Monthly Archives: June 2018

Your business needs VoIP

VoIP is nothing short of a miracle for businesses today, voice over internet protocol is technology that solves a multitude of problems business owners face every day. So what is VoIP? It is technology that allows voice communication and multimedia sessions over the internet.

VoIP can be used on a wide array of devices, including computers, telephones, mobile phones, tablets, etc. To use it you must have internet access or even mobile data. VoIP will give employees access to their own dedicated line, allowing them to both receive and make calls.  Examples of some VoIP solutions are Skype for Business, Cisco, and Google Talk. There are many reasons VoIP is a great tool for businesses:

Remote Work

The freedom of telecommuting (also known as remote working) is becoming increasingly popular, VoIP solutions allow remote employees the ability to connect with others as if they were in office. Remote employees have the ability to work from any place at any time. When a team works from home, or in separate environments VoIP is essential to making the separation easier.

VoIP allows employees to have a phone number with a dedicated line, freeing them of the hassle of having to change phone numbers for specific areas and from giving out their personal line. IP phones allow number mobility as long as there is an internet connection, even when an employee is traveling around the world.

Accessibility

One of the biggest perks of using VoIP in a business setting is the accessibility. Voice over internet protocol allows employees to connect to their business network from virtually anywhere.  Regardless of where your employees are they are able to log into their devices as and connect with others from around the world, as long as they have access to internet or data.

Collaboration is also important for accessibility; VoIP can run on an application level. Collaboration with applications like email, web browsers, messengers, social networking, and file sharing applications provide easily accessible solutions for employees.

Cost Effective

Conventional telephone systems for a business can get expensive and confusing as a business continues to grow. As businesses consistently add new lines and expand their communication features, it drives costs up and will end up costing a lot more than anticipated.

VoIP is a cost effective solution if a business doesn’t want to break the bank due to long distance calling, landlines, and additional infrastructure. Since VoIP is internet based, these factors no longer exist.

Flexibility

Businesses should opt in for communications that will grow with them, which is why VoIP scalability is so important for business growth. VoIP is considered easily scalable to fit business needs, due to the lack of hardware that is needed in a VoIP system. Any addition to a company team will be able to join the VoIP licensing with a click of a button. The same goes for when a business is contracting, any numbers that are no longer in use can be temporarily disabled.

VoIP should be on any business radar – small, medium, and especially enterprise. There are many different options of a VoIP system so it is important to take note of what your business needs are and contact your local managed services partner to research different options. To learn more about VoIP, contact CompuOne IT Services San Diego.

What is encryption?

Imagine sending an important file to a client without a safeguard protecting the information in the file. The likelihood of an unauthorized user accessing that data is much higher without encryption.

To understand what encryption is, you must also understand what plaintext and ciphertext is. Plaintext is data that is readable, plaintext is encrypted by creating an encoded version that is only readable with a decryption key, once plaintext is encrypted it becomes ciphertext. Encryption is used to safely transmit data across networks, it is created with a mathematical procedure otherwise known as cryptography.

There are two types of algorithms that are used to encrypt data today: symmetric and asymmetric.

Symmetric

Symmetric cryptography uses the same secret key to both encrypt plaintext and the decrypt of ciphertext, since it uses the same key that’s how the term symmetric was coined. The key can be a series of letters, a word, or numbers.

There are two types of symmetric-key encryption: stream ciphers or block ciphers.

  • Stream ciphers encrypt digits or letters of a message at once.
  • Block ciphers are a number of bits that are encrypted as a single unit.

Common symmetric-key algorithms include: Blowfish, Data Standard Encryption (DES), and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).

Asymmetric

Asymmetric encryption is also known as public key cryptography. Simply put, it uses two different keys to transfer data safely. One key is public and is used to encrypt plaintext, the public key is allowed to be openly distributed without compromising data. The second key is private and used to decrypt the data, the private key can only be used by the receiver.

Since asymmetric encryption is very complex, it is usually only used for small amounts of data. There are two types of asymmetric-key encryption: public key encryption and digital signatures:

  • Public key encryption is where a message is encrypted with the recipient’s public key and cannot be decrypted without the matching private key.
  • Digital signature is a message that is signed with the senders’ private key and is verified by whomever has access to the senders’ public key.

Common asymmetric-key algorithms include: Rivest-Shamir-Adelman (RSA), Elliptic, Digital Signature Algorithm (DSA).

Hybrid Encryption

Hybrid encryption is encryption that is two or more encryption methods used together. With the speed of symmetric encryption and the security of asymmetric encryption, hybrid is considered highly secure and faster.

Data Security

IT systems today need modern encryption; it is vital for data security.  Depending on what industry your business is in, part of compliance is to ensure you have an encryption protocol in place. Encrypting data provides three elements of security:

  1. Data Integrity: Proof that the message hasn’t been alter.
  2. Authentication: Origin of the message is verified.
  3. Nonrepudiation: Sender can’t deny sending the message.

For information on data encryption, contact us today.

The lifecycle of your computer

When owning and operating a vehicle, it is important to keep up on maintenance to keep the car moving at its optimal level. However, overtime the vehicle begins to face problems that aren’t necessarily driver created. The same goes for computers, scheduled maintenance will ensure computers will live up to their life expectancy and eventually they will need to be replaced due to out datedness or an unforeseen circumstance.

Conduct a computer lifecycle assessment in your workplace to streamline business productivity, create cost awareness, and make for an easy transition from computer to computer. Here is our definition of the computer lifecycle:

Planning

The average life expectancy for a laptop or desktop computer is three to five years. It is important for businesses to develop a plan based on computer life expectancy, so stakeholders aren’t facing any unnecessary downtime or cost. To prepare for the computer lifecycle it is crucial to take into account the requirements for each machine your company uses. Plan out a replacement by asking these questions:

  • Depending on job need, what CPU does the machine need to be?
  • What operating system fits your company best?
  • What is your budget?
  • How many machines do you need to replace?

Once you have an idea of what type of machine your employees need, it makes for easier budgeting, as your team will know the exact computer specification that your business needs.

Procurement

What is your business plan to obtain the machines? This is where your local IT service provider comes in. Let your provider know that you’re in the beginning stages of planning out your computer lifecycle process and that eventually you will need to swap out machines without loss of information.

An important part of procurement is that your vendor will appropriately track serial and model numbers of all machines, thus your business can follow proper procedure in replacing computers without the hassle of tracking it.

Backup & Deployment

So your business has gotten all new computers, while there is an excitement to power up and start working, it is also important to cover all your bases before getting started. Ensuring your local IT provider takes the necessary steps prior to deployment is key to an easy transition:

  • Back up data on retiring machine.
  • Implement company security standard on new machine.
  • Migrate all necessary data and applications from old machine to new.

After your IT team completes these three necessary steps, the transition from old to new will result in little to no downtime, and allow employees to start working right away.

Use & Monitor

The majority of your workplace computers lifespan is in this stage. Bringing it back to the car reference, this is where your IT team will need to actively assess and monitor devices. This is crucial in keeping the lifespan of machines long, and keeping business productivity at a maximum. Here are some tips to stay in this stage of the lifecycle as long as possible:

  • Address any issues early on.
  • Patch management, software updates, etc.
  • Handle with care.
  • A managed services provider can actively monitor machines to ensure uptime.

Retirement & Transition

Once employees at your workplace start detecting problems with the machine that involve hardware, or the machine is showing signs of end of life, it is time for the process to repeat. Ideally your team has already adjusted the technology budget to repeat the cycle.

Computers are unfortunately not built to last, therefore it is necessary to plan out the lifecycle of your business computers. Your business will be able to prevent unplanned computer costs, increase business productivity, and allow for an easy transition when planning with the lifecycle of a computer.

To learn more about managed services, contact us today.

Ways to secure IoT devices in your workplace

The volume of IoT devices is booming, Statista forecasts that there will be almost 31 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020. So what is IoT and why does it matter? In the workplace, connected devices are becoming critical to various industries including healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture, and energy.

Connected devices rank very poor in regard to security. Lack of available updates, encryption, and negligence, creates vulnerability in a business network due to IoT devices.  “Unknown unknowns,” are devices that IT security teams aren’t even aware of that could potentially lead to network exposer.

So what steps can an IT department take to lessen IoT vulnerabilities?

You don’t have to connect everything

Odds are your workplace has multiple devices that have the availability to be connected. When it comes to the latest kitchen appliances (fridges, watercoolers, etc.), not everything needs to be connected. In fact, a majority of these types of devices don’t have standard update protocols. Leaving most connectable appliances vulnerable to attack.

Developing a companywide standard for wearables and other IoT devices may help business network security. Employees with personal IoT devices should be wary about what they are connecting to and must adhere to set security standards. In an ideal scenario, employees wouldn’t connect personal devices to the business network, however this is sometimes impossible.

Separate networks are key

Thankfully most WiFi access solutions have what is called a guest network. It is important to keep this network separate from your business network that which includes shared data files and workplace computers. A guest network could be used as a barrier to entry from unauthorized users and breaches from unmonitored IoT devices.

In an ideal environment, IT security teams would create an entire network for IoT devices alone. Separating IoT devices that have questionable security will prevent access of your data and devices that are connected to the business network.

Monitor devices and assess your network

Workplaces need to ensure they are tracking everything that connects to their network and monitor traffic flow. Every device that enters or will enter the network must be assessed to determine the level of access it should have. An example is an employee’s wearable, ideally it would not be connected, but if it is, the access level is minimal.

All devices that enter the network must be monitored to ensure they are fully patched and up to date when updates are available. Any unknowns should flag an alert to the IT security team. Security teams should take the time to actively look for unknown devices on their network. IoT devices are only increasing, it is crucial for businesses to secure their networks from unmonitored devices and vulnerable IoT devices.

To learn more about creating a secure business network, contact CompuOne.

Why Your Business Should Partner With a Local Managed IT Service Provider

Managed IT services allows companies to outsource their IT support in order to improve operations and cut costs. Organizations may use a provider to take a proactive approach on their information technology and create predictability within their technology infrastructure.

Why should organizations outsource IT to a managed service company?

Thoughtful IT planning

Working with a managed IT provider allows businesses to build long lasting relationships with a partner that will take the time to get to know the company. In most cases, experts will sit down with stakeholders and learn of company goals and plans for the future.

Thoughtful planning allows a MSP to build an IT environment that allows a business to operate at maximum efficiency. Local providers hold accountability and want technology to be a tool for client productivity and company growth.

Increased communication

Facing unexpected downtime is frustrating, when working with a nationwide or global IT company it could feel like jumping through hoops to connect with the right person to resolve an issue. Choosing local increases client and provider communication, allowing for fast resolution to any IT issue.

Local providers are actively uptime monitoring, meaning they monitor IT networks and websites. If an issue does arise, a team of experts will be notified early on and will resolve the issue accordingly.  Since local providers are in your area, they are available to be dispatched to your business in a timely manner.

Cost efficiency

Managed services is a cost effective option for businesses for various reasons.

  • Infrastructure expense is reduced: Overall infrastructure expense is reduced with a local provider. MSP’s extend the life of current infrastructure by investing in future of businesses. With active IT planning, costs are predictable and system failures resulting in huge IT costs are less likely. Unlike nation-wide providers, your local partner is not backed by certain suppliers. We are able to research the best products and pricing to provide clients without the push of selling specific products from select suppliers.
  • Productivity is increased: With less time spent worrying about technology, there is more time for business productivity. Planned installations and active monitoring from a local IT service provider allows businesses the ability to focus on growth without the worry of technology interference.

Key takeaway

Outsourcing business level IT to a local provider is a great option for organizations who are in need of a well thought out plan for technology to grow with their business. For more information on managed services, please contact us today.