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Advice For Passing Your Next IT Audit With Flying Colors

How to Pass an IT Audit

Most people think of audits and immediately cringe, but the fact of the matter is that businesses wanting to maximize output can really benefit from an audit. Audits can be great ways to ensure that a business’ priorities are being given their due attention, and that best practices are being utilized. An audit of your IT infrastructure and network can go a long way toward helping you determine if there are changes you need to make in order to maximize the profitability of your organization.

Here are three of the most common problems that our engineers find when conducting our comprehensive IT audits.

Outdated Software
It doesn’t matter if it’s the operating system on your workstations or the software on the servers, if you fail to applycritical updates and security patches to your operating systems, then your network will be vulnerable. This is a big red flag during any IT audit. Since outdated versions of software can become problematic for your integrated security protocols, by not properly updating your mission-critical software, you could be putting your business at significant risk.

An Absent Business Continuity Plan
As a part of a risk management strategy, any organization that doesn’t have a business continuity plan is ignoring the truth. The facts suggest that a disaster could happen at any moment, whether a company is ready or not. If you fail to prepare for a disaster, you’re staring failure in the face.

Poor or Lackluster Implementation
When it comes to regulatory compliance, Excalibur Technology will audit your internal processes, and analyze how they could be more efficient or secure. If you have outdated IT policies, they can end up costing you a lot more than a passing grade on an IT audit. If you haven’t properly tested your infrastructure, or if you’ve failed to deploy modern security best practices like multi-factor authentication, then your organization will perform poorly on an IT audit. Furthermore, if an auditor sees that your organization’s IT department splits responsibilities on a per-task basis, you’ll be more likely to score lower than if all IT resources understood how to perform every task necessary to their position.

These are only a few ways that your company could fail to perform as intended during an IT audit. If you want to ensure that your organization can pass your next audit, then you’ll want to ensure that your IT understands the importance of adhering to security best practices and industry standards.

Lastly, it is incredibly important that you remember that auditors aren’t the ones who are trying to sink your business. If anything, they are attempting to help you improve the way your organization operates. They are simply doing what your IT department should be doing in the first place by checking to see if you have unpatched or vulnerable systems, or aren’t adhering to best practices.

Excalibur Technology can help your business ensure its security by performing an IT audit. We can comb through your network for any potential issues and suggest ways to resolve them. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.


You Will Soon Be Able To Search The Web With Your Smartphone Camera, Thanks To Google Lens

Google Lens SearchWhile many instances of augmented reality may seem gimmicky, Google is taking strides toward making AR a purposeful utility in our mobile devices. This was made apparent when Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, announced Google Lens.

Taking note of the online shift from text-based content to image/video-based content, Google is doing its best to improve the search engine’s ability to reflect that shift. Utilizing machine learning, Google Lens can view images that are either saved in the device’s memory or visible to its camera and complete tasks based on those images.

For example, Google Lens can:

  • Identify a species of flower that the camera is focused on.
  • Log into a WiFi network just by viewing the SSID sticker on the router.
  • Translate text that the camera is pointed towards into a different language.
  • Provide information and reviews on local restaurants, stores, and other establishments that the phone is pointed at.

When it’s launched, Google Lens will have the ability to interact with both the Google Assistant and Google Photos. Google Assistant will allow you to add an event to your calendar just by pointing your camera at an information board. Google Photos will allow the user to check details like opening and closing hours of a business. If you happen to have a screenshot of someone’s business card, you can call them directly from the image.

More Google apps will follow these two, providing users even more functionality.

So, what do you think? Do you see these features making your day-to-day business tasks and responsibilities easier? Which Google app do you most look forward to Google Lens augmenting? Let us know in the comments!


Here Are Your Options For Managing Mobile Devices In The Workplace

Manage Devices in the WorkplaceDid you know that, according to Gartner, a whole 80 percent of all employees bring their personal mobile devices to the office? It’s a rather troubling development for business owners who want to secure their data and keep their employees productive. However, this Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend has proved extremely beneficial for prepared organizations. This must prompt the question of how your business manages mobile devices in the workplace.

The usual response to mobile devices appearing in offices is either the employer supplying company devices, or preventing their use altogether. Unfortunately, neither of these are all positive, so it’s best to approach the situation with an informed and open mind. What follows are the circumstances that come with each approach.

Company-Provided Mobile Devices
Depending on the kind of work your organization does, providing company devices might be beneficial for employees. However, you’ll need to consider all of the finer details, including which platform the devices run on (iOS, Android, Windows), contract terms, and how your organization plans on controlling and protecting data located on the devices. Creating a policy that clearly outlines how work and personal information is separated on the device, the privileges that the employee has with the device, a plan if the device is ever misplaced, and what happens when the employee quits, is the key to guaranteeing data security.

Unfortunately, this is often seen as a quick fix. You are spending money and forcing your employees to comply with the rules, but this doesn’t fix the problem of controlling data on its own. Statistics also show that employees aren’t particularly unhappy about company-owned devices, but that the solution can feel like a slap in the face to employees who work well using their own personal devices. On the other hand, some staff might feel excited about a brand new smartphone on the company’s budget, so it’s up to you to determine what the best approach to this situation is.

Banning Personal Devices Altogether
Some employers will just fully ban access to personal devices, which means that any employee using them for any reason will be written up or face similar consequences. While this can protect your data, this will likely create a rift between your employees and management. You might only be trying to protect your data, but they’ll only see this as management making their jobs more difficult. While this doesn’t necessarily happen all the time, it’s still often enough to cause concern. It’s also problematic for your organization, as mobility is likely something that your competitors have considered implementing themselves.

Thankfully, There Are Options
If you can meet your employees in the middle ground of this sensitive topic, they’ll be thankful for it. By this, we mean taking the time to discuss data security with your employees while allowing them to use their own personal devices, so long as they abide by your protocol. Employers have the opportunity to push policies such as including some type of authentication on their devices (passwords, pins, patterns, etc), alongside secondary measures such as two-factor authentication on accounts located on the device. Providing the employer with the rights to revoke access to email and the ability to wipe data in the event of a stolen device must also be a point of discussion.

Laptops brought from home should be outfitted with company antivirus protection and remote monitoring, along with the ability to set up a VPN or hosted desktop solution so that there’s no need to worry about what sorry state the device is in. This can also make it easier to solve troubles with software licensing and accessing company data while on a public Wi-Fi connection.

The best way to approach personal mobile devices in the office is by implementing a BYOD strategy. This should be capable of responding to any and all security discrepancies that may arise from mobile devices being used for work purposes. If you’re having trouble putting together such a policy, it’s in your best interest to reach out to professional technicians for consultation. Excalibur Technology can help your organization put together a solid BYOD policy that keeps your data secure. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.


What’s Your Personal Information Worth On The Black Market? It’s All About Supply And Demand

Stolen Information on Black MarketIf your company’s sensitive data was to be put up for sale, how much do you think it would go for? Chances are, you may be guessing a little high, which makes things worse for businesses in such a situation. Assuming that your data will be sold for a premium price will likely lead you to believe that fewer criminals will access it than actually will.

How to Sell Stolen Data
Since selling stolen data is illegal, the favored place to put it up for sale is the dark web. This is because the dark web can only be accessed through special software that hides the user’s identity, and requires all transactions to be made in Bitcoin. This way, illegal items can be sold like any item on a typical merchant website would, including ratings provided by previous buyers.

These illegal items that are put up for sale are usually the kinds of things that criminals would find useful. This includes cyber criminals, who will exchange cryptocurrency for stolen data. For example, let’s say for a moment that your company had fallen victim to a cybercriminal who had managed to steal corporate bank account credentials and credit card info from a variety of businesses.

This cybercriminal could set up a seller’s page where potential buyers could place an order for data, charging these buyers based on what specific information they wanted.

For instance, the buyer could be interested in cards provided by Discover, and specify that in their order. What’s more, they could specify whether or not they wanted the security codes (the login credentials that the card was associated with), the date the card expires, where the card has been used, the name the card is under and that person’s date of birth, credit score, and even their mother’s maiden name. These variables influence the cost, as once the transaction is complete, the data is ready to be downloaded.

How Much Data Costs
Even illegal markets are subject to the laws of economics. For instance, the concept of scarcity dictates that the less of a good that is available, the higher its value, and vice versa. This is true even of stolen data–and because the market for stolen data changes pretty quickly, these prices are apt to change very quickly as well.

However, that does not mean that it is impossible to get a feel for the what is generally charged for stolen data. For instance, purchasing the comprehensive data for a stolen credit card (described as “fullz” in dark web slang) will set someone back by some amount between $13 and $21.

Depending on the data up for sale, pricing can vary as well. Financial accounts are priced based on their contents–an account holding $2,000 might cost a cybercriminal $100, and an account that holds $15,000 might cost the buyer $1,000. Recent events have caused a drop in the prices of compromised electronic medical records, so what would once cost about $350 now costs around $100.

Why It Matters
Consider, once again, the cost of stolen credit card credentials. If all a criminal needs is $13 to purchase stolen credit card data, it stands to reason that more credit cards will be sold, feeding back into the demand to steal more credit card data. These credentials have to come from somewhere, after all, so many cybercriminals will look to replenish their stock of credit card data; often targeting businesses. How well protected is yours?

Remember, most cybercriminals are looking for the easy target to steal data from. Excalibur Technology can help keep you from being the easy target. Give us a call at (877) NET – KING to keep your data safe.


GoDaddy Announces Shut Down Of Cloud Server Business

Cloud ServicesGoDaddy has announced that it will be shutting down its Cloud Server Business.  Clients have until December 31, 2017 to find another hosting solution.  GoDaddy also announced that it will be selling off its PlusServer business to another company.

Additional details can be found by CLICKING HERE and visiting ZDNet.

Do you have services that are running on a GoDaddy platform that need a new home?  Call Excalibur Technology today!  Our Hosted Server platform is amazing and we are continuously investing in and growing our infrastructure.  Find out what we can do for your business!  Call one of our Technology Sales Consultants today at 877-NET-KING


Got A Solid State Drive? Here’s How To Take Care Of It

SSD Hard Drive TipsYou may have purchased a solid state drive because of its many benefits over the hard disk drive. Although, if you want to get the most bang for your buck with a SSD, you’ll want to follow these best practices.

Install the Latest Operating System
Operating systems are updated periodically, but they are implemented with the idea in mind that more devices will be using a solid state drive compared to the normal hard disk drive. By upgrading to the latest operating system, you’re guaranteeing that your OS will be able to support your SSD.

Avoid Manipulating Data or Activating Wasteful Settings
An SSD can only rewrite data so many times before it’s unable to do so. While this limit isn’t low, the standard SSD can handle 40 GB of data writing every day for up to 10 years. Therefore, it’s a bad move to use your SSD to copy files or download data, as this puts unnecessary strain on the device. This means that you want to avoid the following features that your technology might be equipped with:

 

  • Benchmarking: While SSDs are fast to write data, it’s important to avoid running speed tests to see exactly how fast yours is. This will only shorten the lifespan of your drive, as it will use up valuable cycles that would be better used elsewhere.
  • Hibernation: Your computer can save system memory to the hard drive before it’s powered off. While this can help, you get back in business and resume operations quickly in the near future, it takes up more cycles on your SSD than you might prefer. Contrary to popular belief, putting your device to sleep and hibernation are two very different things, as letting your device sleep is much safer and more efficient for SSDs than for HDDs.
  • Defragging: When you defrag your device, it actively looks at the data to organize it on the mechanical level. While defragging improves the performance of HDDs, the benefits provided to SSDs aren’t noticeable, but the wear and tear might be if you proceed to perform them unnecessarily.

Be Mindful of Your Saves
The nature of SSDs make them more suitable for data storage of particular varieties. For example, it’s not recommended that SSDs be used to save large files, or the temporary files created by background processes. In these cases, it’s better to rely on a hard disk drive for saving this kind of data.

On the plus side, SSDs have a much longer lifespan than your typical HDD thanks to the many differences in their composition, including the use of flash storage and the lack of fast-moving internal parts. By keeping these best practices in mind, you can take a great technology and make it last even longer, allowing your business to experience fewer replacement costs overall.

Does your business rely on SSD or HDD? If you’d like a chance to improve the way your organization functions, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.


Can Your Cloud Provider Provide A Personal Touch?

Cloud Services with a personal touchCloud technology has become an integral part of doing business today. This has led to a need for, and subsequent availability of, cloud services from a variety of sources to be able to meet the needs of a business. These services aren’t all created equally, however, and as a result, the source of cloud services is a critical consideration to take into account when choosing a provider.

The vast majority of these public cloud services come from one of two sources. First, there are cloud solutions that are provided by the well-known, multinational technology companies. These cloud services include the likes of Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Dropbox, to name a few. Alternatively, there is also the prospect of utilizing hosted solutions that are delivered through a managed service provider.

Consider the service that one could expect to receive from a big box solution provider. While the products are excellent, it is extremely unlikely that–should you ever require support–these providers will offer the in-depth insight and dedicated attention to resolve your issue efficiently and effectively. After all, chances are slim that these providers would feel much impact from losing one client thanks to their size and scope. Therefore, major providers will almost certainly be considerably less involved in providing the attention that your business would benefit from. What’s more, since these providers have to serve the lowest common denominator, there is the chance that the cloud solutions they have available simply aren’t suited to meet your business’ specific needs.

This is not the case when it comes to what a managed service provider can deliver.

When an MSP offers a cloud solution, that offer is made with the promise of personalized service and attentiveness to the needs of their clients. With the more personal business relationship that is formed between you and the MSP, their services are more focused upon providing you with a solution that fits your needs, instead of the one-size-fits-most approach that larger firms and corporations take. The MSP will always be there if you ever need assistance in managing your cloud solution, and is willing to help you optimize your service level so that you will receive the attention and resources that you need… without breaking the bank on a service package filled with things you don’t.

If you’d rather your cloud computing experience be one that is personally handled by a resource that’s invested in your business and its success, reach out to Excalibur Technology. Give us a call at (877) NET – KING.


Cover Your Assets By Properly Disposing Of Your Old Computers

Dispose of your IT equipment properlyIt can be difficult to think about replacing expensive hardware like desktops and servers without breaking your budget, much less having to deal with your old data. Thankfully, there are certain steps that you can take to make the transition to a new PC or server much easier, and it all starts with properly getting rid of your old technology.

Before we get started, though, we want to emphasize the importance of taking preventative measures. These keep you from getting into a situation where you don’t have the technology you need. In other words, if your desktop is outdated, then you shouldn’t wait until it completely breaks down before you replace it. This makes it imperative that you identify warning signs for your ailing technology before it suddenly stops working.

Warning Signs
To get started thinking about what to do when your computer breaks down, look for the following warning signs.

  • General PC slowdown
  • Freezing or even operating system crashes
  • Corrupted files or data loss
  • Random shutdowns
  • Startup errors

Keep in mind that these symptoms could be signs of other PC issues as well.

Understand When You Need to Replace Technology
Nothing your business utilizes can last forever, including technology like workstations and servers. If you suspect that your PC is reaching its limit, it’s crucial that you implement a strategy to properly replace it and dispose of the old one. If there’s no such policy to adhere to, you could be putting your business at risk of a data breach, and putting yourself at odds when the investigators look into whether it was your fault for failing to follow best practices. Gartner explains, “Best-practice PC disposal processes provide an audit trail documenting the serial-numbered inventory of disposed PCs, certification that proprietary and personal data has been removed and made unrecoverable, and transfer/reuse of software licenses, where applicable.”

Does your business have old technology that’s holding you back from moving forward? If so, contact Excalibur Technology right away. Our technicians can help your business completely wipe the data off of your old technology’s hard drives, or transfer it to your new, more recent hardware. Plus, we can make recommendations on who to call to recycle your business’s old devices so they won’t cause harm to the environment.

Our goal is to help your business make a smooth transition to new hardware solutions without putting your sensitive data at risk. To learn more about what we can do for your organization, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.


A Few Security Lessons Your Business Can Learn From Game Of Thrones

Game of Thrones Security LessonsSecurity is a major concern for anything successful, and television programming is no different. Game of Thrones, the BBC’s epic production based on George R.R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire, has always been concerned with their security–and with the television series overtaking the book series, that concern has only grown as the production has brand new secrets to keep safe. As a result, the production has seen a steady increase in security.

Last season, scripts were handed out much more sparingly, and code words were assigned to characters and scenes. The network has also stopped the tradition of distributing advance copies of the program to members of the press, which is normally done so that reviews may be written.

With the action in the show finally overtaking the action in the books this season, the concern for the show’s security has leapt to new heights.

This year, two-factor authentication had to be set up on every cast member’s email account, where they would receive their copy of the script. According to Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays the role of Missandei on the show, these copies were not to be printed out. Even the notes that the cast members received during rehearsal were not to leave the set, and had to be turned in before the actors could leave.

This dedication to secrecy only makes sense. Game of Thrones is a bona fide cultural phenomenon, and more importantly has generated an astonishing amount of revenue. This is mainly because subscribers to HBO’s content repeatedly tune in every week to find out who is next on the chopping block–the show’s version of critical data. If that data was to get out ahead of schedule, subscribers would have less of an incentive to subscribe and would quickly transfer their focus (and capital) elsewhere.

Your business’ data needs to be secured for similar reasons–just substitute ‘subscribers’ for ‘clients’ in the situation above, and you see the importance of keeping your data secured.

Taking a page from Game of Thrones’ production can help you here. Two-factor authentication is a method of ensuring data security by requiring a secondary form of authentication to access an account, for example, a unique code sent to a mobile device. If the password were to somehow be guessed by some other party, they wouldn’t be able to access the account without the secondary code. There are many businesses that are already using this method, both as a means of compliance with various regulations and to reinforce their security.

So, tell us: are you looking forward to the rest of this season of Game of Thrones? Tell us in the comments, but please don’t spoil anything!


Microsoft “Slims” Down Windows 10 With New Operating System

Have you ever tried using a Google Chromebook for work purposes? While it might offer the ability to browse the web on a budget, the device is limited by the operating system’s lack of functionality. Microsoft has created a similar operating system in the form of Windows 10 S, which uses less processing power than the full version of their latest operating system.

Windows 10 S runs on less resources than laptops running Windows 10 Pro, which gives it a better loading speed. In fact, a laptop that’s running Windows 10 S can load a user profile up to 15 seconds faster. This is mostly thanks to there being fewer processes and applications running in the background.

The first audience Microsoft is targeting with this new operating system is educational institutions, like schools and college campuses. Unfortunately, Windows 10 S likely won’t be a good fit for an organization outside of education. While it might be helpful if you’re on a budget, it faces the same limits and inconsistencies as the Chrome OS. You get a passable experience, but what you can do will be limited.

It stands to reason that Windows 10 S will be found mostly on inexpensive laptops. Businesses that want to keep costs down have an option if they don’t want or need the extra power. Big names such as Dell, HP, and Acer have all chosen to produce laptops with Windows 10 S pre-packaged on them. This might be a great way to acquire a low-cost device for traveling or for meetings.

Most notable about this new operating system is that Microsoft is using this opportunity to upsell users on their Windows 10 Pro OS. Windows 10 S will be free, primarily because it’s already installed on the devices that will be using it. However, users can easily upgrade to the full version of Windows 10 Pro. While students can receive the full version of Windows 10 Pro for free, non-students must pay $49. This effectively gives businesses the opportunity to “test-drive” Windows 10 before going all-in.

Windows 10 S is now available. However, you still need to consider the repercussions of trying to save money by going with a cheaper device and lightweight OS. If you consult a professional IT technician, you’ll be able to iron out all of the details and understand exactly what you want and need before making a commitment, like purchasing a new device.  Our advice for our clients – avoid Windows 10 S completely and buy devices that only have the full version of Windows 10 installed.

To learn more about how Excalibur Technology can help your business with its technology needs, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.



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