How to Pick a Managed Service Provider

In today’s world, the challenge of staying up-to-date with the latest technology can seem overwhelming at times. Business owners — especially small business owners — may feel that they’re doomed to be lagging when it comes to the latest technology because they simply can’t afford it. However, this does not have to be the case thanks to the help of a managed service provider.

A Managed Service Provider can come in varying forms depending on the needs of the business. The underlying reason for wanting to partner with a Managed Services Provider has to do with improving business efficiency, enhancing employee productivity, and positively impacting the bottom line.

One of the major reasons that many companies balk at the idea of managed IT services has to do with control or a perceived lack thereof. Some just aren’t comfortable giving up control over their IT infrastructure to a third party. While this is certainly understandable to a certain extent, it overlooks the variety of benefits that a company can expect to receive in return. Here are a few advantages of managed IT services that businesses should be aware of. Read more

Upgrade Your Cybersecurity in 2017: Why You Need Two-Factor Authentication

We’ve entered an age where security is more important than ever – particularly in the world of business. Each year, the average cost of a data breach rises to record highs with no end in sight. Cyber attacks are becoming more common with each passing day. In an era where the stakes are this high, techniques like two-factor authentication are among the best chances you have of keeping your digital information away from prying eyes.

Two-factor authentication is gaining popularity quickly for good reasons. This technology makes it much more difficult for hackers to gain access to accounts, thus providing business owners with more security and peace of mind. In addition, two-factor authentication is inexpensive and easy to use.

Before you begin to use two-factor authentication for your own business, however, there are a few key things you should know and consider.

What is Two-Factor Authentication?

Also commonly referred to as 2FA, two-factor authentication is a technique that many of us are probably familiar with, but most of us probably haven’t used in a business sense.

Two-factor authentication is a form of identity verification that requires the user to prove his or her identity in two different ways when logging into an account. In most cases, one factor is the user’s password and the other is a physical object, such as a specific computer, mobile phone or token.

When two-factor authentication is enabled for a particular account, a digital code is sent to either an email address, a phone in the form of an SMS text message or through other means. Instead of only requiring a username and password to log in, the account will also require the user to input that unique digital code – which is randomly generated and expires after a short period of time.

Without two-factor authentication, a hacker with a username and a password has 100% of the information they need to log into a particular account. Without physical access to a separate device in order to get the digital code, however, they suddenly can’t advance – even with data as private as a password. This is why 2FA is so valuable – it increases security by an enormous amount by adding a physical component alongside a digital one.

Why is it Important?

Two-factor authentication makes it more difficult for malicious individuals to access accounts that don’t belong to them. In today’s world, hacking tactics are highly effective, and complicated usernames and passwords just aren’t enough protection anymore. Some of the benefits of two-factor authentication include:

  • Better security – Perhaps the most obvious benefit of two-factor authentication is better security for your company, your employees, and your customers. With this technology, the chances of a hacker breaking into your system are much lower.
  • More peace of mind – Knowing that your accounts and data are well-protected provides you with peace of mind, allowing you to worry less and focus more energy on other tasks.
  • Cost effectiveness – Two-factor authentication is not expensive or difficult to implement, making it a cost-effective choice for improving a business’s cybersecurity position.
  • Protection for your business – Nothing ruins your business’s reputation quite as quickly as a security breach. If a breach compromises your customers’ data, you have to inform them and take steps to protect them from harm. Not only is this costly, but it can also cause you to lose business. Two-factor authentication makes these breaches much less likely, which reduces the chances of this potentially embarrassing situation.
  • Guarantee of employee involvement – Implementing two-factor authentication in the workplace necessitates employee buy-in, thus ensuring that every employee’s account is protected. When two-factor authentication is required, employees MUST use something for their second factor in order to log in. This means that even employees with weak passwords or a propensity to share passwords will still have a reasonable amount of account security (however you still might want to address that issue).

Two-Factor Authentication is Annoying… Which is a Very Good Thing

Because of the benefits of two-factor authentication, as well as the ever-increasing threat of security breaches, two-factor authentication is highly recommended for both businesses and individuals. Some people complain that two-factor authentication is more cumbersome than simply inputting a password. However, this is a small price to pay for extra security. Even though it may take you a little more time to log into your accounts, hackers will have exponentially less success when they try to break in illegally.

One of the major reasons why more people aren’t using two-factor authentication right now is because it is a fairly irritating method of security. The process of signing into an account takes significantly longer when you have to use two different devices, and that’s the point. The chances of a hacker gaining access to your password are pretty high nowadays, but getting your password AND access to your smartphone to input a code from an SMS text message or app on your phone are much, much lower.

Keep in mind, however, that this is very much for your benefit. An “annoyingly secure” process for you becomes an “infuriatingly secure” process for a hacker or someone else who wants to do you harm. Plus, every second that you can delay the process of logging in is a second you have to stop a potential problem before it becomes a much larger and more severe one moving forward.

Why Traditional Authentication is Outdated

In the early days of the Internet, passwords didn’t just work – they worked well. Then, two unfortunate things happened at the same time – traditional authentication became outdated and people started to become complacent. People no longer saw the need to come up with unique passwords for each account, as “secure passwords” with multiple special characters and case sensitivity became too difficult to remember.

But what happens when one of your accounts is compromised? Every other account that uses the same password falls like a house of cards. With two-factor authentication, on the other hand, this isn’t something that you have to worry about.

When you consider the fact that passwords now protect more than just email – in business, they could give someone unauthorized access to your entire server with client records, intellectual property and more – something needed to step up and replace traditional authentication for all time. Two-factor authentication is absolutely that new technique and if you’re not using it, you need to start today.

In today’s digital world, it’s important to think of cybersecurity as a race that will never be finished. Whenever a new breakthrough hits the market designed to make systems more secure, hackers and other people with malicious intentions get to work trying to find a way to circumnavigate it.

This cat-and-mouse game is one that you’ll never officially win, but you should always make an effort to stay in the lead as much as possible. In many ways, two-factor authentication is designed to help you do exactly that.

Modern Day 2FA and Apple Pay

A perfect example of two-factor authentication in practice, look no further than Apple Pay. Thanks to the unique way that it uses two-factor authentication (as the “physical access” component takes the form of your thumbprint), it is actually the most secure form of payment currently operating anywhere in the world today. Even if someone were to have your username, your password and physical access to your device, so long as they can’t replicate your thumbprint in some way, they’re entirely out of luck.

Gmail does the same. Whenever you log in to your Google account after a long period of time or from a different device than usual, Google sends you a text or phone call with a code for your login. It might seem unnecessary, but it hardens the security of your account. Isn’t that extra step worth it?

Key Takeaways

  • Two-factor authentication dramatically increases security by requiring multiple touch points to log into an account.
  • Two-factor authentication offers several benefits that make it a good tool for businesses, including better security, better peace of mind, more employee involvement and cost effectiveness.
  • Traditional authentication is far too outdated to rely on in 2017 and beyond.

The Future of Security is Here

We’ve officially reached the point where passwords alone are no longer secure enough to offer us the type of protections we need to combat the serious digital threats we now face. Security techniques like two-factor authentication go a long way towards closing that gap, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Two-factor authentication must be implemented for enterprise users as well as on personal devices to help cut off the access of the people who wish to do you harm wherever and whenever you can.

Want to further secure your company’s files beyond two-factor authentication? Moving your company to the cloud not only increases security, but can enable you and your employees to work from multiple locations. Do you want to learn more about creating more efficiency in your company using cloud solutions? Check out our blog for more articles, resources pages for premium content, or simply contact us today to learn more about the services ITG offers.

Desktop as a Service

IT for Healthcare: Biggest Challenges, Threats, & Solutions

Chief information officers in healthcare settings must balance strict privacy and security requirements with the need to constantly improve IT infrastructure and performance. From small doctor’s offices to major hospitals, the healthcare IT environment is increasingly complex. If not managed appropriately, it can negatively impact patient care.

The Healthcare industry is one of the largest pillars of the U.S. economy, making it a sizable target for a slew of digital security threats, both malicious and negligent. Security threats can come in many forms, from unprotected mobile devices and human error to systematic hacking.

With healthcare being a large target for hackers and one of the largest industries holding sensitive information, managing IT solutions is a daunting task. This post will detail the biggest threats and challenges faced by the healthcare industry, as well as how healthcare professionals can combat them.

Common IT Challenges Faced by Healthcare Organizations

With its government-mandated need for security, massive amounts of sensitive data, and a rapidly changing technological environment, healthcare faces the most significant challenges in implementing effective IT solutions.

More and More Data Sources are Emerging

Healthcare data usage is growing at an exponential pace for a variety of reasons. Digital imaging technologies, electronic medical records, and resource-taxing applications are placing a strain on existing data infrastructures. Mobile applications and a growing use of telemedicine technologies also are increasing data generation and the need for its secure storage and management. When data is coming from multiple, new sources, it makes storing and protecting that data more difficult.

Federal Privacy Requirements Change

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, requires medical providers to safeguard patients’ private medical information. The federal law requires stringent procedures for backing up data along with recovering data in disaster and emergency situations. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health act, or HITECH, strengthened HIPAA and increased penalties and requirements for mandatory notifications when data breaches occur.

Organizations Have Different Data Management Strategies

Only in the past few years have electronic medical records become the standard, and data systems that smoothly interface between all medical providers remain years away. While the industry regularly rolls out innovations to improve patient care and facility operations, the advances often have limited capability to “talk” to each other. This lack of ability to interface across systems restricts the ability to automate processes and to capture and use data effectively, decreasing the return on investment for technology.

IT Costs are Going Up

Healthcare organizations are facing rapidly increasing IT costs from a number of drivers, including government regulations, growing energy needs, and pressure to effectively coordinate with the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges. In light of the challenges, medical providers are changing the ways in which they manage IT infrastructure, including increasing the use of cloud services and virtualization models.

There’s Always More Data to Store

Data storage needs for healthcare double approximately every 18 months, largely due to regulatory pressure to keep patient information indefinitely. Forward-thinking medical organizations have begun implementing strategic, multi-tiered storage plans that include on-site, off-site and virtual storage. But improving overall storage capacity also requires more efficient software solutions for managing the massive and growing amounts of data that now exist in diverse medical environments.

And then there’s the issue of securing all that data…

Cybersecurity Threats to the Healthcare Industry

With great data comes great responsibility. Healthcare organizations have critical financial and personal data vital to their operation, making security a top priority for their IT. Here are some of the biggest threats healthcare organizations face:

Targets for Hacking

In August of 2014, hackers broke into the database of a major hospital group, Community Health Systems, and stole social security numbers and other personal data from 4.5 million patients. And just last month, hospitals in the UK were crippled by the WannaCry ransomware, causing them to cancel appointments and operations.

The wealth of private and personal information within healthcare systems makes the industry an inherent target for hacking. The files and information they house make them a goldmine for determined hackers. Weak security systems can leave an entire hospital system very vulnerable.

More Mobile, More Problems

Mobile devices are an integral part of society, and the number and kinds of devices used by medical professionals, patients, and visitors are becoming even greater. Instant communication is necessary to ensure quality care for patients, which makes network accessibility incredibly important. The downside is that all of these devices contain operating systems that are vulnerable to hacking and infection, leaving the hospital’s network largely exposed.

Network access control solutions allow you to: identify each user and their device, scan for potential threats, and provide access that correlates to the user’s role within the network. This not only protects your health care organizations from infected devices but also protects sensitive and confidential client files from people who should not have access to them.

Simple User Errors

User errors pose other security threats for healthcare systems. When a patient accesses medical records through a portal, their private information is in their hands. Once they store files in unprotected folders on their computer or email results to family, they create an easy way in for hackers and infections.

With all this potential room for error, how can healthcare organizations prepare?

Steps for Healthcare IT Planning

A flexible system aligned with all departments in your organization, allowing for quicker implementation of decisions and fewer roadblocks when making changes that affect the bottom line. Sounds pretty great, right? So that’s why; but how?

1. Make Data Collection Easier

The first step in crafting an effective IT plan is to enable easier collection of data. Until they know how the system needs to change, the IT department will have a hard time making changes that actually work. To that end, it’s important to collect the right types of data. Which systems work? Which don’t? Which are slower than they need to be? Which cost too much money, or worse, too many lives? The answers to these questions pave the way toward a better system, so implement changes that allow stakeholders to give their feedback in meaningful ways.

2. Use Capability Maps

IT planning for healthcare is all about giving IT the best possible chance of supporting the business. Capability maps can help by showing where IT links up with critical operations in the healthcare organization. Only by ensuring that IT is actually where it needs to be can you ensure a better model overall. While creating a capability map might seem like one more exercise to get through, it helps you find and plug the holes in your IT system.

3. Model a Variety of Plans

Modeling is as effective a tool when it comes to IT planning for healthcare as it is for building spaceships or predicting climate change. Modeling, essentially, allows you to view many potentialities at once without having to actually implement them. By creating robust, flexible models that mimic the effects of various IT decisions, you can choose the plan that results in the best, most flexible model before making any changes at all.

4. Report, Report, Report

The whole point of collecting data, finding system gaps and choosing your ideal model is to ensure your IT system works better, is responsive to change and allows for quick adaptation to need and opportunity. You’ll only know this is true if you report thoroughly and often, so do so.

Planning a well-thought-out IT plan can introduce tools you may not even be aware of and combine them to form an all-encompassing healthcare tech strategy. End result? A scalable, efficient, technology-based environment with some very tangible benefits. But many organizations, especially smaller firms without a committee focused on IT planning services, all too often fail to properly plan.

What About IT Planning Services?

Smaller organizations can take advantage of proper IT planning even if they can’t carve out the time to do it themselves. Here’s how healthcare operations can benefit from IT planning services.

1. Increased Accessibility

One of the biggest trends in healthcare IT right now is telemedicine. Computers and the internet make it easier than ever for care providers to stay in touch with patients who are at home.

This not only limits unnecessary office traffic, minimizing bottlenecks, but it also provides more comfort and convenience for patients who are not in condition for moving around a lot.

Not to mention the simple peace of mind that comes with having direct access to a care provider.

2. More Control in the Hands of Patients

Not only does technology give your patients better access to your knowledge and advice, but it also puts more power in their own hands. One of the most frustrating feelings for a human is one of powerlessness, especially when it comes to one’s own health and personal safety.

There is a growing trend of different IT applications that pull patients further into the medical process. Through computer technology, they can be provided resources to learn more about their condition, opportunities to take more involvement in the treatment decisions, and tools for optimizing their health.

3. Minimal Errors

The right tech planning can greatly reduce instances of medical error, keeping patients safe and protecting your organization from lawsuits.

Electronic medical records, for instance, consolidate all a patient’s medical information in one place, whereas in the past they may have had different files with a range of different providers throughout the city or even country. With EMRs, you’ve got one living file that is constantly updated, making it less likely something will get overlooked.

Other technologies that can reduce error include computerized discharge prescriptions, “smart” intravenous devices, automated pharmacies, and bar coding.

4. A More Productive Team

Technology is often looked to for the possibility to create a more efficient, productive workforce, and in this area, healthcare IT doesn’t disappoint.

For example, mobile devices are becoming powerful tools in the hands of hospital staff these days. They are perfect for constantly communicating with each other on the run around the premises, and there are some great healthcare applications that can be used to easily fill out forms, double-check information, or carry out other admin tasks.

Many doctors also tap into online resources, like videos and professional articles, to learn more about their field, make medical decisions, or educate clients and patients.

Nearly every team leverages these technologies to a degree, but how much more productive could your team be if a coordinated, expert plan was put in place – one based on the best practices and the latest IT tech solutions? 

5. Improved Security

A lack of planning means that far too much is left up to chance, and one of the areas that take the biggest hit when that happens is data security. Nowhere is data security more important than in the healthcare industry; in fact, the government requires a certain level of responsibility on the part of providers, and if expectations are not met, your practice can be held financially responsible and subjected to heavy fines.

Key Takeaways

  • The healthcare industry is facing IT challenges due to an explosion of data, a strict regulatory environment, and other factors.
  • By increasing efficiency in data collection and an effective IT plan, healthcare organizations can protect their employees and patients.
  • Healthcare providers are turning to solutions like data as a service to effectively manage, store and secure sensitive information.

In many ways, healthcare is one of the most rapidly changing sectors of the American economy. With pressures from a growing influx of patient data, legal requirements, and increasing costs, healthcare IT personnel are looking for innovative management and storage solutions. By implementing a well-thought-out IT plan, healthcare organizations can improve their efficiency, as well as keep their vital information safe in today’s online world.

IT Consulting

How Cloud Computing Can Help Your Business Stay Organized

Are you looking to be a more efficient and successful business? We know first hand that productivity is a major factor that could be holding your company back. One way to change this is by utilizing cloud computing. Cloud computing can increase productivity on many different levels – as a general concept and in the many different types of services it puts in the hands of SMBs at a charmingly low cost.

By cutting out the ways your business unnecessarily eats up time, efforts, and resources, you can reduce costs and gain the competitive advantage to pull ahead of the competition.

What is the Cloud & Why are Businesses Using Cloud Computing?

The cloud is essentially a term used to describe using the computing power of the web for storing and processing information rather than local computers. Information is stored on virtual drives online, instead of on your computer’s hard drive.

One of the biggest advantages to moving our files to the cloud is that it removes one of the biggest data problems off our minds – that we don’t know where our files are. Rather than worrying about lost data, or accessing the data on certain machines, the cloud puts everything in a safe place accessible to everyone. Again, this doesn’t make our data lives suddenly perfect, but we can stop worrying about whether something has been saved or whether it will be available when we’re ready to hunt it down.

Not to mention the fact that you don’t lose anything if your computer gets stolen or has some kind of melt-down. As long as you can access the cloud, your data is there.

Another great thing about cloud technology is that it can often be automated. By syncing our cloud services with a computer, all we have to do is drop a file into the right folder and it automatically uploads to the cloud (assuming the internet connection is live). Or we can just save the file from whatever program it’s open in, and if it’s already in the cloud folder, it will automatically update in online storage. And, you get an unheard amount of storage for your dollars.

Why Buying Hardware is Old News

Cloud storage is also unique in that you can access as much storage as you need in an instant or downgrade as necessary. There’s no need to get a hardware upgrade or purchase storage devices with more room.

Technology is firmly shifting towards a future where automation and the cloud are the “new norm”. In ten years (even as soon as five), there isn’t even going to be hardware that you can buy. You’ll have to replace everything you already have with more sophisticated, modern solutions. Getting started sooner is much better than later.

Scalability

One of the major reasons why companies need to stop buying hardware comes down to the simple fact that hardware by its very nature is NOT scalable. Hardware takes so much time to invest, install, configure and maintain that by the time you start using it, it’s probably going to be obsolete. It’s certainly not the “magic bullet” you’ve been looking for to help you grow your business. How are you supposed to continue to expand and evolve if the hardware you rely on daily can’t do the same?

Efficiency to the Extreme

It’s important that business professionals come to terms with the fact that by dropping hardware solutions and moving into the cloud (or at the very least, into the world of automation), they’re making a decision that can literally save their business.

By putting the full force of your technology into the cloud, you gain equal computing efficiency for multiple locations. Sharing data, collaborating and even communicating between two or more offices doesn’t just become easier, it becomes effortless. It’s also less likely that a single physical event (like an earthquake or other natural disasters, or even a fire or a robbery) can damage your business in the type of way that it might never recover from.

So how else can cloud computing improve your company’s productivity?

How to Increase Efficiency With Cloud Computing

1. More Efficient Collaboration

Cloud computing allows work to be done anytime, anywhere. For many small businesses, the ability to share information seamlessly and work on projects together from a distance can radically transform the way things get done.

Workers can collaborate from across the country and see the work being completed in real time. Five years ago, this wouldn’t have been possible; instead, these individuals would have called and emailed. While the time savings may seem minimal, they add up to a lot over a project’s lifetime.

Employees can also become far more productive when out in the field, instantly accessing files from the company as needed, managing work processes without having to wait until they’re back on-site, demonstrating products and service, and even processing transactions on the spot.

2. A More Efficient Workforce

There has been a large demand towards bringing your own device (BYOD) over these last few years, and more companies are realizing it is a tide that cannot be stopped. Many are starting to realize that embracing it early on, with some added security through cloud services, creates great chances for increasing productivity as well.

BYOD simply empowers the modern employee. They can work on their own devices and possibly even go remote. In fact, many employees end up putting in extra hours from their comfort of their own home with no rise in pay, and you don’t even have to ask them to do so.

Increased productivity can also be found through the better technologies in the consumer tech markets. Business cannot typically provide this type of tech in-house, but providing access on their own devices brings in an army of new tech that is ever-growing and without added cost to you.

Finally, more productivity is found with a greater in-house focus on the core of the business. With IT in the cloud, your company can focus on what they do best and do it better.

3. A More Efficient IT Infrastructure

What could be more unproductive than managing a huge IT infrastructure on your own, one that has to be big enough to serve your needs at your most demanding moments?

Treating computing as a utility service makes it more scalable and reduces bottlenecks. You get what you need, and when you need more, you simply pay for more. You’re also outsourcing the maintenance headaches to a more qualified team.

Now that your on board with using the cloud for your company, how keep everything organized so your newly found efficiency doesn’t degrade?

How to Organize Data in the Cloud

Ahh the paperless office, when our lives were going to become so much more streamlined and organized thanks to the ability to automatically retrieve virtual documents whenever needed and safely tuck them away when not using them.

With the information piling up around us, our offices are as filled with paperwork as they ever were. Only now we’ve got piles of digital storage media piled on our desks as well, and our computers are a logistical nightmare of lost files and mountains of information we don’t even remember creating.

The cloud is a wonderful innovation that can make our data organizing a bit easier. It’s isn’t automatic and it isn’t flawless, but there are some reasons it makes perfect sense. That’s why it is important to learn how to organize data in the cloud.

Step 1: Purge Unnecessary Data

After you remove the concern about whether or not your data is being stored properly, it’s crucial to set some time aside to go through everything. The cloud does come with security concerns, and leaving data lying around that you don’t know about is an unnecessary risk with zero pay-off.

For this reason, it’s best to get rid of information you don’t ever use, especially if the info is sensitive in nature.

This is a very cumbersome process, but as long as you do it right, you should only have to go through it once. Just imagine how much better you’ll feel when it’s all tidied up!

Set aside a day or a few nights to go through all your files one by one. You should open up anything you’re unsure about to check out what it is rather than drawing unwarranted assumptions.

Delete everything you don’t need. Be sure to empty your Recycle Bin as well.

Step 2: Create a Filing System

Time to catalog the mess so that you can access what you need when it’s needed.

There are many different ways to organize your files in the cloud and it really depends on the nature of your business and your personal priority list. The most important thing is this – once you come up with a system that works, stick with it. Don’t let files pile up with nowhere to go.

Set aside a folder called something like “Organize,” “Do Now,” “File,” or “Urgent.” This is where you place files that don’t have an immediate home, but – and this is very important – don’t ever leave them in there long! If files start to pile up there, they’ll quickly get out of hand.

And anytime they seem to collect there fast is a good sign your system needs a bit of tweaking and is missing some categories. Take the time to correct.

Step 3: Get Rid of Old Storage Media

It’s a good idea to go through your old storage media devices and check them too, as they may also be holding files you need or have forgotten about. The longer you leave them sitting, the more reluctant you’ll be to get rid of them, unsure about what they might hold.

So just get down to it. File by file. You may want to hold onto some of these for temp use from time to time, but to fully leverage the efficiency of the cloud, it’s best to leave them empty and remove files immediately after the storage media has served its purpose.

If you’re using physical media for backup, which isn’t a bad idea especially for critical data, store it away in a safe place and implement an ongoing update plan.

Step 4: Minimize Cloud Storage Options

It can be tempting to use a lot of different cloud storage options, and some people even use this as a way to get lots of free storage, as many providers allow you a certain amount with your initial free account. But this can get hectic pretty quick and create a situation like you had before – files all over the place and uncertainty about where everything is.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to stick with one or two services, even if that means paying for an account.

An exception to this is if you have concrete rules about which service houses what types of files. For instance, you might use Dropbox for temporary file storage and Amazon s3 for long-term. Or Dropbox for files shared with clients for your business and Google Drive for personal documents and documents only your business views. Or Evernote for client data and Flikr for photos.

Step 5: Make Sure to Regularly Clean House

Once you have a good system for data organization in place, you shouldn’t have to mess with it often, but loose ends do tend to start unraveling over time. Take stock of the situation every month or so – at least on a quarterly basis – and tidy up. You may also want to take this time to go through your devices and eliminate any files that have accumulated there as well.

Key Takeaways

  • Companies everywhere are using cloud computing to keep their data safe and accessible from multiple locations.
  • Buying hardware for your IT infrastructure is being put by the wayside, and the cloud is the storage solution of tomorrow.
  • Cloud computing can increase your efficiency by promoting collaboration from many different locations.
  • Staying organized in the cloud is possible with a filing system that promotes cybersafe data storage.

Cloud computing can increase productivity, but you have to come at it conscious of what is actually possible. Do you want to learn more about creating more efficiency in your company using cloud solutions? Check out our blog for more articles, resources pages for premium content, or simply contact us today to learn more about the services ITG offers.

Cloud Backup

5 Signs Your MSP Sucks

Not all managed services providers are created equally. While a lot of them are doing high quality, groundbreaking work in an effort to guarantee the care and commitment you need at all times, others are definitely leaving a lot to be desired. There are five core signs in particular that you need to be aware of that all say one thing: It’s time for a change in MSP.

Your MSP Sucks If You Get The Dreaded “We’ll Call You Back”

If you’ve ever experienced a problem with your environment and put in a call to your MSP for help, only to be told that you’re going to get a “call back” at a later time, guess what – your MSP sucks. You should have been handed over to someone who can help you in real-time, not “in one to three days”.

You’re Calling Your MSP Too Often

Another clear sign that your managed services provider sucks is that you’re calling your MSP at all. For the most part, your MSP should be calling YOU to proactively solve small issues before they become much bigger problems. If you’re calling your MSP on a regular basis to take care of little things that should be taken care of without having to ask, there is a problem.

You’re Calling Your Vendors

Your MSP should be the one calling all of your vendors on your behalf, managing any and all relationships on the technical side of the scale. Managed services providers are a one-stop shop in this way. Or at least, they should be.

You’re Updating Your Own Software

One of the key reasons that you’re paying your MSP in the first place is to make sure that you automatically have all updates and you don’t have to worry about an update disrupting your workday. Let’s get one thing clear: updates to properly managed services will be done by your MSP, no exceptions. If you do find yourself consistently updating your own software and having to stop your work, then guess what: your MSP sucks.

You Keep Having the Same Problems

Finally, perhaps the most obvious sign that your MSP sucks is if the same problem is occurring in the same environment on a regular basis. What this means is that your MSP isn’t solving the root of the problem, they’re just putting forward temporary solutions. Some MSP’s solve symptoms, and not the actual problem. This isn’t a way to do business in the modern era where technology is becoming more and more critical on a daily basis. A quality managed services provider will find the root of the fault and fix it, making sure it doesn’t have a chance to rear its ugly head again down the road.

Key Takeaways:

  • If you’re having a problem with your environment and your MSP tells you that they’re going to “call you back,” you’re looking at a clear sign that your MSP sucks.
  • A good MSP will never make you call them about an issue – they’ll be the ones calling you.
  • Quality MSPs will also manage the technical relationship between you and your vendors, so that you don’t have to.

IT Consulting

Examples of Two-Factor Authentication & Why They Matter

Two-factor authentication is increasing in popularity throughout all industries, from banking to online gaming. This technology improves security for both businesses and consumers.

What Is Two-Factor Authentication?

Two-factor authentication is a two-step process used to verify a user’s identity. During this process, the user typically provides information, such as a password or pin number, in addition to another factor. The second factor may be an item the user has in his or her possession, or it may be a fingerprint, a voice pattern or another characteristic that is difficult to duplicate.

Two-factor authentication offers many benefits to businesses and individual users alike. Not only does it enhance security, but it also provides you with better peace of mind. In addition, implementing two-factor authentication is a cost-effective security measure.

Examples of Two-Factor Authentication

Some of the most common examples of two-factor authentication include:

  • Banks – Most banks now have two-factor authentication available to their customers. This technology improves the security of the customer’s account, and it reduces the risk of breaches that may impact the bank’s reputation.
  • Google – Google offers two-factor authentication for users with any Google account. Since many people use their Google accounts for more than one purpose, this level of protection is essential. If one of these accounts is compromised, the others are vulnerable as well.
  • PayPal – Since PayPal may be connected to a user’s bank accounts and credit cards, protecting the account is very important. Fortunately, PayPal offers two-factor authentication to all consumers.
  • Steam – The popular gaming platform Steam has also established two-factor authentication for its users. This protects gamers from hacking, fraud and other issues.
  • Enterprise Resource Planning Softwares (ERPs) – An ERP is an enormous resource for any company, providing access to much of the business. For this reason, it must be kept secure. Many of the big-name ERPs have now enabled two-factor authentication in some form.

Now Is the Time to Adopt Two-Factor Authentication

The examples above represent just a small sample of the organizations and companies that now offer or require two-factor authentication. Soon, this technology will be required for every type of login.

Although establishing and using two-factor authentication may be slightly inconvenient for you, it is much more inconvenient for the criminals who hope to break into your accounts. If you aren’t already using this technology to protect yourself or your company, now is the time to start.

Key Takeaways

  • Because of its many benefits, two-factor authentication is increasing in popularity throughout all industries.
  • Some of the most common examples of two-factor authentication include updated security protocols enacted by banks, Google, PayPal, Steam and Enterprise Resource Planning Softwares.
  • Two-factor authentication will soon be mandatory. Now is the time to start using two-factor authentication to protect yourself and/or your company.

3 Reasons Why Manufacturers in CT Need to Stop Buying Hardware

In the world of business, success boils down to how prepared you are to meet the challenges that you may face in the future. It’s a simple concept that is true regardless of the industry you’re operating in and is something that many companies turn to technology to help them handle. Though it may seem logical to rely on hardware to meet those needs, this isn’t actually the path that many should follow, particularly in the modern era. There are a number of essential reasons why manufacturers in CT need to stop buying hardware and focus their efforts elsewhere.

Hardware and the Future

Again, part of being successful involves the steps that you take today to prepare yourself for the future. That future is not hardware and hasn’t been for over a decade now. Technology is firmly shifting towards a future where automation and the cloud are the “new norm”. In ten years (even as soon as five), there isn’t even going to be hardware that you can buy. You’ll have to replace everything you already have with more sophisticated, modern solutions. Getting started sooner is much better than later.

Scalability

Another one of the major reasons why manufacturers need to stop buying hardware comes down to the simple fact that hardware by its very nature is NOT scalable. Hardware takes so much time to invest, install, configure and maintain that by the time you start using it, it’s probably going to be obsolete. It’s certainly not the “magic bullet” you’ve been looking for to help you grow your business. How are you supposed to continue to expand and evolve if the hardware you rely on daily can’t do the same?

Efficiency to the Extreme

It’s important that business professionals come to terms with the fact that by dropping hardware solutions and moving into the cloud (or at the very least, into the world of automation), they’re making a decision that can literally save their business.

By putting the full force of your technology into the cloud, you gain equal computing efficiency for multiple locations. Sharing data, collaborating and even communicating between two or more offices doesn’t just become easier, it becomes effortless. It’s also less likely that a single physical event (like an earthquake or other natural disasters, or even a fire or a robbery) can damage your business in the type of way that it might never recover from.

All business professionals need to have one eye fixed firmly on the future at all times. Those who already are can tell you without hesitation that the future of IT is moving away from hardware solutions to a cloud-based and automated reality. The future is one where automation and the cloud put all companies on equal footing, which is why manufacturers in CT need to move away from hardware as soon as they can.

Key Takeaways:

  • Information Technology is trending away from hardware and into the world of automation and the cloud.
  • Hardware isn’t scalable in the way that the modern business demands and doesn’t allow companies to prepare for the future of tomorrow.

Why Two Factor Authentication Should be a Requirement for SMBs in 2017

Two factor authentication is gaining popularity quickly for good reasons. This technology makes it much more difficult for hackers to gain access to accounts, thus providing business owners with more security and peace of mind. In addition, two factor authentication is inexpensive and easy to use.

What is Two Factor Authentication?

Two factor authentication is a form of identity verification that requires the user to prove his or her identity in two different ways when logging into an account. In most cases, one factor is the user’s password and the other is a physical object, such as a specific computer, mobile phone or token. When logging into an account, the user will first be asked to provide his or her password. Next, the second factor will be verified. If either of these factors is missing, the user won’t be able to log in.

Why is it Important?

Two factor authentication makes it more difficult for malicious individuals to access accounts than don’t belong to them. In today’s world, hacking tactics are highly effective, and usernames and passwords just aren’t enough protection anymore. Some of the benefits of two factor authentication include:

  • Better security – Perhaps the most obvious benefit of two-factor authentication is better security for your company, your employees and your customers. With this technology, the chances of a hacker breaking into your system are much lower.
  • More peace of mind – Knowing that your accounts and data are well-protected provides you with peace of mind, allowing you to worry less and focus more energy on other tasks.
  • Cost effectiveness – Two factor authentication is not expensive or difficult to implement, making it a cost-effective choice for businesses.
  • Protection for your business – Nothing ruins your business’s reputation quite as quickly as a security breach. If a breach compromises your customers’ data, you have to inform them and take steps to protect them from harm. Not only is this costly, but it can also cause you to lose business. Two factor authentication makes these breaches much less likely, which reduces the chances of an embarrassing situation.
  • Guarantee of employee involvement – Implementing two factor authentication in the workplace necessitates employee buy-in, thus ensuring that every employee’s account is protected. When two factor authentication is required, employees must use something for their second factor. This means that even employees with weak passwords or a propensity to share passwords will have a reasonable amount of account security.

Implementing Two Factor Authentication

Because of the benefits of two factor authentication, as well as the ever-increasing threat of security breaches, two factor authentication is highly recommended for both businesses and individuals. Some people complain that two factor authentication is more cumbersome than simply inputting a password. However, this is a small price to pay for extra security. Even though it may take you a little more time to log into your accounts, hackers will have much less success when they try to break in illegally. If you aren’t already using two factor authentication to protect your company, it’s time to make this technology part of your everyday security protocol.

Key Takeaways

  • Two factor authentication is a form of identity verification that requires the user to prove his or her identity in two different ways.
  • Two factor authentication offers several benefits that make it a good tool for businesses, including better security, better peace of mind, more employee involvement and cost effectiveness.

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Top 4 Benefits of Managed IT Services

One of the major reasons that many companies balk at the idea of managed IT services has to do with control, or a perceived lack thereof. Some just aren’t comfortable giving up control over their IT infrastructure to a third party. While this is certainly understandable to a certain extent, it overlooks the variety of benefits that a company can expect to receive in return. Here are a few advantages of managed IT services that businesses should be aware of.

Managed IT Services and Best Practices

Only managed IT services allow your business to deploy information technology practices faster than ever. If technology suddenly shifts in a way that reveals an opportunity to streamline your workflow or approve collaboration and communication, those benefits can be deployed in an instant. You don’t have to go through months of planning and preparation before you even get to implementation – oftentimes implementation happens in the background before a change is even considered.

Training Just Got a Lot Easier

When it comes to your IT investment, what you have is important – but how you use it is equally important. Managed IT services make it possible to train your staff based on established best practices, as well as in real issues that managed services providers have seen before. Suddenly every member of your team becomes an expert in using IT to streamline productivity. They might not be pros in what your underlying technology is or how it works, but they will know how that technology affects the way they work and the job they need to do.

Managed IT Services Opens Bold New Opportunities

Perhaps the most important advantage of managed IT services is that they allow small and mid-sized businesses to apply technologies that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. IT often requires a massive up-front investment, regardless of whether staying “state-of-the-art” is one of your priorities. Just when you’ve spent weeks researching, planning, purchasing and installing – you then have to do it all over again when technology becomes outdated.

With managed IT services, this isn’t a concern you have to have any longer. You get access to all the latest hardware and software in exchange for one predictable monthly fee.

The Future Is Here

Along the same lines, managed IT services also allows your business to stay ahead of the curve while planning for the future at the same time. You don’t have to worry about devoting countless hours to researching the latest tech to hold onto that competitive advantage in any way that you can. You can guarantee that you have the latest systems at the ready so that you can get back to doing the most important thing of all: growing your business and allowing it to evolve into the organization it was always meant to be.

Key Takeaways:

  • Managed IT services make it possible to deploy best practices faster than ever.
  • Managed IT services make it possible to apply technologies to an enterprise that a business otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.
  • Managed IT services allow even small and mid-sized businesses to stay ahead of the curve, remaining competitive while planning for the future at the same time.

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3 Tips to Be Proactive with Your Organization’s Technology

For decades, you were probably like just about every other business on the planet in terms of IT and your organization’s technology: reactive. You would invest heavily in a particular set of hardware or software, use it until it wasn’t quite getting you the results you needed and then repeat the process all over again. Times have changed and technology advances far too quickly to stay stuck in this old school mentality any longer.

Being reactive in terms of technology doesn’t just put you at a competitive disadvantage – it could also be making your entire organization vulnerable in more ways than one. If you really want to be proactive with your organization’s technology, you’ll want to keep a few key things in mind.

Proactive Means Protection of Your Organization’s Technology

By far, the number one way to remain proactive about your organization’s technology involves doing what you can to protect it from digital threats. Conduct regular scans of your network and infrastructure, not only looking for opportunities for improvement, but also in terms of identifying small problems before they have a chance to become much larger (and more expensive) ones down the road.

Implement two factor authentication (2FA) as a way to ward off the latest digital threats like phishing attempts. Remember that hackers and other people who want to do you harm think fast – so you need to think faster.

Plan for the Future

If being proactive in general means always keeping one eye fixed towards the future, it stands to reason that another great way to be proactive about your organization’s technology involves planning for what tomorrow is going to look like. Use workspaces to unlock productivity and collaborative benefits that have only recently become available. Plan your budget accordingly, taking great care to make sure that your IT is always aligned with your long-term business objectives.

If you find this too hard to do on your own, don’t be afraid to find a partner like a managed services provider who will take over much of the burden on your behalf.

Move to the Cloud

Finally, one of the best ways to become more proactive about your organization’s technology involves moving anything and everything that you can over to the cloud. Not only will it make protection and planning for the future easier, but it’ll also make your life better. Your employees will become more efficient and have a uniform experience, wherever they are. The quality of the work that they’re able to do will increase as well.

You’ll get benefits that extend far, far deeper than the ones listed here – but none of it will be possible if you get stuck in the same reactionary approach that has been true to IT investments for years.

Key Takeaways:

  • Being proactive about your organization’s technology puts you in a better position to protect it. This can include doing regular scans, implementing two factor authentication and more.
  • Being proactive puts you in a better position to plan for the future through the use of workspaces, budgeting and more.
  • Moving everything into the cloud is a big first step towards becoming and staying proactive moving forward.

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