Envision IT - Louisville Computer Support

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JUL
07
2015

Windows Server 2003 End of Life is Looming

Envision IT  would like to inform you that Windows Server 2003 support is ending July 14, 2015. In the interest of protecting and informing our clients and others using Windows Server 2003, we share this information so that the necessary steps may be taken to safeguard the continuity of their systems.

Migrate before it’s too late:

  • No updates or patches after Windows Server 2003 end of life support
  • No compliance—or a complete lack thereof—with standards and regulations (HIPAA, PCI, and others)
  • No safeguards because instances of Windows Server 2003 will be susceptible and exposed

July 14, 2015 is right around the corner. This is the moment to ensure that you have a plan to migrate the applications and infrastructure currently relying on Windows Server 2003.

Envision IT recommends migrating to maintain optimal performance and security. If your business utilizes Windows Server 2003, contact us regarding your service and migration options. Call us today to discuss, 502-694-9446!

APR
26
2015
Business IT Support & Services

How to Ensure a Successful Office Move

When a company decides to relocate their office space, it is an exciting time for their employees. Changing a work environment can have benefits for any organization. It is a time for the implementation of new processes and can be a morale and productivity booster. But, moving an office can become a huge undertaking for the employee who is put in charge of managing the monumental task. Communication, prioritization, and planning can cause undue stress for anyone regardless of their experience or skill level. Whether you are moving a corporate headquarters or a small office, the following are pieces of advice on how you can ensure a successful office move.

Selecting your new space and creating a floorplan

You may be starting with a blank space or you could be moving into an office space that was previously configured for another organization, either way, you are probably going to need to reconfigure your new space to best meet the needs of your company. You must first consider if this reconfiguration is going to be cosmetic or if a general contractor will need to be involved. If the space requires building individual offices, break rooms, or other space such as conference areas, starting with a general contractor with a good reputation should be your first step. Asking for references from other companies can ensure you hire a reliable general contractor. If no renovations are needed, you should begin with a floor plan which provides a sketch of each employee’s work space and miscellaneous spaces (kitchen, bathrooms, server/IT rooms, etc.). This can be done by the project administrator themselves or by hiring a professional space planner. This is a great time to see if your existing furniture will fit, if you will have to purchase additional items or if you need to purchase all new furniture. It is also important to take into consideration any growth your organization may have during this planning stage. Making sure the space is properly configured for your company’s needs can ultimately save money by eliminating future changes to the space.

Hiring professional installers, office movers, and working with other vendors

Moving your ISP and phone services – This part of the project usually requires the most notice to your providers (at least 30 day but 60 days to be safe as the waiting list to have it installed could be quite long). You should contact your current ISP and phone provider as soon as you know your office will be relocating. You should ensure that they provide service at your new location, verify the length of your contract, and contact new providers if your current providers do not provide service in your new area. This is a great time to discuss contracts and pricing as well as considering increasing your bandwidth. With new technologies such as cloud computing, mobile BYOD (bring your own device), and a growing mobile workforce, this is a great time to plan for the future of your business.

Hiring a cabling provider – If you have any existing IT provider they may provide this service or can help you to find a vendor in your area. Most new offices will need new cabling, new drops, jacks, face plates, and patch cables. A simple walkthrough with your cabling provider can help them determine if you need Cat 5e or Cat 6 cabling and whether conduit or other infrastructure needs to be installed. This is also dependent on your floor plan. As you can see, doing things in a particular order is important. The cabling and ISP/phone installation needs to be in place and tested before moving any network/IT infrastructure. This is a great time to consider moving phone service to new platforms such as Skype for Business and/or integrate video conferencing and instant message services to improve internal and external communications.

Moving your network/IT hardware – Informing your current IT provider or contacting a provider in your area should be next on your list. Hardware such as servers, firewalls, switches, racks, and other expensive and fragile equipment can be damaged by office movers and is rarely insured. This is a wonderful time to look at upgrading antiquated equipment, ensuring that all equipment is under an active warranty, and decommissioning any equipment that is no longer in use. It is also important to make sure all of your necessary data is backed up prior to the move as well. Also, consider the need for an electrician at this time as large network equipment such as UPS battery backup systems may need special outlets installed if they are not available in the new space. Next, consider any HVAC and ventilation needs in your server room/closet (servers cannot withstand excessive heat and this equipment also puts off a lot of heat as well). Consider using an audio/visual consultant to move any large televisions, audio equipment, Smart Board technology, or other equipment not supported by your IT provider.

Moving security systems – Most likely you will need to involve whomever installed this equipment originally to move the hardware. It is also a great time to make sure your equipment is under warranty, is up to date, and does not need to be replaced. You will also need to consider adding or removing cameras and other security hardware depending on if you are moving to a larger or smaller space. And, at the risk of sounding repetitious, this is also a good time to review your contract.

Moving your desktops, laptops and printers – Most office movers can move this type of equipment, but, if you have a service contract with a printing company they can also move your printing/copying equipment as well. Most likely, your IT provider will need to be involved in this portion of the move as well to re-establish connectivity of all devices once they arrive at the new location. Your IT provider can also usually provide this service as well.

Moving office furniture and/or company signage – Hiring professional office movers is always the best option. These companies tend to be bonded and insured along with having many years of experience. Your location Better Business Bureau or fellow business owners can be the best source to find a qualified office moving company. Make a list of all of the items that need to be moved (including your exterior or interior signage) and provide this list to the moving company to ensure the most accurate quote possible.

Miscellaneous vendors – Although often overlooked, you may need to consider notifying or changing vendors such as janitorial services or vending machine providers. Once again review your current contracts and contact them to see if they provide service in your new location. You will also need to make sure couriers such as UPS, FedEx and the USPS know when to stop picking up or delivering to your old location and begin at the new location. Lastly, make sure your website, flyers, stationary, business cards and other branded items get updated with your company’s new address and phone/fax numbers.

**All vendors should provide a project plan, statement of work or other form of documentation telling you exactly what you are paying for and any down payments that are required.

Organization, Archiving, and Destruction of Antiquated Paperwork or Hardware

Moving provides the perfect time to get organized. Consider archiving old data from your server, hiring a shredding company to shred outdated documents, decommissioning old hardware and donating unused office furniture and supplies to a local charity. This will help to ensure that your new office space is clutter-free and productive from the very beginning.

The Big Grand Finale: Moving Day

Finally, after months of planning, moving day has arrived. This is normally the most chaotic day your company will experience. But, with proper communication to staff members and a company organization plan, this too can be a stress-free day. Start by creating a well thought out announcement to help employees pack and label their items and distribute a timeline for the week prior to the move. Provide boxes and other storage to your staff members to pack their personal and work items. Create a number or color-coded system to ensure the boxes get placed into the corrected rooms/areas by the movers (make sure the movers have a copy of this as well). Lastly, try to schedule your key providers (IT, printing, other contractors as needed) to be on-site the day of the move to help resolve last minute issues. In closing, remember that an office move is exciting for your employees, celebrate the day and your company’s achievements, and enjoy your new, up-to-date, organized office space with increased sales and company profit!

AUG
14
2013
Envision IT - Louisville Network Security

5 Tips for Business Security

No business is too small for cyber-thieves to target. For National SMB Week, here are a few ways small businesses
can protect their data from thieves and their customers from malware.

By Fahmida Y. Rashid
Article Date: June 30, 2013 / PCMag.com

The most pervasive security myth is the one that has business owners sticking their heads in the sand,
ostrich-style. “It won’t happen to me,” small business owners say when they hear about targeted attacks,
phishing scams, and sophisticated malware. “I’m too small for the criminals to bother with,” they think,
when they hear about data breaches, network intrusions, and website attacks.

If that was ever true, it’s wishful thinking today. It’s increasingly clear that cyber-criminals don’t look at the
size of the company when launching their attacks. Data is data, and even the smallest organization has
valuable data the criminals can steal and sell. The days of “I’m too small for them to find me” are long
gone. In many cases, the small business may just be a stepping point in a chain of attacks, with the
criminals targeting the smaller and weaker networks as part of a comprehensive campaign against larger
partners.

Both the volume and sophistication of attacks are growing, making it difficult for SMBs to keep up their
defenses. In honor of National SMB Week, the Certificate Authority Security Council has provided a few
simple steps SMBs can follow to secure their online presence. With these tips, business owners can make
sure their site visitors can safely visit, search, enter personal information, and complete a transaction.

Passwords Are Essential

The first suggestion is to “Create unbreakable passwords” for accounts related to your online presence,
such as the domain registrar, hosting account, SSL provider, social media, and PayPal, among others,
said Rick Andrews, technical director of Symantec, on the behalf of CASC. While there is a lot of
discussion about the need for better authentication schemes, passwords are still the main way to protect
online accounts, making strong passwords essential.

Criminals can easily set up computers to cycle through random combinations to brute-force attacks. If the
password is weak, this process takes very little time. PCMag.com recommends using a password
manager
to randomly generate strong passwords and to store them securely. If the service offers
two-factor authentication, you should really take advantage of the extra layer of protection.

Scan Your Sites

Websites can be infected with malware, just like your PC. Regularly scan your site for vulnerabilities and
malware. Attackers can take advantage of vulnerabilities to infect the site with malware or inject malicious
code to redirect visitors somewhere else. Infected sites may load slowly, display unwanted
advertisements, and infect user computers with malware. Look for a site scanner—something like
StopTheHacker Web-Malware Scanning, that will monitor your site for problems and alert you when
necessary.

Update & Patch

Is your Web server regularly being updated and patched? It’s not just the server, though—your Website
also needs to be regularly patched. If you used a popular content management system (CMS) such as
WordPress or e-commerce platform such as Zen Cart, then you need to make sure you are updating your
software regularly. Attackers frequently target plugins in WordPress, so installing patches regularly is a must.
Check with your hosting provider or site maintainer to find out if all the software is being updated on a regular basis.

“Updates must be installed on your website, just like installing the latest
Windows Updates on your PC,” Andrews said.

SSL Certificates

Consumers need to trust you are a legitimate business, and SSL certificates help verify your identity. No
site should attempt to collect personal information or e-commerce without a trustworthy SSL certificate to
assure users their information is safe.

Don’t Lose Control

No matter who you hire to work on your site, the business should always retain control of the domain
name, SSL certificate, and actual Website. It’s all too common for business owners to hire someone to
build their website, and when that person leaves, there goes the only person with access to the SSL,
domain name, and hosting account. It’s harder to add people to the account or transfer ownership when
the original account holder is not around. If building and maintaining the website is outsourced to a third
party, make sure someone within the organization is also on the accounts to retain control. If the
employee leaving is the one who had access to the accounts, make sure to add a new person to the
account beforehand. This way you will be able to still manage your certificate, domain name, and hosting
account.

This article originally published June 30th, 2013 on PCMag.com

AUG
08
2013
Envision IT - Louisville IT Support

What Does IT Support Offer Your Business?

Every business at some time or another will need IT support. When times are busy the last thing that staff members need is to stop what they are doing to deal with IT problems. These are best left to professionals, and IT support is available in various formats. Businesses can choose to hire a full-time IT professional, or outsource to another company to cover any issues that may arise.

What does IT support involve?

The chosen IT professionals will examine the existing network within the business to ensure that it meets specified requirements, is running efficiently, and has proper security in place to protect business and client data.

IT support can also extend to the company’s telecommunications. This could mean dealing with the installation of phone lines, the set up of smartphones per company policies, or installing an entire VoIP phone systems. More and more companies are relying on mobile devices in the field for their communications, and having a professional on hand to provide security advice is sensible. What happens when one of those devices turns up missing? How much company and client data could someone access? As more employees bring their own devices (BYOD), there’s more need for companies to make sure their data is protected from wherever it can be accessed.

Getting the right IT support

As there are plenty of options for IT support it can be hard to know where to start. Getting a good deal from an external organization is important, but given that services on offer can be very similar then prices will often be very similar too.

A business may need a specialized service such as data protection, HIPAA compliance, POS, etc. So with this in mind, a specialist professional should be sought. It is important to know that the appointed IT professional is local but will also be available to help in the event that the business decides to move or expand. Off-site monitoring is a bonus but it is worth noting that physical visits will be needed from time to time.

A large firm will offer a wide range of IT services while a smaller one-man band may be a little limited in how much help they can provide. A bigger firm can be an advantage for a company that has multiple sites but it may lack the personal touch that many people expect these days. Most companies will expect to have a long-term relationship with their IT professionals, so it is important to know that a good relationship can be built with them.

A dedicated account manager is often a bonus as it gives the company a single point of contact in the event of a problem. The account manager should be able to fully explain all details of the service agreement and both parties’ obligations at the start of the contract.

Look for a firm that can guarantee their response times. It is important to know that the business will not be left waiting for days on end for the IT firm to get around to fixing a problem. The Service Level Agreement should include a clear statement on how long the maximum waiting time is for a visit. The technicians may not be able to fix the problem immediately, but they should at least be out fairly quickly to inspect it and make an assessment.

If you think you might be in need of local, Louisville IT support, we’d like to talk to you.

JUL
31
2013
Louisville Firewall Support & Network Security

Why Your Business Needs A Firewall

What is a Firewall?

Firewalls provide protection against outside attackers by guarding your network from malicious or unnecessary Internet traffic. Firewalls can be configured to block data from certain locations while allowing the relevant and necessary data through. They are especially important for users who rely on continually accessible connections.

Firewalls, whether hardware of software (or a combination of the two), provide a security boost to any environment. For businesses, firewalls are such an important part of having a reliable computing environment and dramatically reduce threats that can lead to costly data loss, breaches, and down time.

Small to Medium Size Business and the Standard Router

Larger companies understand the risks of their large computing environment and with that understanding often employ multiple business-grade firewalls. However, for the small to medium size business, often run from a home office or other unconventional space, the threats are equally hazardous and require more than the basic ISP-provided router (intended for household use only).

These routers are the address of your connection to the internet. An ISP router is the go-between from your business to the internet and only directs the traffic flow. These routers just do not address the vulnerabilities of a business’s information transactions.

These ISP routers do not filter or inspect the traffic, nor do they detect intrusions. Basically, this leaves your business open to web risks at large, which is only multiplied when you are transferring any sensitive data in order to conduct work. The risk is not just the compromise of this data, which means losing clients in the event of a breach, but also opens you up to some hefty fines from any number of compliance commissions.

Firewalls Put You in Control of Your Network

A firewall allows you to control the gateway (your front door) of information and gain awareness to security problems that may be attempting to enter. There are a number of different kinds of attacks that are caught via this gateway, the top three are:

  • Network packet sniffers – a hacker intercepts unprotected network information packets and steals the data
  • IP spoofing – an outsider tricks your computers into recognizing them as a trusted source, by posing as a familiar IP address
  • Password attacks – hackers guess or crack passwords used by employees, allowing them to access the computer and entire network to steal further data

A business-grade firewall allows you to filter the incoming and outgoing traffic for suspicious activity, putting you in control and minimizing your risk of attacks.

What Does a Good Firewall Do for Your Business?

In a nutshell, it protects you from costly threats. With the correct settings and subscription renewals, it offers the following functions:

  • Block incoming traffic based on rules – ex. keep employees off of Social Networking sites
  • Block websites – ex. eliminate adult website access, which reduces the associated virus risks
  • Dedicate internet network resources – ex. prevent a group of workers from accessing the web for any reason
  • Firewalls also create logs of users and instances so you can track the events of a particular time period. This kind of log is critical to pin-pointing a breach to contain or fix problems.

Asses Your Security

At the end of the day, your business data needs more than just a router from your ISP. Ask your IT advisor to do a security assessment of your network and find out where your vulnerabilities are so you don’t have to learn the hard way…

JUL
26
2013
Louisville Computer Support

Are you your company’s Involuntary IT Manager?

Involuntary IT Manager

If you’re ready to get back to what you REALLY do, contact us to see how we can give your company the IT support it deserves.
JUL
23
2013
Louisville Windows XP Support End Of Life

Windows XP End Of Life

Everyone still using Windows XP and Office 2003 has less than nine months to upgrade to newer platforms before Microsoft pulls the plug on all support April 8, 2014. If you’re still a Windows XP user, you’re not alone, as it still runs on 39% of computers currently in use.

When Microsoft ends support April 8th of next year, there will be no more security patches, bug fixes, and free (or even paid) online assistance. Without support, businesses who still run Windows XP will run a great risk of having their systems, networks, and data exposed and compromised by cyber criminals who will look to immediately find fresh ways to exploit the 12-year old operating system. An operating system that was launched in 2001 when crimeware barely existed.

For businesses that have not yet begun to migrate their system to a modern operating system, Microsoft will put it bluntly – “you are late.” According to their research, the average enterprise deployment can take 18 to 32 months in enterprise organizations.

Those who continue to use Windows XP after Microsoft pulls the plug cannot hope to rely solely on firewalls and anti-virus software to protect their machines from malware. Such protection works only for known threats. If some new “zero-day” (ie, previously unknown and therefore unprepared for) flaw in the operating system is exploited, no amount of anti-virus software will save an XP computer from being seriously compromised.

If you haven’t made plans for migration, now is the time. Companies that run line of business applications designed for XP are sometimes having to make other accommodations for their software, and those discoveries are much easier to deal with during planned migrations rather than rushed decisions near the end of support deadline. If you don’t have a plan in place, I urge you to contact a partner who is certified in Microsoft software, and can help your business develop and implement  your migration. We can take you through the entire process, from planning to answering questions about the new operating system once in place.