All posts by CompuOne Corporation

Office 365: Security Best Practices

Microsoft Office 365 has become a common necessity for business and enterprises alike. As data loss and security breaches continue to grow, it is essential to use best practice to assure Office 365 security.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security system that has become increasingly essential in Office 365 security. MFA requires more than one method of authentication to verify employee identity and credentials.

Managed from the Office 365 admin center, enabling multi-factor authentication prior to deploying Office 365 to the end user is the most successful way of setting it up. Microsoft permits MFA in three separate ways depending on business preference:

  • Mobile app as a second authentication factor.
  • Text message as a second authentication factor.
  • Phone call as a second authentication factor.

Mobile Device Management

Companies may have a “bring your own device” policy, and some may have regulations against employees bring their own devices. Regardless, employees are capable of accessing Office 365 data with phones and tablets.

Education is key to make certain of mobile device management (MDM) security, i.e., employees not accessing files with sensitive information. Nevertheless, there are always circumstances that cannot be accounted for.

Fortunately, Office 365 has built in mobile device management that is available for both Office 365 for Business and Office 365 Enterprise.  If employees use company-owned devices, admins are able to manage and revoke access to important data when needed. Mobile device management for Office 365 is a proper way of enhancing business security.

Data Encryption

Another best practice for file protection in Office 365 is to safeguard with data encryption. To assure the security of information, admins must implement security protocols regarding data that is stored with Office 365. This is exceptionally important for companies who acquire and store sensitive information such as social security, banking information, and health records.

Office 365 offers multiple encryption capabilities to prevent from business content being read by unauthorized users. By default, encryption at the computer level on Windows OS is by Bitlocker. Files being shared on OneDrive for Business and Sharepoint online are encrypted by TLS connections.

Office 365 is a vital tool for business and enterprises alike, there is an enormous importance to secure information. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, CompuOne is well-versed in securing Office 365 subscriptions. To learn more about security best practice for Office 365, please contact us.

Three types of virtualization

In business technology, virtualization is becoming far more integrated and advanced than ever before. In the digital world, there is no doubt that some form of virtualization will be introduced to a majority of companies in the upcoming future. So what is it?  Virtualization is creating a virtual resource of something.

There are multiple types of virtualizations that can serve various industries, business sizes, and functions. Companies are quick to adopt virtualizations as a productive tool, with increased efficiency, and refined security.

Desktop Virtualization

Desktop virtualization, sometimes referred to VDI, is a common form for virtualization across various industries. Desktop virtualization is hosted on a centralized server, and can be accessed from virtually anywhere. It is common among education institutions and the manufacturing industry. IT experts are able to perform maintenance and upgrades easily, since desktops are all hosted on the same server.

Server Virtualization

To put server virtualization simply, it is segmentation of a physical server into numerous virtual servers. Server virtualization allows multiple servers to be hosted on a single machine. This will allow companies to divide the workloads, especially in IT departments. Server virtualization reduces costs due to minimized hardware use and increases productivity with the division of workloads.

Storage Virtualization

Storage virtualization is an effortless and low cost way of storing data that many businesses could potential benefit from. There are multiple ways storage virtualization can work: it can be implemented within the storage itself, through dedicated appliances, or through software built to create storage virtualization.  It is a great tool for disaster recovery planning, since data that is stored virtually can be replicated and transferred securely.

Incorporating virtualization could be extremely beneficial in many different areas of a business. A managed IT services provider will help integrate virtualization based on company goals and needs. Please contact CompuOne today to learn more.

What to consider when purchasing a computer

Purchasing the right computer for your business function needs is key for both productivity and reliability. Take into consideration these five tech specifications prior to buying a new computer:

Type

Employee function is a great way to determine what type of computer to purchase, since there are so many different options it is unlikely that an employee in the creative department would benefit from the same machine someone in the accounting department is using. Take into account what type of computer employees need, such as:

  • Laptop
  • Two-in-one
  • Desktop

Would they benefit more from a business grade computer or a consumer grade computer? Type of computer should be determined prior to moving on to the next specifications.

Operating System

Selecting the right OS is a big decision when a business is deciding on new computers for employees. It is common for people to say, “Stick with what you know.” However, choosing the best OS based on employee function is ideal.

  • Mac
  • Windows
  • Linux

An employee with more creative job functions may lean more towards Mac. An employee that works in accounting would be better off with Windows. Linux is less likely to be in a business environment.

Processor

With every new computer comes a new processor, they are updated yearly to increase speeds and provide more functionality for multitasking. The number of cores and threads determines the processor performance. The higher the number of cores and threads, the better the computer will perform. Employees who are rendering creative content would benefit from a higher processor with four cores or greater.

RAM

One of the most important parts of a computer, RAM usually ranges from 4GB to 32GB. RAM is essentially the computers working memory and helps navigate between tasks smoothly. Employees can usually get by with using 4GB but ideally, they would be performing every day functions better with 8GB to 16GB. 32GB is the best option for purpose-built machines.

Solid-State Drive or Hard Disk Drive

Both SSD and HDD do the same thing: boot the system, store data, and launching applications. However, the difference comes in terms of price, speed, and durability. SSD is a much faster, newer technology at a higher price point. One benefit about SSD is that does not contain any mechanical components, making it smaller and more durable. Due to being replaceable, an HDD may be a better option for employees working in a creative environment.

When collaborating with a managed services provider companies are able to pick out the most optimal computers for each employee. To learn more about how your business can benefit from managed services, please contact us today.

Disaster Recovery as a Service: Key Benefits

It is crucial for businesses of any size to develop a plan to recover data in the event that it is lost. Disaster recovery involves the tools, policies and procedures that allow the replication or recovery of vital technology that potentially could be lost due to human or nature induced technology failure. Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is a somewhat new service that allows any business who utilizes technology and stores data to continue to operate after an event that causes data loss.

Though backups are critical for disaster recovery, DRaaS is so much more. DRaaS begins with understanding and consultation of individual business technology framework including being compliant to industry specific regulations.  In the event of data loss, a replica of IT infrastructure is available, and any lost data must be restore in a timely manner. A disaster recovery plan is crucial for business life, which is why it is important to customize a plan to fit business requirements. Some key benefits to DRaaS:

Rapid Recovery

In the event that a business does face downtime, working with a disaster recovery provider will provide the backup and implementations necessary to get a business back on their feet. A customized DR plan allows DRaaS providers the ability to define each step to ensure a rapid restore. Predetermine steps allow providers the ability to help businesses back to their feet.

Resource Availability

Technology is always evolving, meaning disaster recovery plans must evolve as well. Based on resources available, a disaster recovery provider will create a plan based on company size, industry, and needs.

There are multiple types of disaster recovery: data center, cloud-based, and virtualization disaster recovery. Based on resource availability and business margins, allows determining the right DR solution to fit business needs is relatively straightforward.

Security

To implement a successful disaster recovery plan; a DR provider should audit the current security framework. While technology develops, it is important to monitor a disaster recovery plan to ensure the plan is up to par with current security technique. Monitoring allows providers to ensure businesses are taking the most up to date security measures, perform upgrades where needed, and keep all security appliances / applications up to date.

To learn more about DRaaS or to collaborate with a DRaaS provider, contact us today.

 

What you need to know about serverless computing

Serverless computing: a tech term that has been around for a couple years but is just now starting to gain awareness. So can computing be serverless? Well, computers need servers; serverless computing is a cloud computing based model where providers manage cloud-based servers for businesses who are then able to build applications without having worry about infrastructure. Here are some reasons why more companies are beginning to take the serverless route.

Fully Managed Services

One of serverless computing greatest advantages is that companies would no longer need to worry about renting, owning, or buying servers. With a serverless architecture, companies are able to work on applications and code rather than spend time configuring and maintaining their servers. A cloud services provider will manage the backend to ensure setup, maintenance, infrastructure, and capacity.  Fully managed servers allow companies to focus on developing applications and innovation.

Serverless Computing is Scalable

A serverless architecture’s greatest feature is the ability to automatically scale up and down based on developer needs. Without the worry of filling up space, applications can take off with the ability to scale up and down depending on popularity. Since there is the separation of developers and infrastructure, a developer will never need to worry about not having enough space for their application to flourish.

Lower Operational Costs

One of the biggest serverless computing advantages is the lower than average operational costs. Not needing to account for server maintenance, repair, and updating with drastically reduce operational costs for technology infrastructure. Allowing organizations to allocate resources elsewhere.

As developers are continuing to code applications, it is expected that the serverless approach will become standard due to higher availability and lower costs.

To learn more about serverless computing and its benefits, please contact CompuOne.

Consider VDI if you work in these industries

Virtual desktop infrastructure, also known as VDI, is a technology infrastructure that gives organizations the ability to be productive in various ways. VDI is a virtual infrastructure where operating systems are hosted on dedicated servers and different types of devices the ability to become a desktop or workstation just by logging on.  Here are some examples of industries would benefit from VDI:

Manufacturing

With the high volume of employees and rotating shifts in the manufacturing industry, VDI could be the perfect solution to ensuring every employee that requires access to a computer will have it. VDI allows businesses in manufacturing to manage many desktops on few devices. One device is shared by multiple employees, but VDI allows each worker have access to their own desktop, when their shift is up they will log out and the next person to use it can log in.

Healthcare

Due to data sensitivity and patient confidentiality, VDI is important to implement in the healthcare industry especially when an organization must be HIPAA compliant. Systems administrators can grant permissions to healthcare professionals depending on what is relevant to each professional. Each medical professional can view what pertains to their individual job clearance rather than the system as a whole. VDI allows professionals to use different devices across a variety of locations.

Financial

The financial sector is another industry that needs heavy data security protocol and VDI is one way of taking a step towards data security. Businesses in the financial industry should monitor and deploy VDI as it pertains to each individual employee as data security becomes a more pressing issue. VDI will ensure that employees are working in compliance to PCI and HIPAA from whatever device they are working from.

Education

One of the main reasons VDI is so popular in the education industry is the BYOD (bring your own device) policy, making it relativity simple for students and educators to connect to institution resources.  Since institutions usually have many users, the IT department can deploy VDI to make operations much easier. VDI allows IT personnel to update operating systems, software, and security patches all from one location.

VDI has many benefits to employers in several industries, whether your looking to tighten security and monitoring, have many devices, or have many users. To learn more about how your business can benefit from VDI, contact CompuOne.

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.