Login and password

They’re fired, but what about their passwords?

It can be difficult to fire or part ways with an employee. You’re losing a valuable asset if they’re leaving voluntarily, but someone being fired can leave you in a lurch. You have the task of launching a disciplinary process and then holding a meeting at the time of termination. But there are other things to think about. Primarily security and the ex-employee’s access to company data.

It’s important to have a process in place so that whenever a termination or parting of ways occurs, nothing slips through the cracks regarding your business’ security. Here are some considerations regarding passwords and voluntary termination or involuntary termination.

When an employee is let go, immediately change all the passwords to anything the employee had access to. You should have a few days to make a plan and define the process for cancelling access. Don’t make the changes in security before your final meeting and dismissal. Instead, plan ahead and assign someone to disable their passwords during the time you are having the termination meeting. Before the meeting, be sure you have a list of all access cards, keys, etc. prepared so they can be cancelled before the employee leaves the building.

If your company has, let’s say, a Twitter account, you don’t want the ex-employee tweeting through it, so be prepared to change all social media passwords. We mention this because often companies and organizations either forget about these kinds of access or hesitate to change passwords due to hardships that occur and getting everyone access again. Trust us. The effort is worth it!

The possibility of having to lock out an employee may make you consider measures you have avoided so far. Consider a shared wifi password. Do you really want to change it for everyone or is it time to use a managed router and individual authentication?

If someone voluntarily leaves your employment, you hopefully have 2 weeks or so to implement a similar plan as above. Use your best judgement as to whether the soon to be ex-employee will be up to no good during their final days. That is only something you can judge on an individual basis.

Make sure you have a solid data backup and continuity strategy in place. You may need to compare data after the employee is gone to see if any sensitive data was moved or deleted.

We always recommend that you force a password change for immediately surrounding co-workers and consider a company wide reset. You may be unaware of shared passwords. Even though they are not supposed to use each other’s passwords, it may be going on anyways.

Lastly, you should consider pushing a remote wipe to the terminated employee’s BYOD devices from your Exchange server. This should remove only company data and reboot the phone to prevent access. Be aware that you might end up wiping all data from the phone, so you might openly ask them to delete company data on the device while they’re with you in the office. It will make it easier on themselves in the long run.

If you have questions on how to deal with departing employees, give us a call at 309-444-7263. TimbukTech can help you develop an employee termination procedure.


data backup being performed on desktop computer and laptop

Is Data Backup as a Service right for your business?

Data Backup as a Service (DBaaS) is a cloud service specifically for backing up data. It is a cloud service that is used for data backups alone.  Since DBaaS is a specialized service, it provides better backup services than generic cloud services. It is also known to be a more affordable alternative for small businesses.

Cost Savings

It is important to keep costs down, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of quality service delivery.  Since data backup plays a huge role in the success of a business, an investment in data backup is crucial. Data Backup as a Service offers the balance between quality service and low cost. In other words, it is a huge bargain for any businesses to make use of Data Backup services. There is no doubt that investing in such services will cut your stress levels as a business owner.

Remote Access

The use of DBaaS guarantees that data is accessible in any part of the world provided there is access to the internet.  This reduces the need to move around with physical backup devices. As a business grows, its reliance on physical backup devices will backfire as the need for more storage space arises. Even in cases such as this, the data is fixed to a physical location.

With Data Backup as a Service, a business is guaranteed a scalable data backup service. Storage space can be upgraded and downgraded when desired, and the data remains accessible in any part of the world.

Increased Data Safety

In many cases, you’ll find businesses making use of physical storage devices. This can be considered to be a cheap alternative, but it’s not one that will benefit the business.  The use of a physical backup device ties the business to a physical device. In unfortunate cases, the physical storage devices get damaged, corrupted or even lost. Businesses which rely on this are sitting on a keg of gunpowder. With data backup as a service the business doesn’t have to worry about the safety of data as it is now in the hands of a managed IT services provider such as TimbukTech. You can trust us to do the job well.

You’ll find it useful to know that this is still the best solution for growing businesses; as Data Backup services are needed when it grows from a small scale to a medium or large-scale business.  Data Backup services are the most efficient way for businesses to backup their data and save themselves lots of worry and stress.

Let us help you maintain your data backups so you can focus more on your productivity! TimbukTech’s service area includes Canton, Macomb, and Washington, Illinois and the surrounding areas. Many of our clients have multiple locations and out of state locations as well. If you’re looking for an IT services and support company in central Illinois please call us at 309-444-7263.


A password is hidden from view

Let’s talk password basics

Worry about your security all you want and keep locks on your data center and have the recommended level of network security available, but it will all mean nothing if your employees are sloppy with their passwords!

Based on data from real-world investigations and compliance management vendor Trustwave’s 2012 Global Security Report, the most common password used by global businesses is “Password1”! This is an unbelievable statistic, and it shows that many administrators don’t understand how to make password-based access policies more robust.

Here are some basic practices that you should require your employees to follow. System administrators should implement other policies, such as those that forbid using passwords previously used and locking accounts after a few failed attempts to login. But let’s take it a step further with these tips.

  • We recommend that companies change out all passwords every 30 to 90 days.
  • Each password should include a of mix upper and lowercase, number, and a symbol.
  • Teach employees NOT to use standard dictionary words (in any language).
  • Don’t use personal data that can be known, or could be stolen: addresses, telephone numbers, SSN, etc.
  • A longer password is a more robust one.
  • Emphasize that employees should not access anything using another employee’s login.
  • Employees shouldn’t use variations of the same password such as changing the number or special character. Hackers know this is a common practice and are using this knowledge to guess the passwords easier.

These are just a few basic password tips, but they can make a big difference in keeping your business’s sensitive data safe.


Wires in a knot after IT mistakes

Growing business? Don’t make these IT mistakes!

As an IT consultant, TimbukTech has come across many clients who are not happy with the way their IT shaped up over the years. They feel their IT investments never really yielded the kind of returns they expected and have come to us looking for change and new ideas. When we take a closer look at their IT investments, here’s what we typically find.

IT is not a priority

This is the number one mistake small to medium sized businesses (or SMBs) make. They’re focused on business growth, which includes marketing, sales, and inventory, but they don’t allocate any resources or money towards IT. Often IT investments are made begrudgingly.

The latest or “best” technology might not be for you

This is in contrast to the issue discussed above. Many SMBs realize the key role that IT plays in their business success. But they tend to get carried away and invest in the latest IT trends without considering whether it fits their business needs well, or if they really need it. Sometimes it is just a case of keeping up with the Joneses. But, why spend on the fastest computers or largest hard drives when you get only incremental productivity benefits?

Your team is not on the same page

When you bring in new technology or even new IT policies, it is your team that needs to work on it on a daily basis. If your staff is not on the same page with you, your IT investment is unlikely to succeed. So, before you make that transition from local desktops to the cloud, or from Windows to iOs, or roll out that new bring your own device (BYOD) policy, make sure you have your staff on your side.

Put it to good use

The lure of new technology is like a shiny, new toy. Investing in something popular and then not using it to its maximum is commonplace. Make sure you make the most of your investment in IT by providing your staff with adequate training on how to use it.

IT can seem challenging to navigate when you have to do it all by yourself. Steep costs can be incurred and without guidance, the result of an investment can be unclear. As a managed service provider (MSP), TimbukTech has the experience and expertise needed to be your trusted partner and guide in these challenges. Let us help you make the most of your IT investment.


Are you prepared for the end of Windows 7?

On January 14, 2020, the world will bid a fond farewell to the beloved Windows 7 operating system. Well, sort of. Microsoft has declared that, after that date, it will no longer update or support the system. It’s the final nail in the coffin for a trustworthy, oft-touted software package that’s been running on fumes since newer versions hit the scene. And, as with any funeral, there are some arrangements to be made for the millions of businesses that have stuck it out till the end. Here’s everything you need to know about the coming changes – and what you should do now to prepare.

The new of Microsoft closing down Windows 7 support may come as a surprise to some of us, but the operating system has been on its last legs for a while. In fact, Microsoft stopped adding new features and honoring warranties for the platform back in 2015. When 2020 comes, it will cease releasing patches and updates for good.

That doesn’t mean that Windows 7 PCs will suddenly stop working in January; you’ll still be able to boot up in the operating system if you keep it installed. But if you value your privacy, your data, and your sanity, it’s time to upgrade.

Those Microsoft updates that pop up from time to time don’t exist just to annoy you; they patch security vulnerabilities and protect you from new viruses and malware. Without that ongoing support, Windows 7 users will become fish in a barrel to sophisticated cybercriminals looking for a quick buck.

That’s why it’s essential that you call in the pros at TimbukTech to prepare your business for the switch to Windows 10 – or an alternative operating system – now, not later.

Upgrading your operating system well in advance of the Windows 7 end-of-life date may seem like a decision you should make for your peace of mind, but it’s even more critical than that. Of course, as time leaves Windows 7 behind, it’s certain that pieces of software will steadily become incompatible with the OS. Programs your company uses day-to-day suddenly becoming unusable will present serious headaches, but the real problem lies in the security of your network.

Windows developers are in a constant arms race with cybercriminals looking to exploit vulnerabilities in their platform. Each patch brings a host of bug fixes and security upgrades, but cybercriminals almost always find a new way in. Thus, the developers hastily put together a new patch, and the cycle continues.

When an operating system loses support from these developers, its users are left completely vulnerable to hackers. Like maggots drawn to rotting meat, they flock to the abandoned platform and dig into the networks of those stubbornly clinging to the outdated OS. This process is expected to be especially nasty after Windows 7’s end of life, since so many businesses still use the OS and likely will forget (or refuse) to upgrade.

If you value your business at all, it’s not a choice. You need to upgrade before time runs out.

Contact your IT experts at TimbukTech to facilitate your upgrades. As the clock ticks down on Windows 7, we’re expecting a flood of upgrade requests as businesses scramble to leave the OS behind before it’s too late. If you wait it out, you’re likely to find yourself at the back of a long, long line, potentially to the point that you breeze past January 14 without a solution. If you do, you’ll most certainly regret it.

Every day, the need for an upgrade becomes more urgent. Give the task ample time required and avoid needless stress. Reach out now and ask us to start the upgrade process today


Reasons Your Business Needs a vCIO-Timbuktech

3 Reasons Your Business Needs a vCIO

“Should I let my employees use their personal devices for work?” 

“Will this new solution be a game-changer or a waste of my money?” 

“How do I defend my data against the next generation of cyber threats?” 

If you’ve asked any of these questions, you’re not alone – trying to prepare for the future while balancing day-to-day responsibilities is a tough task for even the most dedicated business owners. Fortunately, you don’t have to be an IT expert to tackle these challenges. A virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) offers expertise in a flexible, cost-effective manner that suits small and medium-sized businesses. 

Here are three reasons your business needs a vCIO: 

  1. Your employees need more flexibility. 

If you have employees who work remotely, while traveling or from home after business hours, you have a mobile workforce – whether you’re equipped for one or not. You need processes in place to maximize their productivity and secure business data across corporate and personal devices. Virtual CIOs help you consider factors such as applications, support, ownership, security and communication policies to develop a strategy that fits your business. Cisco reports that companies with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) processes save an average of $350 per year, per user – a vCIO can help you claim those savings for your organization with simple and secure access to data, tools and applications from any location.  

  1. New technology can solve your headaches. 

Technology is constantly evolving, but as a business owner, you probably don’t have time to research every emerging technology – or the insight to understand which ones will produce long-term results and which are just fads. Virtual CIOs are plugged into the rapidly-changing world of technology and can help you identify new developments that reduce costs and increase efficiency. By thoroughly understanding your business’s pain points, they are in an ideal position to recommend solutions that will help your team now and into the future. A vCIO can also periodically evaluate your existing technology to discover new opportunities and assist with putting together a business case for new solutions.   

  1. Cyberattacks are on the rise. 

The news is full of stories about the hacking of large companies – Marriott, Macy’s, The New York Times, and even tech companies such as Apple, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft. Unfortunately, hackers don’t just target big companies – a study by Symantec found that 36 percent of recent attacks targeted businesses with fewer than 250 employees. No matter the size of your organization, security is an essential factor for all businesses. A vCIO oversees risk assessments, data protection, training awareness and third-party security practices to mitigate the possibility of attacks or breaches. They can also handle identity and access management to allow only authorized users to access sensitive corporate data. 

 Virtual CIOs can handle other challenges, such as helping you resume operations after a disaster, overseeing special initiatives and keeping your IT costs from ballooning. To discuss how a vCIO can impact your business, contact us today. 


Finding the Right Cloud-Based Collaboration Tool for Your Business-Timbuktech

Finding the Right Cloud-Based Collaboration Tool for Your Business

The cloud hosts hundreds of tools and applications designed to improve security and collaboration, streamline operations and project management, and enhance your existing solutions. But, knowing which cloud-based tools are right for your business is harder than you think.
From the cost of the application to how well it integrates with your current services, a lot goes into the decision of adopting a new app or tool. Ease the burden of researching hundreds of products by using our chart to compare some of the leading cloud-based collaboration tools.

Instant Messenger Solutions

While on the surface Slack looks like a more expensive choice, their free subscription offers a stripped-down option for an unlimited number of users. Their free and paid options leverage a variety of features including synchronization, data security and encryption, iOS and Android apps, file sharing and browsing, voice and video calls, webhooks and more.

 

HipChat may not have as many features as Slack, but it provides a solid communication option for small businesses or organizations on a limited budget. With features like screen and file sharing, synchronization, and voice and video calling, HipChat makes it easy to share ideas across an unlimited number of chatrooms. But, they only offer a free 30-day trial version before you’re faced with the decision to buy a monthly subscription.

Office Suite Solutions

Microsoft has been in the cloud-documents game a little longer than Google, and their subscription plans show it. From Office 365 Business Essentials to Enterprise E5, Microsoft has a plan for any size business. Office 365 offers 1TB of file storage per user – and that’s over and above email storage in Outlook. Due to its popularity, Office 365 integrates with most existing solutions and also provides Yammer and Stream as services in its package.

 

While G Suite counts email toward your storage space, their Business plan offers unlimited storage if you buy more than five user accounts. For the right business, that provides the most cost-effective solution. G Suite is also extremely scalable and doesn’t restrict your plans to the number of users. Plus, you gain the option to create both G Suite and Office 365 documents – giving you the best of both worlds for a single price.

 

Video Conferencing Solutions

Cisco Webex starts at a steep price for an annual subscription, but as a leader in security, Cisco brings a multi-layered security solution that keeps users protected and messages encrypted. Webex doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Skype for Business, but it’s easy to navigate and provides a more reliable connection.

 

Skype for Business provides a variety of features from one-to-one video calls and voice messages to group screen sharing and more. With security solutions that keep unauthorized users out and data encrypted, you can feel safe conversing with clients, peers and prospects. Skype for Business seamlessly integrates with Office 365 and provides Microsoft plans like Business Essentials and Business Premium.

 

While the cloud may offer hundreds of different collaboration tools, not all of them are right for your business. We’ll help you evaluate your issues and determine which solutions are the perfect fit for your business.

 

For more information on the leading cloud-based collaboration tools and how they can influence your business, contact us today.


4 Ways to Meet Compliance with Innovative Cloud Technologies-Timbuktech

4 Ways to Meet Compliance with Innovative Cloud Technologies

According to IDC, no less than 60 percent of all IT spending and up to 70 percent of all software, services and tech spending will be cloud-based by 2020. Cloud-based solutions are on the up and up, and they’re not slowing down. Cloud is no longer a new concept – it’s a requirement for every business. But, that doesn’t mean that innovative cloud technologies can’t help you meet compliance easier than ever before.

As the cloud becomes a crucial part of every business’s operation, we’re finding new and different ways to leverage its capabilities. Meeting compliance is a driving factor for every company – from the medical industry to accounting. By following these four processes, you can make sure your business never risks noncompliance fines.

1.    Deploy a hybrid solution.

Don’t make the mistake of believing you can only choose public or private cloud solutions. For many companies, a hybrid solution provides the best of both worlds with the only con being its complexity. With an expert IT partner, you can take your hands off the reins and let your MSP take care of the technicalities while you rake in the benefits of having both private and public cloud solutions.

A hybrid cloud provides the security of a private cloud network with the cost-reduction of a public cloud solution. Plus, with features like cloud bursting which allows you to run applications within one environment and then tap into additional capacity during spikes, you can ensure you’re only paying for the resources you use – all while reducing operating costs and security risks.

2.    Fine-tune your cloud management strategy.

Multi-cloud solutions are the next step for many businesses. Multi-cloud involves controlling and running applications, workloads or data on multiple public, private or hybrid clouds. But, multi-cloud and other cloud environments are a complex process that requires strategic planning.

Regardless of which cloud environment you want to implement, you need to create a cloud management strategy that incorporates your short and long-term goals. By using this roadmap, you can chart out when you’ll need to upgrade or adopt new cloud environments, budget how much you’re spending monthly and yearly, and gain visibility on where you are in the process.

3.    Implement a multi-layered security solution.

Managing five, 10, 16 different cloud vendors on your own is not only difficult to do, it can leave you vulnerable to security threats and expensive mistakes. With new compliances like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) looming, it’s critical that businesses take compliance seriously.

Gone are the days when your security protection was separate from your solutions. Building security into your cloud applications from the start is the best option to ensure true protection. This reduces your vulnerabilities and adds a layer of security to your existing plan. By padding that layer with proactive monitoring and other security solutions, you can be sure your customers’ private data is protected.

4.    Partner with a reliable MSP.

The right partner can mean the difference between a seamless, reliable cloud solution and frustrating problems that keep cropping up. When you partner with us, you can rest easy knowing the toughest choice is already out of the way.

We’ll walk through your cloud integration plan and determine which solutions are best for your business. Then, we proactively monitor and support your services, staying up to date with the latest compliance regulations and standards so you never have to sweat the small details.

For more information on how we can help you implement cloud solutions that make meeting compliance easier, contact us today.


Your Guide to Ethics & Privacy-Timbuktech

Your Guide to Ethics & Privacy

In his 2009 paper Digital Ethics, Richard Capurro described digital ethics as, “the impact of digital Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) on our societies and the environment at large.” But, what does that mean for your business and customers?

What is Digital Ethics?
Whether you’re a small, local business or a seasoned global enterprise, you have a moral – and regulatory – obligation to protect your employees’ and customers’ confidential information. Part of understanding digital ethics is knowing how far is too far. Can you use your customers’ search history to send them emails about products they may be interested in buying? How about using video surveillance from your stores to create customer profiles and send shoppers emails about products they were looking at in store? Understanding digital ethics includes determining that line and being self-aware so you don’t cross it.

Questions to Ask Yourself
To figure out where the line is, you should first ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do I have permission to use this information?
  • Can this information be used for malicious purposes?
  • Is this information helpful to customers (i.e., does it improve their experience)?

This year the EU passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) act, which requires businesses to gain permission before using information obtained about customers. While the regulation only applies to protecting EU residents, it requires businesses all over the world to comply to protect any EU resident visiting their site. By asking the above questions, you can find the fine line between ethical and unethical behavior while meeting compliance rules set by GDPR.

Creating and Implementing a Plan
Once you know where the line is, you need to create a plan to protect your customers’ confidential information and keep your business safe. What security measures are in place to prevent cyber criminals from obtaining and selling your customers’ data? Do you have data backup and recovery plans and a multi-layered security solution to protect confidential data from every angle?

How We Can Help
As your managed services partner, we’ll help you protect your customers’ privacy by implementing a security solution that encrypts their data and keeps cyber criminals out. We begin by evaluating your systems and pinpointing vulnerabilities. Then, we gauge your goals to determine which security solutions are most effective for protecting your customers’ and employees’ confidential information, implement them, and support them post-deployment so you can focus on growing your business.

When it comes to understanding ethics and privacy, you don’t have to face it alone. From finding the fine line to deploying a solution that protects confidential data, we’ll help you implement a practical plan. Contact us today to get started.


5 Questions You Should be Asking Before the New Year-Timbuktech

5 Questions You Should be Asking Before the New Year

When it comes to enhancing the way you do business, you’ve probably got a lot of questions. From implementing new solutions to boosting your existing services, deciding what is best for your business can feel overwhelming.

Technology choices don’t have to be difficult. This year, we helped businesses across a variety of industries solve their unique challenges, and we did it by following tech trends and best practices. So, what tech trends should you expect for the coming year? Start by asking these five questions:

  1. Are you missing simple productivity enhancers?
    You don’t have to change your entire process to improve productivity. A study by Fujitsu Siemens Computers found that by installing multiple monitors at your workstations, you can improve productivity by 35 percent. Dual, triple or quadruple monitor setups not only give you remote access and flexibility but – in many cases – can cost the same (i.e. a laptop and one monitor compared to a desktop and two monitors).
  2. Are you still using old Microsoft products?
    By January 2020, Microsoft will no longer support Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and Exchange Server 2010. Outdated technology creates a hole in your security. By updating your software, you can improve your performance and productivity while keeping your business – and your customers’ confidential data – safe.
  3. Is your information being sold on the dark web?
    When it comes to your data being stolen, the dark web is a bustling marketplace for selling your confidential information. You need multi-layered security support designed to check for vulnerabilities, patch holes in your defenses and proactively protect your data from unauthorized users.
  4. Have you migrated to the cloud?
    Cloud computing is essential to improving productivity and efficiencies in the workplace, and that’s not stopping anytime soon. If you haven’t migrated your servers, applications or storage to the cloud, consider doing so now. It’s one of the easiest ways to reduce operating costs and improve the scalability of your business.
  5. Can your employees recognize fake emails?
    Phishing emails are increasingly appearing more legitimate. With sophisticated graphics and language, cybercriminals can make it look like anyone from your team is sending an email. Can your employees recognize the difference? With email security and encryption, you can protect your data from falling into the wrong hands.

When it comes to improving your business, your technology options are endless. But just because you can do anything doesn’t mean you should.

We’ll help you navigate the sea of IT opportunities and implement solutions for whatever the new year decides to bring you. Contact us today to answer these questions and discuss what tech changes you should be deploying.