Let’s Look at Some of the Best Business Software Solutions

Happy guy looking at camera while sitting by workplace and working with software

All businesses utilize software to a certain extent, but not all companies have the same needs. That being said, there are certain types of software that all businesses can benefit from, regardless of industry or service offerings. We’ve put together a list of business software solutions that companies can utilize to improve operations.

Productivity Suites

Most businesses use a productivity suite, which is basically just a fancy way of talking about a suite of software that includes a word processor, spreadsheet program, presentation software, email and calendar management program, and other productivity applications. In fact, we would say that it is almost a prerequisite for a business to have a productivity suite just for the ability to open and edit files or documents. Some of the most common productivity suites out there include Microsoft 365 Apps for Business and Google Workspace, but there are other more focused productivity suites for specific purposes, like the Adobe Creative Cloud.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

Similar to productivity suites, most businesses use traditional landlines to make and receive phone calls. While this was an accepted practice for some time, the more modern solution is to utilize a Voice over IP application on either a desktop or a mobile device to make and receive calls. Not only does this save you quite a bit in terms of up-front costs and operational costs, but it also makes adding new users to the infrastructure infinitely easier, as it does not involve installing new hardware (unless, of course, you want to use physical handsets).

Password Management

Passwords are a major pain point for businesses, so you need to treat them as such. While passwords can be made complex, this also makes them difficult to remember. This is where password management comes into play; these solutions offer a secure, protected vault for your passwords and can pull from this vault when the credentials are needed, removing the need to remember them entirely. It is a great way to augment your accounts’ security without compromising on password quality.

Antivirus and Other Security Solutions

It goes without saying that you need to be securing your business’ network and endpoints at all times. It doesn’t matter how small of a business you run. Hackers can and will find data on your network that presents some kind of value, whether it is to them personally or to someone on the black market. They might even be out to cause a little bit of chaos and infect your computers just for the sake of doing so. Who can say for sure? All we can say for sure is that you need to secure your network and its endpoints.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Encryption is a powerful tool that helps you keep your data secure, especially while out of the office. A virtual private network can encrypt data sent to and from your device, improving privacy and security while on unsecured networks. It is especially helpful when working on a public Wi-Fi connection or while traveling.

Adding new software solutions to your business’ infrastructure might sound difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. 4Corner IT can help your business implement software solutions designed to improve operations and provide sustainability for your business. To learn more, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.

Hackers Target Cloud Services in the New Normal

hackers target cloud services in the new normal

Many employees all over the world have benefited from the recent pandemic’s ability to push millions into working remotely from home. With decreased commute times and the ability to work in a more casual environment, many employees are probably hoping to continue to work remotely for some time to come. While employees may be happy with their working arrangements, the different working environment presents some definite challenges for those working in the area of technology security. Always operating as opportunists hackers target cloud services and the influx of remote workers, hoping to find a way into the cloud in order to steal data and wreak havoc, which in turn increases costs and/or headaches for organizations.

The Target

Hackers know where to find golden information and with remote users, the gold is found in the Cloud services they use. According to recent stats gathered by McAfee, attacks on Cloud services increased by 630 percent between the months of January and April of this year! It doesn’t take much to conclude that this phenomenal number of attacks coincided with the explosion of businesses across the globe who shut down their offices, thus leaving employees with working from home as their only option. 

How Hackers Attack Remote Users

Generally speaking, hackers attack remote users in two forms. Of course, virtually every computer task begins with a user entering in their login information. If a hacker can gain login information from someone working remotely, it is that much more difficult to detect if the login is coming from a legitimate remote worker or if the user logging in is a threat to the company. With remote workers sometimes living long distances away from where their physical office building resides, or if they decide to go to a vacation home or to a relative’s home in another state, it is almost impossible to determine whether a user is legitimate or not based upon geographical location.

The second form of attack which is sometimes easier to spot, has been given the name of suspicious “superhuman” logins. This occurs when multiple login attempts are noted in a very short span of time from regions scattered throughout the world.

For companies who don’t have any employees working across the globe, these types of logins are fairly obvious to spot as suspicious. However, for companies who do have staff members distributed throughout large regions, these types of attacks can still present a challenge.

Solutions

Thankfully, there is a relatively easy solution already available that can bring successful login hacking attempts down to almost nil. Two-factor authentication procedures are essentially a must for any company that has employees who work from home. When an employee has to verify their login by entering a code sent to their phone, this eliminates virtually anyone attempting a break in by way of the login process.

Of course, employers must also train their remote-work employees to be extra diligent in discerning whether someone truly is who they say they are. Hackers can easily find out which businesses have closed their public offices and often businesses will list key personnel along with their email on corporate websites.

Under these types of circumstances, it would be easy for a hacker to impersonate someone in the company, then send a phishing email that looks like an official email from someone high up in the company, to an employee working remotely at home.  Companies can address this by instructing employees to verify identification by phone, prior to releasing any sensitive data or monetary funds. 

If you would like to know more about keeping corporate data safe and secure while employees are working from home, please contact us!

5 Technology Challenges Businesses can Expect in 2020

watch out for cyber attacks this holiday season

As new solutions and inventions continue to aid businesses, they come with a ton of technology challenges. Where a connected world allows you to take your business digital, it comes with the risk of cyber-attacks. Where you can get clients from any corner of the world, there is the challenge of data privacy.

But it is not all doom and gloom. Yes, there are challenges, but forewarned is forearmed. Here are some of the problems you can expect to face in 2020 and how you can prepare.

Cyber Security

More and more customers are coming forward about hackers breaking into their ring devices, and wreaking havoc in their homes. Such attacks are a foreboding that most businesses will struggle with cyber-security in 2020.

Some threats include phishing and social-engineering attacks. Of every 99 emails, one is a phishing attack amounting to 4.8-emails in a workweek. Phishing attacks are the gravest as they can trick a business owner or employee into giving up legitimate credentials. As a result, the hacker can access sensitive business information.

Other threats include IoT (internet of things) attacks owing to the increasing number of smart devices. There is also ransomware which increased by 340% from 2018 to 2019.

Using a password manager, and 2-factor authentication can help secure your business, but only professionals can provide foolproof cybersecurity.

Cloud Network Issues

Cloud computing has allowed better data storage, flexibility, and collaboration. It has allowed large enterprises to make better decisions while reducing costs, but you can expect to have issues with it in 2020.

One of the top cloud network issues will be security. There are risks involved in the implementation and management of the cloud, and reports on hacked interfaces, breaches, and account hijacking don’t help the situation.

Also while cloud computing enables businesses to scale without investing in expensive hardware, the quantities and cost become challenging to predict.

Implementation of Privacy Protection

Back in 2018, the EU general data protection regulations came into force. It was about time, but that came with challenges for businesses. Problems that will persist into 2020.

Governance and accountability top the list of concerns. The regulations created a need for business-wide regulations during the full lifecycle. Also, you have to provide more information to your data subjects (customers), and there is always the risk of getting that wrong.

Businesses also have to keep a detailed record of processing activities which is a burden. Mandatory impact assessment questions about when they are required is still a mystery.

Getting the Right Skills

Though freelancing has allowed businesses to hire from a wide-pool of experts, finding the right skills will still be a concern in 2020. And it should be your top concern as nothing can work without the right people.

Should you choose to hire an in-house expert, you can expect to pay a fortune in salaries, and their supply is quite limited. You also have to contend with compliance issues. As such, we recommend you outsource your IT needs.

Deep Fakes

Finally, you have to contend with deep fakes. People are employing unethical methods to make it seem like politicians and celebrities said things they did not say. Deep fakes will now trickle down, and business and thought leaders will find themselves at the mercy of such technology.

People willing to employ deep fakes will sway people’s opinions and can affect your business.

2020 will be a remarkable year for companies looking to use technology. But with great tech comes equally great challenges. The challenges above are a few you can expect.

Hire IT professionals, as they allow you to focus on the essential things in your business while they provide the necessary support.

What is Shadow IT?

what is shadow it

Shadow IT is the collective term used to classify all information technology applications and infrastructure that is used in the workplace without authorization of the company’s IT department. This includes software, web applications/servers, hardware, and cloud technologies. 

Employees often bring in applications into the company that they believe will help them achieve their tasks or complete their projects better. This is often the case as well. Shadow IT is often managed and utilized by employees to improve productivity and efficiency. This is where the gray area part comes in.

Why is Shadow IT a Gray Area

Shadow IT is considered a gray area because although the intentions and purpose of the shadow IT brought in are to increase productivity, there is also a security risk involved with this.

Allowing foreign and unauthorized shadow IT to interact and manipulate the company’s data is a big security risk. Members of the IT department are tasked with ensuring the security and compliance of the data that is transmitted through shadow IT sources. This makes their job of securing company data much harder and increase the risk of foul-play or information theft.

Some companies are willing to embrace the innovation and increased productivity brought on by these shadow IT technologies, while others frown upon it due to the increased security risks. 

The Solution?

The purpose of the shadow IT introduced to the company are primarily to increase productivity and ease of task management. The increased usage of shadow IT creates what is called a digital sprawl. This term means that there is an increase in incoherent application or software that is being used in the company. For example, employee A uses Application X to make their spreadsheets while employee B uses Application Y to achieve the same task. With an increase in the number of different applications used and the number of employees, the digital sprawl can easily become difficult to manage.

This digital sprawl raises data compliance issues and can potentially cost companies a lot. This also makes it difficult to govern the use of applications as well as maintain consistency in the company at the macro-level. High amounts of digital sprawl can mean lots of wasted time, effort, and resources for a company.

Governance and Leniency

In terms of a solution, the company should task the IT department to find technologies that they are willing to authorize that will also allow employees to effectively perform their duties. Then, governance of employees to use the standard application will increase company coherence across teams and departments in the company. 

If it proves too difficult a task to eliminate all shadow IT sources, then creating a technology filter is the best option. A technology filter is essentially where all employees must pass the technology they desire to use to the IT department. From there IT can either authorize the use of the technology or deny it. Making a limit to the number of unique services in the workplace is also important. This will minimize digital sprawl while also allowing the inventiveness and creativity of new technologies to enter. 

By recognizing shadow IT for the potential benefit, yet inherent risk that it is, it is easier to make the best decision for the company. Finding the right tolerance for shadow IT in the company is crucial for the security of information. For more information about shadow IT or IT in general, contact us.

Is it Possible to Host a Private Cloud in the Cloud?

is it possible to host a private cloud in the cloud

Many business owners, typically at the urging of their technology services company, have finally made the decision to move their computing tasks and perhaps even their data to the “cloud”. While some of the benefits, including reduced costs and anytime/anywhere access to corporate systems is appealing, some business owners may have security concerns and wonder if it is possible to “be in the cloud” yet still maintain privacy. In this post, we will define the various cloud options, so business owners can determine which route is ideal for them.

The Public Cloud

Any technology service using shared hosted resources with others is considered part of the public cloud. Office 365 and Google Drive are two such examples. They both offer anytime/anywhere access to users, plus the added benefit of minimal or no costs for usage and/or infrastructure maintenance. While these are two applications hosted by well known technology companies, there are many other industry-specific applications and/or services that companies may provide through the public cloud. 

A Private Cloud

Using their own hardware resources, large companies typically host their own private clouds, providing the convenience of anytime/anywhere access to their employees. However, even small companies can have their own private cloud, either hosted on their own premises or on a external provider’s hardware resources, typically in an off-site location. More and more, smaller companies are considering the advantages of maintaining a private cloud, since a private cloud can also incorporate other services such as data storage, application hosting, and data backup and disaster recovery. 

The Best of Both Worlds

Some companies decide to take a hybrid approach and use some applications and services offered in the public cloud, while also maintaining a private cloud. By utilizing the best of both worlds, a company can take advantage of the lower costs typically associated with using the public cloud, while still keeping vital corporate data safe and secure on their own private cloud infrastructure. 

If you would like more information on to set up a comprehensive cloud computing plan for your company, please contact us!