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Do you audit your security?

Security_Mar17_CAny business that employs technology in any aspect will eventually begin to worry about how secure their systems are. In order to ensure security, many companies implement a security strategy. While these strategies are a great way to ensure the security of your business systems and data, there is one element that many business owners forget: The audit.

Auditing and the security security strategy

Auditing your company’s security is important, the only problem business owners run across is where and what they should be auditing. The easiest way to do this is to first look at the common elements of developing security strategies.

These elements are: assess, assign, audit. When you develop a plan, or work with an IT partner to develop one, you follow the three steps above, and it may be obvious at the end. In truth however, you should be auditing at each stage of the plan. That means you first need to know what goes on in each stage.

During the assessment phase you or your IT partner will need to look at the existing security you have in place. This includes on every computer and server and also focuses on who has access to what, and what programs are being used. Doing an assessment should give you an overview of how secure your business currently is, along with any weak points that need to be improved.

The assignment phase looks at actually carrying out the changes you identified in the assessment phase. This could include adding improved security measures, deleting unused programs or even updating systems for improved security. The main goal in this phase is to ensure that your systems and networks are secure.

Auditing happens after the changes have been made and aims to ensure that your systems are actually secure and have been implemented properly. Throughout the process you will actually need to continually audit and adjust your strategy.

What exactly should be audited?

When conducting an audit, there are three factors you should focus on:

  1. The state of your security - Changing or introducing a security plan usually begins with an audit of sorts. In order to do this however, you need to know about how your security has changed in between audits. Tracking this state and how it changed in between audits allows you to more efficiently audit how your system is working now and to also implement changes easier. If you don’t know how the state of your security has changed in between audits, you could risk implementing ineffective security measures or leaving older solutions open to risk.
  2. The changes made - Auditing the state of your security is important, but you should also be auditing the changes made to your systems. For example, if a new program is installed, or a new firewall is implemented, you will need to audit how well it is working before you can deem your security plan to be fully implemented. Basically, you are looking for any changes made to your system that could influence security while you are implementing a new system. If by auditing at this point, you find that security has been compromised, you will need to go back to the first step and assess why before moving forward.
  3. Who has access to what - There is a good chance that every system you have will not need to be accessed by every employee. It would be a good idea that once a security solution is in place, that you audit who has access to what systems and how often they use them. This stage of the process needs to be proactive and constantly carried out. if you find that access changes or system access needs change, it would be a good idea to adapt your the security strategy; starting with the first stage.

If you are looking for help developing a security strategy for your business, contact us today to see how our managed solutions can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

 

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The 3 most common printer types

Hardware_Mar17_CWhether you have a brick-and-mortar or Internet based business, you’ll surely need to print out some documents at one time or another. The question is, do you even have a printer? There are an increasing number of businesses who don’t. Considering how everything is setup on the Web nowadays, it kind of makes one wonder what type or printers are being used in the offices these days?

These three printers below are the most common printers found in offices these days.

Multi Function Printers (MFP)

Multi Function Printers are also commonly known as all-in-one printers. With this type of device, your printing, scanning, faxing and photocopying needs are covered! These printers usually come in a variety of sizes with many being small enough to fit onto a small desk.

Aside from the multi function features that MFPs have, these are the common benefits that business owners can gain from this type of printer.

  • They take up less room.
  • They are usually lower in cost. Though it may seem expensive compared to the other types of printers, if you consider buying a fax machine, scanner, photocopier and a printer, you’ll find that buying an MFP is actually a lot more affordable.

Inkjet Printers

Inkjets print documents by spraying ink onto paper, and can usually produce prints with a resolution of 300dpi (dots per inch) with some actually able to print documents as high as 600dpi. This makes them ideal for printing saller images and reports.

What most business owners like about inkjet printers is the fact that they are usually affordable, making them an ideal device for businesses that just want printers. Since most offices (if not all) have computers, you’ll most likely see inkjet printers in the majority of offices. Here are some more benefits that people like about inkjet printers.

  • Fast printing speeds.
  • Can produce really high quality print.
  • Easy to use.
  • They can produce vivid colors.

Laser Printers

If there’s one very notable feature that you’ll love about laser printers, it would be the printer’s capability of producing very high quality documents. In fact, laser printers can produce copies with a resolution of 600 dpi – 1200 dpi.

One of the main differences that laser printers have is the fact that they use toner (colored or black powder) instead of the inks that are used in most other printers.

Laser printers offer users many enticing benefits including:

  • Very high resolution.
  • Fast results.
  • High volume printing.
  • No smears at all.

What type of printer should my business get?

If you are looking for a new printer, it can be a little confusing as to which you should get. If you don’t have a scanner or fax machine, it would be a good idea to look into a Multi Function Printer. Looking to print smaller or shorter documents or only occasionally? An Inkjet would probably be a better choice. If you need to print on a regular basis, or print in mass quantities a laser printer could be the best choice.

With all the types of printers available in the market, choosing a specific printer to use in your office can be quite confusing. If you need help in choosing which printer to go for, then give us a call and we’ll give you our expert advice on the matter.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

 

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Outlook’s new search folder

Office_Mar24_CMicrosoft Outlook is an application used for managing personal information including email, tasks, contacts, and calendars. It is one of the programs that is included when you install Microsoft Office on your computer. While Outlook has many useful features, one of the most useful is the ability to create new search folders which let you conveniently access priority emails.

Outlook is one of the most popular email platforms allowing you to read emails from almost any account. The inbox is where the majority of your interaction with Outlook is, but the problem is that many users receive so many emails that it can be overwhelmed quickly. This makes it more difficult to find important emails, or separate the spam/less important emails.

One way to deal with this is by creating a customized search folder for important emails. This makes searching for vital messages easier as they are saved in a separate folder.

Default and predefined search folders in Outlook

There are three default search folders in Outlook and you can see them under “search folders” in the mail navigation pane on the left side of the window. These default search folders are categorized mail, large mail and unread mail. Categorized mail contains messages that are categorized by color.

The large mail folder is a search folder that includes messages that are over 100 KB in size. Unread mail, as the term suggests, contains emails that have not yet been read.

Predefined search folders are also available. These are existing search folders that you can add to the search menu, below the other folders. Some of these require that you enter specific criteria, while others do not. For instance, “mail flagged for follow up” does not require any criteria, while “mail with specific words” asks you to enter certain words that the message must contain to be included in the folder.

Adding predefined search folders can be done by following the steps below:

  1. Click File.
  2. Select New and choose Search Folder. The New Search Folder window will appear.
  3. Click on any of the predefined search folders.
  4. Select the option you want if asked for a specific criterion.
  5. Click OK.

Create a new search folder in Outlook

It’s also possible to create your very own search folder. You get to set not only the criteria, but its name as well. This makes it convenient to easily access important messages as you don’t have to browse through the inbox or various folders in your mailbox.

Here’s how to create a new search folder in Outlook:

  1. Right click on Search Folders in the mail navigation pane and click New Search Folder. You may also press ctrl+shift+p on your keyboard to make the window appear.
  2. Click Create a Custom Search Field followed by Choose.
  3. Enter the name of the new folder in the name field.
  4. Click Criteria and set your preferences to further personalize the folder and click OK.
  5. Click Browse and select folders to add in your customized search folder, then click OK.
  6. Select OK on the new search folder window and the new folder you created will be added under your search folders.

Messages in search folders will still remain in the original folders where they are saved. Even if you view the messages and delete the search folder, the messages will still be accessible in their default folder. However, if you select and delete a message in a search folder, it will be completely removed, even from its original folder.

If you have any concerns or feedback with regards Outlook search folders, feel free to get in touch and we’ll help you in every way that we can.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

 

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These tips will speed up your Mac

OSX_Mar17_CWhy struggle with having a slow Mac computer if there are several ways to speed it up? It’s no secret that having a slow computer can be very limiting (not to mention frustrating) when running your business. It’s because most business transactions and processes are done via the computer that you should make sure that it’s running as fast as it can. These five tips below should help you speed up your Mac.

Uninstall your old and unused programs

If you’re thinking that those old or unused programs aren’t hurting your computer’s performance since you haven’t been using them, you may be shocked to know that they actually can be one of the leading causes of a slow computer. These old programs despite being inactive, actually take up storage space which can cause your Mac to slow down.

This can really become a big issue if you’re running out of room on your hard drive because the less space you have available on your hard drive, the slower your computer will run. Try opening your Applications folder and looking for apps and programs that you no longer use. Simply drag them to the Trash and then empty it to free up space.

On another note, it would be a good idea to empty your trash on a regular basis, because items in the trash still take up storage space leading to a potentially slower computer.

Clean your desktop

Your Mac should run a bit faster if your desktop is clean. We don’t mean go in literally clean the desktop, we mean get rid of the shortcuts, programs and files that you don’t use. The more icons and stuff on your desktop there are, the slower your computer will run.

Instead of adding new icons, folders, files, etc. to your desktop try storing documents in the documents folder (Click any blank area on your desktop, press Go at the top of your screen and select Documents). Or, create a folder on your desktop for different images of files. Basically you want to minimize how much is on your desktop.

Use a program like Memory Keeper

What these apps do is help you free up more space on your computer by cleaning your computer’s memory. This is similar to the defrag option in Windows where the OS will essentially put files of a similar nature closer together in the hard drive, making them easier and quicker for the processor to access. To us, this means a faster computer!

You can get Memory Keeper free on the Apple Store, but be sure to contact us before you download it as we may have a solution that comes as part of your IT solutions.

Organize/clean your Finder and the files within

Just as you should minimize the files and clutter on your desktop, you should also minimize the clutter and number of icons in the main folders of the Finder. This includes the folders under each user, Downloads, Documents, etc.

It would not be a good idea to delve into the Utilities and Network folders as they usually contain important files that if deleted could cause your computer to stop working.

Upgrade your hardware

If you’ve tried the suggested tips above and your computer is still running slow, then your last resort should be to have a hardware upgrade.

We take this as the last resort as this may take more time, let alone cost a lot of money.

Consider upgrading your RAM instead of upgrading your processor since doing so is considerably cheaper.

It’s highly suggested to get a minimum of 2 GB of extra RAM but if you’re using some heavy duty programs like Adobe Photoshop, then a minimum of 4 GB RAM would probably suit you better. Before you do upgrade however, check with either Apple or us to ensure that your computer can be upgraded. By asking an IT partner like us, we will be able to better inform you as to what you can upgrade and how you can go about it safely.

Are you looking for more tips on how to speed up your Mac? Then give us a call now and we’ll have our team talk to you about how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

 

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The advantages of going virtual

Virtualization_Feb24_CAs the need for IT solutions in many business operations continues to increase, the importance of virtual integration has grown tremendously. As a business owner, virtualizing your business provides a systematic way of putting your operations in order. With virtualization, you get to enjoy benefits that you might otherwise not be able to from your traditional systems.

While it may seem like virtualization is only advantageous to large businesses, in truth, even small companies can take advantage of this rising and sophisticated innovation. That being said, there are many companies still holding back. To help you understand virtualization, here are five good reasons why you need to virtualize your business now.

You can optimize servers

Perhaps the most compelling reason to virtualize your systems is to make your computing resources (such as the RAM and processor cycles) more efficient. And with efficient computing resources, businesses can reduce their capital expenses. Furthermore, small and mid-sized business are able to manage fewer physical servers, because virtualization allows users to combine, or virtualize, physical servers into fewer physical machines.

You get cutting-edge disaster recovery plans

Since catastrophes are possible, businesses should be prepared before they are faced with a disaster. The advantage of virtualization is that many solutions come with a disaster recovery plan to get your business back to a normal operational state after a problem strikes.

It can be far easier to fully back up your entire virtualized infrastructure than trying to do the same with separate hardware servers.

It increases business continuity

While business continuity is similar to disaster recovery, the goals of each operation are different. The aim of business continuity is to achieve zero, or minimal, business operation interruptions. However, many businesses find this difficult to achieve with traditional business systems.

Many virtualization solutions offer live migration, a feature that helps preserve the continuity of business operations by eliminating the need for downtime. This system works by rapidly transferring systems from one virtual environment to another when the original is affected. This enables a business to continue operations, despite some system failures.

It’s a time-saver

Compared to setting up physical hardware, which can take months to establish, test, and maintain, setting up a virtualized system for your business can usually be achieved in a matter of minutes.

You get centralized control

Virtualization makes it possible to manage your entire system using one central tool. This is one cutting-edge advantage that suits many businesses, especially small and mid-sized ones. Moreover, security and compliance features can be built in, leading to systems that are even more secure than before.

The benefits to be gained by virtualizing can prove to be a real game changer for your business. Though it may seem complex at first, considering the new lingo and foreign functions, you’ll soon realize that it’s just a matter of finding the right IT partner to work with.

Our virtualization experts are here for you and can help you from start to finish. If you want to know more about virtualization and its benefits to your business, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

 

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