5 Reasons to Renew Miami IT Services Plans

5 Reasons to Renew Miami IT Services Plans

Many countries’ economies are facing uncertain times. Growth in China has slowed, the US is facing a fiscal cliff that could ruin the US economy and any relient economies associated with it. It’s in these uncertain times that many companies are doing more with less and when it comes to managed IT services, this means budget cuts. When these need to be made, many companies will look at cutting service contracts, something that may come back to haunt them in the future.Below are five of the more common issues businesses face when they decide to allow Miami IT services contracts to lapse.Increased response and resolution time – The way almost every company works is they provide support to paying customers before they provide support to others. If your systems bought from a vendor three years ago crash, and you didn’t renew the support contract, you will be facing prolonged downtime and potentially high replacement costs which could be detrimental to your business.
Poor implementation of updates – One of the main jobs of the Miami IT services provider is to ensure that all systems are up-to-date, or at the very least are running the same version of software as other systems. Without this valuable service, it is almost guaranteed that users will be running different software versions which could pose security and integration risks.
Lack of diagnostic and analysis tools – IT providers often utilize robust diagnostic and analysis tools that can help determine what issues are causing problems. On the other end, many IT service companies are set up to be proactive, and will usually look for and fix potential problems. This business model minimizes downtime, which can be hard to do without a costly internal IT department.
Reactive support – The proactive nature of many Miami IT services providers really helps, but when you don’t renew contracts, your service will likely go from proactive to reactive. Meaning you likely won’t know anything’s wrong until it really goes wrong. So instead of systems being down for an hour for monthly maintenance, they could be down up to a week or longer. This is something no business wants.
Increased hardware overhead – With a good service provider, your systems will last longer. This equates to lower hardware overhead over a longer period. Without them, companies will often see higher overhead due to having to replace equipment more often.
Yes, we agree, it can be hard to justify paying what seems like a high monthly fee to keep your systems running, especially in this difficult financial climate. However, the potential of both lost revenue from crashed systems and replacement costs often make IT service providers an integral and valuable part of your technical systems.

If you’re facing budget cuts, why not talk to us, we may be able to work with you to develop a plan that meets both your needs and budget.

Do you know who has system admin access?


One common feature found across all operating systems is the ability to have different user accounts on the same computer. These users can be assigned different statuses and some can download programs while others cannot. Most of these systems have an administrator account which gives unrestricted access to the computer. It makes sense that companies limit who has admin rights, however, a recent survey reveals many professionals don’t do this.

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Mobile device encryption defined
As the line between work and life continues to blend, two devices are standing out as major change agents. Those devices are the smartphone and to a lesser, but growing, extent the tablet. It’s common to see someone on their ‘day off’ checking their work email on their phone. While this is great for companies, it can also be harmful, especially if those devices aren’t encrypted.

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Miami Mobile Device Encryption Defined

Miami Mobile Device Encryption Defined

As the line between work and life continues to blend, two devices are standing out as major change agents. Those devices are the smartphone and to a lesser, but growing, extent the tablet. It’s common to see someone on their ‘day off’ checking their work email on their phone. While this is great for Miami companies, it can also be harmful, especially if those devices aren’t encrypted.

Encryption is not a new concept, it’s probably been used since the inception of communication. In standard terms it’s the conversion of data into a form that can’t be easily understood by unauthorized people. This form is commonly referred to as a cipher-text, or more commonly a cipher. Some people will call this a code, as codes are the same idea. Only the form is not meant to be secure and can be understood by other people e.g., binary code, Morse code, etc.

When data is encrypted, it can be sent to recipients, usually using normal transmission methods e.g., Internet or data connections. Upon receipt of the encrypted data, it needs to be decrypted (changed back to normal data). Decryption on mobile, and most computerized devices, is done using a key. This key is an algorithm that can understand both the encryption and normal data. It takes the encrypted data and essentially translates it to a form of data we can read or interact with.

Many Miami businesses go to great lengths to ensure their data is encrypted both within the network, when sent amongst the network, or to trusted recipients outside the network. In a perfect world, all of your connection points – devices that connect to the network – would be secure. In the real world, employees using mobile devices that are un-encrypted to store data or access company systems pose a big risk.

Take for example the CEO checking his work email on his own iDevice. Any emails sent between the company’s email server and the phone’s email program will usually be encrypted. However, when an attachment is opened with confidential news about an upcoming merger, a copy is usually downloaded onto the phone’s memory. If the boss hasn’t taken steps to encrypt the mobile device’s memory, and the phone is lost then someone picking up the phone could turn it on and see this information. If the user can understand the information, they could create a ton of trouble for both companies involved.

Another scenario, one that’s becoming more popular, is where the company’s accountant has visited one of the increasingly popular drive-by-malware sites and malware has been installed on an unencrypted phone. The accountant might open work emails and download next quarter’s financial projections, along with a document containing the password to a newly reset work account. The phone’s memory is unencrypted, so the hacker who monitors the malware can come along and grab the information. Now, not only does the hacker have access to the system – through the password – they also have confidential numbers a competitor would likely pay a handsome sum for.

While these situations may seem extreme, they can and have happened. The risks can be minimized though. While the obvious answer to problems like this is to simply bar employees from accessing work systems from mobile devices, this solution runs counter to the way most people work, and will likely be largely ignored by nearly everyone.

The best solution lies in a mixture of different approaches, all centered around a solid mobile device usage plan. You should take steps to first figure out when your employees access office systems using a mobile device, why they are doing this and what are they accessing. From there it’s a good idea to look into security options, vendors like us can help you with this step. It’s also beneficial to establish a use policy that dictates when devices can and can’t be used. Also, utilizing apps to encrypt memory on phones will help. At the very least, it’s a good idea to encourage your employees to use a password on their phone.

Mobile device encryption should be an important part of your company’s security plan. If you’d like to learn more, or implement a security system please contact us as we may have a solution that meets your needs.

Does Your Miami Company Know About Authorized Personnel?

Do You Know Who Has System Admin Access?

One common feature found across all operating systems is the ability to have different user accounts on the same computer. These users can be assigned different statuses and some can download programs while others cannot. Most of these systems have an administrator account which gives unrestricted access to the computer. It makes sense that companies limit who has admin rights, however, a recent survey reveals many professionals don’t do this.

According to the survey, conducted by Viewfinity, 68% of the 600 IT professionals surveyed don’t know who has administrative access to computers in their office. While this survey looks at the numbers from the IT viewpoint, it’s highly likely that many managers don’t know who has what access rights to computers.

The survey also found that 20% of all respondents noted that between 15% and 30% of users in their company had administrative rights. Is this a bad thing? Yes and no. Some users need to have full access to their systems, especially if they manage other systems, while others don’t.

Is this a big deal?

One of the biggest drawbacks of unnecessary access privileges is security. If users have more access than they need, the chance of a security breach is higher. For example, malware on a locked down system likely won’t spread to other systems in the network without direct transmission. Similarly, if a user can’t install programs because they lack the administration privileges, malware, for the most part, won’t be downloaded and installed.

If a user with full administrative privileges and downloads a piece of malware, chances are high that they won’t even notice it’s been installed and it will be transmitted to other systems with ease. In fact, one of the main ways hackers gain access to networks is through exploitation of administrative rights. They first look for an unsecured computer with administrative rights, hack it and then follow the chain up to more vital network systems.

What can we do?

While the survey was largely centered around IT professionals, business owners can learn from these findings too. They should take steps to audit their network and figure out who has access to what. Then they need to validate the findings and ensure that users have an appropriate level of access privileges. If some employees have no need to download and install programs, then they likely don’t need administrative access privileges.

If this sounds like a chore, it’s a good idea to work with a service provider who can help determine not only the type of access employees should have, but also the appropriate security and management that’s needed to ensure a more secure organization. If you’re unsure of who has access to what, please contact us, we may be able to help.

Miami Tech Support Calling? It May be a Scam

Miami Tech support calling? It may be a scam

Security of Miami business systems and networks is often top of mind for many enterprise owners and managers. As many bosses use Microsoft Windows systems, hackers and other criminals often go after businesses using these systems. One scam involves people masquerading as Windows tech-support in the hopes of tricking users into giving up their credit card numbers.

These scams have long been a part of the Windows environment. Despite users being fully aware of these attacks, some people still fall into the trap.

These deceptions generally follow the same formula: A person calls you pretending to be from the Windows technical team at Microsoft. The scammer usually tells you that they need to renew their software protection licenses to keep their computer running.

Most of the time, these scammers spread the conversation out over a number of phone calls and emails, the goal being to gain the trust of the user. Once trust is established, or the user seems interested enough, the scammer will offer a seeming sweet deal: They will offer a service that will make your computer run like new, usually for a seemingly reasonable price.

The scammer will then use remote PC support software to show you ‘problems’ your computer is having. They will usually show you the Windows Event Viewer – a part of the OS that shows errors, usually harmless, that your computer has generated. The scammer will then convince the user that these errors are harmful, and if you have paid, they will make it look like they are cleaning your computer.

If you give them your credit card number, you will likely see ridiculous charges, or even have people trying to access your accounts.

What’s being done?

Governments are aware of this increasingly common trend, and some organizations, like the FTC, have taken measures to shut down scammers. This article from ars technica gives a good overview of what exactly the FTC is doing, while another article provides a first-hand account of how the scammers operate.

What can we do?

While action is being taken, these scams are still continuing. From what we can tell, they likely won’t stop in the near future. To ensure you don’t fall prey to this trickery, these five tips should help you identify when an attempted scam is at play:

  1. Microsoft doesn’t call people.
  2. Windows Event Manager is a log of errors for ALL programs.
  3. Microsoft employees will never ask for your passwords.
  4. Most of these scammers operate out of call centers in India, but bill from the US.
  5. Microsoft employees won’t usually ask you to install software that’s not made by Microsoft.

As a rule of thumb: If you get an unsolicited call about your computers and Miami IT security, it’s likely not genuine. If these criminals provide you with a website, do a quick Google search to see if there have been any scam reports. You can also join the No-Call Registry if you are in the United States. To learn more about these scams, please contact us.

Brief Overview of Different Printers For Miami Businesses

Brief Overview of Different Printers for Miami Businesses

There are many different tools and pieces of hardware businesses use and rely on. One of the more common, found in nearly every business, is the printer. Printers come in all shapes, sizes and categories and it’s not uncommon to find more than one type of printer in a single business. When it comes time to replace, or buy a new printer, many bosses are at a loss as to the different kinds of printers out there.

Here is a brief overview of the five main types of printers most often used in businesses.

Impact

Impact printers work by physically striking an inked ribbon onto paper, one dot at a time, to make up the printed image or word. Most users refer to this printer as a dot matrix which is the name of the physical printing mechanism.

Impact printers are the simplest and oldest form of printer used by businesses. They are most often used for documents or forms that require multiple impressions, like paychecks and older style invoices. While you can still find companies using these printers, and can still buy them, most businesses are opting for more efficient, and quieter units.

Laser

Laser printers use create a static charge on a drum which attracts and melts toner, which is then passed over a piece of paper to produce the printed image or text. They are fast, efficient, print high-quality text and are generally economical.

These printers are similar to large photocopy machines, (they use the same technology), and can often offer the same capabilities, just in a smaller package. They are best suited for offices that print large amounts of text, like business reports and simple graphics.

Inkjet

Inkjets physically spray ink from a nozzle onto the page to make the graphic or text. These printers are generally slower than laser printers, but tend to produce higher quality printed images, and are usually cheaper to purchase.

If you have a business that needs to print high-quality graphic-heavy documents e.g. brochures, the inkjet is likely your best bet. On the downside, ink is absorbed by standard paper causing some smudging, so for the best quality you will have to use more expensive printer paper.

Multi-function

An increasingly popular printer is the multifunction or all-in-one. Part copier, fax machine, scanner and printer, these machines bring a number of important office tools together into one package. These printers often come in both laser and inkjet versions and many can even connect to Wi-Fi.

If you are looking to replace existing components, like the scanner and copier, these types of printers are an ideal solution. If you are looking for a new printer then they are perfect, as you won’t have to buy other peripherals.

Thermal

Thermal printers use heat and specially treated paper to print. You see them most often in receipt and cash machines. If you own a restaurant, store, etc. one of these printers can be a valuable investment.

There are a wide variety of printers out there, and we can guarantee that there will be one that meets your needs. If you are looking for a new system, or to replace existing components, why not call us today. We may have a printing solution that fits your needs.