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Demystifying the Cloud [recorded webinar]


With today's cyber climate, many organizations in the Baltimore - Washington region are looking at innovative ways to increase security and still manage costs. There has been an overwhelming amount of news sharing just how vulnerable our technology can be for all any business.  Watch a recording our recent Lunch and Learn webinar to learn how new cloud services can improve security and enhance remote access to your office.

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Are You Ready for the Internet of Things (IoT)

It is estimated there are already 6.4 billion devices as part of the Internet of Things (IoT). As we add more devices, are we considering the security and privacy of these devices?  We have been shoring up security with our servers, desktops, laptops and mobile devices. IoT is now beginning to extend into our lives with TVs, coffee makers, thermostats, light bulbs and even our bathroom scales.

The IoT has actually been around for some time. However, only now has it been recognized and labeled as a category within technology industry. Governments have been using remote sensors across the Internet to monitor traffic and road conditions like those used by Maryland’s CHART System.  Commercial accounts have been using devices to monitor and provide better energy management in facilities.  Now, the home and personal use explosion of products is flooding the market with all sorts of devices.

So what is IoT?

IoT

Gartner Research defines IoT as, “The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.”

This is a broad definition, but it signals how large the market is expanding.  With more IoT devices sneaking into our lives, what is being done to manage the security and privacy that should come with this?

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) has sent comments to Department of Commerce raising concerns about the maintaining the security of these devices.  The comments recognize the benefits but are quick to identify security risks, too. 

“Although similar risks exist with traditional computers and computer networks, they may be heightened in the IoT, in part because many IoT chips are inexpensive and disposable, and many IoT devices are quickly replaceable with newer versions. As a result, businesses may not have an incentive to support software updates for the full useful life of these devices, potentially leaving consumers with vulnerable devices.” – Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection and Office of Policy Planning, June 2, 2016

The biggest issues for IoT include the lack of built-in basic security measures, meaning devices can be exploited, be used to exploit other systems and can also include physical threats with medical devices. Besides security, privacy issues are at stake. The types and amounts of often personal data being collected are at risk with many of these devices. This is not just a video camera being compromised, but health data being collected and stored by yet another vendor. 

So, what do we do? 

Use IoT devices wisely for work or home knowing the risks.

It is critical to identify vendors that utilize security features, are trusted, and can communicate a clear security policy about the devices they offer. For the home, recognizable brands like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon are responsible vendors. They are not the only ones of course, but are four examples of outspoken companies taking a proactive approach to security and documented privacy policies with their products. 

Also, look for IoT products with the ability to be updated like you would do on your computer.  It seems strange to think that you would need an update for your IoT coffee maker, but it is important to fix bugs and improve security.

As you identify devices that fit into your Internet world, look for devices that fit into ecosystems that work together. Apple, for example, has released HomeKit, which is a platform for Apple and third party devices to speak to each other.  With the right devices, you could easily control home devices and in a safer and more secure environment. 

Much of this is early, but trustworthy platforms and ecosystems will help IoT be the best experience possible.

Ease Technologies provides IT support services and cloud solutions for organizations in Baltimore, Washington or Fairfax. Watch our Ease Cloud Workspace video and learn how our secure cloud offering can be your virtual office wherever you go. 

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6 Summer Tech Tips

Summer vacations and traveling are a great way to relax and unwind.  For many though, work follows them no matter how far they try to get away.  Before setting out the airport or hitting the beaches, here are a few ideas on keeping your technology in order while on the road. 

1. Backup Before You Go
iphone beachMake sure you have a good backup of all your devices.  If something were to happen to your technology while you are traveling it would be much easier to recover that data when you return.  Cloud-based backup systems can also provide some limited access to files that you may have forgotten while traveling.

2. File Your Travel Documents
Keep your travel plans, hotel confirmation, the contact information of your credit card company, phone numbers and other important trip information stored in a secure cloud notes program.  I like to use Evernote because I can add PDFs, emails and text notes, but you may already be using Apple’s Notes or Microsoft’s OneNote Online.  If your gear gets lost or stolen you’ll have access to your information online in one of these cloud-based apps from any device.

3. Stay Protected
Some travelers are required to get vaccinations before they go overseas.  In the same way, tech-savvy travelers should get the latest virus updates installed for their systems too.  Be sure to turn on the password protection options for your electronic devices, as this will ensure the data on your devices is much safer if they were to get lost or stolen.

4. Mark Your Stuff
Your name was written all over your gear back when you went to summer camp.  Well, your mom had it right, so be sure to label your equipment with your cell phone number.  That number on your electronic devices will be the easiest way for that Good Samaritan to call you with your lost gear. 

5. Find Your Friends
Apple iPhones and iPads have a feature called Find your Friends.  Once enabled the software provides an easy way to keep track of family and friends, provided you are within cell coverage.  Knowing the location of members of your group can be useful at the airport, amusement park or at the beach.

6. Power-up
Remember to bring all the proper power cords and an extra extension cord for your smartphone, cameras and laptops.  Being properly equipped for power during your vacation can make a big difference in getting that access you expect versus blowing a few hours of your precious time looking for Dell power adapters near Old Faithful.  If you do lose a power cord, just ask the hotel front desk or housekeeping for a replacement.  You won’t be the first to do so, and it’s likely that they will have a pile of cords in a box with housekeeping. 

Ease Technologies provides IT support services and cloud solutions for organizations in Baltimore, Washington or Fairfax. Watch our Ease Cloud Workspace video and learn how our secure cloud offering can be your virtual office wherever you go. 

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5 Benefits of a Cloud Office

With today’s cyber climate, business professionals are looking at innovative ways to increase security and still manage firm costs. New and advanced cloud solutions offer advantages to traditional computer infrastructure only found in large business several years ago.  A cloud offering takes what may be traditionally found in a local server room and moves services to a remote cloud environment.  Cloud solutions range from files, applications, and databases to servers and desktops.

cloud services

So, what are the benefits of a virtual cloud office?

Reduce and manage costs
Many small- and medium-sized firms have maintained an in-house IT environment.  This has involved the procurement of costly servers, computers, software, and the support to maintain these complex systems.  Cloud services can reduce operational costs and cut capital expenditures by eliminating more on-site IT equipment.  A cloud provider can roll up the servers and desktop systems to provide a complete virtual office in the cloud.  IT costs can turn into a predictable monthly fixed fee model for the firm’s budget. This plan can also extend the life of your current workstation and laptop investments with less frequent hardware upgrades.

Remote Access
Having the ability to work from nearly anywhere is a critical aspect for any professional.  This means more than just reading emails and communicating with clients while on the road.  Attorneys and accountants must work on case information securely from any device. With Internet access, cloud based desktop systems can connect from any PC, laptop, or tablet, no matter the operating system.

Security
Information security is imperative for all businesses and critical for professionals. Malware and cyber threats are increasing at an alarming rate. Trying to equip and keep users up-to-date on all security procedures can be a daunting task. A cloud desktop can be an encrypted connection from point to point across the Internet. Even if that device is lost, damaged, or stolen, the only way to get to that cloud connection again is through a new secure authentication.  Cloud solutions offer more secure industry standards than any small business can imagine achieving in-house.

Backup and disaster recovery
The most important part of any disaster recovery plan starts with a well-implemented back-up strategy.  Hurricanes, floods, fires, cyber-attacks, and earthquakes are unpredictable devastating events for any business. Knowing that your firm’s and clients’ data is secured outside your office provides the best level of protection against these disasters. A cloud service stores this data remotely, and the best services keep redundant backups across multiple sites in the country. This level of protection is out of reach for most firms with only in-house support.

Management and scalability
A cloud based virtual office can provide a much easier way to scale resources for the firm.  It is much more convenient to turn on and off services for employees with cloud services.  One single point of administration can provide reports on use management for compliance. This secure scaling of devices can be offered for work from home and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).

Ready to see these benefits in action?  Check out our brief video on how it all works here

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Demystifying the Cloud - June Lunch and Learn

Cloud ServicesAre you interested in increasing your firms security and reducing capital costs?  Join us for the Ease June Lunch and Learn - Demystifying the Cloud .  Participants in the online webinar will learn how advances in cloud services can provide employees of all size firms the ability to securely work from anywhere.

We will cover how the cloud provides improved security against cyber threats and enhances any firms disaster recovery from all types calamities. 

Topics:
Remote and mobile remote access
Secure file sharing 
Office 365
Reducing capital expenditures 
Back up and recovery 
Improving firm data security

Learn how innovative cloud solutions can transform the way you work today.

Date:
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
12:00 pm -1:00 pm

Where:
Online Webinar

Presenters:
Dave Kile - Senior Vice President, Ease Technologies, Inc.
Pat Bubeck - Cloud Engineer, Ease Technologies, Inc.

I'm ready! Sign me up



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