The Importance of Maintaining Network Compliance

Last month’s blog provided information about ways to “Avoid Being Held Hostage by Ransomware.” Eight days later, on May 12, 2017, there was a global outbreak of the Wanna Cry Virus. With Cyber Threats on the rise, the importance of maintaining network compliance is top of mind with business owners and IT professionals alike. Industry compliance regulations, including PCI, HIPAA, and SOX, drive best practices in Network Compliance. However, most businesses today rely heavily on their systems to access Cloud Services, Voice, and Data Networks for mission-critical applications that run their business. What can you do to maintain network compliance? Automate Your Network Administration Keeping operating systems and network configurations up to date is a top priority for network compliance. Each device that connects to your network needs to have up-to-date operating system security patches, anti-virus definitions, and malware threat prevention in order avoid un- intended intrusion of your network. There are abundant tools and managed services to help your business stay up to date without adding to your internal labor cost. Proactively Monitor Your Network Monitor your network to identify any systems that are out of compliance. Proactive monitoring can also identify unauthorized devices connected to your network. You can monitor your network traffic to identify unusual use of network bandwidth. Aside from slowing down your systems, excessive bandwidth may be the result of a malware-infected device that is exploiting your network. Documenting Your Network Security Controls Achieving compliance with documented security procedures including password policy, systems maintenance, backup procedures, and compliance measures, is critical to following most industry compliance regulations. It is a  best practice to update...

What are Managed Services and Why Should I Care?

A managed services provider (MSP) takes on the responsibility for a company’s technology and infrastructure by proactively providing a defined set of IT services for a fixed monthly fee. This approach is preferred by businesses over the traditional Break/Fix services delivered on an hourly rate when needed. By emphasizing high availability and reliability, Managed Services align the MSP’s business model with a company’s business objectives. In contrast, the break/fix model addresses problems when they occur. According to research firm MarketsandMarkets, the global managed‐services market will grow to $193B by 2019, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.5%. Information Technology as a Service According to the fifth annual Trends in Managed Service published by CompTIA, “The central tenet to the MSP model is a provider-customer relationship based on a contract backed by a service level agreement.” This approach provides IT services similar to other utility models.  Many Managed Service Providers (MSPs) rely on remote monitoring and management technologies to deliver a range of core IT services in a scalable and proactive manner. This approach streamlines the process for proactively identifying and resolving issues with IT infrastructure.   What to Expect from an MSP CompTIA research indicates it is common for a managed service provider to include desktop and network management, applications management, and remote help desk in their service level agreements (SLA). Security (including firewall management), server management, storage, network monitoring, Business Continuity/DR, Backup as a service (Cloud Backup), Email, and Virtual desktop are often available as managed services. Benefits of Managed Services The managed service approach is favored by business for a variety of reasons. Managed services...

Business Continuity Essentials

Business owners know there are a number of threats to business continuity. Next to employees, your IT systems and their data may be your most valuable assets. Your business may fall prey to Cyber attack or Data breach. Other factors, including adverse weather, fire, or interruption to utility supply, may also cause business disruption. Can your company recover from a catastrophic data loss? Use this Business Continuity Essentials guide to reduce the risk of downtime: Business Continuity: Understanding Cost of Downtime How much data do you need to recover to bring your business back from a disaster? Not all data may be essential immediately. However, some systems–including email–support other mission-critical systems and processes within your company. It is also important to know how long it will take to recover your data. Factor in your employees’ wages, plus overhead and potential loss of revenue, to get a sense of the overall risk of not having a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plan. Having a Business Continuity Plan May Avoid Violation of Industry Regulations Depending on your industry, backup and disaster recovery might be the law. Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) makes business continuity and disaster recovery an imperative. Failure to comply could mean fines and even jail time. Other industries, including health services, must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which requires backing up data and making sure it is consistently available, even in a disaster. Understand regulatory requirements placed on your business, to avoid unnecessary consequences of a business interruption and data loss. Data Protection with Belts and Suspenders Relying on a local backup is not enough. The...

Tackling Cloud Security

Security is always top of mind with businesses migrating to the Cloud. Cloud Services are rapidly being adopted by most businesses today. According to IDC, the worldwide public cloud services market reached $45.7 billion in 2013 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23% through 2018. Cloud Security is an important consideration for businesses migrating to the Cloud. So, what are the top security concerns businesses face? Top Cloud Security Concerns CompTIA’s Ninth Annual Information Security Trends study identified system downtime/business interruptions, exposure or loss of data during file transfers to the cloud, and concerns over encryption of data (either transactional or at rest) as the top three issues identified by business owners and IT Professionals. In addition, respondents raised concern over complying with legal/regulatory requirements. What can a business owner do to migrate securely to the Cloud? Cloud Security and Compliance Most experts agree, start by understanding your Cloud Security requirements. If you have regulatory requirements, a Private Cloud solution may make it easier to comply with standards including HIPAA and PCI. However, this doesn’t mean you are more secure. Beyond encryption, having a solid strategy for using the technology in your organization is a key factor in Cloud Security. Employees: Key to Tackling Cloud Security Your employees may be your biggest threat to Cloud Security. Without the proper training, your employees may access your company’s Cloud Services from unsecure devices. This could cause security breaches and data leaks of privacy information. What’s more, it is important to control the adoption of Cloud Services within your business to help mitigate Cloud Security...

Is Your Network Ready for the Cloud?

Moving to the Cloud requires a fast, reliable network to ensure high availability to Cloud applications and their data. Critical systems including Cloud backup, SaaS, VDI, VoIP and other critical systems need consistent broadband access to ensure employee productivity, compliance and keep customer service levels high. This begs the question, is your network ready for the Cloud? Network Assessment for Cloud Readiness When moving to the Cloud it is important to understand where you may have points of failure on your network before they happen.  Consider starting with a Network Assessment. By simulating peak loads for voice and data on your network, you can identify weaknesses in a controlled environment. By proactively monitoring your network, you can ping to measure packet loss, latency and uptime; also, you can identify bottlenecks for failure, allowing you to fix problems before they happen. Avoiding unnecessary downtime and/or data loss improves employee productivity and helps ensure compliance. Maintain Network Security and Compliance for Consistent Computing Access Malicious attacks, including cyber threats and unauthorized access to your network, will not only expose you to loss of critical data.  They may also degrade your network performance. Unauthorized network use by employees may also consume bandwidth that slows down your network. Unauthorized video streaming and access to unauthorized websites contribute to a slow network. Upgrade or Improve Network Performance There are many options to create an affordable wide area network. Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is an emerging option to create secure, reliable access to your Public or Private Cloud Services. This new technology, which provides centralized management and policy-based enforcement, makes it faster to...
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