Archives for September 2011

Why “Secure Encrypted Email” is necessary in today’s office.

Email encryption is crucial for any business that uses the internet for critical transactions. Corporate secrets and client information that is transmitted over the internet must be protected. In an age where anyone can intercept your information with a few clicks of a mouse, extra measures must be taken.

What exactly is email encryption? It is a security measure that is attached to your email that scrambles the information until it has reached its destination. What this does is prevent outsiders from receiving the information and using it for illegal purposes.

Businesses large and small benefit from the use of secure email but everyone is at risk when they have information transmitting over the internet. Cyber crime is the fastest growing criminal activity in the world. Extra precaution is necessary when sensitive data is transmitted. The interception of personal or product information can be devastating to a corporation.

Email encryption is required in many fields, such as medical and financial industry. Because the data that is transmitted by these corporations contains protected privacy matters, companies in these fields must use an encryption service. Using encrypted email to protect your client’s information will allow you to comply with all regulations in this area as well as instill a sense of security in your client’s minds. Everyone realizes that a stolen identity can be a life damaging experience. Clients will feel safe knowing your company takes every measure to protect their identity and information.

Email encryption is not hard to use nor is it expensive. Simple applications can be installed on your desktop or ran from an internet based server. Programs range from a simple encryption tool to a high tech service that can scan every outgoing email mail for sensitive information and either block its delivery or send it encrypted. A business can safely and cost-effectively protect themselves and their clients simply by using email encryption for all of their internet communications.

When it comes to simplifying your search for e-mail security, we can help. NMGI has many vendors to choose from and offers many benefits while keeping the system simple and affordable.  You can Exchange Confidential Information with business partners, patients, board members, and customers through highly secure e-mail.

So why is regular e-mail so unsafe? First of all there is no encryption. When a regular e-mail travels the Internet through multiple, unknown servers, the contents are sent clear-text, vulnerable to ease-dropping and sniffing. In addition those messages could be stored on various servers for an indefinite amount to time. Do you really want to shout your customers’ private information in a public forum?

Our encrypted email service uses end-to-end 256-bit AES encryption, so protected messages are encrypted before they leave the sender’s desktop, giving a very high level of security.

Secondarily there is no authentication. This means that one can send a message claiming to be whoever he or she wants. Just because a message says it’s from Mr. Smith, doesn’t mean that he actually composed the message. He may have no idea that someone is forging his name and address.

Every user of the system must prove his or her identity when sending or opening a protected message. This ensures that only intended recipients can read a message, and verifies who the message is from.

And finally, there is no certification.  Let’s say Mr. Smith sends you an e-mail. With regular e-mail, there is no way to confirm that when you receive the message that the contents have not been changed. Using digital signature hashes, our service verifies that the contents of all messages have not been altered while in transit.

Depending on your line of business, you may fall under one or more government or industry regulations that require your company to take certain steps to secure electronic communications pertaining to your operation. If you are involved in the health care industry, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) outlines how you must protect patient data. If you are in the financial services industry, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 (GLBA) requires you to protect non-public personal information. There are many other regulations and industry expectations that may apply to you, and even if there weren’t any, you owe it to your customers and clients to protect their data. If you are not using an e-mail product that protects data AND authenticates users, you are at risk of running afoul with government regulations.

Network Management Group, Inc. (NMGI) Can Help

Call our team today to get the strongest possible security features with respect to both encryption and authentication, satisfying the legal and ethical requirements that you must address. Visit our site for more information about Secured Email.

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Five Challenges You Need to Address About “Going Virtual”

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Has any topic attracted more attention than virtualization in IT departments these days? It’s not likely. Research bellwether Gartner Inc. has dubbed virtualization “the highest-impact issue changing infrastructure and operations through 2012.” ¹

 

That being the case, it’s not surprising that virtualization introduces new challenges into IT environments as they become increasingly both physical and virtual. This Tech Brief looks at five key challenges that you need to be aware of as you deploy – or continue to deploy – virtualization.

Challenge #1: Can you manage both physical and virtual platforms efficiently?
Management software and processes that work in the physical server environment don’t always work in a virtual environment. That can lead to a number of complexities and inefficiencies, such as higher costs for training, software, and operations. According to Symantec’s most recent IT Disaster Recovery Research Report, 35% of respondents cited “too many different tools” as the biggest challenge in protecting mission-critical data and applications in physical and virtual environments. Managing both environments on one platform with a single set of tools reduces “sprawl.”

Challenge #2: Are you maximizing your storage investments as you deploy storage for virtual environments?
Gartner is on the record as stating that “server virtualization solutions and projects often reduced storage visibility, management, utilization and subsequently increased storage costs.” ² The fact is, storage management in virtual environments is more challenging. Make sure your storage management strategy spans both environments and can provide end-to-end visibility, monitoring, analysis, and active testing.

Challenge #3: How confident are you about the processes for backing up and recovering your virtual machines and their data?
As effective as virtualization is for maximizing server utilization, it can create problems for data protection. The proliferation of servers can make backup configuration more time-consuming, increase storage requirements, and complicate backups and restores. Support for advanced technologies such as off-host backup or block-level incremental backup becomes critical to overcoming the performance and bandwidth constraints associated with virtual environments. Data deduplication can reduce the backup storage required for backups and disaster recovery.

Challenge #4: When applications running in your virtual machines fail, are you alerted?
You don’t hear much about it, but virtualization can decrease application visibility and recoverability. That’s because native server virtualization HA tools usually lack the ability to monitor the health of the applications running inside virtual machines. So if there’s an application failure, no action is taken to remediate the problem. Also, native disaster recovery features don’t completely automate recovery at the DR site, and they don’t make failback to the production site easy. This can mean longer downtime, which is unacceptable if these happen to be mission-critical apps. Make sure your HA/DR solution can detect and automate the failover of applications on both virtual and physical servers.

Challenge #5: Do you know what needs to be considered when moving from physical to virtual endpoints?
Multiple configurations and computing models are the norm in today’s enterprise. Desktops and laptops, rich clients and thin clients, physical desktops and virtual desktops, shared systems and dedicated systems all have their place. To be successful, endpoint virtualization, the next big wave after server virtualization, must be approached as part of an overall strategy to decrease PC total cost of ownership and increase end-user productivity.

Conclusion
Virtualization can provide a host of benefits – if you do the proper up-front planning. And that means making sure your virtualization strategy doesn’t stint on storage management, data protection, High Availability/Disaster Recovery, and endpoint virtualization.

¹ “How to Reduce Your PC TCO 30% in 2011,” Troni, Gammage, Silver, March 20, 2009
² “Gartner Magic Quadrant for Storage Resource Management and SAN Management Software,” Filks, Passmore, June 22, 2009

 

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used with permission from Symantec

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5 Steps to Create and Execute a Technology Plan

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As an owner or business executive have you ever contemplated your business objectives and come to realize that your technology is in the way of your plans?

 

Have you had a great idea about improving business operations or productivity and found out that you just don’t have the right computer systems, or that it will cost a ton of money to upgrade? Would you like to know what the new trends are and how they could benefit you?

Technology planning helps answer the above questions and many more that you may not think to ask. The primary goal of a technology plan is to support your business plan objectives and to keep productivity and compliance issues front and center. Here are the five steps in creating and executing a Technology Plan.

HAVE A VISION

This is where your mindset needs to be on the vision for your company as a whole.

First, picture the business as you want it to be, paying no mind to technology – just the business. Out of this exercise will come ideas of how your business should perform as a whole.

Do you see what you want your staff to be able to do, what roadblocks or bottlenecks you want to be eliminated, what job function you would like to see automated, etc.?

Thinking about it this way takes the actual technology (hardware, software, etc.) out of the picture and gives you an infinite number of possibilities to get where you want to go. This will give you a better idea of what you need to do.

EVALUATE WHAT YOU HAVE

Now get together with your IT provider or your CTO (Chief Technology Officer) and draw out exactly what systems you have. This should be a visual representation of your systems and processes. The document should provide comprehensive details regarding the systems, versions, Internet Service Providers, security, and risk related to hardware and software age, as well as compliance with regulations.

MAP YOUR ROUTE

There may be many ways to get to your planned destination. Technology changes rapidly, but that gives you options you may not have had even just last year. Considerations for which path you should take need to include your budget, your risk tolerance, legal compliance, anticipated company growth or contraction, and necessity for change.

This is where your CTO or IT provider will present you with all of the technology options for how your business can get from your current position to your vision.

BUILD THE PLAN

Building your plan is a simple matter of understanding the goal and putting budgets and dates together to execute the plan. A solid technical architect is required to design and compile the appropriate solutions that meet your expectations. The design process should include a hybrid of all technical options available.

START THE JOURNEY

The actual execution of a technology plan can be challenging to say the least, but it should not be so frustrating that you wish you had not started the process. A good technical team will be able to make the transition relatively painless.

 

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Post written by Courtney Kaufman, Marketing Manager of Accent Computer Solutions, Inc.

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Randy Johnston Named 2011 Accounting Today Top 100

Congratulations to Randy Johnston for the honor of being named 2011 Accounting Today Top 100 People. Read his bio in Accounting Today magazine. http://j.mp/n8fyWH

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