Fighting Fire with Fire: Automating Cybersecurity

One of the major cybersecurity concerns of today is how attacks are now frequently automated, making it intensely difficult for a human being to successfully keep up with threats. As a result, it only makes sense to automate your cybersecurity measures as well. There are a few ways that you can do just that. Crunching the Numbers Regardless of how much data you collect, just collecting it isn’t going to benefit your organization all that much – especially when it concerns your security. It also needs to be processed and analyzed, which is simply too big of a job to be done manually. By compiling data from multiple internal and external sources, a business can better predict how threats will play out, as well as identify those that it hasn’t yet encountered. By utilizing machine learning and automation technologies, this compilation and processing is a much simpler, faster, and more accurate process, bringing your business improved security measures. Furthermore, many businesses face a lack of security-oriented employees. Automation can help make up the difference, reducing the burden on whatever resources they do have to protect their network. How Automation Benefits Cybersecurity There are multiple ways that adopting automation can deliver improvements to your cybersecurity. Data-Supported Inferences By sequencing data collected from within your organization, along with data provided by security vendors and other sources, you can use this data to draw conclusions and make predictions about threats, enabling you to catch them more effectively. Outpacing Attacks with Protections Cybersecurity is effectively an arms race – as new threats are discovered, new preventative measures need to be implemented to keep them from spreading. Of course, by the time a threat is discovered, it has often already moved on to its next step. This means that these steps need to be predicted and protected in order to stop them. Automated defenses are the most effective means to foil an automated attack, as they are more efficient and accurate. Detecting Threats in the Network When a network fails to deter a cyberthreat, it doesn’t immediately become a data breach – and automated protections can effectively analyze data to prevent such an outcome. Since a human being can’t hope to keep up with one of these threats, automation is your best bet at detecting, identifying, and resolving them. SRS Networks is here to help you implement the cybersecurity necessary to protect your business’ resources, including automated measures. To learn more, reach out to us at (831) 758-3636.

Before you Buy VoIP, Evaluate Your Network

First, it will help to establish how bandwidth works. How Bandwidth is Different Than Speed Picture an escalator, going up, with a large group of people seeking to get to the second floor. As the escalator moves at a constant speed, each person ultimately reaches the top, one at a time. Now, imagine that instead of one escalator, there’s a row of them, all going up. While these escalators aren’t moving any faster, the entire group of people will get to the second floor more efficiently. This is effectively how greater bandwidth allows faster data transfer speeds without the data technically moving any faster. A larger bandwidth just means that more data can be moved at once. However, this also means that you could potentially reach a point of diminishing returns if you invest in excessive bandwidth – remember, the data isn’t moving any faster with greater bandwidth, it’s just that more of it can move at once. Therefore, if you invest in more bandwidth than your data requires, you are spending money unnecessarily – something that businesses are often prone to do. Naturally, this is something that you should avoid. How Bandwidth Can Influence Your Business Your available bandwidth can have an impact on your business, simply by limiting what you can effectively accomplish at a given time based on what is going on at any given moment. While many of the tasks that go on during the normal course of business will use a minimal amount of bandwidth, some will take up much more – including VoIP calls, webinars, backups, and other processes. However, you can avoid many complications that can result from insufficient bandwidth by taking some precautions – for instance, intentionally throttling some types of content to help conserve some bandwidth, or scheduling bandwidth-intensive tasks (like uploading a backup) to after hours, when there would otherwise be minimal use of the network. It also helps to have an idea of your bandwidth requirements. How Your Network Can Be Evaluated There are numerous ways to estimate how much bandwidth you need. An Internet speed test can give you an estimate of where your business currently stands, when compared to your approximate network traffic. Speedtest.net is a good resource to turn to for this assessment. This isn’t the only factor that should be taken into account as you look into adopting a VoIP solution, however. There are others that you need to consider as well, such as: Mean Opinion Score (MOS)As an opinion-based metric, the MOS was once completely sourced from human feedback. As it applies to VoIP, it is sourced from algorithmic analysis of three different metrics (listening quality, conversational quality, and transmission quality) to give a score between 0 (or incoherent) and 5 (excellent quality). In business, the higher the quality of your calls, the better. Quality of Service (QoS)Similarly to the MOS, your VoIP solution’s QoS is a major factor in how successful your implementation of VoIP can be considered, and is heavily influenced by your available bandwidth. JitterJitter is the term used to describe any delays in the delivery of data packets over a network, creating choppy or lagging sound transmission. These packets are usually delivered at a fairly consistent rate, which is what you want. Latency (or Ping Rate)This is the delay that […]

Conferencing Enhances Mobile Work

Conferencing solutions are available which can be used across all different platforms, across different devices. The attendees can partake in a conference call on a Mac, an iPhone, or even a tablet. Improving the tools you use to conference call your employees or clients will greatly improve the attitude typically associated with meetings. No longer will they be too long or boring, or just a waste of energy.  Different conferencing solutions offer a variety of different features, but there are a few that you should really look for when selecting a solution. These are… Screen Sharing Screen sharing is simple. It allows you to take your screen, everything you are looking at, and share it with meeting attendees. You can navigate pages or complete different tasks just as you normally would, except to an audience.  Real-Time Chat Different conferencing solutions allow you to send messages in real-time, which likely was a factor in the naming of this feature. Being able to do so allows you to message your coworker to mute their mic as they chomp down on crunchy chips, which could save a client.  Drawing Tools Drawing tools might seem like they belong in the classroom, but visual learners strongly benefit from this feature. This tool brings conferencing great value when combined with the screen sharing feature.  Meeting Recording Being able to record meetings means you don’t have to keep pushing the meeting back if someone is unable to attend. It also allows you to look back and listen to the most critical points of the meeting.  There are so many more features that can be used to make conferencing more efficient. Our trained experts at SRS Networks can answer any questions you may have, so give us a call at (831) 758-3636 today!

Cloud Options Fuel Growth

Let’s review how cloud computing can be harnessed to your business’ advantage. Flexibility and Scalability Thanks to how a cloud solution functions, it is especially easy for your business to operate in the way that suits it best. By leveraging the cloud, your employees would no longer be restricted to only working from your office space, instead being able to access their work from any secure Internet connection. As a result, your employees have the chance to work more effectively, more often. Furthermore, cloud computing allows you to scale your business’ available resources to best suit your needs. By using cloud resources for your computing needs, concerns about over- or under-investing in the solutions your business requires become a non-issue, and you are able to expand your business at an optimal rate. Cost Savings On a related note, investing in the cloud allows you to optimize your IT spend… otherwise, you’d have to invest in all of the necessary infrastructure for an in-house solution, plus the maintenance of your systems. When you subscribe to a cloud solution, these costs are replaced by a predictable service fee, allowing you to better manage your company’s finances and invest more into your growth. Security Unfortunately, it is only too easy to fall into bad habits when it comes to cybersecurity, which can leave your business’ data vulnerable to threats like malware, ransomware, hardware corruption, or even disaster events and other common causes of data loss. While they are not completely infallible, cloud service providers typically have more experience and better resources to help keep your data secure, as well as the motivation to do so. Productivity and Efficiency Finally, few things help a business to grow as much as being able to operate productively. As we discussed above, the secure access that a properly configured cloud solution can give your employees allows them to work effectively, from anywhere. This leads to improved potential productivity, as well as increased freedom for your employees to work as they do best. If cloud computing sounds like it could play a role in your operations, reach out to SRS Networks at (831) 758-3636. We can help you adopt a solution that works for you.

Tech Terminology: Uptime

Uptime: the Anti-Downtime Uptime is the goal. All this hand wringing about downtime is all to keep your business’ technology working for your staff. At SRS Networks, we look at it as risk avoidance. If your systems are up and running as intended, there is very little risk that whatever your business does, it can do. That’s not to say that it will be successful from more uptime, but it sure can’t hurt.  Your average business has a fairly complex IT infrastructure, insofar as it has a lot of different machines connected together to allow for maximum effectiveness. Servers, workstations, networking equipment, printers and copiers, and other pieces of technology. Each of these pieces of technology has a chance to cause operational downtime. In fact, a faulty keyboard or mouse is enough to keep some people from being productive. Uptime is a metric calculated to correspond with productivity, but really it is the story of maintenance.  At SRS Networks, we work hard to maximize uptime. We use state-of-the-art tools to monitor, manage, and maintain each piece of our clients’ infrastructure for one purpose, to promote a work environment that has optimal uptime. Since downtime can come from almost anywhere, it’s important to prioritize the creation of information systems that are easy to maintain. In the IT world, uptime is the goal, as it gives the end user the best chance at achieving success.  How We Can Help Build Uptime Our business is based on the uptime/downtime paradigm shifting dramatically in our clients’ favor. We try to accomplish this in several ways. These include: Hardware procurement – Offering clients hardware options to meet their operational and security needs. Professional installation – We will ensure that all tools are professionally installed to give your organization the best chance to succeed. Bulletproof networking – Networking is a huge part of the modern workplace. We set up all wired and wireless network connections, routers, switches, and all other network related equipment to the highest standards. This ensures that data flow and network access are optimally set up and maintained.  Remote monitoring – For information systems to maximize uptime, there have to be proactive efforts made. We remotely monitor and maintain all network attached machines, eliminating any significant downtime in the process. Backup and Disaster Recovery – Having a redundant and actively available data backup is proven to reduce downtime in the face of a data loss scenario. Help Desk – If end users have problems with their individual workstations, our comprehensive help desk service is a great resource to resolve problems and reduce downtime.  To talk to our expert consultants about how we can help you get control over your IT and work to reduce or eliminate downtime you have to deal with give us a call today at (831) 758-3636.

The Usefulness of the Hybrid Cloud and Its Costs

Many businesses, concerned about the security of their data have some trepidation about pulling the trigger on moving to a cloud platform. For these companies, private cloud servers may fit their needs, but the money spent designing the right cloud solution, implementing it, and constantly maintaining it may be outside of their budget constraints. Today, businesses have found a solution, that is creating a hybrid cloud environment that allows them to protect the applications and data they need the most control over, while still utilizing public cloud resources that allow them to curtail costs a bit. There are extra costs associated with moving to a hybrid cloud, however. They will likely still be more attractive than the costs your business would incur with only a private cloud infrastructure, but they are going to cost you more than utilizing only public cloud resources. Some additional costs that you should be aware of include: Management  Managing a hybrid cloud environment brings some additional challenges. When managing private cloud resources, your IT administrator only needs to focus on managing the servers and network. With a hybrid, IT admins are now being asked to manage the on-premise cloud as well as the public cloud (or clouds) you choose to integrate into the hybrid environment. More coverage means more cost. Integration and Customization The whole benefit of the hybrid cloud, apart from the initial cost savings you’ll see by incorporating public cloud resources, is that you will be able to set up your IT infrastructure in a way where it works best for your business. To do this, it will likely take more time dealing with cloud vendors and finding the right setup. Software In order for the hybrid cloud to be effective, you will need an integration platform that provides the ability for on premise-hosted applications and data to work with externally-hosted applications and data. This software, often called middleware, will take time and effort to properly incorporate. Storage The long-term storage costs associated with a hybrid cloud rollout can be wildly variable, so setting up the platform to account for volume growth at the beginning has to be a consideration as adding it as you go could get extraordinarily complicated.  Compliance Most businesses have to meet some type of regulatory compliance and, if using a hybrid platform, all of their external resources will have to be audited to ensure that they meet the standards put forth by the regulatory body, whether they be mandated by federal or state agencies or from an industry-based body. A hybrid cloud system is an advantageous platform for any business if you can handle the massive amount of considerations and variable costs that come with integrating one. For more information, call the IT professionals at SRS Networks today at (831) 758-3636.

5 Benefits Your Business Could See from IoT Technology

Improved Customer Service Regardless of whether you operate in the B2C or B2B space, you need to be sure that your clients/customers are satisfied with the products, services, and experience you provide them. The IoT can help improve these.  Whether you follow the lead of some grocery stores, and outfit shopping carts with displays that offer recipe suggestions based on the shopper’s proximity to certain ingredients, or you work in distribution, leveraging smart trackers to enable your customers to check the progress of their purchases – there is effectively no limit to the ways that the IoT can be leveraged to benefit your target, and the more satisfied they are, the more likely they are to return to your services. Increased Productivity A business that, for whatever reason, can’t operate productively is one that isn’t going to be around for very long. There are a few ways that the IoT can help to boost the inherent productivity of a business. For instance, by using the IoT to monitor their supply levels throughout a production run, manufacturers can use the IoT to make educated predictions based on historical data – and that’s just one, very specific example. There are many other ways to boost productivity with the IoT’s support. Critical tasks and meetings can be scheduled around the times that IoT solutions record high levels of productivity, and rote tasks can be automated through IoT devices so employee time can be spent more wisely. A Safer Work Environment In higher-risk workplaces, the IoT can be used to help better ensure the safety of the employees you have on the job. Consider those who work in construction – wearables could be used to keep track of them on the worksite. Offices can be made more secure with video surveillance and connected smart locks to help control access. However, it is important to acknowledge that the IoT is still pretty unstandardized when it comes to its own security. This is why you will want to work with a provider like SRS Networks to ensure you aren’t trading your organizational security for (most likely short-lived) productivity. Streamlined Costs Let’s touch back on productivity once again, and discuss how some of the same capabilities can help decrease your overall operational costs. We mentioned how there are some tasks that can be automated through the IoT, but what we haven’t mentioned yet is how doing so can help save you some capital to invest elsewhere. Think about it: by automating tasks, you are eliminating the need for one of your employees to take the time and complete those same tasks. Therefore, not only are these tasks completed more efficiently, but your employees can take the time they would have spent on them to accomplish other things – effectively doubling your output. Greater Data Insights Finally, the Internet of Things can be a great tool to help you collect crucial business metrics and other data samples to leverage toward improving your operations. Whether you use the historical data you have collected through the IoT to build a predictive model, build customer profiles, or solve your other challenges, the IoT is a hugely beneficial resource to harness. While there are still some security concerns to the IoT, SRS Networks can help you select and secure solutions that will […]

Tip of the Week: How to Use PowerPoint as a Training Tool

Here, we’ll review the benefits that using PowerPoint can bring, as well as what you will want to include in the training materials you create. Why PowerPoint for Training Purposes? PowerPoint is an effective training tool for a variety of reasons – not the least of which is that it is effectively a multimedia platform. Allowing you to present information both visibly and via spoken word, PowerPoint gives you a platform to really reinforce the lessons you want to impart. Now, while there are many tools that PowerPoint includes to assist users in presenting whatever materials they have more effectively, we’re going to focus on one particular web-based feature: Presenter Coach. Presenter Coach does more or less what it sounds like it would do: it allows a user to practice their presentation, catching them as they fall back on undesirable public-speaking habits. The official video from the Microsoft Office 365 YouTube account explains it best: So, in a way, PowerPoint can not only help you train your users… it can help you improve your own abilities to train others. To activate it, open up the presentation in PowerPoint for the web. On the Slide Show tab, click Rehearse with Coach. (This option is also under the View tab for some users). What to Include in Your Training Of course, regardless of how well you present it, your training is only as effective as the content that goes into it. As you are creating your materials, it is important that you do so in an organized fashion. Here are a few tips to help you get started. Identify the need that this training should address. In other words, what do you want to teach your team about? What should they know how to do better than before they participated? Keeping this need in mind will help you to keep your training concise and targeted, making it more effective at communicating your specific lesson. Determine what information to include based on the lesson and who you are speaking to. If your training only applies to a given department in your business, use specifics in your presentation to better illustrate your points and drive the message home. However, if the training applies to everyone – as cybersecurity lessons do – make sure you discuss the topic in basic terms that everyone can grasp and put into action. Include visuals, calls for questions, and individual sections to ensure that each topic is understood. Incorporating visual aids and separating your points into their own distinct slides can make the information you are trying to get across clearer to your audience. You should also encourage your team to ask questions throughout the training, and remind them that they can always ask these questions if they are ever unsure. You training doesn’t stop once your presentation is over. You could have designed the best presentation of your life, but if nothing has changed after you deliver it, you need to go back to the drawing board. Be sure that your staff knows that they can give you honest feedback without any backlash from you. Give these tips a try, and feel free to reach out to SRS Networks for more assistance with your productivity tools.

Understanding the Motives of Hackers

To accomplish this, let’s examine the various types of hackers out there, and what it is that drives them to do what they do. Identifying Hackers, Based on Why They Hack “Hacker” is one of those blanket terms that most people take a lot of liberties with. However, like most blanket terms, one of its potential uses is focused upon much more heavily than the others. When you hear the word, what picture pops into your head? If you’re like most people, probably the image that pop culture has encouraged: someone sitting in a dark room, only lit by the glow of their monitors, typing furiously at their keyboards while line after line of data scrolls down their screens. This isn’t all that accurate. The Types of Hacker In actuality, there are many distinct categories of hacker, based on the motivations they have and their approach to accomplishing their goals. Originally, there were just two categories, inspired by the costuming conventions once found in Western movies. The hero typically wore a white Stetson, while the villain’s hat was traditionally black. However, as more complicated motives became apparent, more categories of hacker arose. Primary Varieties of Hacker and Their Motivations White Hat: These hackers are those who, going through the proper established channels, hacks into programs to help improve these programs’ security protocols. Anyone who assists you in running penetration tests or vulnerability assessments fits into this category, as their intention is to help keep your systems safe. Black Hat: These hackers are the ones most people think about – the ones who you are afraid of targeting your business. Motivated by their own personal gain or ill will towards their target, these hackers intend to do some kind of harm by stealing credit card information or by leveraging other methods. Grey Hat: Much like the color grey is the combination of black and white, a grey hat hacker is a blend of black hat and white hats. As such, while grey hat hackers have helped bring quite a bit of evidence to light and share it with the public, the tactics they leverage come from a black hat hacker’s playbook. Red Hat: While grey hat hackers use exposure as a weapon against wrongdoing, red hat hackers go on the offensive. By waiting for other black hat hacks, and intercepting them, a red hat hacker will attack a black hat hacker’s system to stop the attack and potentially take the other hacker out of commission. Green Hat: The greenhorn of the hacking community, a green hat hacker will commonly have no hand in any practical hacking attempts themselves, but is committed to acquiring as much knowledge about these attempts as they can. Blue Hat: Another amateur, blue hat hackers rely on preexisting attacks and techniques to go after their targets. These attacks are typically rudimentary, and are often motivated by some personal offense or argument with the target. But Why? The motivations of a hacker can be as varied as the types of hackers are, and some hackers don’t necessarily have a single motivation driving them. Stealing Information for Profit or Distribution This is perhaps the most well-known of a hacker’s motivations. Once data has been stolen, a hacker can leverage it for profit in various ways – identity theft, blackmail, […]

Are You Properly Securing Your Server Room?

Permission-Based Access Control You want to keep the number of people given access to your servers to a minimum. It isn’t as though most of your users really need access to it, so why leave it open to potential threats? By leveraging the capabilities that access control now has – such as permission-based privileges – you can minimize these potential threats by simply preventing many of these potential events from happening. Use Various Alarms On the topic of restricted access, you want to make sure that you are aware of those times that someone attempted to access your server room without the requisite permissions. This is why you should equip your server room with a system to alert you when someone has done just that. Beyond that, your servers need to be protected in terms of climate, as well. With the very real risk of fires in the server room, you need various fire alarms, extinguishers, and fire suppression systems. On the flip side, moisture is another issue for your infrastructure, so you should consider adding moisture-detection systems. Backup Power Supplies Sudden power loss can be a huge problem for workstations and other pieces of your infrastructure, including your servers. In order to protect them, you need to make sure that your servers are supported by a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) so you can avoid these problems if your business encounters a power-loss issue. Locks! Locks Everywhere! Naturally, you’ll want to lock the door to the server room – as established in the section on permission-based access control. However, you shouldn’t stop there. Why not secure the actual infrastructure in your server room itself? Otherwise, someone who gained access to the server room could pluck a hard drive out and make their escape with all the data that hard drive contained. This includes things like your cables, switches, and other pieces of infrastructure as well. Keep an Eye on It Touching back onto the importance of monitoring access to your server room, why not keep a record of who is accessing it, and when? Using your access control, monitor when a certain authentication was utilized, and compare that to your video records. You can also keep an eye on your servers themselves using the same concept. SRS Networks can help you to ensure your servers are optimized and secure. Reach out to us at (831) 758-3636 to learn more.

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