2016 Security Threats: Profits – Not Mayhem – the Real Aim

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2016 Security Threats: Profits – Not Mayhem – the Real Aim

Computer security is one of the most frustrating tasks IT pros undertake — the news never seems to get better.

2016 is shaping up to be as tough a year as any. New threats are emerging, old threats are being recast to appear as new, and we face a massive shortage of security professionals and not enough budget to hire the few experts that are available for employment.

Fortunately, while the threats ever worsen, our protections keep getting stronger. The right tools with the right processes and proper IT and end user training go a long way in keeping us all safe.
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Cloud Gobbly-Gook: Making Sense of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS

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The cloud is supposed to be simple. After all, it’s just a massive computing utility that can do nearly anything, isn’t it?

The deeper you look, though, the more intricate it all becomes.

There are three major cloud service platforms which adds to this confusion. You can think of these services as comprising a stack. Let’s work our way up, starting with the lowest level.

IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service sounds pretty straightforward. Customers don’t have to have servers, storage and related network infrastructure on-premises. Instead, this is all hosted by a cloud provider and you essentially pay a rental fee. In the beginning, these were raw services based on bare-metal servers and unconfigured storage. It was up to the customer to set the infrastructure up with operating systems, apps and the like. Continue Reading…

How to Manage Change for Success: 7 Principles for MSPs

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There is constant pressure on Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to continually respond and evolve their offerings to ensure they remain competitive. Caught in an ever changing IT landscape with new service providers and the inexorable migration to SaaS, an MSP’s offerings need to continually evolve and new service offerings added, to remain relevant to their customers’ needs.

In such a volatile and rapidly evolving market, it can be difficult for organisations to plan and communicate changes effectively to their staff.  For any change, be it organization-wide or smaller business groups, it is critical to success to ensure staff understand what the business is intending to ultimately achieve, and that they buy in and support the change. Planning an organisation-wide, large-scale change can be quite daunting with its potential impact on the organization, especially on how to juggle multiple priorities not only daily but long-term strategically; so the larger the change, the more critical it is that the change is successful. Continue Reading…

Top Reasons MSPs Should Offer vCIO Services

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While enterprises have had CIOs for some three decades, it is only recently that Virtual CIOs (vCIOs) have emerged. Invented by MSPs, vCIO offer SMBs top-level IT strategy.

As an MSP, you provide much of this insight and guidance already to your clients.. Who knows your clients’ IT operations better than you and your staff? You can kick this informal advising up a few notches by offering higher level, truly strategic CIO advice and guidance. Of course, you can’t be on site every day – so as a vCIO you’ll do this virtually. Continue Reading…

What Do the Olympic Games, Stuxnet and Passwords Have in Common?

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This weekend, I had some free time (with a new born baby in the house that’s not a natural thing) to watch a movie, and I picked a new documentary called Zero Days, which is a very interesting documentary focused on the Stuxnet malware that was first identified  in 2010. It’s believed that Stuxnet was built to destroy a key part of an Iranian nuclear facility but, in the end, network systems in approximately 155 countries were infected by the virus.

The official name for Stuxnet is thought to be ‘Operation Olympic Games,’ so, with the Olympics now going on, this all got me thinking about how approaches to security have changed – and how they haven’t – in the last several years. Continue Reading…

9 Tips for Smart MSP Hiring

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Managed Services Providers tend to be relatively small organizations, which makes each and every hire absolutely critical. At the same time, teamwork among such a small and hard-working staff is key, so your employees must be both technical and able to get along well with others – coworkers and customers alike.

Another issue is that, being relatively small, most MSPs don’t have dedicated HR staffs and aren’t trained in the ins and outs of hiring.

Whether you are a fast growing outfit, or have just experiencing normal turnover, you probably have a job or two open at any given time.

So let’s get to hiring! Continue Reading…

Small Banks and Credit Unions Don’t Have to Face Risks Alone

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If banks and credit unions didn’t understand the importance of Risk Management before, they all got quite the wakeup call during the financial meltdown of 2007-2008.

After that catastrophe, banks tightened the reins due to massive losses. At the same time, regulators became far more diligent, and were suddenly armed with thousands of new rules to enforce. Talk about a Risk Management mandate.

The definition of Risk Management for banking is pretty straightforward: you find the risks, assess them, and then prioritize. Once so defined, you figure out what resources you need to monitor risks, and minimize the chances that risks turn into harm. Continue Reading…

How To Turbocharge Profits with Policy-based Automation

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The case for automation to enable efficient, effective and proactive IT management seems unassailable.

By applying IT automation to core IT functions, you can save a significant amount of time and money. Did you know that 40% of the time spent fixing a problem is analyzing and isolating the root cause? At the same time, 75% of most IT budgets simply go towards maintaining the status quo and keeping existing systems running.

What is automation, you may ask.  It is really anything that allows an MSP technicians to be more productive by, for example, being able to repair a problem in a fraction of the time it took before. In addition, since many issues are fixed quickly, Mean Time to Recovery (MTTR) improves and many problems are cut off at the pass and resolved before they impact end users.

Enterprise Management Associates’ (EMA) primary research has determined that MSPs and IT groups that implement automation reap many benefits, Continue Reading…

The Beauty of Managed, Automated Security for IT

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Security has gotten too complex for an SMB IT staff to fully manage without help. The threats posed by cybercriminals are worse than ever, and the damage that they do is unparalleled. Keeping up is tough enough. Staying ahead seems near impossible.

Security is Job One

As a member of the IT department, your most important function is to protect the network and safeguard your organization’s critical data. While down servers and unstable applications can make your department look bad, the most visible failure is a security breach. That’s ‘heads rolling’ territory.

Security is also a visibility issue for companies who see their reputation and business possibly ruined due to breach publicity.

These fears are what makes security the number one priority for business leaders and the top way they judge IT.

Meanwhile most SMB IT staffs don’t have the time, budget, manpower or the tools to handle security in an optimum way.

So what’s a responsible IT department to do? Continue Reading…

Turn Managing Office 365 from Bear to Breeze

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Microsoft Office 365 sounds like a piece of cake to install and use. And for a single end user, it can be. But just try and move an entire shop, even a small one, over to the Microsoft productivity cloud suite. The management difficulties can be shocking.

Part of the problem is the administrator skills needed for on-premises Microsoft Office are almost exactly the same as those required for Office 365 – which translates into  a deep mastery of PowerShell scripting and Active Directory. This comes as quite a surprise to many Office 365 customers.

The result? Some customers looking to move to the cloud opt for Google Apps, and live with far fewer features, rather than tangle with the management beast that is Office 365.
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