Is a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy Right for Your Business in 2018?

Is a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy Right for Your Business in 2018?

As 2017 winds down, it is time to forecast the workplace technology trends for 2018 and anticipate how these trends can impact your small business. We are in the business of making sure you are prepared for what the changing technology environment will throw your way.

One of the biggest trends is Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD. These policies allow employees to use their own laptops, tablets and smartphones for work, accessing shared files through the cloud.

What are the benefits of this kind of system for your business?

Your team may not be in the office from 9-5 Monday-Friday (remote work and telecommuting is another big 2018 workplace trend).

There are many benefits to BYOD policies. Switching between devices leaves additional room for errors and inconveniences that could result in lost productivity, such as leaving an important document saved on the office desktop and being unable to access it over the weekend. When your employees are using their own devices, instead of switching from one device for work and using another at home, it is less likely they will be able to access the files when they need them, increasing their ability to be productive.

There is also cost saving element associated with this type of policy as your company does not have to shoulder the burden of purchasing hardware. Employees may even like being allowed to use their own preferred devices. After all, as so many people already own a smartphone, providing a company cell phone may be unnecessary, even cumbersome as users need to switch between their work and personal mobile devices. Instead of buying a laptop when you onboard a new employee, you may only need to purchase supplemental software like Photoshop and antivirus solutions. Having company-purchased software like the Adobe Creative Suite that they may not otherwise access can be an additional perk of the job, improving your relationship with your employees. They also get to use the devices with which they are most comfortable or familiar, instead of being a Mac user at home who must adjust to a PC at the office, or vice versa. In many ways, the policy seems like a win for everyone involved, but BYOD workplaces also have their share of risks.

What are the risks?

Your employees are not all going to be IT professionals, and that means that BYOD policies leave more room for user error and security risks than if every worker is using devices selected and maintained by your IT department. You will need to set specific security policies, and look at providing a secure network for your employees to access from home, rather than accessing unsecured WIFI networks. When you implement a BYOD policy, you necessarily give up a level of control. When an employee leaves that device goes with them, and with it, potentially sensitive information like company passwords.

There are many reasons that BYOD policies are becoming more and more common, but is it right for your company? We have outlined some of the general productivity, cost and convenience considerations. We can also help you assess the costs and benefits of a BYOD policy for your unique business, and create a cybersecurity strategy for you. Don’t worry about figuring it out on your own; contact FUSE3 today!

Shadow IT – The Risk of Lurking in Your Company’s Devices

Do you know every web application your employees are using? There is a high probability that your workforce is utilizing many devices and applications without explicit approval. Collectively, these programs and devices are called Shadow IT. Shadow IT is essentially any application employees download or IT service they sign up for without vetting by your IT team. There was a time in business when any piece of software would go through a thorough vetting process. These days, times have changed.

In today’s technology environment, employees are always looking for the next new app or platform to increase productivity. Employees are becoming more and more tech savvy, and it is less likely that every portion of IT in use has gone through a thorough IT department vetting process.

At this point, it is difficult to imagine an organization that is not implementing Shadow IT. Managers and employees are now selecting their own IT services independently. In many ways, this allows employees to be more agile and productive. There are countless tools employees and departments may innocently implement without thinking they need to involve IT.

With file sharing solutions like Dropbox and Hightail, to free project management platforms like Asana, employees are constantly finding new ways to efficiently collaborate and share data from wherever they happen to be. They no longer need to be in the office to check the status of a project or access sensitive documents. In fact, Shadow IT also includes hardware, like personal laptops your employees might use to accomplish business-related tasks over the weekend. These devices may not be as secure as what they use in the office, and could expose your files to greater risks.

Certainly, no one wants to discourage employees from creating efficiencies. However, as a business owner, you should always balance risk and reward. The cost of increased employee productivity may be security. Not all employees understand when they are sharing sensitive business data in insecure ways. Employees are looking for ways to hit and exceed their goals, not necessarily thinking about cyber security. They are likely to choose programs for ease of use and convenience without noticing a lack of important security features like two-factor authorization or encryption.

In addition to an increased risk of data breaches or attacks by hackers, there are also many other hidden monetary costs associated with Shadow IT. Dozens of employees may be using the same application, but all are paying for it individually instead of benefiting from a volume-based discount. Costs like this add up and impact your business.

As a Small Business Owner, you don’t have the time to check every device for Shadow IT, or find out about every digital tool your employees are implementing. Your trusted Managed Service Provider has the knowledge to assess your organization’s Shadow IT usage. Sometimes, a gap in your existing, approved IT systems could cause employees to seek outside technology resources. Other times, one or two employees have found a tool that, if implemented correctly and with all proper security procedures, could improve productivity for employees across your business. We’ll bring your company’s Shadow IT into the light. We will help you evaluate the risks and benefits of the Shadow IT in place at your business, and work with you to determine the next steps. Don’t let Shadow IT go unchecked. Contact FUSE3 today!

Zombie Servers

Have you ever heard that loud rumbling noise coming from your server room? Is it your IT infrastructure hard at work helping you to increase profits or is the sound of the “zombie” server? A zombie, or comatose, server is a physical server that is running but has no external communications or visibility and contributes no computer resources; essentially it consumes electricity but serves no useful purpose. For something you have most likely never heard of; it is a big problem. An estimated one in three servers in North America falls into the “undead” category. Given those odds, chances are most businesses are running servers that are no longer doing anything relevant and could be decommissioned. IT is not only at the center of your organization’s operations it is also a key line item in your budget. You certainly do not want to cut corners when budgeting for your IT needs; but are you wasting your money on equipment that is giving you no value whatsoever? Enter the nefarious “zombie” server. According to the Wall Street Journal, estimates show upwards of 10,000,000 unused servers remain plugged in and drawing power. The 4 Gigawatts of power consumed by these undead machines is equivalent to the “power from eight large power plants; power used by 3,200,000 households, roughly the number in New York City”.

But these zombies are not just a drain on your electric bill. There are a myriad of other costs you must consider. These include but are not limited to: cooling/heating, data center space if applicable, Network Ports, SAN Connections, Back Ups, Monitoring, Operating System licensing, Database Licensing, Maintenance agreements, Administration and support.  In fact, according to the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, the average cost to support a mid-tier server is $2,000 per year.

All business owners know that their IT needs change over time, as does their IT infrastructure. With changes in IT, sometimes no one is really clear what the server does. If an employee does know what a particular piece of equipment does and believe it can be decommissioned they often do not do so out of fear. Fear of creating downtime, or interrupting something that may be relevant. In reality, many servers can be re-purposed, licenses put back into the pool, and physical parts and storage space can be reclaimed. The more servers you have, the more consolidation you’ve done, the more the risk that this is an issue in your organization! Think about the efforts you go through to save a few hundred dollars here and there. You cannot afford to continue to overlook this potential drain on your resources. While you realize now that identification and eradication of zombies is important, even in a small business it could easily add up to many thousands of dollars. But you do not have the time nor the expertise to go through and audit your servers, in search of zombies. You need to get FUSE3 on your side. As experts in the area of IT Cost Optimization we can not only identify where zombie servers are wasting your IT budget dollars; we can help you to strategically procure or negotiate your complex IT infrastructure needs. Don’t let zombie servers feed on your wealth, contact FUSE3 today!

FFS and Ransomware

Ransomware attacks continue to make headlines therefore, being proactive is critical. Hospitals, universities, SMBs and even government offices have found themselves a victims of these attacks. You must take every precaution against Ransomware attacks, especially as they become more and more frequent. In this climate of threats, it is necessary to add as many layers of protection as possible. That’s where File Folder Sharing (FFS) comes into play.

FFS is the practice of sharing or offering access to digital information or resources, including documents, multimedia (audio/video), graphics, computer programs, images and e-books. It is the private or public distribution of data or resources in a network with different levels of sharing privileges.

FFS is convenient, and allow your team members to work on projects and collaborate no matter where they are; it also gives you the added layer of protection necessary in today’s world. Securing backups in the cloud can save files that would have been compromised. Your device may be infected, but with files backed up in the cloud, you can restore them quickly and thwart the attack.

At first glance, FFS products may appear to be identical. But the features they offer vary, and certain systems offer more protection than others.

How do you know which FFS option is right for your business? Should you make choices based on cost or are there certain “must have” features? Is a popular, well-known and widely used product best, or does it simply have the best name recognition? Is it worth spending more for a product that offers end-to-end encryption to avoid higher costs in the event of an attack?

To answer these questions accurately and assess which FFS product is right for you takes time, research, and expertise. Do not try to make this important decision on your own! You need a specialist to guide your choice.

At FUSE3 —we are experts who stay knowledgeable on both current cybersecurity best practices and the tools available in the market today.

The right FFS product can make a critical difference for you if a Ransomware attack strikes. Differentiate yourself from your competitors who are not investing in security.  Avoid the pitfalls of Ransomware attacks by talking to FUSE3 to determine the best strategies and products to meet your security needs. Don’t be caught off guard if an attacker strikes.

Network Assessment

 

Keeping your organization running smoothly and moving forward can sometimes feel like a juggling act. Personnel issues, supply chain snags, and long term planning; your days can just fly by. It is tempting to just put your IT network in the back of your mind and only deal with it when problems arise. However, unless you have performed a full Network Assessment you could be heading for trouble.

 

A Network Assessment is a complete review of all your organization’s existing IT infrastructure, security protocols, management, and performance. Once you have a comprehensive view of the state of your IT, you will be able to identify areas of improvement and make strategic business decisions. Don’t wait until you are contemplating a big project or until your organization has grown to the point that you aren’t quite sure of exactly what is going on throughout your network; by being proactive, problems will be caught early, solutions found, and your network’s performance can be tracked over time.

The four main areas a Network Assessment will help identify:

Weaknesses in your cyber security protocols that need immediate attention to avoid any adverse impacts to your operations and networks.

Overused or underused technology resources. The technology needs of your teammates can differ widely and some departments may require more network resources than others. By looking at your entire system you will be able to optimize your resources.

Bandwidth bottlenecks. As more and more organizations move their operations into the cloud, more bandwidth is oftentimes required. Streaming videos, running programs, and downloading files can all slow down your network.

Advantages and potential problems of rolling out new technologies. A full Network Assessment will allow you to plan for your future technology needs by identifying how any changes will fit into your current framework. What should the timeline for any improvement be? What integration points do you need to keep in mind or prepare for? With a full Network Assessment, you can employ a strategic approach to your technology plans rather than just keeping up with your organization’s needs.

 

A full Network Assessment is key to any comprehensive technology strategy. Don’t drop the ball when it comes to your IT. Your technology is too important for you to ignore. Get FUSE3, as your IT partner. We will perform a Network Assessment across your entire IT environment. Together, we will map out a course that will continue to move your organization forward. Stop trying to juggle your IT needs! Contact FUSE3 Today!

Do You Know the Types of Ransomware?

Cryptolocker, Wannacry, CryptoWall, Locky, Winlocker, and KeRanger, the news has been full of these scary sounding programs. Ransomware can strike fear into the heart of any office manager and business owner. Once your organization becomes the victim of a Ransomware attack you will be facing sleepless nights, technology headaches, and days or weeks of trying to untangle the damage the hack has caused. By now, most people know the best way to handle a Ransomware attack is to avoid one in the first place; by installing the latest patches and software updates, educating end users to avoid clicking on unfamiliar links, and not connecting to public Wi-Fi. While many people are gaining an understanding on how to prevent an attack; most have a limited idea of what exactly Ransomware is. Ransomware is a type of malware. Instead of corrupting or deleting your files or poking around in your systems to gain information about your organization; this malware locks you out of your system or denies you access to your data unless you pay the hacker a ransom.

Ransomware is the umbrella term for two different categories of malicious programs: Encryptors and Lockers. Encrypting ransomware are programs that encrypt your files. The thieves will demand a payment (often using Bitcoin the untraceable cyber currency favored by criminals worldwide) for the unique key that will decrypt your files, allowing you full access to them once again. The thieves generally employ a strong hashing algorithm to accomplish the encryption. Anyone who has tried to untangle this mess on their own would discover that it would take a normal desktop PC several thousands of years to break the encryption and regain access to the files.

Locker ransomware is the second type of malware. In this attack the user is locked out of their own systems. Victims are locked out of their own operating systems making it impossible for the desktop and files to be accessed.   Some versions affect the Master Boot Record (MBR) of the PC’s hard drive, interrupting the boot up process and never allowing the computer to boot up. In years past, victims of this attack will often see a message claiming to be from a law enforcement agency claiming that some sort of illegal activity had been detected on the user’s computer. The victim is told if they pay a “fine” the computer will be unlocked and the user will once again have full access to their systems. Recently the hackers have dropped this charade and just inform the victim that they have been hacked and demand payment to unlock their computer.

At FUSE3, our core competency is all things technology. We are focused on keeping on top of all developments in the cyber world; and keeping you informed about what to watch out for and what the risks are. We are your technology resource. Contact us today!

IT Independence

As a business owner, you have enough on your plate keeping your organization moving forward and getting ready to face new challenges. You need to be prepared to take advantage of new opportunities when they come your way. Are you losing sleep over IT worries? How can you ensure that you are moving in the right direction when most of your time is consumed with figuring out IT issues? Even more, are you ignoring your IT and hoping for smooth sailing? That is the surest way to end up in the middle of an IT disaster! This 4th of July as we celebrate our nation’s independence, declare your independence from IT worry! With FUSE3, you can rest easy knowing that we have your back and are working in your best interests.

Never again will you have to waste valuable time ensuring your hardware is running properly or fixing any issues that come up. At FUSE3, our technicians hold the most up to date certifications and are there to handle any issues you have.

Never again will you have to worry if all your software is up to date or if you are vulnerable to malware because of a missed patch install. At FUSE3, we handle all of your updates and security protocols. If you ever face a disaster natural or otherwise, you can rest easy knowing that your data will be safe in our data center. Ensuring that your office can continue to function even if your physical location is compromised.

Never again will you have to deal with a blown IT budget because of unexpected problems. At FUSE3, we partner with all of our clients to map out a comprehensive plan for their technology infrastructure. With a plan in place, you will know that any of your future technological needs will be met without any surprise costs.

Never again will you have to wonder if your organization is falling behind the technological curve. At FUSE3, we have the knowledge and the resources to allow you to exploit the newest technological advances quickly. You will always be one step ahead of your competitor’s.

At FUSE3, we are information technology experts. We will handle all of your technology needs so you can get back to focusing on your business. Declare your freedom from IT worries, get FUSE3 on your team. Contact us today!

Find Time

Any SMB owner knows that time is money. At FUSE3 Communications, we are always looking for ways that you can maximize your and your team’s productivity. In our collaborative work environments, meetings are essential to hold, but also can be a nightmare to schedule. Team members can be working remotely, members outside your organization can be on the road based in any region of the country, or even around the world; making scheduling a meeting a challenge.   Fortunately, Microsoft has a solution to ease this burden. Find Time is a free add-on to their nearly ubiquitous Outlook email program. It is simple to use and very convenient. Once the add-on is installed, you will see a button in the upper right hand bar of your Outlook dashboard. Once you click the button, the steps to scheduling a meeting are easy!

  1. Choose the attendees you wish to invite.
  2. Propose a few different days and times to meet.
  3. Let people vote on the time that works best for them.
  4. Once a consensus is reached the meeting invites are automatically sent out.

There are a couple of other great features in Find Time. You can alert people to your preferred meeting time; allowing your invitees to see if they can make that time work. You can see the time most people within your organization are available; allowing you to see if you can move things around to meet with people at their most convenient day and time. With Find Time you can spend your time meeting rather than sending out numerous emails and making phone calls trying to find a time to meet. At FUSE3 Communications, we work to stay abreast of all new developments that will help you to increase your productivity. FUSE3 Communications is your IT department. We stay current, and alert you to all recent upgrades in the tech world so you don’t have to. You run your business, we will run your technology get FUSE3 Communications! Contact us today.

It’s Time for Spring Cleaning!

 

The weather is finally turning warmer; which means it’s time to do some spring cleaning and take care of deferred maintenance! When you’re contemplating what needs to be done around your home; don’t forget about your office.

If you haven’t performed a comprehensive network assessment, you could be overlooking costly problems. At FUSE3 COMMUNICATIONS, we perform full network assessments for all our clients. We investigate your network and IT infrastructure to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your IT dollar.

We’ll diagnose any bandwidth bottlenecks that are slowing your team’s productivity.

We can identify your underused or over used resources so that your IT assets can be allocated effectively.

We’ll pinpoint any security holes; allowing issues to be addressed before any adverse impacts to your organization can occur.

Once your assessment is complete, we work with you to be sure your network is operating under industry best practices. Together we’ll plan and budget for any future maintenance and upgrades.

When you work with FUSE3 COMMUNICATIONS, you’ll be able to sleep well knowing that your IT will be working for you rather than against you.

You need a teammate to help with your spring cleaning – you need FUSE3 COMMUNICATIONS!

Contact us today!

 

Time to update your Data Storage?

Organizations today cannot successfully grow their business while neglecting their technology needs; though it is impossible to become an IT expert while remaining focused on your niche. The world of IT is constantly changing Is it time for you to upgrade your data storage? Are you employing the best solution to fit your needs? As you evaluate your technology solutions, don’t forget about your data storage options.

The traditional spinning hard disk drives (HDD) that we have been familiar with are being squeezed out as solid state drives (SSD) get less expensive. Have we passed the point at which traditional HDD still make sense? Is the hard drive truly going extinct? Don’t count them out yet. In some settings, they can still be a good option. The modern office is storing more and more of its information in the Cloud and there is no doubt that the Cloud is the future. However, for some users a full Cloud environment is not optimal for their operations. Cloud storage only makes sense if you have download and upload speeds that make it worthwhile. You don’t want your team members to waste productive time waiting for devices to finish buffering. You need your employees to be able to access the data and applications they need right when they need them. In some areas of the country, the speeds and capacity to make this possible are simply not yet up to snuff.

Additionally, some businesses prefer to keep some portion of their data local. Data security can be an issue with cloud storage. For this reason, some businesses prefer to keep their most sensitive data on a local storage option such as a traditional HDD or a Flash storage system. Both options come with their own costs and benefits.

Which option makes the most sense for your unique office environment? Do you need to invest in conventional hard drives? Should you move to a Flash Array? Can you make the leap into the Cloud? At FUSE3 Communications, we are your technology partner. We work with our clients to ensure that they have the optimal data storage solution to fit their needs. Don’t try to operate in the universe of information technology all on your own. Get FUSE3 Communications as your technology ally. Contact us today!