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IT Security IT Solutions Managed IT Services

How Managed IT Services is Gaining in the Financial Industry

A recent report suggests that the financial industry as a whole is making a shift toward managed IT services out of a need for predictable IT expenses and tighter IT security, among other factors.

The Near Future…

According to recent data, half of all financial institutions will be outsourcing some of their IT to Managed IT Services (MSPs) providers by 2016.

There are many beneficial reasons including:

Predictable IT costs: Instead of spending all their IT money upfront in infrastructure investments, financial firms want to spread their IT costs over time in predictable month-to-month expenses.

Better IT responsiveness: Working with managed services providers offers these companies a chance to be a bit more agile and flexible when it comes to IT investments.

Improved security: The financial industry is highly regulated, and managed services providers might be able to lend a hand with compliance, the report suggests.

Why businesses gravitate to Managed IT Services?

Financial services providers are not the only ones jumping on the outsourced IT trend, as small and medium-sized businesses of all kinds have become more aggressive in their pursuits of channel support, according to a recent report in Forbes.  52 percent of mid-sized companies experienced lower operational costs and streamlined IT management through the use of managed services.

Financial services is one industry where fear of the cloud and Managed IT Services exist however partnering with the right Managed IT Services (MSPs) partner results in a strong and secure partnership.

 

365 iT SOLUTIONS is a leading IT consulting firm in Toronto. We provide industry leading Managed IT ServicesIT Support ServicesIT Outsourcing ServicesTech Support Services and Cloud Services.

Take advantage of our Complimentary Network and Security Assessment by 365itSolutions.com

Welcome to Worry-Free iT!

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IT Security IT Solutions Managed IT Services

Why AEC Businesses Require a Data Disaster Recovery plan?

Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) companies have seen huge leaps in technology in recent years.  Data management and business continuity require a shift in mindset, think of it as going from firefighting to fire prevention.  Zero disruptions is a bold strategic imperative that provides a competitive advantage by enhancing field productivity, increasing office efficiency, reducing downtime and preventing data losses. Effective data backup and post-disaster recovery protocols are the essential steps to minimize business disruptions.

A recent study revealed 45 percent of small to medium sized businesses had suffered a data loss.  Fifty-four percent of the data losses were attributed to hardware failure. Another recent study found that 73% of companies are unprepared for disaster recovery.

 

What are AEC industry leaders doing?

We have seen AEC leaders shift from document management to data management. With this reliance comes an increased vulnerability to business disruption.  Data management today requires an enterprise view of integrating their network.  Data must be incorporated from its various physical and virtual locations, including mobile devices.

 

Why is there a need for a comprehensive business continuity plan?

The severity of natural disasters and the escalating number of man-made emergencies and technological disruptions compounds organizations dependence on their IT infrastructure.  Many of these disruptions result in temporary IT infrastructure downtime, while others pose a threat to the viability of the business.

A business continuity plan is the first step. Companies have many choices when selecting the best way to back up their vital information and mission-critical data.   Example, part of our Managed IT Services plan includes onsite and offsite backup at regular intervals.  This is the best prevention for data loss.  Another data recovery option is imaging the server and running the restored replica image from a new server in a remote location.  

Causes of data loss within organizations include:

  • Failure to initiate or maintain regular data backups
  • Unforeseen hardware failure
  • Human error resulting in accidental deletion, overwriting of data
  • Failure to test the backup and data recovery restoration process
  • Software or application corruption
  • Power surges, brownouts and outages
  • Computer viruses, malware or hacking
  • Theft of corporate IT equipment
  • Hardware damage or destruction from vandalism, fire and water (rain, flood or sprinkler system discharge)

 

What are Best Practices for Data Management?

AEC businesses must keep in mind that Data management and IT management is a strategic function for all organizations.  All organizations need to determine recovery time objectives and plan and budget accordingly.  

In the plan, you must identify which functions and systems must remain operational at the time of a disruption or disaster.  This requires advance planning and budgeting for necessary systems and technical support services.  

Develop a business continuity plan that outlines specific responsibilities for protecting vital information and mission-critical data. The business continuity plan should include protocols for backup and synchronization of all office systems and virtual/mobile devices.  It also should address the frequency and format for testing data management integrity and security, as well as how gaps will be identified and addressed.

Inventory vital information and mission-critical data and verify it is being backed up.  Initiate backups and ensure the backup data is stored offsite.  You may also consider the benefits of imaging the servers to achieve a complete restoration.  Use policies regarding the use of the Internet, policies for user authentication, password verification, and unacceptable personal devices and reporting of lost equipment.  It is essential to communicate these policies and security protocols to all users and to train new employees when they are hired.

Establish proactive managed IT of the company’s data and IT network. Ensure you are using an IT consulting partner that is using state-of-the-art tools, including remote access, help desk diagnostics, and anti-spam and malware protection. Ensure that your IT support team is doing periodic updates on all software licensing audits and verification that all security patch updates have been installed on a timely basis.  

AEC businesses must learn that modern data recovery requires a shift in mindset from firefighting to fire prevention.

 

365 iT SOLUTIONS is a leading IT consulting firm in Toronto. We provide industry leading Managed IT ServicesIT Support ServicesIT Outsourcing ServicesTech Support Services and Cloud Services.

Take advantage of our Complimentary Network and Security Assessment by 365itSolutions.com

Welcome to Worry-Free iT!

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Industry Insights IT Solutions Managed IT Services

Which Operating System is best for the Construction Industry?

Beginning April 8, 2014, Microsoft will no longer provide technical support for Windows XP.  Microsoft has provided support for Windows XP for the past 12 years, but the company plans to invest its resources supporting more recent technologies in the future.  More specifically, Microsoft says, as of April, it will no longer provide assistance for Windows XP, including automatic updates that help protect a PC and Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP, which could leave machines unprotected.

So what works best in the Construction Industry?

When looking at software compatibility with Windows 8.1, some programs worked well on the operating system and some programs did not.   There are pros and cons to a new operating system launch project. One benefit is it will free up IT resources to focus on other strategic IT initiatives and company objectives.  Additionally, tablets and other windows devices will now have the same operating system.

Still, with a launch such as this, training employees on the new operating system took some time and planning. Some things to consider are upgrade the operating system on existing hardware or get the new operating system on new hardware.  Also, consider if existing software will run on 8.1 and if not, will you upgrade, replace, or maintain it on a protected legacy system until a compatible version is available?  Also ensure you test as that is key to ensuring everything works properly.

Everyone is investing in new technologies, construction industry firms will need to update also to stay competitive.

 

365 iT SOLUTIONS is a leading IT consulting firm in Toronto. We provide industry leading Managed IT ServicesIT Support ServicesIT Outsourcing ServicesTech Support Services and Cloud Services.

Take advantage of our Complimentary Network and Security Assessment by 365itSolutions.com

Welcome to Worry-Free iT!

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Managed IT Services

How Antivirus Programs Fail to Stop New Malware Threats

A recent survey showed that respondents under the age of 35 had been the target of phishing scams.  This is a clear indication of how hackers who are trying to obtain personal financial information.   Back in 2002 there were an estimated 17 million known good files and 2 million bad ones.  By 2012, there were 40 million known good files and 80 million bad ones.  According to industry experts, conventional security measures such as anti-virus software can no longer protect users against malware and other threats. 

Malware threat growing as the main driver of this shift is cybercrime.

In the past, malware was often the work of malicious individuals or pranksters looking for recognition of their coding prowess.  But nowadays they are perpetrated almost entirely by organized crime.

Hackers look for ways to install malware on your computer for the purpose of stealing your passwords, credit card numbers and banking information, which they can sell to other criminals.  Cybercrime is estimated to be a $3 billion US industry.  One of the reasons malware is such a widespread problem is that it has become harder for consumers to detect.

There are a number of ways hackers can get into your computer, but nowadays, a lot of it is accomplished by “social engineering.” For example, you may get an email or even a phone call that appears to be from a bank or a tech support representative asking you to open an email attachment or to click through to an infected website.

The problem with anti-virus software is that it is reactive in nature which means that it responds to specific malware after it has been distributed.  Should a malware writer change a few lines of code, however, that anti-virus solution suddenly becomes obsolete.

It’s the sheer number of malware variations that makes it impossible for anti-virus software to effectively combat the problem.

While anti-virus software is not foolproof, it is a first line of defence.  It does not stop someone who is motivated but it does force them to put a little bit of effort in and it does mean you are not quite as easy of a target.

In recent years, hackers have are posing online as anti-virus companies with legitimate-looking websites and finding victims by ironically playing on their fear of malware. They offer “virus scans” that are actually malware.

Given these overwhelming threats, “whitelisting” can keep web surfers safe.  The principle is similar to verified accounts on Twitter, which was a response to the proliferation of bogus accounts. Rather than identifying all the fake accounts, Twitter’s verification process simply certifies the legitimate one.

Whitelisting has been around for more than a decade but only a few companies offer it right now.  The way it works is that anytime you surf the web, the whitelist prompt appears in your browser. If you go to a website that has been penetrated by hackers, the browser pops up a stern warning telling you not to proceed to the site.  Whitelisting would keep a list of good sites on your workstation and in the cloud.

We are unable to stop every attack but our actively managed toolset has enabled us to put policies into place that can prevent such attacks.  First line of defense such as corporate messaging spam and virus filter, firewall with active security and content filtering licences and managed anti-virus and malware protection.

 

365 iT SOLUTIONS is a leading IT consulting firm in Toronto. We provide industry leading Managed IT ServicesIT Support ServicesIT Outsourcing ServicesTech Support Services and Cloud Services.

Take advantage of our Complimentary Network and Security Assessment by 365itSolutions.com

Welcome to Worry-Free iT!

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Industry Insights IT Security Managed IT Services

How to Create an IT Disaster Recovery Plan?

There have been constant headlines regarding disaster within organizations however small business still are wary about investment in business continuity and disaster recovery.  In a recent survey, data that showed the number of companies with disaster recovery plans declined 50 percent year-over-year in 2013.  On top of that, only a fraction of those with plans actually test them, so the number of businesses with strong recovery capabilities is limited.

Why so many unprepared companies? 

1. Time – Planning is complex, and many businesses simply can’t afford to spend the time and money.

2. Money – Many businesses are unsure about spending money on disaster recovery when the ROI is not obvious.

3. Value – Businesses still don’t quite understand their dependency on technology.

How our IT support team creates a Disaster Recovery Plan?

  • Meet with management and establish the scope of the disaster recovery plan
  • Gather all relevant network information including infrastructure layout
  • Identify what management perceives as the most serious threats to the IT infrastructure
  • Identify what management perceives as the most serious vulnerabilities to the IT infrastructure
  • Review previous history of outages and disruptions and how they were handled
  • Identify what management perceives as the most critical IT assets
  • Determine the maximum outage time management can accept if the identified IT assets are unavailable
  • Identify the operational procedures currently used to respond to critical outages
  • Determine when these procedures were last tested to validate their appropriateness.

Once all information is compiled, all information should be put into a gap analysis report that identifies what is currently done versus what ought to be done.  This will include recommendations on how to achieve the required level of preparedness, and estimated investment required.

How can a Managed IT Services (MSP) provider help?

Managed IT Services (MSP) providers will perform backup monitoring of your local and Cloud as your trusted partner.  Ultimately, the disaster recovery pains are challenge for clients including time and money.  But the right partnerships can alleviate these pains, and as a result, make your disaster recovery plans all the more effective.

 

 

365 iT SOLUTIONS is a leading IT consulting firm in Toronto. We provide industry leading Managed IT ServicesIT Support ServicesIT Outsourcing ServicesTech Support Services and Cloud Services.

Take advantage of our Complimentary Network and Security Assessment by 365itSolutions.com

Welcome to Worry-Free iT!

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Industry Insights IT Solutions Managed IT Services

How to Protect Yourself from Ransomware CryptoLocker

The principle of Ransomware is simple. Usually it sneaks into a system disguised as an email attachment and, if opened, then proceeds to encrypt the files on your machine. When this has completed the virus deletes itself and tells the user that their data has been taken hostage and will only be released if they pay the demanded ransom for a key.

Now it’s back and this time the encryption is rock solid.

CryptoLocker is the latest Ransomware virus to strike unsuspecting users, and so far it’s proven impossible to crack. What’s more, it doesn’t just take all the data on your hard drive, it also searches for files on all drives and in all folders it can access from your computer: including workgroup shared files, servers, and more. Anything within its reach it encrypts.  Essentially the more privileged your account is, the worse the overall damage will be.

The removal of the virus itself is of little use to the victim, and shutting down the server that holds the key will only result in the loss of the decryption tool, plus this is difficult because the servers switch location on a weekly basis. So most people who suffer a CryptoLocker attack are given the simple advice of either paying the ransom or losing the data, but like in any hostage situation you can never guarantee that the criminals will honour their terms.

How to protect yourself from a Ransomware CryptoLocker attack?

Always perform regular full backups of your valuable data and then remove the drive from your computer, preferably storing it off-site.  Most people and organizations maintain a local and offsite backup therefore protecting all data and using a proper disaster recovery plan.  The most important step is to never, ever open a file or link in an email or on a social website unless you are sure it was deliberately sent by the person themselves.  It may seem interesting at the time, but the results can catastrophic.

We are unable to stop every attack but our actively managed toolset has enabled us to put policies into place that can prevent such attacks.  First line of defense such as corporate messaging spam and virus filter, firewall with active security and content filtering licences and managed anti-virus and malware protection.

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365 iT SOLUTIONS is a leading IT consulting firm in Toronto. We provide industry leading Managed IT ServicesIT Support ServicesIT Outsourcing ServicesTech Support Services and Cloud Services.

Take advantage of our Complimentary Network and Security Assessment by 365itSolutions.com

Welcome to Worry-Free iT!

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Industry Insights IT Solutions Managed IT Services

What is Cloud Services and Cloud Storage?

What is the Cloud?

Cloud computing takes a lot of the cost and stress out of sharing your applications, websites, files, etc. with others. Our Cloud Services incur all of the costs associated with buying and maintaining the hardware, leaving you to focus on the core needs of your business, and freeing up your time and money.  Pay for what you use as we provide a large amount of physical resources.

Cloud computing is so versatile that it can be used for anything from a single cloud server, to a whole set of hardware resources.  You choose how much memory, hard disk space, bandwidth, and CPU power you need and if you run out there is always more waiting.  If there is a hardware failure virtual servers are automatically moved to another host in the cloud and brought back online within a few seconds meaning downtime will be a thing of the past. Also, our easy to navigate control panel gives you instant access to backup and restore for all of your virtual servers from anywhere with internet access.

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365 iT SOLUTIONS is a leading IT consulting firm in Toronto. We provide industry leading Managed IT ServicesIT Support ServicesIT Outsourcing ServicesTech Support Services and Cloud Services.

Take advantage of our Complimentary Network and Security Assessment by 365itSolutions.com

Welcome to Worry-Free iT!

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Industry Insights IT Solutions Managed IT Services

Top 10 Questions When Hiring a Managed IT Services Provider

Q. Are the phones live or do you always have to leave a voice mail and wait for someone to call you back?

A. 365 iT SOLUTIONS is live on the phones.  Our Managed IT Services are proactively monitored 24/7.

Q. Are they offering a guaranteed response time (SLA) to all IT Support issues?

A. We offer guaranteed response times for all our Managed IT Services clients.

Q. Are they consistently and proactively offer new ways to improve your network infrastructure?

A. We review our client networks every six months to look for new ways to help improve their network operations.

Q. Do they provide detailed invoices that clearly explain what you are paying for?

A. We provide detailed billing invoices that show what work was done during the billing period.

Q. Do they carry proper errors and omissions insurance as well as WSIB?

A.  Our company carries proper insurance as well as proper WSIB clearance.

Q. Do they guarantee to complete projects on time and on budget?

A. We offer project guarantees on all projects therefore it is fixed priced and guaranteed.

Q. Do they monitor your network 24/7 to keep the network running securely?

A. We monitor all Managed IT Services Client networks 24/7 ensuring up time and secure.

Q. Do they have a team of technicians on staff that are familiar with your network?

A. We have a professional team with all client networks documented in our Management Software.

365 iT SOLUTIONS is a leading IT consulting firm in Toronto. We provide industry leading Managed IT ServicesIT Support ServicesIT Outsourcing ServicesTech Support Services and Cloud Services.

Take advantage of our Complimentary Network and Security Assessment by 365itSolutions.com

Welcome to Worry-Free iT!

 

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Industry Insights IT Solutions Managed IT Services

Legal and Accounting Firms Top Technology Issues

Technology changes every day, how does your firm stay up-to-date? Maintaining and implementing these four issues will significantly lessen the amount of time and money spent on technology issues as well as increase legal or accounting firm productivity.

Security & Privacy

All legal and accounting firms deal with sensitive materials. Security should be at the top of this list every year. These sensitive materials are being shared more than ever through Cloud storage systems and mobile devices such as Smartphones, Tablets, etc. The threat of these materials being misused is higher than ever, and something that every firm must be aware of when implementing new technologies.

Technology Implementation

Technology is always changing and change has always been difficult for firms and employees. For some employees more than others, it can cause frustration and bring negative energy into the workplace. Managers must keep technological initiatives in line with organizational goals as well as reducing stress levels on staff and seamless implementation. The motivation behind all initiatives must also be communicated well. Let your employees know why the new technology is being implemented, how it fits in with the goals of the firm, and how it will make their jobs easier.

Happy Employees = Productive Employees

Return on Investment

There is technology these days that can do anything. The question is which one is right for your organization. Many new technologies such as Cloud Computing and Smartphones allow firms to access, use, and manage information instantaneously from any location in the world. The challenge is to find the ones that are worth the investment. Go for proven technologies over new ones, and always stay within the budget when it comes to technology implementation.

Managing Service Providers

Firms are looking for companies to be an active partner in solving their issues. This requires investments in technology and the willingness to think long term, and to build the relationships needed to win trust and support. It is extremely important to pursue the most reliable providers of any service, whether it be Cloud Computing or Security systems. Though they might be more expensive than the less reliable providers, the potential problems including fraud and loss of  information that can stem from an unreliable provider outweigh their cost savings. Our agreement outline all terms and conditions of the service as well as how flexible the contract including no long-term agreement.

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365 iT SOLUTIONS is a leading IT consulting firm in Toronto. We provide industry leading Managed IT ServicesIT Support ServicesIT Outsourcing ServicesTech Support Services and Cloud Services.

Take advantage of our Complimentary Network and Security Assessment by 365itSolutions.com

Welcome to Worry-Free iT!

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Industry Insights IT Solutions Managed IT Services

365 iT SOLUTIONS New Website Announcement

365 iT SOLUTIONS is pleased to announce the release of our new website, designed with a fresh new look and user- friendly navigation, updated with the latest information about our products and services.

“Technology changes daily and the 365 iT SOLUTIONS team has helped use the latest technology to ensure maximum network uptime. By using their proactive managed IT services, they have ensured that our network is secure and our employees have access to a team of technical support team in a prompt and effective manner.”

365 iT SOLUTIONS is a leading IT consulting firm in Toronto. We provide industry leading Managed IT ServicesIT Support ServicesIT Outsourcing ServicesTech Support Services and Cloud Services.

Take advantage of our Complimentary Network and Security Assessment by 365itSolutions.com

365 iT SOLUTIONS visit us on Google+LinkedInFacebookTwitter and YouTube.

Welcome to Worry-Free iT!