A client called me today in a bit of a panic. She was doing some online banking early this morning and when she was through, she clicked the “log out” button on her bank’s website.
A message immediately popped up on her screen with a warning that read something like this: “You are about to be transferred to a site that is not secure. Are you sure you wish to proceed?” Because she had been doing online banking, she was afraid to transfer to a site that isn’t secure for fear her information would be compromised.
When she started her online session she knew enough to check to see that instead of http:// before the web site address she saw https:// and also knew that the padlock was closed, indicated that the web page is secured. (See image, below)
In this case, her browser was just letting her know that her encrypted session was done and she would now be going to a site that is not secure. I assured her that her information was safe. I also told her that she did the right thing - she didn’t know what was going on for sure, so she closed the browser and didn’t take a chance.
Even when a site indicates HTTPS:// and the padlock as shown above, you could still be vulnerable to web based scams. I’ll soon post a primer on how to know if the site your visiting really is secure and whether the site is really under the control of who you think they are. Stay tuned!
President & CEO
Ask any good contractor and he’ll tell you… You can’t have too many tools in your toolbox.
If you’re like most of our customers you think of your computer as your toolbox and the programs you install are all the tools you’ll have available to you when you sit down to do work. Like you, I like to have a lot of software installed.
The problem is, left on its own, the more software that gets installed, the slower your computer gets. Over a surprisingly short period of time, the computer gets slower and slower till it’s drastically slower than it was when you bought it.
To run efficiently with all the things I have installed, I have to periodically maintain the machine to keep its performance up. The proper maintenance required goes far beyond running disk defrag and deleting web cookies.
If your computer is running slower than when you first bought it, contact us for a fast and inexpensive tune up that we’ll do on site at your location. Also keep watching my technology results blog for computer tips. We’ll soon be adding video and “live tutorials” too which will walk you through simple things you can do around the office PC to keep things running a little more smoothly.
President & CEO
Whether you are a business of one employee or a business of thousands, effective January 1st, 2009, you will be required by Massachusetts law to take very specific and very serious steps to secure electronic forms of personal information you collect about Massachusetts customers, employees, and vendors.
You can read the full text of the law by clicking here.
HR and Payroll departments are traditionally very careful to protect personal information that is in written form; photos of drivers license, personnel files with social security numbers on them, etc… With the prevalence of electronic data capture and storage extending to all departments of the organization, this new law is requiring businesses to pay strict attention to what information is being stored, where it is being stored, and whom is allowed to access it.
Briefly, here are some key requirements of the law that you should be aware of:
- Administrative Control - Means keeping unique user IDs and passwords that are not easy to guess, locking out user IDs with too many bad login tries, and assess and investigate hacking attempts
- Antivirus and Antispyware protection - Make sure your machines have modern protection that updates regularly and protects you from the latest threats that attempt to steal information
- Software Patch Management - Keep up with software vendor’s security patches for your Operating System(O/S) and other programs you run
- If you have a wireless network, make sure the network is encrypted to prevent “snoopers”
- Restrict terminated employees access upon their dismissal
- Encrypt the data located on backup devices such as external hard drives, CD/DVD media and tape. This media can be stolen without being missed. If the data is encrypted, the thief will not be able to read the data.
- Keep a computer system inventory - don’t lose track of retired equipment or equipment left vacant by someone that has left your organization
- Monitor and audit access to your systems and backups on an ongoing basis
In short, you need to know what you need to do, know how to do it, document what you’re going to do, and then actually DO IT.
If you need help determining your level of compliance with this new regulation, please contact me for a free audit and assessment. We’ll quickly determine where you’re at and what action you need to take to avoid problems.
Your plan must be written down and your employees must be trained on how to safely work with both physical and electronic records. If you need help creating a plan and training your end users, I strongly recommend speaking with Frank Aubuchon of Aubuchon & Associates. Frank can be reached at (508) 478-7085.
President & CEO
Summer’s still in full force here in New England and so are our summer thunder and lightning storms! In the past two weeks, the afternoon/early evening thunderstorms have been incredibly intense throughout Worcester County.
A handful of my customers lost user workstations due to the electrical spikes and surges. Their servers were affected in only a minor way. No one lost a server. We were prepared.
It could have been possible to prevent damage to the workstations too, by using UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supplies) at each computer. In small companies, it can make sense, but for a large organization, the cost of protecting every computer with a UPS weighed against the likelihood and cost of an incident often makes the expense unjustified. Consider the following table:
A couple of notes about this table… First off, % affected is my educated guess. If lighting strikes your building or near it, it’s impossible to tell exactly where the spike will travel and how much damage will occur. Surge strips can help, but they won’t stop a significant spike such as blown transformer or lighting surge. My Replacement Cost is the average estimated cost to acquire a new machine and set it up for a user. Centrend works with companies to reduce PC deployment costs so there are many factors that can affect the exact cost such as group buying power, image deployment strategies, etc…
Also, when weighing whether it’s worth it to invest in UPS technology across the board consider: What will the downtime cost? Do you have a spare PC that can be used in the interim while waiting for repair or replacement of equipment? What are the costs of data loss and/or data recovery expenses if not all your user’s data is on the server?
Critical equipment such as servers, your internet router, etc, should always be protected. If you need help implementing a power protection strategy in your organization, please contact us for a free consultation.
Perhaps you’re familiar with the book by author David Campbell, “If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, You’ll Probably End Up Somewhere Else". Without a plan in life, we drift, passively letting the outside influences around us guide and bump us through the abyss. Does the same apply to business and technology? Of course it does.
Are you letting technology run your business, or is your business directing your use of technology? Many businesses that I question about this do not have any sort of plan for technology. Most of these business owners say to me, “We’re too small to have a technology plan, that’s for large enterprise.”
Well, if you don’t know where your business’ technology is going, then it will probably end up driving your customers to your competitor’s house.
Your Technology Plan isn’t just a matter of looking out for new products and “cool stuff” that comes along from developers, although it’s fun to window shop, and useful to stay informed. It’s about being prepared, maximizing your resources, and having access to all the information your business needs for successful competition. Every business, no matter how small, finds the value in that.
A good Technology Plan will be dynamic and will cover at least these key areas:
o Data Integrity
o Performance and Productivity
o Information Availability
o IT Staffing Structure (in-house or outsourcing)
o Technology Procurement
o Future Needs
If you don’t want to drift while technology pulls your business unwittingly by the nose, then make a plan. If you need help, then ask the experts at Centrend. For a minimal investment, a Technology Plan will give your business the power of control over destiny, and a distinct advantage over most of your competitors who just don’t get it.
Bill Bowman is the Senior Technology Advisor at Centrend Inc, an Information Technology company focusing on solving and preventing business problems related to computers, networks and Information Systems. For more information, call 1-888-558-9550, or visit: www.centrend.com .