan to build in redundancy and/or replacement.  In the printer down example, you may be able to shift printing from the down device to another printer in your office.  If internet connectivity is critical, as it is with most businesses today, you may need to install a second line.  A RAID system may help protect you from a hard drive failure or, you might need mirrored (identical) systems in different parts of the country.

If reliability and uptime is important to you as it is with most small businesses, identifying your Single Points of Failure is your first step to increasing confidence in your computer systems. Find out more about networking & business continuity and how they can help you increase employee efficiency, reduce costs, enhance your competitive edge, and improve your levels of customer service.

Not sure where to start? Give GCInfotech a call to discuss the available solutions that would work best for your company. Together, we can make your business work smarter, faster and more efficiently.

As always, GCInfotech can walk you through the process, ensure your business has the least amount of disruption and set up a structure that will keep you running smoothly well into the future. Give us a call at 888.323.3066.

Tips On How Small Businesses Can Secure Their Wireless Networks

In a corporate environment, wireless networking should be as secure as your wired LAN, especially with the growing adoption of BYOD (bring your own device).
Today’s employees use smartphones and tablets as an extension of their workstations, which raises concerns of how secure they are from leaks and hacking.
What can businesses do to secure their Wi-Fi network and at the same time tap into all of the resources on the corporate LAN – as well as the cloud -with confidence?

Here are some tips

Don’t rely on WEP encryption.

If your Internet service provider (ISP) set up your Wi-Fi, it likely enabled encryption. This version of encryption, however, may be an older security option that’s now easily breakable: Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). The Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption method was debunked long ago and provides inadequate Wi-Fi security. The WEP encryption keys can be cracked, in some cases, within minutes. You should use the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA or WPA2) encryption method.

Use the Enterprise version of WPA/WPA2

To prevent employees from seeing the encryption keys or passphrases and having them loaded on their computers, you should use the Enterprise version of WPA or WPA2 rather than the Pre Shared Key (PSK) or personal version. Otherwise, when an employee leaves the company, he or she will still have the key to unlock the network. Additionally, their laptop could be stolen and a thief could have the key.

WPA/WPA2-Enterprise hides the actual encryption key; it’s never loaded onto the computers. After everything is configured, users log onto the network with a username and password that can be changed or revoked. Most likely, you will need a professional IT installation for WPA/WPA2

Do Not Leave Ethernet Ports Exposed

Though you can use the latest Wi-Fi encryption, it’s useless if someone plugs directly into a port within the building and can access the network. Moreover, your employees could even plug their own AP into a port, intentionally or not, giving out open wireless access. Make sure that all routers, APs, and network devices are hidden and secure. You could use hard to get into locations like closets, or the space above false ceilings.

Use Extra Encryption (VPNs)

To encrypt the wired side of the network and for double Wi-Fi encryption, you could use VPNs. You can buy a standalone VPN server, install server software on a computer, or purchase a hosted service. Every computer on the network could be configured to connect with the VPN server. Then even the users’ traffic on the wired side of the network will be encrypted and double encrypted over the airwaves.

Eliminate Possible Connection To Other Networks

“We have seen cases when employees were intentionally connecting to neighboring networks because they were faster”, said John Murray, VP of Operations at GCInfotech.

Since computers may be sharing files or have sensitive data on them, you need to prevent them from connecting to other networks. Check Windows to make sure it isn’t set to auto connect to available networks. In Vista, you can even use the WLAN commands for the Netsh utility to block all networks but yours.

Keep Hardware Updated

Securing your network and computers requires some maintenance. You need to periodically check for firmware updates for the router, access points, and other network components. You also need to keep track of the network adapters that are loaded in the computers and update them with new drivers if and when they become available. Additionally, make sure the operating systems on all the machines are kept update-to-date with security patches and fixes. Keeping everything maintained will help ensure any known vulnerabilities are addressed and any new security features are supported.

Recent advancements in information technology have dramatically impacted the way law firms manage their offices.  As a result of these innovations, attorneys are now able to handle larger caseloads, have enhanced communications with clients, and easily sift through massive hoards of information faster then ever thought possible. The role that technology plays in the legal profession has become critical…and the growing complexity of technology cannot be ignored. Given the speed, sophistication and unpredictability of the new world of technology, So how does the average law firm executive manage to keep pace with and juggle all of the intricacies of their IT environment?

It’s likely that you’ve already considered hiring, or have in fact, hired an internal IT staff person. And it’s likely that additional salary, particularly one that is not billable, was a difficult and painful decision. Maybe there was this one person in the office who “knows a lot about computers” and was willing to take on the role.  Now, despite the fact that their primary job responsibility has absolutely nothing to do with technology, everyone in the firm is now relying on this person for help. Even a qualified outside expert who is brought in – even from another competing Law firm – will still have to now become familiar with your firm’s nuances and idiosyncrasies – and will bring a host of preferences and limitations.

Here’s are 8 things your law firm should consider when outsourcing their IT operations:

  1. Improved Reliability & Performance – Most outside IT firms utilize higher-end tools and best practices as they are in the heart of the industry and as a rule must stay on top of new innovations and latest and greatest technologies.  Hence they are able to identify and resolve the root causes to network issues more quickly than someone who is inside the firm.  This reduces any resulting downtime issues as well as the duration of outages that may occur.
  2. Skill-Set Sophistication – Outside firms are comprised of teams – not individuals.  Hence, in hiring a firm, by default you have access to a wide variety of knowledge, experience, specialization and skill sets. This ensures that all aspects of your IT needs can be met with the best and most current solution.
  3. Scaled Resources & Expertise –When outsourcing your IT operations, you’re leveraging a staff that is dedicated solely to fixing your computers, servers, internet, software systems, etc. They in turn spend money, resources and training time to ensure that the best service is delivered. You benefit from their investments – and save unmanageable costs associated with certifications, training, software licenses and education. This frees up time for you to run your business.
  4. Business Continuity – A good outside IT firm will monitor your systems 24x7x365.  They will also have resources on deck in the event of an emergency. An internal IT person, will offer the “illusion” of availability – but people take vacations, quit without notice – and in some cases without handing over passwords, documentation, knowledge, etc.
  5. Predictable Management Costs – Disasters are not predictable- and they can be costly – particularly if there is no disaster plan and disaster resource. With an outside firm, you won’t be caught spending unplanned lumps of money in a desperate situation (e.g. server crash). In these cases a set monthly budget can be used specifically for issue avoidance, prevention, and service optimization.
  6. Client Access and Visibility: Attorneys need to be available and accessible – 24 hours a day. For most clients, their lawyer is a lifeline, and knowing that their firm’s technical infrastructure is always at arms length can sometimes be the difference between success or failure. This runs across ALL technical aspects of the firm: email, phone systems, internet content, messaging, financial data, files and data access; any and all areas of client or potential client touch points are critical.
  7. Rock Solid Reliability: Law is a demanding and stressful profession. In order to justify their hourly fees, Attorneys cannot afford to spend any time or energy dealing with technology snafus. They require systems that have been properly engineered and work as expected all of the time so they are able to bill their hours to clients & not have to worry about lost hours on non-client related activities.
  8. Comprehensive Service Offering: Law firms need to be laser focused, and are best served by outside firms that provide complete end-to-end service technical expertise. One single point of contact for all technical needs offers the most efficient and user-friendly scenario. Whether it is email support, networking, software management, cloud services, hosting, telephone systems, messaging support, mobile application support, the cost of having to manage multiple specialists creates too many communication layers and can distract from client-oriented tasks.

Overall, outsourcing your IT operations allows firms to keep focused on servicing their clients. Whether you have 5 people or 500, there are plans available to fit any firm size, location or business needs. Make sure that the firm you select has the tools, experience, and expertise to keep your firm running at peak performance.

GCInfotech is proud to provide IT services for law firms in CT, New York City and beyond.  Call us 203 327 5700, send us email and we will reach out to you, or schedule your free IT systems management assessment.