Small Business Technology & Advice

Why You Need a Secure Office Network

Posted by on Jul 30, 2015

data-key-571156_1280            If you need a bad example of office network security, here it comes. The American parliament supervisory committee heard on Tuesday June 16 what Katherine Archuleta, director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), had to say about double theft of personal data which it has suffered- the extent of which remains as of yet undetermined. This is why it is so crucial to hire a trustworthy and competent IT support company to manage your business affairs.

For the president of the commission, MP Chaffetz, it is simple- Katherine Archuleta has “totally and completely failed” to achieve any goal of securing the information systems of OPM. Chaffetz emphasized that the warnings were not missed, including those coming from the Inspector General. “Incident after incident” led to the recommendation to close some systems last year, “and you, you’ve made the conscious decision to keep it open, to let vulnerable information be stolen.” To these warning, Archuleta replied that she did not see a concrete risk at the time. When asked if she could see the risk now, Katherine evaded the question, trying to defend herself by noting the age of the system and ensuring that they were “working to the best of our ability.” Unceremoniously Mulvanet answered, “that’s what frightens me, Mrs. Archuleta, that that’s the best of your ability.”

The problem of Obsolescence

The lack of encryption of certain data, starting with the Social Security numbers of US officials, seems to have particularly crystallized tensions. But Katherine Archuleta, SI OPM did not lend itself to the simple and rapid implementation of encryption. In addition, she said, the access rights obtained by the attackers would have allowed them to override this protection.

But the challenge currently facing the OPM, is broader than this single issue. And remember she took office 18 months ago, and although aware of security problems SI OPM, she presented a strategic modernization plan in February 2014. She said the system information, which she described as considerably dilapidated, is covered by 10 million confirmed intrusion attempts each month. Two have clearly succeeded. The fruit of “decades of neglect” has been recognized by some members of the commission.

This provides a more comprehensive look that Michael R. Esser, assistant inspector general, will find it hard to challenge. Indeed, in his statement, he recognized the progress made in the OPM in IT security since 2012. And to emphasize further the existence of an operational security center operating continuously, the OPM since 2014 also showed some improvement. But the office, however, has “not yet implemented a continuous monitoring program.” So for him, the evolution of the IT governance structure of OPM produced positive results, but “it appears that [the OPM office] continues to be negatively affected by years of governance of decentralized security” including the fact that a “technical infrastructure remains fragmented and thus by design difficult to protect.”

A question of Priorities

However negative for Katherine Archuleta, 21 systems out of 47 were to be audited before receiving authorization in 2014. For 11 of them, the final exam could not be finished in time. But they continued to operate without validation. A point at which the boss’s office responded with another priority: pay retirees their pensions, among others. But for Michael R. Esser, another critical point appears: of the 11 systems concerned that “count by the most critical and sensitive applications of the agency”; two of them “are support systems that are home to several major applications; over 65% of all systems operated by OPM rely on one of these two support systems. ” And if the OPM has deployed new security tools for the inspector general, “all these tools are not used to their full capacity.” Configuration flaws that prevent, for example, the analysis of some servers looking for malicious activity.

In addition, the office is equipped with a system of information management and security events (SIEM) “but at the time of our report Fisma 2014, this tool was collecting data on 80% of major IT systems OPM “. Worse, the office seems unable to really know its computer -“we have also determined that the OPM does not maintain a centralized and updated inventory of all servers and databases in its network.”

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Online Training: Convenient? Or a Disaster Waiting to Happen?

Posted by on Jun 12, 2015

With more people turning to the Internet for online education, it’s possible to earn a degree without attending classes physically. The same is now true for most trades such as accounting, law, and even the operation of heavy machinery. This is fantastic as it saves time, money, and allows you the flexibility to learn whenever and wherever. e-learningNow, anybody who wishes to have a career as a forklift operator, for example, can get certified in their pajamas through online training. Some do not believe that this is a good idea for trades where hands-on training is clearly expected and necessary. We’ll focus on forklift training for this article but it applies to other trades as well.

Since the idea of online training for heavy machinery was introduced, a lot of people have questioned its legitimacy. Online forklift training certifications are a real thing, but the question is not whether it is legal or not, but is it as effective as real training? Sadly, the answer is no. So if your company is out to hire forklift operators, or any other type of tradesman that requires hands-on training, it’s understandable if you’re wary about anybody with an online training certificate.


Practical Experience Versus Theories

What online training programs for forklift operations do is give learners all the necessary lectures and modules needed for the job. This means an in-depth lesson on forklift parts, different types of forklifts, uses and other basic information. This is something that online and real training both offer.

However, what online training lacks is sadly the most important part of the training process: practical experience. To get a feel of what it’s like to operate a forklift, you must sit on the cabin and use the controls. Forklift navigation is something that cannot be taught through words alone and the only way to get better at it is to spend as much time as possible with the actual machine.

Another problem with Internet training courses is that there is no final exam, except for a written one. In traditional training programs, trainees go for a test run, and their employer will evaluate them according to their performance. This is how employers see first-hand the results of the training session.

With online certifications, these vital elements are missing and therefore, someone who has finished forklift training through online certification is just as good as someone who has never undergone training. True, they know all the facts related to forklift operations, but they lack practical experience.


What This Means For Your Company

If an applicant has this type of certification on their resume, it doesn’t really mean much for your company. You see, the reason why traditional training works is because most of them are customized to fit with the company’s industry. Training modules are built around what type of business you have, what forklift types are used and what the terrain looks like. An online certification doesn’t give much of an advantage over having none at all.

If your company is planning one for your employees, remember that traditional is always better. Forklifting is a job that benefits from practical experiences, rather than just theories. Beware that money spent on online training certifications is just wasted money. When your employees finish training, there will be little to no change in terms of skill level.

So if you are tempted to join the online forklift training certification bandwagon, don’t. It might be more convenient, but it sacrifices a lot for that convenience. It’s just like driving a car – if drivers can get their licenses online, would you trust one to drive a car for you? Of course most people would rather put their trust in someone who has actually driven a car as part of their driving lessons.

It’s the same with forklifts. In fact, operating a forklift requires more skill than driving a car, and a machine like that should be entrusted to one who has practical experience with the real thing.

Internet training is ideal for many industries and shouldn’t be overlooked. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages in many cases. However for some trades, such as forklift operation, online training is only good when coupled with a real-life In-person hands-on forklift trainer, and shouldn’t be relied on as the only source.

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Paris’ Startup Scene Is On The Rise

Posted by on Mar 25, 2015

While France has never been in the foreground of entrepreneurial innovation, a flourishing new startup culture has recently started to establish itself in the Parisian business world. The French startup ecosystem has began to gain momentum thanks to improved legislation, increased funding by venture capitalists and angel investors, as well as the fact that France is finally taking advantage of its pool of strong engineering talent.

There have been a number of initiatives born in recent years that have supported the country’s shift towards innovation and entrepreneurship.  “Le French Tech“, for example, is a publicly funded initiative that aims to bring together all the people working in the startup community in a joint effort to promote the country’s innovative companies to Silicon Valley investors and attract new funding.

Even more importantly, new Paris-based accelerators like “the Family”, have started to support early-stage startups by offering education opportunities, access to mentors, business connections,  as well as working and living accommodations. Furthermore, in 2016 Paris will house what is billed as the “world’s largest digital business incubator”. This project, which is suitably named “1000 Start-ups” will host 1000 young companies at the renovated Halle Freyssinet building, right at the center of the city.

There is also a crop of Paris-based startups that have started to grow and expand outside of the country’s borders, leading the way for new entrepreneurs. The childcare platform Yoopies, which launched at the beginning of 2012, now operates in five European countries while maintaining its headquarters in the French capital.  The company matches parents with childcare providers using the power of social recommendations. Its plans for the future include a move into different homecare services like housekeeping.

Evaneos, another Paris-based startup, provides an online platform to help travelers design, estimate the cost, and book personalised trips by connecting them to local agents.  It competes with traditional European tour operators and has recently managed to raise $6 million in Series B funding to support its growth in the European travel industry.

There are many other smaller startup ventures that are trying to innovate in traditional markets.  Smarter Paris is a young company that has created a sleek new travel guide for the French capital that is 100% made in Paris and is available for iPhones and iPads. The team of Parisian editors creates exclusive content, including guided walks around different neighborhoods in Paris, and shares with users unique tips and secrets about the city.

While the first foundations have been laid in Paris for a startup ecosystem that is going to thrive in the future, it will take generations of companies for it to be able to compete with the more mature and established scenes in London and Berlin. What is needed most in Paris is for startups to be able to have greater access to affordable working spaces, technical talent and growth financing options.

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A Simple Guide to Cloud Computing For Businesses

Posted by on Feb 15, 2015

IT imageCloud Computing is actually a pretty basic concept and, more or less, ever so present in our lives today. If you spend time on the internet, there is a good a chance that you’ve already used cloud computing in some shape or form. An example would be an e-mail account with a Web-based mail service, such as, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail and, of course, Gmail. So what happens is that, instead of running the e-mail program on your very own personal computer, you log in to an e-mail account remotely. The major software and storage systems for your email account don’t exist in your computer – it’s on the chosen service provider’s computer cloud. That’s what cloud computing is essentially for, helping you to get all the necessary service and ease of software without sacrificing any storage space or worrying about constant maintenance for it.

Now thinking about it in a business setting, what cloud computing can do to your budding business venture is to remove tons of data and different IT functions from your office or headquarters and transfer the data to another plane. Sounds very magical, don’t you think? Of course, your company data doesn’t really just float around in the clouds, as the name would suggest, but it will ultimately be found in your service provider’s data centre, which could be located anywhere, really, depending on where your chosen cloud computing provider is based. Basically, a company in a remote location with their own machines and computers, which are owned and maintained by a team of knowledgeable experts who would run everything for you, from basic e-mail accounts and the usual word processing to a much more advanced and complex data analysis programs.

Cloud computing service providers are literally everywhere these days. You can choose to outsource from local or international companies. There are countless of pros and cons between the two and it will take too long for me to list but, I personally like service providers that are found locally, like for example, Prosyn, leading managed IT service provider who offer cloud computing in London. The reason that I like local cloud computing service providers is because I personally feel that my company’s data is more secured and stored in such a way that complies with my own country’s rules and regulations, and, of course, they will ultimately be easily contactable and accessible.

Major benefits can immediately be felt when you upgrade your company to the Cloud . For one, a significant workload shift will immediately be noticed. Your very own computers will no longer have to do all of the heavy lifting work and all the nitty-gritty details that come along with it, when it comes to running applications. The network of computers, which make up the cloud system from the service provider that you employ, will ultimately handle all of it instead. Another would be that the software and other hardware demands on your company’s side will also decrease. Making this choice very cost effective. The only thing that your computer needs to be able to run is the cloud computing system’s interface software that is to be provided to you by your chosen service supplier, which can be as simple as a web browser – then the cloud’s network takes care of the rest of it (repairs, maintenance and whatnot).

So what are you waiting for? I suggest you go research on the best cloud service providers in your town now to get to experience all of these benefits.


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How to Harness Technology to Improve your Small Business

Posted by on Feb 14, 2015


In a fast paced and rapidly changing world around us, an entrepreneur must keep up or face the loses. This statement is especially true and observable in the sector of IT and technology, where utilizing and upgrading can bring you big profits. New businesses and well established alike must use the new possibilities and technologies in order to stay competitive on the market and up their game, because, if you don’t do it – someone else will. They will be faster, cheaper and better than you. So, what can you do to use some of the magic?

Small-business-appsUsing smart phones and tablets not only for improved communication but for business organization and file sharing is a growing trend. And the reason for it is pretty obvious. There is no need to explain how out of the office worker benefits the company by sending an e-mail with necessary files attached or using a file-sharing app to share his or hers work progress with the rest of the team. Cutting down time and resources is everything and it can give you a winning edge.

With new apps like Google Analytics, your business can come to life, quite graphically, right in front of your eyes. Data presentation of everything that is going on with your enterprise can show you where to change things and what you are doing well. Simple app can show you where you internet traffic is concentrated, what to improve and how one action affects other ones.

Cloud-Solutions-for-Small-BusinessesSharing your company’s data on cloud means that everything is available to your employees for a small charge or even free. Accessibility makes business process faster, more reliable and people work better in an environment where data is exchanged instantly. This speed and upgrade in communication will save you time and resources, make you cheaper and more competitive on the market.

Industrial espionage is not a matter of joke or fantasy, it’s a real thing, and stuff like that happens. even if there isn’t anyone interested in stealing your data – there is always a chance that you or someone in your firm will lose a phone full of sensitive company data. Securing it using data encryption apps can save you a lot of time and money, so make sure to be aware of this aspect of business. Smart phone lose and theft a big reason to be careful, since they are one of the top reasons for businesses to go under. These apps are usually cheap, and even if you pay a lot, they will pay off, since security is a big business factor.

Web Conferencing
Meetings with your employees or clients can be hard, especially if they are, say, on a different continent? Why, wouldn’t you like to cut down on your expenses by turning on your laptop and simply talking to them via internet? Conference sharing apps are usually free and do not require any additional hardware, you just need a camera, a microphone and internet connection. They can join multiple users, and create virtual meetings for a dozen of people without any of them walking an inch.


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