What are Cloud Solutions?
Cloud Solutions promise it all: unbridled computing capabilities, access from anywhere at any time, and storage capacities to handle massive amounts of data modern businesses are expected to manage. It is easy to get starry-eyed about the potentials of this technology, especially when cloud computing has become so wildly popular.
Public clouds pose several risks that may make this technology inappropriate for businesses. Cloud services are amazing, but they are not a cure-all for improving business efficiency and productivity.
The Hidden Risks of Cloud Solutions
Cloud solutions are known for reducing costs, improving accessibility, and allowing companies to perform data computing tasks beyond what their native current infrastructure allows.
However, with these advantages come risks which are sometimes not obvious or carefully considered.
1. Latency and server problems will impact business operations – Companies choose cloud-based services because outsourcing infrastructure is less of a headache. However, this also means downtime and latency are outside of a company’s control. This becomes more of a problem when a company shares space with other operations on a public cloud. Just like when someone ties up bandwidth by downloading massive files, other users on the public cloud can throttle accessibility for everyone. In addition, bandwidth restrictions can throttle access to the cloud, limiting accessibility and productivity.
2. Big data has big questions about ownership – Lack of visibility with cloud services is another major factor that companies should consider. This also includes where data resides once it has been put on the cloud and exactly who owns
Most contracts from major vendors indicate that whoever uploads the data owns it. However, that will not stop vendors from locking companies into contracts and rendering them dependent on the services. It also does not mean that data created on the cloud will necessarily belong to the company and not the vendor.
3. Anticipating needs and Budgets is harder than it looks – Although companies choose cloud services because of scalability, scalability in the cloud is hard to understand.
Cloud service vendors enjoy large fee structures, costs of services, and what is or is not included at each price tier. Combine these factors with a miscalculation about what a company needs and many businesses end up paying for too much or end up paying for the wrong service.
4. Compliance Requirements can get Complicated – The healthcare industry, financial services, and other similar industries have strict compliance guidelines that they are required to follow. Using cloud infrastructure in these industries can become more trouble than it is worth if not addressed correctly. A shift in the cloud infrastructure may cause a company to become noncompliant without realizing it. Therefore, companies will need to implement new compliance measures that were not previously thought of before.
Companies can also have compliance issues when they only think about
The other major risk associated with cloud services involves unexpected costs. Businesses are sometimes hit with unexpectedly large bills because they do not understand what they are purchasing or what their business truly needs. These unexpected bills can occur:
- During egress from the cloud.
- By signing up for “free” services that are, in fact, trials.
- Through paying for potential capacity, not actual capacity.
- By requesting services or features which cost extra.
- As a result of bugs or glitches, which spike server traffic.
- From rogue cloud resource usage by employees.
The true cost of cloud computing is rarely visible unless focused planning and proper governance occur. Avoid these costs through:
- Turning services off when they are not being used.
- Using cloud computing strategically, and not for everything.
- Restricting access to cloud solutions on a need-to basis.
Benefits of Keeping Data Private
It may be more appropriate from a business standpoint to build dedicated infrastructure rather than relying on a public cloud or cloud service. Some of these business needs may include:
1. Control of Data – Organizations such as those handling personal health insurance need to retain full control of data storage, transmission, and use.
2. Resource Dedication – Dedicated cloud computing capabilities do not suffer from downtime or latency problems caused by neighbors on the cloud.
3. Cost Visibility – Operating private infrastructure prevents expensive mishaps such as paying for unanticipated — but needed — equipment, purchasing too much storage, or requesting support that is not included in the purchased package.
4. Better Customization – Customization often drives up the cost of cloud computing services. Organizations requiring customized cloud solutions may consider looking into building their own.
Do Not Stay Foggy About Cloud Solutions
Cloud solutions are a powerful, flexible way to bring new capabilities to a business and there are many instances where such technology is appropriate. However, the hype around cloud infrastructure sometimes blinds users to the risks associated, especially the concealed costs.
Avoid getting caught off guard with an unmanageable bill by taking the time to understand the nature of cloud infrastructure and the services it offers. Contact an expert at RJ Young today to learn what is right for your organization.
Having reliable, accessible data and IT security are critical to business owners year round, but it is particularly so during tax season.
For an accounting firm, a server crash amidst the busy season could cost the firm thousands of dollars in opportunity costs. It can also cause other problems such as loss of customers, compliance violations, and a decrease in the firm’s confidentiality integrity. For business owners, a server crash and loss of data, such as tax files and receipts, during tax season lower their opportunity for tax savings.
There are 3 common misconceptions related to data backup and retrieval, which prevent both small and enterprise-level businesses alike from utilizing proper backup systems and increasing their IT security.
Data backups are time-consuming
Many business owners and office managers associate data backup with retaining physical copies of files on tapes, flash drives, or external hard drives. This redundant and time-consuming task can seem like a burden and is subsequently done infrequently. Fortunately, with the advancement of technology and cloud services, the time associated with backing up data has been significantly reduced. Computers can be set to automatically transfer files and data to a secure cloud, which removes the need for manual backup processes. This process ensures that the security risk associated with losing data remains low and allows employees to better allocate their time to other tasks.
Data backups are expensive
As with any new technology, early systems designed to make data backups simple were too expensive for most businesses. Today, almost every business is implementing a cloud security service to protect their data and provide additional network security to minimize the danger of a cyber attack and data loss. These systems are now affordable for most businesses because they have become common and have several variations.
Once cloud services became well-known, multiple vendors began offering them, which drove prices down. Additionally, these vendors offer several variations of cloud backup services that allow a business owner only to purchase the services they require for their business. These variations let business owners select a data protection plan that works for their company and avoid wasting money on unnecessary services.
Data is already being backed up
Most organizations have implemented a data backup system to protect their files at some point and, therefore, believe that their data is secure. Since the time of implementation, several different issues could have happened to the backup system causing data to be rendered vulnerable. Problems such as hardware malfunctions, servers rebooting and backup processes never being restarted, or backup procedures being designed but never implemented could all contribute to data loss and an increased risk for cyber attacks.
By using cloud services, hardware and server malfunctions are no longer a concern for businesses. Cloud services remove the need for employees to manually check backup systems and is automatically performing updates to ensure that security measures are always up to date and operating at peak efficiency. With its ease of use and increased security measures, cloud services are capable of providing better data protection than old backup systems.
These misconceptions may have been legitimate in the past, but with the development of cloud services, backups are simple, automated, and cost-effective. With cloud services in place, an IT security provider can get accounting firms up and running with minimal downtime and ensure that other businesses never lose data, letting both businesses save money and better protect their business.
To learn more about protecting your business’s data through cloud services, click here or call RJ Young at 800-347-1955.
Millions of emails are exchanged daily throughout the world. As email continues to be a prominent form of communication, our Managed IT Services team warns that the opportunity also increases for a cyber threat. Phishing is one of the most common cyber threats in today’s world.
What Is Phishing?
Phishing is one of the most frequent causes of security breaches. According to Tech Target, “Phishing is a form of fraud in which an attacker masquerades as a reputable entity or person in email or other communication channels. The attacker uses phishing emails to distribute malicious links or attachments. More importantly, these links and attachments can perform a variety of functions, including the extraction of login credentials or account information from victims.”
Phishing cyber criminals instruct individuals to provide sensitive data like personal information, bank and credit card details, or passwords through electronic forms or ransomware. Individuals can be notified by email, telephone, or text message. Thieves use this strategic method to lure you into giving them your most precious information, threatening your network security. Phishing attacks result in credit card fraud, identity theft, and financial loss.
One of the most common ways that phishing cybercriminals obtain sensitive data on their victims is through email. According to Phishing.Org, these are few simple tips to think about before opening and clicking an email:
Too Good To Be True
You know those emails you get saying you have won a free cruise? In spite of the fact that you have not entered a for that cruise? Those offers all seem too good to be true, probably because they are. Enticing offers are used to attract your attention right away. The cybercriminal wants you to click the call to action button which will in return, allow them to attack your personal information. In this instance, the most natural thing to remember is that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Sense of Urgency
A common tactic amongst cybercriminals is to add a sense of urgency. These criminals may tell you that you have a limited time to claim the offer or threaten immediate account suspension. That is just not true. Generally, most credible organizations will give you ample time to respond when your intimate account details are involved. When in doubt, contact the organization in question. The organization will be able to provide you with all the necessary information and verify the email in question.
One of the fastest ways to verify a cyber threat in an email is to check all the hyperlinks. Take your mouse and hover over the directed hyperlink. Hyperlinks should match the URL they are leading you to and that the URL in question is spelled right. For example, if the hyperlink says RJYoung.Com, but when you hover over it says AJYoung.Com, do not click it. If you suspect the link may be suspicious, it is better not to click it.
If an unexpected email has an attachment, do not open it! Often these attachments contain ransomware or other viruses that can overtake your entire computer to steal your personal information.
Whether you know the sender or not, does the email make sense for you to receive? If not, do not even open it. Also accidentally opening the email can cause issues. Most of the time cybercriminals have a call to action in the email. Whether it is donating to a fundraiser or asking for personal help, be conscious of how the email’s wording and what they are requesting. Many times, the email will explain there is a problem you need to verify, notify you that you are a winner, or ask for help.
A bank will never ask for personal information via email or suspend your account if you do not immediately update your personal information. Most banks and financial institutions usually provide an account number or other personal details within the email.
Protecting Your Business From A Cyber Threat
Cyber Security Education
Make sure that you are continually learning how to defend yourself, and arm your business with an information technology expert. Just as experts are staying up to date with the latest technology, so are the cybercriminals. Be sure to always educate yourself on how cyber threats are changing and how they can affect you.
A Practical Application
Recently, we conducted an internal email test for our employees using Sophos Intercept X. This technology is one of many used by our clients as part of their Managed IT Service Plan. We sent a fake phishing email to all of our employees and tracked the number of opens and clicks to evaluate our own risk of a cyber threat.
After that, we sent out an educational email to make employees aware of the test and provided detail information on what to be mindful of when receiving a potential threatening email. We presented our employees with an easy to follow infographic to use as a guide for analyzing phishing scams in the future. Education is often the most cost-effective solution to protecting your network’s security.
Cyber Security Service
If it seems like cyber threats seem to be occurring more frequently and taking down business operations across the globe, you’re right. The number of data breaches in the U.S. has jumped 29 percent in 2017 according to The Identity Theft Resource Center and CyberScout. The best way to prevent these attacks is to have a proactive plan for your business. Make sure your Managed IT service partner understands your business. RJ Young’s Managed IT Services include the design, upgrade, and maintenance of cloud services and IT networks for small to mid-sized companies. We create customized plans for our customers to fit your specific needs and goals for success.
2018 is here, and RJ Young is ready to help you meet all of your business resolutions this new year. Follow along over the next few months as we help you identify ten ways to simplify your business, from outsourced IT services to having a one-stop shop for your office technology needs. Make 2018 the year you simplify your printing and technology needs.
Resolution 3: Bring Everything You Need Everywhere You Go with a Mobile Office
As a business owner or team leader, you need to have access to your business everywhere you go. With Mobile Office Solutions from RJ Young, you’ll have everything you need on your phone or tablet in easy-to-use formats that mirror your desktop workspace. Your network, your workflow, your device—mobile office solutions may seem like the future, but they can be the present.
4 Benefits of Mobile Office Solutions
What are some of the biggest benefits of mobile office solutions for businesses?
1. Print from your mobile device
On the go? In a meeting and need to print a file quickly? RJ Young Mobile Solutions can set up your mobile device—phone or tablet—to print whatever you need, wherever you are.
2. Capture & Share Data
Scan, upload, organize and share data and documents from any device. No need to wait until you get back to the office.
3. Cloud-based document storage
Say you’re in the aforementioned meeting and need to print a document—finding it on your mobile device could be tricky if you aren’t using cloud-based document storage as part of your mobile office! Cloud-based document storage (paired with scanned files and other efficiencies from partnering with RJ Young) allows you to access any file, anytime, anywhere.
4. Electronic Forms Streamline Approvals
No more chasing stakeholders around with a pen and printed documents—with electronic forms, you can instantly email all the key stakeholders to digitally sign anything that needs approval. Fast, efficient, safe—electronic forms will change the way you approve (and get approvals for) all of your contracts and other documents.
A Mobile Office Gives You All the Flexibility You Need
This is the year your office starts to work for you, no matter where you are or what you need. With mobile office solutions from RJ Young, your documents, contracts, printers, files, and electronic forms are always within your reach. You can take your office where you need it to go—which means you can be wherever you need to be. It’s flexibility without compromise.
Learn more about how RJ Young’s Mobile Office Solutions can start helping you today!
The increase of Bring Your Own Devices is on the rise…so are the risks to your business.
76% of employees are enabled for BYOD
By 2017, half of employers will require employees to supply their own devices for work
By 2018, 70% will conduct work on their mobile devices
72% data leakage/loss as main BYOD security concern
Biggest Pain Point: 42% need solution that detects threats
1-in-5 organizations suffered a mobile security breach
24% BYO or corporate devices have connected to malicious WiFi
39% BYO or corporate devices
BYOD IT Security
35% of additional IT resources needed to manage mobile security
37% will not increase budgets for mobile security
Almost one-quarter have no IT support and are responsible for their own devices
Is your organization prepared to handle these risks? Our team of IT specialists can assist your business in on-boarding new devices and securing your network. Contact us today for a free network assessment.
What is every corporation’s fondest wish for their team members? It has to be for each of them to be as productive and efficient as possible to create an atmosphere of success. This is challenging, but I believe this is something corporate America must consciously strive for each day.
To help make this dream a reality we are finding that the well-defined workflow and automation within a company contributes greatly to the outcome and measurement of efficiency and productivity. There are four contributors to workflow and automation that are technology based and have proven to advance each of these goals.
1. Enterprise Mobility
We see the team members using smartphones, tablets, and applications at an increased rate, and BYOD (bring your own device) has now become standard, to facilitate access to information from anywhere, at anytime. The degree of mobility that we have reached has hit a plateau of adoption, but also created a need for companies to develop a mobility strategy as well as a document and information management strategy.
2. Internet of Things
The internet of things has allowed workers to not only be connected but also look beyond their corporate software to find applications that have increased their ability to perform their duties. Although at first glance this appears to be a positive impact on performance, it can also present a threat to security, requiring that companies adopt an information security strategy. For example, team members choosing to use an electronic document software application that falls outside the company’s network could put the organization at risk.
3. Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing permits more information to be stored and retrieved by team members from anywhere at anytime. The initial impact has increased the ability for team members to obtain vital information as well as collaborate on projects. These two factors alone have greatly improved the workflow process and helps bring projects to closure much faster. The concern here is that with increased access to information that data must be secured and protected from intrusion and hacking. Documents kept in free public storage drives could put your organization at risk. It’s a company’s responsibility to ensure information is secure.
4. Big Data
Big Data which is related to the vast amount of information that we are able to obtain and how we are able to use this data. With Big Data, companies are better equipped to perform their work in a streamlined manner. Today we are exposed to detailed information that allow us to analyze, capture, search, share, store, and transfer that information at a click of a mouse. Along with this enhancement to our workflow also comes great responsibility and need for security. For example, companies may monitor and manage all printer fleets by analyzing actual usage details from page counts, page coverage and color/black and white ink usage to ensure they are paying the most efficient amount for their printing.
These four contributors are making a profound impact on workflow efficiency and productivity, but as mentioned, with all these contributors comes risk and responsibility.
The advent of the digital age created a complete change for the office equipment industry. Up until the digital era it was not uncommon to find an office work area that included multiple analog devices that worked independent of the network. As the roll out of digital products became available companies began to acquire separate copiers, facsimiles, scanners, and printers. This transition of new digital products began to open up the opportunity for the network to become the hub for all devices.
Products could now be connected to the network and all devices became integrated and were no longer just single function. At the same time this transition was taking place, manufacturers began to produce devices that were termed all-in-one or Multi-Functional Devices (MFD). These MFDs allow the office user to have one machine that would copy, print, scan, and fax. This increased efficiency, reduced costs, and most importantly took less space.
Since the network was considered the hub, it was easy to see how with these devices now connected, other efficiencies became possible. These MFDs now became more than just an output device but also became the on ramp for the network. The end user in addition to copying and printing could now began to scan hardcopy files and transmit them through the network. This ability also increased the need for digital information management and a system to file, sort, and locate these digital documents.
With the total integration of products, the ability to move documents around the network, and software to manage the digital documents, we have seen business processes and workflow become very efficient. Today’s office is experiencing less of a need to rely on hard copy output but more on digital output. There has also been a shift to move documents to the Cloud which provides increased security and the ability to collaborate on projects. All of this would not be possible if it were not for digital. Evaluate the use of the MFDs in your office. Are these MFDs being used as ramps to productivity and efficiency in the digital age or still only output devices.
Hunter McCarty – COO
Business owners — and homeowners alike — are advised to purchase insurance against the possibility of loss or damage of physical property as the result of fire, flooding, a tornado, a hurricane, or other act of Mother Nature and even liability insurance to provide protection from potential legal threats. However, most do not insure the most business crucial part of their business — their data.
In addition to insuring physical property and liability risks, it pays to take the necessary steps required to ensure the safety of — and ready access to — financial information, customer information and other data necessary to running your business through effective data back up systems.
Today, data back up systems are simple, automatic and cost-effective for small and medium size businesses (SEE BLOG POST “LOST DOLLARS.”). Whereas, the cost of not having a back up system in place can be astounding or even devastating:
- 94% of companies suffering from catastrophic data loss do not survive. 43% never reopen and 51% close within 2 years. (University of Texas)
- 70% of small companies (fewer than 100 employees) that experience major data loss go out of business within a year. (DTI/Price Waterhouse Coopers)
- 30% of all businesses that have a major fire go out of business within a year and 70% fail within 5 years. (Home Office Computing Magazine)
The stats are scary, but really unnecessary given the accessibility of back up systems to businesses of all sizes. Don’t be in the 94% of businesses that would not survive—investments in reliable data back up systems are some of the most critical and frequently used “insurance policies” you could acquire as a business owner.
Brantley Pearce – Director of IT Services
Brantley leads a team of IT professionals whose primary goal is to help organizations use their IT resources in a way that helps them proactively maintain their network and allows them to be more productive. He joined RJ Young in 2005 but has been in the IT industry for almost a decade. Brantley is originally from Houston, Texas and works out of our Nashville, TN office. In his spare time he volunteers for multiple organizations. Brantley is married and has two daughters.
Disasters can take many forms when it comes to unforeseen actions that can be devastating to any business. You never think it will happen to you and that it is always the other guy or company. In March of 1998 the RJ Young Company experienced a disaster first hand that created a real “March madness”. The building that housed the corporate offices sustained damage from a fire that started in a print shop that was renting the back portion of the facility.
The damage was mostly smoke and water as the alarm system in the corporate office alerted the fire department and they were quick to act to minimize the damage. After evaluating the damage it was determined that the building would need to be gutted and rebuilt which would take about a year to complete. Employees were relocated to other facilities so as to maintain a seamless approach to our customers.
The fortunate thing was that the computer system and critical data files were saved and the information needed to continue business as usual was secure. We were lucky in that preparations had been made, through the technology available at the time, to maintain digital files and backups. This prevented any major interruptions in services and support of the customers.
As you look at all of the possibilities that have occurred from hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, and floods in just the past few years, there is a case to be made for minimizing the loss of key information and downtime through proactive information management. No matter the size of the business, without proper information management, you can be out of business with one incident. Do not let a real “March madness” happen to your business.
Hunter McCarty – COO
Click here to view Hunter’s bio.
Guest Blog by Jonathan Gerald, RJ Young Software Sales Specialist
Technology is an amazing thing. However, difficulties often arise when trying to verbalize how particular technologies may be applied to benefit various organizations. Welcome to the world of the elusive and intriguing “Cloud.”
So, what is Cloud technology anyway? According to Wikipedia, “Cloud computing is the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet).” At the core, the same principles of client/server and peer-to-peer networks are used; however, it is how these principles are applied that makes the software and services more “Cloudlike.”
For example, an organization may want to offer printing services to employees who travel between locations. Traditionally, this meant managing various print drivers to ensure that the employees have the ability to print to all relevant devices within the organizational footprint. With Cloud technology, an employee may print to the Cloud using a single print driver. Once printed to the Cloud, the employee may walk to a printer or multi-function device of his or her choosing and release the print job at the device. The Cloud print capability is not printer or model specific and even works from mobile and tablet devices, enabling users to print conveniently and organizations to make better purchasing decisions. Cloud printing technology may also be applied to guest printing or pay-per-print opportunities as well, providing detailed reports for departmental or client usage.
The biggest impact of utilizing Cloud technology in today’s workplace is centered on the ease of capturing and exchanging information for the purpose of becoming more efficient. Simplifying the end user experience, as in the Cloud printing example, certainly has its value; however, enabling an employee to become more productive speaks directly to the bottom line. Workflow automation software utilized in a Cloud environment can have a big impact on streamlining business processes. Applying the Cloud concepts, such as cross platform access from PC’s and mobile devices, to common business operations, such as purchase request, timesheet, and expense report approvals, may greatly reduce processing times. In addition, workflow software may be customized to offer a high degree of flexibility, empowering organizations to improve line of business processes specific to their industry or vertical market. Key integrations may also be implemented to update various disparate systems which will in turn eliminate data entry duplication.
We live in a connected world. Contact us today and discover how Cloud technology can connect your organization to Make Your Work Flow.