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.

Your small to medium-sized business is just as dependent on IT as a large company is. You need the right technology, to have it work, to have it fixed quickly when a problem arises, and to know what that will cost. At some point, all small-to mid-size business owners face this dilemma: form their own in-house IT support group or hire an outside IT consulting firm.

IT has become the lifeblood of any business, large or small. That being said, it is essential for businesses to have their computer systems up and running 24 hours a day 7 days a week and 365 days a year – reliability, securely and efficiently. Whether you have 10 employees or 1000, any business owner has no time to deal with daily IT issues or unreliable IT support personnel. In the event of a disaster, you need to get your business back on track ‘now’.

Full-Time In-House IT

Having a dedicated, full-time staff person in-house seems like a sensible and secure option. The person knows your systems and technologies, understands the nuances of your business and staff preferences, and in many cases has been a part of the legacy of technical development within your organization so he “knows where the bodies are buried”.  Additionally, the in-house solution only has one client, you. This provides business owners with a great deal of comfort – knowing that “my guy” is always here, in-house, and at the ready to respond to the little annoyances and huge disasters that are commonplace.

While on the surface this solution seems to be a good choice, there are a number of negatives associated with in-house IT staffing solutions that make it a risky proposition:

  • Cost: In house requires a constant budget item for IT staff in salaries and benefits
  • Most IT departments in small-to medium size firms are 1-2 people, so when key IT person “leaves with the keys” – business can come to a halt.
  • Not scalable and costly when expanded – getting more IT staff becomes costly – and under-capacitated
  • In House IT need to be trained on newer technology -they don’t always do it on their own or want the company to pay for the certifications – which are costly.
  • Transitioning off and on is a very cumbersome process.

 

IT Consulting Firms

What if we told you that you could receive better IT support for a fraction of the cost that it would take to hire an onsite IT department?  Hiring an outside IT services firm is a wise decision for most small to medium sized businesses.

The two main benefits in hiring an outside firm are costs and expertise/knowledge.

We see too often smaller firms who come to us after having had one dedicated IT person on staff.  This person typically was responsible for selecting and setting up all of the basic IT functions and system choices.  Invariably we find that many of these choices were poorly vetted, require tweaking, fixing and/or replacing. This is mainly due to the fact that inside IT do what they know or are familiar with. “This is the solution that I use for all of my clients”. This comfort and fluency can easily be mistaken for expertise.  Outside firms are constantly upgrading their system offerings, training their tech staff on the most cutting edge solutions and have the resources to provide all of the proper certifications.  As a result, there is a greater likelihood that you will be getting the best possible range of solutions – that are built for the current state of technology. This is critical.  Swapping out old dead tech is a massive and costly disruption.

Second, and probably most important is cost.  With in-house staff, there are salaries and benefits. With an outside firm, you only pay either a fixed retained fee, or an hourly rate, so the costs are more manageable.  Plus, the outside firm is incentivized to do a better job in the hours allotted then someone who knows can rely on a salary and benefits.

Whether you’re looking for a preventative maintenance solution to keep IT costs predictable and avoid expensive computer problems, or a disaster recovery plan to get you back online quickly after an emergency, our technical support experts will meet with you to understand your business, and your IT needs, so that we can find the solution that’s right for you.

Proactive IT Services – Flat-rate, round-the-clock maintenance and monitoring to prevent problems before they turn into downtime

Remote Backup & Disaster Recovery – GCInfotech provides not only reliable automatic backups and archiving, but also a rock-solid plan of action for recovery in the event of a disaster.

Cloud Solutions – Anytime, anywhere access to your data and business applications including cloud online data backup.

Anti-Spam Solutions – Say goodbye to spam and hello to dramatically increased productivity

Help Desk Software – A turn-key, hosted service desk and ticketing system for assessing, assigning, and resolving service issues related to your small business

Outsourced IT Support – Focus on running your business instead of troubleshooting your network with GCInfotech custom IT services designed to fit your business and your needs. GCInfotech is proud to provide local businesses with professional IT Solutions in CT, New York City and beyond.

Contact us now to schedule your FREE Business Technology and Security Assessment

“The Cloud” has become a confusing and misunderstood technological development for most small business owners. The term has become overused and spans a number of different services and applications.  What’s surprising is despite the ubiquity, availability, reliability and affordability of Cloud solutions, many small business owners are still not making the move. From what we hear, there is still a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding about how cloud computing can fit small business and be cost efficient.

Larger businesses use the Cloud everyday for common services. Software as a Service, or SaaS, is the most common form of software utilization.  With the Cloud model, there is not installation on the user end and the user never actually ‘owns’ any software: rather than buying a product, the company is renting a service. The number of cloud-based services in the marketplace is massive – and in many cases, small businesses are already using one of these services and may not even be aware that they fall into the cloud service category.

One of the issues related to cloud based services for small businesses is that the typical small business model for IT support does not best suit a drastic move to newer platforms. Most small businesses still rely on localized, or hard-drive/server-based storage and data programs coupled with a full or part time in-house IT person.  This set up does not provide them with sufficient knowledge or resources to make a move into a cloud-based IT environment. While cloud services have become common-place, making the initial switch can be a complex undertaking that requires the help of an outside expert.

So, what are the benefits to small businesses?  There are many:

1) Low Maintenance: With Cloud services, there is no internal technology to worry about. Much like renting a car, the maintenance, repairs and breakdown assistance are all taken care of by the rental company. The same dynamics apply to cloud services: when a customer signs up, he should be able to use the software without concerns related to maintenance, updates or security. Additionally, there is no need for storage or other investments that downloadable software programs typically require. All of these issues are taken care of by the service provider.

Also, with Cloud services, small business owners can offset the operational IT work to someone outside of the organization. This puts the onus on the cloud provider for service, upkeep, and costs – and away from the business, which is a where it should be. Cloud computing outsources the technology, reduces the risks and unexpected expenses associated with your in-house IT.

2) Financial Benefits: The financial benefits from The Cloud are by far the best. Returning to our earlier car rental analogy, purchasing your own vehicle requires a large upfront investment.  In this model, the amount of usage is not applicable to the cost.  If you only use your car two times a week, you pay the same price as someone who uses the car every single day.  Plus you don’t get your full investment back even if you sell the car to someone else. Vehicles depreciate as newer; better models come into the marketplace. So as time passes, you own an old car that is outdated, and has accumulated usage and damage that will require repair.  A rental car, however, is always a current model, and only incurs a charge when it        is needed and used.

This is the same with cloud services. In the vast majority of cases, there is no upfront fee. Most services charge a manageable, predictable, flat rate monthly fee per user for the software.  This allows users to scale up or down as their business requirements dictate. This also allows for easy scalability. As companies take on new staff, it’s simply a matter of switching on a new license to extend to a new user, and similarly turn off the switch when you scale down.

Like the car rental analogy, you will always be using to the latest, greatest version. And those upgrade are seamless. As new versions or upgrades to a service are released, they can be instantly made available to all subscribers, allowing access to the best in class tools – keeping your business competitive.

Other Benefits:

Work from anywhere:  Locally installed software that runs only on a computer hampers ones ability to work remotely.  In today’s digitally connected world, having access to your services from any location is a must-have option. Today’s small business owners work from hotels and airport lounges as well as the office. Cloud services offer 24-hour access from any internet-connected location.

Collaboration and Communication: Cloud services offer another unique benefit in the way of collaboration enablement and more effective communication.  Most if not all Cloud services allow real-time workflows that let multiple users view the same file, document, presentation or spreadsheet at the same time.  This aspect of the cloud is one of the most important developments in the last 5 years.  Now, companies, via cloud-based tools, can get things accomplished in hours instead of weeks.

Crisis and disaster recovery: Security measures are costly. One great benefit of the cloud is the economies of scale that the service provider can pass on its customers. Any good cloud provider will have invested heavily into security and crisis control – far greater than any small business can ever afford. The nature of their business demands that they store your valuable data securely – so they invest heavily into these aspects of the business.

Is cloud computing secure?

Security seems to be the biggest concern among the uninitiated. This is understandable for small businesses that are not accustomed to storing their data with a third-party service provider. Smaller companies who have traditionally kept their files on their own servers in their own offices often feel that the idea of securing their valuable information with another unknown party is dangerous. The security and crisis management aspects of cloud services are one of the key benefits and most of the service providers worth their salt invest very heavily in security measures. Putting your business-critical information in the hands of a third party requires trust. The same principals apply when vetting any service. Credentials and brand trust is key. There are many smaller software providers sometimes based in countries which may have lax legal requirements should things go wrong. They may charge a great deal less, but have a hard time providing the necessary credentials. So buyer beware. Stick to proven, established companies who may charge more – but warrant that premium.  You would rather rent a car from Hertz than Bob’s Truck Shack.

Time to Get Your Business into Cloud Computing Services? GCinfotech is your Cloud Computing Company Servicing NYC, CT and NJ. With our IT Support, it’s a simple, cost-effective and totally scalable IT infrastructure that also provides 24/7 support as part of a monthly program. Using the power of the Web, our cloud computing management services provide the IT hardware, software, and data backup you need to keep your your company running safely and efficiently. Contact GCInfotech cloud professionals today. 

Now more than ever, selecting the right technology is critical to the successful operations of any organization. Given the advances in financial services industry, this is particularly true in the Investment Management and Hedge Fund industry.  The fervent controversy surrounding Michael Lewis’ new book ‘Flash Boys’ illustrates how technology has become the most important competitive differentiator for hedge fund managers.  Selecting the right IT services for hedge funds is critical to addressing investors’ growing desire for secure, robust and reliable infrastructure.

Below are Six Considerations for Hedge Funds evaluating outsourced IT providers

1. Quality of IT Consultants

In today’s environment, your IT provider will be the most important service relationship you will have.  When selecting an outsourced IT provider, it is important to know whom you will potentially be working with. What is the quality of the management team?  Are they seasoned and reputable? What about their support staff?  Are they a skilled technical staff of engineers who can help in all stages of the infrastructure build-out and maintenance?

2. Breadth of IT Solutions

A key criterion that any Hedge Fund CTO must consider is the scope of the firm’s service offering and capabilities. Does the IT provider in question offer all of the solutions and services necessary to address the technical requirements needed for your firm to operate effectively, consistently and efficiently? Remember, these needs will vary based on your firm’s specific business requirements.  They can range from private cloud services, backup & recovery services, security, application hosting, business continuity planning, disaster recovery, data storage and mining, telecom services, IT consulting, electronic communications systems and software development.

3. Industry-Specific Deployment Expertise

Specialization is critical.  Make sure you find out if the service provider possesses deep experience in deploying enterprise solutions and services in an investment management environment. What is the scope of this experience?  Do they have a wide range of experience having worked with small start-ups as well as larger, well-established firms? IT firms are a commodity so be sure to select one that is experienced in deploying systems that are specific to your industry with a track record to prove it. Check references of past clients and ask for examples of clients whose technical needs and scope are a match to your firms.

4. Disaster Recovery approach

Things happen.  Hurricanes, blackouts, floods, disasters, are all too common.  So it’s important to know the IT firm’s disaster recovery process and procedures. Do they employ proper risk controls designed to allow continued performance and availability? What are their data security and retrieval protocols?  Will the provider ensure that your data is secure, protected, and accessible even in the face of disaster?

5. Cloud Infrastructure

Cloud computing has become the de facto infrastructure option for investment firms.  While Cloud services have been in the market for a number of years its still a very specialized and nuanced aspect of the IT service industry.  Be sure to look for a provider that has a robust, scalable and secure cloud infrastructure protocol. As mentioned earlier, Cloud computing for the financial services sector is a specialized skill, so make sure that the firm employs highly trained and certified professionals with experience in financial services operations. As a standard, Tier II or III data centers that are SAS 70 or SSAE-16 certified are a good bet for critical data hosting.

6. Vendor Partners and Network

No IT firm does it all.  Any good IT firm maintains key relationships with partner vendors who fill critical service gaps.  This is a simple reality and the quality of these partners – and their relationship with them – is of high importance. Does the firm have strong vendor relationships? Are they the right mix of best-in-class providers for your unique needs? Strategic partnerships with top-tier technology companies are crucial to maintaining a world-class IT environment for your firm.

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GCInfotech offer IT Services for Hedge Funds and Financial Companies in CT, NY and NYC area. Call us 203 327 5700 to discuss your technology needs.

As business owners, we all want to save money. We want our employees to get more done in less time. And we want technology that just does what it’s supposed to do. Let’s review three ways we can ensure we’re making the right technology decisions for our business:

  • Understand that “free IT services” or “free software” often comes at a cost. Saving money in any way possible is a top priority for most small business owners, but when it comes to choosing technology, it pays to think through the downsides of free solutions.

A free software program may have the right number of the features, and seems easy to install, but getting it to seamlessly interface with your business applications ends up being a daunting challenge. In most cases, “free” also means you won’t have access to customer support when something does go wrong, and you’ll be on your own to fix any problems. A sound alternative to a “free solution” is to analyze the total cost of ownership of any solution. Consider that 52% of small and medium-sized businesses are adopting cloud services to outsource IT tasks like data storage, according to a recent SMB study. Some of the less expensive enterprise cloud solutions can be just as bad as a free download, or can still be too expensive for small businesses (like SalesForce).

  • Choose IT solutions that can multi-task. Too often, small businesses fall into the trap of implementing technology that addresses only one specific task. For example, you may have needed the ability to share large files with customers or partners outside your company, so you signed up for a file-sharing service. In this case, free or not, choosing a “one trick pony” for simple tasks like file sharing might actually end up costing more in the form of lost productivity and frustration. In this case, you would likely be missing out on sophisticated collaboration tools such as full integration with your email and productivity applications that can take file sharing to the next level. Do your homework before choosing an application or service to accomplish a single task. Think through all of the related tasks and look for the solutions that allow you do more than one thing. Time spent understanding the options will bring long-term benefits. For example Dropbox is a popular app for sharing documents and photos across multiple devices. Microsoft SkyDrive offers the ability to replicate files on multiple systems, but it some of its features requires professional installation and support.
  • Give yourself options. Smart business owners are like pro NFL quarterbacks; they want plenty of options. This is especially true when it comes to how you and your employees communicate with one another. There was a time when email revolutionized how people communicate at work, but today, your employees have plenty of options for communicating with one another depending on the situation. Communication with far-flung employees, clients and vendors can be expensive for many small businesses. Consider multiple solutions: Web-based teleconferencing services let large groups make video and voice connections, usually without special equipment – or sky-high phone fees. Reigning champ Adobe Connect is “the solution to beat,” said PC Magazine. Up-and-comer Fuze Meeting Pro offers innovative features like Fuze In for dialing-in late participants. Provide your team with options and you’ll benefit from efficiency and increased productivity.

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.