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Tech Management

Too Much To Manage? Top Challenges Facing Tech Leaders Today (And What To Do About Them)

Guest blog co-written with Precision Solutions Group, Inc.

As the technology landscape continues to change and evolve at lightning speed, CIOs and CTOs have more on their plates than ever before. For many, spending time on valuable business drivers—the ones that give your business a competitive advantage—takes the backseat to managing and maintaining an IT environment that’s increasingly complex. This challenge is diverse, with many tech leaders needing to oversee everything from vendor management, to rising cyber security concerns, to the many facets associated with maintaining business continuity. And at the end of the day, these tasks leave little time to focus on innovation.

Throughout this blog series, we’ll touch on three major challenges that today’s tech leaders are facing, along with some suggestions to alleviate the burden.  Let’s start with our first challenge: vendor management.

How the Cloud is Changing Disaster Recovery

There is nothing any business fears more than a complete collapse of its IT systems. The financial cost of such an outage can be great, and additionally retrieving the data and rebuilding the system into its former state is often an extremely time consuming and logistically complex proposition. Businesses have literally gone under due to such IT issues, and although this is something that many companies dread, often small and mid-market firms don’t have sufficient provisions in place to provide effective disaster recovery.

It is a basic facet of human psychology that we often assume that the best case scenario will occur, and nothing fundamentally will go wrong. This tendency is amplified in the case of disaster recovery, where providing satisfactory backup for a business can involve a certain financial outlay.

The Human Firewall

As spammers have graduated from simple Nigerian Prince SPAM emails to sophisticated Spear Phishing attacks, there hasn’t been as big a corresponding technology shift to stop this new attack. SPAM filtering continues to stop hundreds of emails a day to each user’s inbox, but the more sophisticated attacks will continue to get through. This is where the Human Firewall comes in.

In the past people have always relied on technology to stop malware and virus from coming into their network. This was great prior to laptop computers and when everyone worked in the same office. Now people work from home, the coffee shop, and a myriad of other places all connecting to their data in the cloud. The attacks have changed from trying to get past the corporate firewall to getting past the user and onto their machine.

Server and Network Log Monitoring

Many of us wake up in the middle of the night in cold sweats thinking, do we really know what is happening within our network? This is normally after another story about how a large or small company was hacked and their data was stolen and strewn throughout the Internet. But then you resign yourself to the fact that your firewall will protect you and you go back to sleep.

Although your firewall is an indispensable part of your security posture, it isn’t the only way to protect yourself. Many people in the security industry describe security as an onion. It has multiple layers to protect you and give you time to find and fix the issue prior to something happening.

So while your firewall will protect you from bad people trying to get in, it is only as good as the rules that are configured. If you allow access to your wiki from the Internet, then your wiki is now available and can be hacked and potentially exploited. Even if it is properly secured there are always new vulnerabilities. So how do you protect against this?

How the Cloud is Changing Disaster Recovery

There is nothing any business fears more than a complete collapse of its IT systems. The financial cost of such an outage can be great, and additionally retrieving the data and rebuilding the system into its former state is often an extremely time consuming and logistically complex proposition. Businesses have literally gone under due to such IT issues, and although this is something that many companies dread, often SMEs don’t have sufficient provisions in place to provide effective disaster recovery.

It is a basic facet of human psychology that we often assume that the best case scenario will occur, and nothing fundamentally will go wrong. This tendency is amplified in the case of disaster recovery, where providing satisfactory backup for a business can involve a certain financial outlay.

What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and Why Would I Need One?

Worldwide issues, such as the recent Heartbleed bug, bring into focus the importance of Internet security. Of course, we have all heard scare stories about the dangers of the world wide web, and in some cases, these can be dismissed as scare stories. However, some of the more rabid reporting on the issue of Internet security shouldn’t disguise the fact that there are real threats out there.

How to Avoid Choosing the Wrong Outsourced IT Provider

Outsourcing has been growing in popularity. It represents an opportunity for companies to expand, as needed, while cutting the costs associated with new technologies and services. Recent studies conducted by Computer Economics, Inc. showed outsourcing made up only 4 percent of IT costs in 2008. By 2009 this percentage increased to more than 6 percent. By 2011, outsourcing IT services made up more than 10 percent of the total IT expenditures, and this trend has only continued in 2012.

This means that choosing the right outsourced IT provider is now more important than ever. There is a lot at stake in terms of business continuity, company productivity, growth of revenue, and company expansion.

Part of choosing an outsourced IT provider is knowing what mistakes to avoid. Investing the time at the beginning means fewer headaches over the long term and minimizing the potential for unexpected costs as a result of making the wrong decision.

What you need to know about the Microsoft Internet Explorer “Zero-Day” Vulnerability

The latest Internet Explorer “Zero-Day” vulnerability, first acknowledged by Microsoft on Saturday, April 26th, has left all version of Internet Explorer 6 through 11 vulnerable to exploitation. However, initial reports indicate that IE versions 9, 10, and 11 are the primary targets. According to the research firm FireEye, the exploit uses an Adobe Flash SWF file to execute the exploit. Machines that do not have Flash installed are believed to be safe. It is important to note that Microsoft will not be producing a patch for its Microsoft XP operating system. Support for this OS ended on April 8, 2014 so if you’re running this operating system on your machine, you will need to upgrade.

If you currently have a Thrive Managed Firewall powered by Dell SonicWALL, the Intrusion Prevention signatures to cover the “Zero-Day” exploit were added to your device within the last 48 hours. You are protected from this vulnerability when on the Internet behind your corporate firewall.

Server and Network Management Challenges

Server and network availability is an essential aspect of maintaining business productivity and continuity. IT administrators face many challenges and responsibilities when it comes to maintaining the network and keeping downtime at a minimum.   Depending upon the size of the organization there are many components to keep track of such as device management, updates, patching, new application configurations, compliance requirements, and issues that arise as the result of human error or environmental factors.  So, what are some of the challenges that IT administrators face and what are some of the ways you can overcome these issues?

How to Choose the Best Data Protection Solutions

Every company is aware that the proper data protection measures are of utmost importance. Yet many businesses still utilize older methods of data backup such as tape systems, costly onsite backup methods, and offsite systems that may mean several days until recovery takes place.  These methods consume resources and pose more risks of failure in addition to being complex, costly, and labor intensive.

New data backup and recovery technologies eliminate