Small Business Tips: Preventing Fraud

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Over the past few years, identity theft and fraud have become a nationwide epidemic. Although many people associate these issues on a personal level, fraud issues are also prevalent to small businesses. If you are a small business owner in ((blog.city)), you should be concerned about fraud and how you can prevent it from happening. Below, you’ll find of the best tips and tricks to help avoid your ((blog.city)) business becoming the victim of fraud.

Conduct Thorough Background Checks

One of the best ways to ensure that your ((blog.city)), ((blog.state)) business does not fall victim to fraud is by conducting extensive background checks. Not only should you run background checks on the employees you hire, but you should also do so for any contractors with which you work.

Unfortunately, many small business owners forgo background checks because it’s an added cost, and they don’t believe they have the funds available to cover the cost. However, the cost of background checks pales in comparison the cost of falling victim to fraud. When it comes to conducting background checks, you should:

  • Run criminal records
  • Check the individual’s references
  • Verify other information on the individual’s resume

Establish A Fraud Policy Statement

Another way small business owners can prevent fraud is by establishing a policy statement. Many small business owners assume that fraud is against company policy – and typically it is. However, you need to make sure that you put this in writing so that it is clear to all employees. You should also explain this to your employees upon hiring. Your employees should not have any doubts about how seriously the company considers fraud and why this is the case.

Work with your legal counsel to amend your Operations Guide and make sure that you include something that defines clearly what fraud is, why you’re against it and some of the instances that would constitute fraud. You should also make clear the consequences were someone to commit fraud. Once you’ve crafted this definition, you’ll need all of your current employees to sign a document acknowledging that they accept and understand the fraud policy.

Protect Your Intellectual Property

When it comes to preventing fraud, many small business owners overlook intellectual property. If you have an idea, it could be protected. You should make efforts to protect things such as your company:

  • Contact lists
  • Trademarks
  • Copyrights
  • Patents

Do you have something in your current Operations Manual protecting your intellectual property? If not, nothing is stopping an employee from obtaining your business’ thoughts and ideas, stealing them, and implementing them as his or her own. You should clearly define that intellectual property is covered under the Fraud Policy Statement.

Furthermore, you should also try to protect all of your intellectual property legally. You can do so through the United States government. Although these processes can take a while to complete, many courts accept initial filings as proof of concept. Failure to protect these ideas could cost your business hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Law Firm

Law Firms Can Benefit From Managed Services Too

By | Managed IT | No Comments

IT, or information technology, seems like one of those concepts that only benefit computer users in Los Angeles, CA. The truth, however, is just about any business or industry that deals in data can reap huge benefits from the proper application of IT, such as using managed services, a concerted effort to bring data-intensive organization and digital access to the way a business handles its information.

This has already proven to be enormously helpful in Los Angeles, CA businesses like marketing, banking, and even health care. But there’s one area where you might be surprised at the difference that managed services can make that’s attorneys managing their practice. There are actually a few important ways that managed services can enhance efficiency at a law firm.

Confidentiality Is Encrypted

Client-attorney privilege is sacred in legal practice, and so is the confidential information that is often crucial to a court case, such as bank account numbers, social security numbers, home addresses, and other private, but vital information.

Managed services ensure that data on a network is secure and that even communications can’t be intercepted by unscrupulous third parties. If the service is required, it’s even possible for attorneys to use encrypted email communications so that only an authorized recipient can read the data included, while to everyone else it is indecipherable.

Work Safely On The Go

A good attorney doesn’t just stay behind a desk in the office, but gets around a lot, whether it is consulting with expert witnesses, or investigating evidence for the discovery phase of a trial. In the past, this meant that important paperwork could only be done once an attorney returned to the office.

Today, however, laptops, tablets, and even phones can be securely, remotely connected to the office network so that any documents that are required, verifications that need to be filled, or data that needs to be retrieved can be done so safely. This often means that there’s no more delays or reliance on physical documents since the electronic files can be retrieved and even printed out wherever the attorney goes.

Software For Lawyers

In the same way that there are a plethora of apps that let people do everything from count calories to play games, attorneys aren’t left out in the cold. There’s a vast range of productivity software and even apps that are geared to make a lawyer’s life a little bit more convenient.

For example, while it’s convenient to consult Wikipedia online for general information, there are apps available that preserve specific, legal libraries. That’s not necessarily the kind of information that’s easily available on Wikipedia, especially if relates to specific state or municipal law. Other types of software make it easier to keep track of important ancillary legal activities, such as filling out expense reports for business meals. Law firms in Los Angeles, CA do a lot of important work. However, that work can be faster, more efficient and more convenient by finding smart ways to integrate managed services into a profession that already puts a heavy emphasis on having the right documentation at the right time.

Building Information Modeling

Construction Technology Trends In 2019

By | IT Consulting | No Comments

Many people think that the construction industry in Los Angeles, CA is all about brute force industry, motors, and horsepower, with digital technologies like computers not being relevant all. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

In the same way that the digital revolution has changed, medicine, business, and even private life in Los Angeles, CA there’s no way that an industry like construction—which is always looking to innovate—wouldn’t find ways to take advantage of information technology. In 2019, there are a few trends in tech that far-sighted construction industrialists should be anticipating. Taking advantage of these trends can mean better quality, higher efficiency, and more profit.

Big Data

The big data trend is not just useful for helping sales companies track consumer spending habits. Big data is all about compiling huge amounts of information and presenting them in easier to interpret actionable forms. Construction benefits from big data too, in this regard.

With big data, construction companies can make more accurate predictions about the outcomes of projects. This can mean more accurate timelines, better-controlled budgets, and more efficient spending, which result in projects less likely to spiral out of control.

Enterprise Content Management

Just because construction deals with a lot of real-world factors, such as materials research, and architecture, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of paperwork, administration, and payroll to handle. Enterprise content management, or ECM, can be a useful “lubricant” to grease up the inter-departmental machine.

With the right ECM software, even disparate departments can be connected for updates, confirmations, transactions and approvals in real-time. Expense reporting, processing, and filing data can be done quickly online, verified online without needing copies or signatures of approval, and even compiled for useful big data analytics later.

Building Information Modeling

While the other tech trends are just ways for existing technologies to find a use in construction, building information modeling, or BIM is a technology that was created, from the ground up, with architecture and construction in mind.

BIM is all about simulation. Planners can create buildings with the virtual physical properties of the materials they have in mind, for a more accurate idea of the stresses and structural strong and weak points of different configurations. They can more accurately plan what the outcome of the project will be thanks to the realistic, simulations aspect of BIM.

Perhaps most important of all, however, BIM is an order of magnitude more useful than Computer Assisted Drafting, or CAD, which was primarily about creating plans and building concepts in 2D. BIM can create fully-rendered 3D environments that planners can “visit” either through monitors or with exciting new tech developments, such as virtual reality, that now put people “within” the environment to see how it actually looks from a human perspective.

Construction in Los Angeles, CA continues to advance with new breakthroughs in architecture, materials and engineering. Even information technology can play a big role in this, helping people to get the job done faster, more efficiently, with more safety, and even accuracy in the planning and budget stages.

cloud database

What Can A Database Administrator Do In The Cloud Era?

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The nature of business databases is undergoing a change.  It used to be that companies (big companies in particular) needed massive server computers on location to store all their important and sensitive information.  Emails, customer records, internal study results, research and development, all of that digital data needed local storage and it was up to the database administrator (DBA) to keep track of everything and make sure the servers ran smoothly.

However, the cloud era has come at last to corporations.  Cloud storage companies offer remote storage solutions to individuals and businesses alike, and these days they come with enough storage space, autonomous systems, and security to convince many companies to save money by switching over to a cloud database system.  So what happens to the DBAs when their old jobs are gone?  As it turns out, their skills can still come in handy if they’re willing to adapt to the new situation.

The Data Is More Important Than The Hardware

A DBA’s job covers a lot more than just computer maintenance and repair.  Thus, while that part of the job may be disappearing, a DBA can count on their other job aspects coming more into focus.  After all, with the Information Age in full swing companies are gathering and processing more data points than ever before, and for most people the raw facts and figures are overwhelming.  DBAs have experience with processing databases and gathering the right information, and it’s becoming more important than ever to have experts on hand who can do this.

Database Security Management Is Still Important

Any computer expert who handles secure information can tell you that the weakest link of any security system is the human element.  Thus, while cloud systems can offer advanced security gating and encryption, companies still need someone on hand who can manage the information security on their end and make sure that only the right people can access the right databases in the right way.  This part of the DBA’s job won’t change moving forward, although the software and the means of access will.

Get To Know The New Systems

No matter what kind of IT job you have, understanding how the latest software and hardware works is essential to getting a good job or a good promotion.  Even professions like publishing and accounting need employees who understand how to use the company’s software.  DBAs are no different, and so learning how to use cloud storage and computing systems is important for any DBA who wants to keep working in the field.  This means understanding how cloud companies store information, how the security and access systems work, and how new automated software gathers data and simplifies tasks.

The role of the database administrator isn’t going away, but it is changing as servers move off-site and enter the cloud.  In fact, an expert DBA is more useful than ever since companies will need someone who can oversee this transition and help them make the most of the new cloud.  A company might be tempted to eliminate their DBA, but they’ll quickly realize they need someone with the same skillset to manage their new system.

Server Room

Internal Security Threats Are A Major Problem In Our Modern World

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Businesses of the 21st century have some different priorities when it comes to security compared to the businesses of just a couple of decades ago. Cybersecurity is more important than ever, as clients, consumers, employees, and partners have access just about anything via the internet at any given time. This constant 24/7 access shows the importance of protection against external threats, but what about those coming from the inside? Protection from internal security threats is an often-overlooked layer of security that should be prioritized by today’s modern businesses. 

Protecting Yourself From Internal Security Threats 

There are multiple layers businesses of today can make use of to protect themselves from internal security threats. Some of these layers include: 

  • Password protected exclusive WiFi – It’s perfectly okay to have WiFi networks in place for your employees or customers to use, but this shouldn’t be the same network responsible for sharing sensitive information. A protected network should be put into place, with passwords only known to a select few, and this would be used for storing or sharing any sensitive information your business would like to keep from unauthorized eyes. 
  • Proper employee training – A shocking revelation to many business owners, your business is more at risk for internal security threats than it is external security threats. An estimate figures that more than half of all cybersecurity breaches come from the inside and due to employee negligence. For small businesses, just one instance of employee negligence leading to a cybersecurity breach can bring down the entire business, and bankrupt owners trying to clean up the mess left behind. Proper employee training practices help to ensure the chances of negligence are minimized.
  • Keep a data backup plan – While a backup plan is a recommended idea in most situations, it’s to be taken literally when talking about cybersecurity. Having regular data backup protocols in place assures business owners that data can be recovered after a breach, and it can be restored should the system’s integrity become corrupted. Carrying out the incredibly simple task of automating data backup could save your business in the event of a cybersecurity threat. 
  • Offsite storage – After data is backed up, it needs to be kept someplace safe, and this means offsite storage. If your cybersecurity has been compromised from the inside, your backed up data can fall under the same fate if it’s kept in the same location. Global businesses may want to have different offsite storage locations for each location of their business. 

The Cybersecurity Of The Future 

Today’s businesses will want to always be a step ahead to remain on top in this modern business world. As technology evolves, remote work becomes more popular, and cybersecurity grows into an even more important issue, it’s imperative that businesses know how to keep themselves safe from the inside. Prioritizing internal security, and the evolution of, today’s businesses are taking an important step in keeping themselves protected as their brands evolve.

Office 365

Getting To The Bottom Of The Best Office 365 Communication Tools

By | Managed IT | No Comments

The majority of apps offered by Microsoft Office 365 serve an individual purpose, but Outlook Groups, Yammer, and Microsoft Teams all serve the same – fostering communication and collaboration between employees and teams. While all three applications do have the same general use in mind, there are subtle differences between them that set them apart from one another. Learning how each communication application works and the respective pros and cons can be of great assistance in establishing which may be best for you. 

Breaking Down The Differences Between The Three Applications 

The small differences between Yammer, Outlook Groups, and Microsoft Teams become evident when you see just how each application functions. The breakdown of each app is: 

  • Outlook groups – Outlook Groups all members of a group will share an inbox, project planner, notebook, calendar, and document library. All messages and all relevant information for a group is kept all in one place, making it incredibly convenient for team collaboration. An Outlook Group may also connect with third party applications like MailChimp, Twitter, or Trello, and all notifications are directed to the Outlook Groups shared inbox. 

There is one downside to Outlook Groups, and this is how overwhelming a shared inbox can become when the group is connected to third party applications and frequently communicating through email. 

  • Yammer – Like Microsoft Teams and Outlook Groups, Yammer works effortlessly with other Office 365 tools. Yammer is a professional social media type application that works to foster open and easy communication within teams and between teams across the office. Yammer offers office bulletin board features where announcements can be shared company-wide. With tried and tested design elements mimicking the user-friendly ones popular on Facebook, Yammer is simple to adopt and utilize. 

Yammer comes quickly to those experienced in social media use, but may be more confusing for those who have no previous social media experience. 

  • Microsoft Teams – Microsoft Teams is the most similar of the 3 applications to the well known Slack professional chat application. Microsoft Teams also works with Skype Business, allowing members to text, call, and video chat with colleagues from all over the world. It also features a seamless integration with all other Office 365 applications, which allows you to share files seamlessly. 

Microsoft Teams differs from Outlook Groups in its ability to handle higher velocity collaboration, making it the better choice for completing complex projects with tight deadlines or a need for fast feedback. 

Finding The Best Fit For Your Team 

Finding the best fit for your Los Angeles, CA team is made much simpler when you know a little bit about the strengths and weaknesses of each application. With this knowledge in hand, businesses of the area can find the most suitable application that will have the most positive impact on workplace communication. These applications may also be used congruently, and the social media stylings of Yammer can be used for office-wide communication while an Outlook Group covers a smaller interworking team. 

Microsoft Exchange 2019 Or Microsoft Office 365?

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While Microsoft has been having problems moving into the mobile market, its products are still the most trusted and widely used among desktop computers.  Aside from the Windows OS, Microsoft also makes business-ready products like the Exchange email server program and Office 365.  However, these products don’t always do the same things, and you may need to decide which products suit your business best.  So, Exchange or Office?  Each program offers its own pros and cons.

Local Storage Vs. The Cloud

Exchange is Microsoft’s email server system.  With it, you can turn one of your networked computers into a storage hub that protects and records all the emails sent and received through company accounts.  This gives you instant access to your correspondence archive and allows you to encrypt the information as thoroughly as you like.  Exchange 2010 is reaching the end of its support life, but the 2016 version is still getting extended service and Exchange 2019 has just come out with new features like expanded hardware support.

On the other hand, Office 365 has embraced cloud storage, using Microsoft’s Azure Cloud to run the software and save your files.  Microsoft’s cloud is a safe storage option, but many companies don’t like the idea of using remote storage for things like sensitive documents, spreadsheets, and emails.  However, this setup allows Microsoft to update its Office software constantly, which is why it no longer uses the date.

Features Vs. Needs

Exchange is a simple product that adds onto the Windows Server by giving you a program that efficiently delivers and archives emails on your local hardware.  This means its cost is relatively low, at least compared to Office 365.  Office includes a full suite of programs including a word processor, a slideshow creator, a spreadsheet program, and an email viewer.  It also offers collaborative features that take full advantage of cloud access.  The software has a lot of functionality, but if you don’t need all these systems then you’re throwing your money away.

Support Vs. Control

Microsoft wants businesses to use its new Office software, and so the company is offering all the support you could ask for.  Not only does this mean offering a support hotline for customers with questions and issues, it also means that they make sure the software works and keep it updated with new features and functions.  Exchange 2019 gets support, too, but implementing and operating the software is up to your company’s IT team.  This means more control is in your company’s hands, but your employees need to be ready for it.

A large enough company might do well to both update its servers to Exchange 2019 and get an Office 365 license, but smaller companies may want to focus on one or the other.  With Exchange you get full control over your email and archive system, but you need to have the IT team and hardware to handle it.  With Office 365, Microsoft will handle your file storage and upkeep, but remote storage requires a fast and solid internet connection and a continuing relationship with Microsoft.  Which option works best depends on what you need.

Developer Meeting

Ways To Build A Better Employee Experience With IT

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Employers and employees don’t always see eye to eye on the same things. However, most companies, including the ones in Los Angeles CA, try to make the worker-experience as pleasurable as possible. After all, the representatives are the people that make sales, complete projects and keep the daily operations running smoothly. They help build the organization’s image and promote the brand too. Research from the Harvard Business Review says companies that have an employee experience plan are usually about four times more profitable than those that don’t.

So, as anyone can see, it is often in a corporation’s best interest to implement such a strategy. Technology is an integral part of the workplace today as well. It is vital that companies put their employees first over technological plans. A study by PwC reveals that 90-percent of executives keep people’s needs in mind when introducing new tech. Meanwhile, only about 53% of staff members have the same view.

Workers can feel unappreciated, undervalued, and grow distant if employers fail in this venture. Thus, they must think outside of the box and find ways to make the workplace the best that it can be. Curious
Los Angeles CA business owners should read further to learn how they can utilize IT to build a better employee experience.

Don’t Underestimate The Value Of Tech Training

It doesn’t matter if an employer provides workers with top-notch software, computers, and gadgets if they don’t know how to use them to their full extent. Since the world is in the midst of the technological age, many business owners believe that their employees already know how to use all forms of tech. However, this type of thinking can slow productivity as not every user is familiar with new products, especially considering new ones seem to come out daily.

Therefore, it is a good idea to provide employees with training courses. They don’t have to be programs that take up an entire day. Rather, the lessons can take place at lunch-and-learn sessions or all-staff member meeting demos. Make it a point to touch on things that people already know as well as new aspects that are unfamiliar. 

Include Workers In Tech Decisions

It can be beneficial to ask employees for their feedback before implementing new technology. For one, the action will show them that you appreciate their input on important decisions. Additionally, the data helps owners see whether the tech will mesh well with the organization or not. After all, the last thing they want is for the IT to bring operations to a crawl.

Emphasize Technology That Frees Up Employee Time

There never seems to be enough time in any given day for workers to complete all of their tasks. They have calls to make, emails to answer, and numerous other duties. These items take them away from more pressing matters at hand like project deadlines. Hence, employers may want to consider tech that makes every employee’s life easier. In turn, they will have tools at their disposal to take care of all of their responsibilities.

Data Globe

Data Makes The Business World Go Round

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The world is flooded with information.  The internet doubles in size every few years, and that comes from people posting information about themselves on social media, companies writing blogs and informational articles about their industry, education groups and universities creating online courses, and a growing number of people throughout the world getting internet access for the first time.  Businesses are also generating information about themselves so they can improve themselves.

Sifting through all the information coming from within the business, from customers, and from potential customers can be time-consuming, but analyzing this information can be incredibly useful for helping your company run more efficiently and target the most likely clients and customers.  With some good analysis, you can improve your business in all kinds of ways.

Overhead And Operating Costs

Analyzing your production line lets you spot inefficiencies, places where you can combine operations without causing any safety or inspection problems, and unnecessary steps that waste time without improving anything.  For instance, automated inspection technology can spot defects without needing to hire and train a worker specifically for the job.   Keeping an automatic log of machine downtime lets you figure out how big your maintenance and I.T. staff should be, what they should concentrate on, and which devices cause too much trouble and need replacing.

Product Quality

Customer feedback is essential for just about every business, and while there are always a few people who get a bad experience and write a hateful review, for the most part you can count on reviews to average out and point to the true strengths and weaknesses of your products.  However, to get this information you need to sift through all these reviews and figure out what they mean when you put them together.  You can also use product data to improve other areas:

  • Locate and improve weak areas of the delivery system
  • Keep better track of inventory and automatically sort products based on where they’re going
  • Speed up order and delivery processing and logistics

Marketing

Product reviews can help you improve your products, but they can also help you improve your marketing.  By looking at what people like about your products, you can emphasize them in your ads.   You can also look at the demographics of your customers and develop advertising campaigns that target them specifically.  In the wider picture, customer data can point towards developing trends and you can use that information to create new products that appeal to changing tastes.

Knowledge is power, and when you know about who your customers are, what they like, and why potential customers are avoiding your products, you can improve your offerings and use targeted ads to boost your business.  You can also use it to spot inefficiencies in the production line and processing system, giving you better profit margins as you trim the fat.   The hard part is sorting through all the information that’s out there, but with the right software to log the information, sort through it, and present the results, you can learn some incredibly useful things.

cloud storage

Can A Hybrid Cloud Be The Storage Solution Your Business Needs?

By | Cloud Services | No Comments

Questions about cloud computing have been floating around the atmosphere for years now. Most people think of public sharing when they think of the cloud, but this isn’t always the case. The use of private clouds is a system that many businesses choose to work with. More businesses in Los Angeles, however, are looking into a hybrid system of cloud and local computing to provide the optimum solution. 

Optimize, Innovate, and Save 

Cloud computing can optimize your onsite infrastructure. Different hybrid cloud computing configurations can assist a company in optimizing the amount of hardware and software maintained onsite. It allows you to keep the most sensitive data onsite while using hosted servers and cloud based applications for less sensitive information. This reduces resources required for infrastructure and application maintenance.

Businesses can promote innovation by operating with a private infrastructure that’s hosted offsite. This allows experimentation with system changes without investing in a permanent infrastructure. Continue business streams uninterrupted while trying out new software, delivery systems, and more. 

The customizable nature of hybrid computing systems make them cost-efficient. Private use clouds generally cost more than public use clouds, so limiting the private cloud for critical and sensitive data lowers expenses. It’s a solution that offers security and operating benefits where specifically needed. 

Scalability And Security Benefits 

Hybrid cloud computing offers benefits of scalability. Your Los Angeles business can scale up or down without a permanent investment. Pay on demand when you want to test new products, or when you want a temporary increase in the computing load. For instance, you might want additional bandwidth to execute a data-sensitive project; temporary resources can be terminated upon completion. 

This is a benefit that can reduce capital expenditures as well as limiting the competition for bandwidth needed by your daily operations. This option allows businesses to make adjustments for changes in market conditions, such as meeting demand for a large volume irregular sale. 

Some believe that cloud computing carries a higher security risk than in house networks due to the potential entry points for hackers. But in many ways, cloud computing can offer increased security protection and more efficient disaster recovery.  Business can successfully manage cloud security by implementing: 

  • Security protocols
  • Security software
  • System architecture

Moving Into a Secure Future 

A private cloud offers a way to store business critical data and information. It allows for the backup of important data that remains separate from the primary servers.  It can house critical applications and keep a business running during system shutdowns. And hybrid configurations provide efficient disaster recovery if a cyber-attack were to disable the primary system. 

As you move forward, you’ll continue to see the potential benefits of investing in a hybrid cloud solution for your Los Angeles company. The best hybrid cloud computing configuration for your business offers a range of interactions and considerations. Take time to understand exactly what your business needs from a technical and strategic standpoint. A qualified IT professional can help you understand the best configuration for your business. 

Top 8 Reasons To Consider Outsourcing Your IT

By | Managed Services | No Comments

Outsourcing IT support has become more practical and affordable than ever before. Standardized procedures, shared infrastructure, and massive scale have led many companies to high quality Managed Service Providers (MSPs) for their IT needs. When you look at the benefits, you may realize outsourcing is the great choice for the growth of your Los Angeles business.

The Business Benefits 

1) Cost-Effectiveness. Outsourced IT is more cost effective than ever before. High-quality MSPs have developed standards and procedures that keep your systems up and running at a lower cost-per-employee. And they grow right along with your organization.  

2) Skills and expertise. MSPs employ people with a wide range of technical capabilities, often attracting and retaining the best in the business. Their teams face every application and technology challenge imaginable on a daily basis, giving them a vast depth of experience that’s tough to beat. 

3) Benchmarks and best practices. Large MSPs work with other companies in your industry, facing common challenges and learning how to solve them. Their relationships with software and equipment providers give them access to special resources. And since they work with clients outside of your industry, they can share the latest innovative ideas.   

4) Gap fillers. Technology changes almost daily. Recruiting employees in
Los Angeles with the latest information and experience can be difficult. When in-house teams don’t possess the specific skills needed for a project, MSPs can fill in the skill gap as needed. 

The Personal Benefits 

5) They provide free time for innovation. Outsourcing starts as a way to reduce costs. It can quickly evolve, however, as it frees up time for the in-house team to focus efforts on deploying new and valuable technologies elsewhere. 

6) They’re constantly present. Large MSPs provide service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. The cost to replicate this availability in-house can be staggering. 

7) They allow for growth. Not only do you reduce the bottom line by outsourcing, you can free up funding that can now be used to fuel new initiatives. 

8) They increase productivity. In-house teams operate in crisis mode, responding to problems quickly as they arise. MSPs anticipate and attempt to prevent problems before they occur. They keep your employees customer-focused rather than help-desk focused. 

An Unexpected Business Benefit For Everyone 

Some companies have concerns about how outsourcing can affect their in-house IT team, but outsourcing allows the team to focus on innovation instead of mundane tasks. IT staff can enjoy increased job satisfaction and career growth when they can shift away from routine support to more challenging projects.

MSPs can often provide additional help in unexpected ways. They are specially trained and can provide a variety of services. Some services they can handle include:

  • Disaster recovery
  • Security and compliance
  • Workforce mobility
  • Cost reduction (printing and phone) 
  • Big data

MSPs bring a wealth of knowledge to the table that can help protect and grow your Los Angeles business. Because some IT functions are easier to outsource than others, be sure your MSP has the knowledge and expertise to handle your specific business needs. 

Why Your Business Should Consider Cloud Computing

By | Cloud IT, Cloud Services | No Comments

As a small business or startup owner, finding ways to reduce costs are usually at the top of the list of priorities. Cloud computing is just one way you can cut costs and still have data access without having to invest a lot of money on the hardware that you need. Cloud computing is also a much faster way to access data which can ultimately make your work that much easier.

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is the process of using a network of remote servers that are hosted on the internet that allows a business to store, manage, and process data. It is a more efficient way of doing this that works better than just a local server or a personal computer.

It allows more flexibility when it comes to a company’s resources and cuts down on operating costs which can help a business run much more smoothly.

Increase Efficiency and Cut Costs

Cloud computing can help increase efficiency for a small business because you don’t have to have access to a lot of hardware which also means the reduction of IT problems. It makes it much easier for a business to manage the IT infrastructure in-house rather than having to outsource this task which can become costly.

With cloud computing, there are regular software updates, but they don’t require you to install software or upgrade anything yourself. All you need to have is a web browser, and the cloud software provider handles the rest. You will always have access to the most up to date software and won’t have to worry about running on old software.

Improve Productivity

 Cloud computing has been found to increase the productivity of a business by as much as 40% while allowing for 47% flexibility. This improved productivity comes from the increased collaboration the business will experience as well as the ability for employees to work remotely. Being able to work out of the office cuts down on any distractions that may exist in the office while also increasing employee satisfaction.

Optimum Performance

Another benefit of cloud computing for business is the speed and performance you can experience. Cloud computing services run on a worldwide network of secure data centers which in turn offers your business the speed and performance they need without any network latency.

Scale Your Infrastructure

That also brings us to an easy way to grow the infrastructure of your business. If there is a sudden spike in demand for your services, your server can handle the new demand, unlike web-based commerce that can crash and become unpredictable.

The Bottom Line

Cloud computing’s most beneficial advantage for any small business or startup are the costs that can be saved by switching to this system. You are eliminating the need to hire additional IT staff, you are streamlining your data access, and improving the efficiency and productivity of your business without all the different costs adding up and eating into your budget.

The Future of In-House IT Personnel in Business

By | Cloud IT, Managed IT | No Comments

Many companies in Los Angeles CA often utilized the services of an IT guy in their office. They were always around in case anyone was experiencing any kind of technical problems in the office and they would also check the computers and other machines and maintain the server room. But, as technology is constantly evolving and the world is becoming a very digitally globalized place, where do IT staff fit in?

Unfortunately, the people in this particular position are becoming less relevant, and this is especially true for smaller or mid-sized businesses in Los Angeles CA. Much of the IT related tasks a company faces are now outsourced, and because of this, the company benefits from a few immediate benefits.

Trim the Fat Off the Budget

Outsourcing the IT work for a company can actually save them money by allowing them to take control over their budget that is allocated to technical issues. When they outsource, they are not required to pay a full-time person a salary for a full-time position. They will also save money because they will not have to pay out on vacations and other benefits for dedicated in-house IT personnel.

Instead, the budget allocated for IT can pay for services on more of a basis of need. This way they are eliminating the high costs of in-service IT personnel and do not have to hire, train, recruit, or onboard new people for this aspect of the business.

The Right Person for the Job

Most in-house IT personnel do not hold all the certifications and experience that someone who is outsourced may have under their belt. This is because there might not be a wide range of work and different projects available in-house that step away from normal tech issues. The scope of each project may be very limited.

However, as technology advances, so do the problems we can face. In that case, experience is required as well as resources that an in-house IT guy might not have otherwise had access to.

Implement New Technology

When you outsource your IT work, you will also find that when you begin new projects such as automated reporting, it takes much less time for an outsourced IT team to complete the setup and initialize the new system.

In-house IT personnel, again, may lack the experience needed to implement these new technologies in a timely manner and they may not know how to troubleshoot any challenges that may arise following the implementation of the new technology.

Places Emphasis on Security

When you outsource IT, you will also have access to other benefits such as audited workstations, up to date servers, and a backup recovery plan. You will also find that you are more protected with the experience of these IT professionals because they will know how to check for threats and viruses and can help you keep your information safe and secure.

Finally, you will be faced with more time and resources for your other employees so that you can focus more on the business and the day to day operations in Los Angeles CA.

Cloud Hosting 101

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Over the last several years, the popularity of cloud hosting has increased dramatically. By offering convenient storage options that are reliable and affordable, cloud hosting has helped make it much easier for businesses and individuals to get peace of mind that their data is protected. But do you fully understand it? It’s well worth a closer look by anyone. 

What Is Cloud Hosting, Exactly?
At its core, cloud hosting is essentially a method of storing data over multiple computers, then accessing that information using a network connection. Think of your own personal computer. The information on it is stored on the hard drive. 

But with cloud hosting, data is stored on the remote servers instead, then accessed over the network. What this means is that you have virtually unlimited storage space for information. Additionally, it allows for increased processing and computer power since multiple computers can be used. 

Essentially, cloud hosting is a network of servers connected to one another. Users only use as much of the total system as they need, and as your needs increase or decrease the use of the servers can be scaled accordingly – and also be priced accordingly. 

While it seems somewhat complex, at its heart the entire principle and application of cloud storage is very straightforward and easy to understand. 

How Does It Work?
Cloud hosting works much more simply than you might think. In traditional local hosting, you have a single server that holds all of your website files. When a user visits your website, those files are pulled from the server. 

But with cloud hosting, virtual servers are located outside your building. These servers allow the visitor to pull resources from multiple servers at once, providing a huge amount of resources to users that make it easy for you to get exactly what you need from the system. 

The Big Benefits
It makes sense to choose cloud hosting when you consider everything that it has to offer. If your business relies on the internet, data storage, or anything similar, cloud hosting could hold the solution to your problems. Here are some of the benefits that it provides. 

Increased Security – Cloud servers run in an isolated environment. This means that you have increased security and no risk of tampering from your employees or external threats. 

Increased Stability – Since cloud-hosting servers are focused solely on storage, you will get much better stability from your hosting service. You don’t’ have to worry about lost data. 

Increased Speed – Faster speed and increased performance are another big benefit, and thanks to the lower amount of stress on your local systems, your entire network should operate better. 

Easily Scalable – As your storage needs grow, its’ easy and much more cost effective to scale up your storage solutions. 

Simply put, cloud hosting is a solution for business operations that can’t be ignored. If you want to enjoy all of the benefits above and more, it’s well worth taking the time to invest in effective cloud storage solutions for your business. 

cyber aware

Becoming More Cyber Aware

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Cybersecurity is a growing problem many businesses face. Hackers are regularly upgrading their methods and techniques and are finding new and creative ways to gain access to private information. While technology may be the reason for these growing attacks, you should also take a closer look at the people. It takes more than just an experienced IT employee to build a strong and secure cyber presence.

Creating a Cyber Aware Company Culture

Once you get past the aspect of technology when it comes to cybercriminals, the next step is finding well trained and educated people to create a company initiative that places emphasis on communication and education within the workplace.

Cybersecurity Responsibility

The responsibilities of cybersecurity do not only rest on the IT personnel within a company. Instead, it should be a company-wide effort, and everyone from those in entry-level positions to those at the top of the chain should value cyber safety and make it their priority.

Training Staff

A few ways you can implement staff training regarding cybersecurity is by sending out emails, employee newsletters, posters, and hold meetings to discuss progress and steps to implement a plan. Training at least once per month is recommended to stay on top of cybersecurity and everything they should be aware of when it comes to hackers. 

After these meetings, you should also test your employees to see if they are retaining this information. Simply put- hack them before the real-life hackers have the chance to. 

To do this, you can create and send out a mock phishing email and see if anyone falls for the cyber attack even after the training and communication has been followed through. If people fail the test, you will know that your efforts will need to be redirected and more advanced training may be needed company-wide.

Understand Current Trends

It is also important to train and communicate with the staff regarding current trends in the cyber community. Email, for example, is one of the most common and popular outlets that hackers use to gain access to privileged information. They use the email accounts to breach the company’s networks.

Most of these emails contain malware that is embedded in an attachment in an email. Once the employee clicks on the attachment, the hacker may get access to your network and information.

Update Passwords

Next, you should make sure that all passwords being used are updated regularly and are strong and secure. Weak and stolen passwords account for a large percentage of hacking-related breaches in business.

Most of the time, employees aren’t even aware that weak passwords can be such a significant issue; therefore, training on the use of strong password structure and the reasoning as to why this should be done is important.

Finally, just have a plan in place that involves open communication with your staff, so you can train them and implement a strong plan to help ensure your cybersecurity. Communication is key. 

Data Center

A Closer Look At Interconnected Data Centers

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There are plenty of aspects of operating a business that are easy to overlook but which actually form the backbone of your business. A perfect example of this lies in your data center and how you access and secure your data. 

For example, are you using cloud storage? What about software as service solutions, both of which let your employee’s access important information and applications no matter where they are? Other factors include things like your data security and your stability, all of which are directly related to having a stable interconnected data center in place for your business. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by interconnected data centers, but a closer look can show you why they matter, what they are, and how to get the most from them.

What Is An Interconnected Data Center?
Essentially, this is a term that refers to the interconnection of your servers and network machines using a multi-point data exchange system instead of a centralized data center. This provides much more flexibility, increased speeds, and greater overall power for your business’ data processing and management tools. 

The Rise Of The Digital Age
Simply put, we live in a world where things that were once science fiction are now total reality. The global growth of interconnected bandwidth has helped speed up the data transfer rates everywhere, and by 2020 it’s estimated that interconnection Bandwidth will grow to more than 5,000 Tbps – outpacing global IP traffic by a huge margin. In short, this means that the ability to privately and directly exchanged traffic will be at a high point. 

This means that the digital age is very real and that companies can conduct real-time data transactions with ease. It’s already going on, and making sure that your data is interconnected could have a huge influence on your business’ future. 

Why They Matter
There are numerous benefits that businesses can enjoy when they deploy an interconnected data center. Some of these benefits include the following. 

Faster access to local networks, making it easier to enhance your performance as well as easier to leverage service provider peering. 

Easier to collate data center information and to manage data distributed at traffic exchange points. 

Easier application of data and SaaS access and integration no matter where you are located. 

Increased security and stability for your data systems, giving you greater peace of mind that your systems will be safe and work as they should.

Access to better security encryption using tools like Equinox Smartkey, giving you increased and fully scalable multi-cloud hardware capabilities. 

And these benefits are in addition to the increased speed, reliability, and processing capabilities that are offered by these data systems. 

The Bottom Line for Your Business
In short, an interconnected data center lets you accelerate your company’s digital future and scales easily as your business grows. There’s no question that the digital realm is where much of your business’ future will lie, and making sure that you are ready for it is important. The right interconnected data center setup can help. 

IT Security

The 4 Most Important Cybersecurity Concerns For Small Business

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The internet is a wild place, and threats to your network’s security can come from all directions. Malware, hackers, and even disgruntled employees can threaten to steal or delete the information your business needs to succeed, and you’ll need to account for all of them if you want your network to stay secure and safe. Of course, you only have so much time and so many resources, so it’s also important to deal with the most dangerous threats first.

1. Dangerous Emails

Phishing is the number one entry point for hackers who want to get into a private network. Phishing emails pretend to be official and either promise a reward or threaten some danger if the recipient doesn’t hand over sensitive information like passwords or bank account numbers. Other dangerous emails include virus carriers with attachments that will infect your computer if you try to download them. Your best defense is to learn what phishing looks like and train your employees to know what to look for, too.

2. Disguised Downloads

Outside of attachments, the way most viruses get onto a new computer is when a user downloads a file that promises to be one thing but is actually something else. A good web browser and antivirus software can identify threats before they can harm your computer, but new, unknown threats are popping up all the time. One quick way to check a file is by looking at its size: if it’s much bigger or much smaller than it should be, it’s probably malware in disguise.

3. No Backup

If a virus does corrupt your computer, it may destroy important data or else make it impossible to reach. If a hacker or a bribed employee steals information off your computer and destroys the original copy, it’s often gone forever. You might even lose your information from a natural disaster like a lightning strike or a flood. However, you can get everything back if you regularly back up your data, and it helps to have both a large storage system on-site and a cloud server as a remote backup.

4. Poor Password Protection

It’s all too common for otherwise sophisticated I.T. businesses to end up using default passwords or easily guessed passwords like “12345” and “password.” Make sure you let your employees know what a strong password is and that you’ll be expecting them to create them without leaving

a note near the keyboard with the password on it. Of course, you should never forget to follow your own rules, either.

All four of these security concerns are obvious, and any good I.T. professional will repeat them over and over again. However, businesses of every size continue to forget about how important they are and how simple it is to avoid these risks. If you can only do one thing about the security of your business network, make sure you and your employees are all familiar with the dangers and know what they ought to do to avoid the risks and maintain basic network security.

technology strategy

Defining Technology Strategy

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Businesses often rely on technology for their everyday business operations. Technology is used for many aspects of the business including sales, marketing, purchasing, accounting, finance, production, human resources. It doesn’t even matter where the business allocates most of their time either because it all comes back to a successful technology strategy. 

What is a Technology Strategy? 

A technology strategy is a plan that consists of different objectives, principles, and tactics as they relate to technology within a business or organization. These strategies focus more on the technology of the business and how that technology is managed.  

Elements of a Technology Strategy 

Many elements are involved in a technology strategy, and many of these are actionable items that can be used to help eliminate pitfalls you are experiencing while also keeping your budget in mind. 

Business Alignment: this part of the strategy helps a business fulfill their needs 

Roadmap: this shows how the business can go from point A to point B and shows how to reach their goals 

LongTerm Timeframe: this allows the business to set up a more long-term plan for success with different milestones and objectives to hit along the way 

Future Focused: this is when future technology needs are considered. You will need to think ahead into the future to come up with a strategy for improvement 

Rationalized: every item included in your strategy has a specific purpose or goal 

Business Needs: these refer to the specific goals and needs of the business 

Balance Budget with Reality: the goals and methods used to achieve those goals need to stay within a specified budget, and a realistic outlook for the results should be maintained 

Regular Updates: you will want to take another look at your strategy a couple of times each year to compensate for any updates or changes 

Creating a Technology Strategy 

To begin creating your technology strategy, you will want a clear understanding of your business, its needs, and the current state of technology being used. Where can you make improvements and what priorities should be set as you move forward? 

When you can prioritize a list, you can then find better resource estimates, so you can better plan for the labor and costs that will be involved with the changes and improvements you will be making. 

Plan for the Long Term 

Finally, as briefly touched upon already, you will want to be sure to plan for the long term when you begin to formulate your technology strategy. Finalize your list of priorities, sit down and determine your budget and how many business cycles may be needed to reach your objectives, and then create your roadmap to show you how to get from point A to point B successfully.  

When thinking long-term, think beyond just the next year. Stretch your strategy even further to make sure that you are covering all the important initiatives. Then you can begin to take a closer look at what technology will be most effective for your business and its specific needs and goals.  

5g Service

Defining 5G: What Is this Wireless Tech?

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Simply put, 5G is the fifth generation of wireless networking technology. Many of us experience 4G speeds on our cell phones, and that has been the most prevalent technology over the last several years. However, 5G is promising to deliver higher Gigabit speeds.  

While 4G allows us to stream in HD, 5G will have the capacity to stream 4K HDR content, and so much more making it the new and most wanted wireless tech. 

5G is More Than Speed 

However, when you think about 5G, you shouldn’t just consider speed. 5G is fast, but it also allows you to shift how many cell sites are required and how many devices you can connect to that cell signal site at one time. 

The majority of phone networks being used today rely on 200-foot towers to provide large areas with service. However, 5G sites will be able to connect more devices within that areas at once so it can keep up with the higher demand for service; not only for cell phone signals but also for sensors and cars. 

Provides Lower Latency 

Lower latency is another goal that 5G strives to achieve. Lower latency is how long it takes the network to respond to a request. Currently, latency times are approximately nine milliseconds, but with 5G, we will see that number drop to a roughly one millisecond response time. This lower latency may prove valuable when it comes to different automotive applications. 

These lower latency numbers also mean an improved experience if you use virtual reality or you enjoy playing online multiplayer video games.  

Basic Airwave Sets 

Currently, there are two different sets of airwaves being prepped for 5G service. These sets include those that are above the 6 GHz mark and those that fall below it. Those that are above that mark are known as millimeter waves or mmWAVE.  

These MMWave airwaves in the United States are centered in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands while those under the 6 GHz mark fall into the 3.5 GHz band. There is always going to be more availability with the higher spectrum airwaves. 

What Companies Will Offer 5G? 

The same companies that you use for your phone service today are the same ones that will power 5G service. Among these popular phone carriers, you will find companies based in the United States like AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. 

Each launch window is different for each company, so some might experience the power of 5G before others. There is a lot in the way of telecommunications equipment that is being used to support the 5G efforts of these networks. Included in this equipment are new 5G modems and new tower and backhaul gear.  

When is 5G Launching? 

Verizon announced last October 1 that they launched the first 5G network in the country. However, what was launched is not considered true 5G and is being used in other ways. They are using the 5G technology and not conforming to the industry standards. 

Additionally, Verizon’s 5G service is fixed and will only become available in specific markets in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. The fixed 5G serves as a fiber or cable replacement, and the signal will be beamed from towers.  

 

phishing

4 Signs That Email Is A Phishing Scam

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Phishing emails are growing ever more common because people keep falling for them. Even so, phishing scams have been around since before the modern internet took shape. The concept is simple: an email that says it’s from an official source tells the recipient that there’s been some trouble and they need their login name and password, bank numbers, social security number, or some other personal information that someone could use to fake your identity.

Once they get your information, the phishing hacker uses it to get into a secure server and steal everything they can. Experts estimate that over 90 percent of all security breaches start with phishing scams. Since phishers send these emails to every account they can find, it’s up to everyone to know what to look for before opening and replying to what could be a scam email.

1. The Sender Email Address

Phishers will send their emails using accounts with names that sound official but aren’t. This can involve picking a domain name that looks like a real company but has a different spelling, and it can involve taking advantage of how modern email systems will list nicknames first instead of addresses. As such, when you get an unexpected email from an official source, make sure you check and verify the address it came from.

2. The Subject Line

Companies that send out a lot of important emails will use an automated system that sends out emails as soon as they notice something happening. Because of this, the subject lines are always the same. If it’s different for once, that’s a sure sign that someone’s phishing you. You should also beware of get-rich-quick subjects like “You’re already a winner!” and “Get an amazing deal, today only!”

3. The Body Text

Misspellings are always a dead giveaway that the email is a fake. So is any request to send sensitive information by email, because no serious company in the world does that. However, many phishers have realized this, and so you also shouldn’t automatically trust URLs, either. Good browsers and antivirus programs will block malicious sites from infecting your computer, but you can avoid even that by looking up the company’s official website and comparing it to the URL in the email.

4. The Attachments

As a rule, never, ever open an attachment in an email unless you know exactly who sent it and you’re expecting the attached file. Attachments can be viruses, Trojans, worms, or any kind of malware that will infect your computer and send important information to the hacker who created it. These viruses can even spread themselves by creating and sending emails from real accounts, which is why you shouldn’t trust email attachments you get even from friends and coworkers. If it seems important, send an email back asking about the attachment before you open it.

Phishing hackers can be just about anyone, from juvenile vandals to greedy con artists to a team working for a foreign government. However, phishing emails always have the same giveaways. Be sure to look for them before you give any personal information away.