6 WAYS TO IMPROVE PASSWORD SECURITY

The humble password has been around for centuries and still acts as the first line of defense against hackers. From the very beginning, the purpose of a password has been to protect information. Now that almost everything we work with is on online, it is more important than ever to make sure the one string of digits and letters that protects all this material is extremely secure.

Many people today would prefer keeping up with one simple password for their multiple accounts, making it easier to remember and faster to login. This actually opens the door to all sorts of trouble. What’s worse is that it may not only be you that’s in jeopardy for this weak security; if a hacker or phisher is able to crack your password and obtain your account info, they might be able to access other important accounts or even your work’s network. Putting your company at risk because of a weak password is easily avoidable. Here are some ways to improve password security:

Change Passwords Regularly

While it may be a little excessive and unrealistic to change all the passwords of your numerous accounts on a month-to-month basis, it is logical to change your passwords every year to ensure the security of your accounts. You should also be changing your password if any of these situations arise:

  • After a service discloses a security incident
  • There is evidence of unauthorized access to your account
  • There is evidence of an attempt to login to your account from an unknown location or device
  • There is evidence of malware or other compromise of you device
  • You shared access to an account with someone who is no longer using the login
  • You logged into an account on a shared or public computer

Use Combinations of Characters

We all know it’s never fun to see accounts telling us that
“passwords must have:

  • Eight characters
  • One symbol
  • One number
  • One uppercase
  • One lowercase”,

but hey, they’re not wrong. Yeah, the extra steps might be a little annoying and take a couple more seconds of you time, but doing so adds more variables that can make it harder for hackers to access your account. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather deal with the annoyance of a complex password than the annoyance of a data breach.

Use Passphrases Instead of Passwords

A passphrase is pretty self-explanatory. Instead of a string of characters, a passphrase is exactly what it sounds like – a phrase used for a password. For example, someone could use the passphrase “Be the change you want to see in the world.” A passphrase can also contain symbols and doesn’t have to be a proper sentence or grammatically correct; the main point is that a passphrase is:

  • Easier to remember – It is always easier to remember a lyric to your favorite song or a memorable quote than it is to remember a string of random symbols.
  • Harder to crack than an average password – There are now state-of-the-art hacking tools that are able to crack even the most complex password, but even the most advanced cracking tool won’t be able to guess or pre-compute these passphrases.

Just make sure that the phrase you choose is not so common or popular that it can easily be guessed by someone who knows you.

Use Multiple Factors of Authentication (MFA)

There has been many instances where companies could have avoided a breach by using multi-factor authentication (MFA). Multi-factor identification (sometimes called two-factor authentication), is a security feature that allows you to have more than just your username and password to access your account. After entering your username and password, MFA requires a second piece of information, such as:

  • Security questions (e.g. “What is your mother’s maiden name?” or “What was the name of your first pet”)
  • One time text/call code
  • Finger print scan

Multi-factor authentication and two-factor authentication are great ways to keep your passwords strong and essentially safeguard your accounts from potential breaches.

Hide Physical Evidence of Passwords

In an environment where passwords are updated regularly, it might seem convenient to write it on a sticky note and put it on a monitor or in an unlocked desk drawer for reference until it changes again. In reality, this could be a massive security hole if someone were to walk into the office space looking for data to steal. Nowadays there are plenty of apps that safely store and retrieve your passwords for you. Some good ones are:

Don’t Share Passwords

By granting permission to let anyone use your credentials, you are compromising the security of your accounts. From the moment they have access, you have no idea what they will do with your account details or whom they might share it with. By keeping your information private, not only are you making sure that your personal information is secure, but you’re keeping yourself from potential responsibility for malicious acts someone could partake in on your account. If someone were to hack into your account and commit a mischievous act, you could and probably would be held accountable.

Take these tips into consideration next time you enter a new or change an old password. Taking the extra steps to ensure the strength of your passwords will result in the extra security of your accounts and your company.


4 Reasons Why Companies Today Should Use a Managed IT Service

As we grow more reliant on modern technologies and systems, IT failures significantly alter our ability to work and run business. Businesses of all sizes place an urgency on operational efficiency, but not all companies are equally equipped to sustain this efficiency. Small-medium size businesses may have limited IT resources, making it likely to fall behind in updates and network management and essentially putting the company’s system in jeopardy.

Managed services have been on the rise in the business world. This year alone, managed IT service providers are expected to bring in $649 billion, and is projected to reach $731 billion in 2020. You might be asking yourself “Why is this specific business model so successful?” or “Why should I make the switch to a managed service provider?” Here are a couple reasons why:

1.) Efficiency and Reliability

One of the main reasons that small-medium size businesses choose managed IT services is that it provides more efficient and reliable IT operations. Most companies that partner with managed service providers is because of overburdened IT staff or the lack of employees that are knowledgeable and skilled to handle certain tasks and effectively handle the whole network on their own.

When looking at these potential situations, it is hard to deny the importance of working with a managed IT service provider. A majority of companies using managed services describe their business with their IT provider as a joint arrangement with their internal IT department, leading one to believe that different aspects of IT management fall into the MSP realm while others are handled in-house. The goal for these business owners is to enhance and improve the performance of the internal IT department, not replace them. An outside IT service not only adds an extra team of IT specialists to help with any concerns or issues, but ensures the benefit of having the most up-to-date technology and innovative solutions that will assist in maximizing productivity and profitability. Some of these technologies include:

  • Cloud computing
  • Data protection/recovery
  • Network security/cyber security

Investing in these tools ensures the entire IT infrastructure becomes more dependable and efficient, and that the internal IT department is able to keep control of the situation.

2.) Enhanced Security

Did you know that 62% of cyber victims are small-medium size businesses? 60% of those victims will go out of business within six months of an attack.

Because more Houston businesses are starting to rely on storing, processing, and distributing data via the internet, cyber security is becoming a crucial component to the health of a business. Many business owners are fearful that they will become victim to a security breach.

As a managed IT service provider, it is not only their job to educate the company on the matter but help manage network security. A good IT provider will provide outsourced monitoring and management of a business’s security devices and systems, and custom-build their security service to meet the business’s needs. Some managed network security services include:

  • Managed firewall
  • Managed secure Wi-Fi
  • Managed remote connectivity
  • Managed Windows patching
  • Managed third-party patching
  • Managed anti-virus protection
  • Vulnerability scanning
  • Two-factor authentication
  • User awareness training

3.) Proactive Maintenance and Monitoring

This is one of the most important benefits of having a managed IT service provider. Business owners have little to no time to spend worrying about their IT infrastructure or other IT concerns. A business owner should be focusing on nothing but their business, which is why having a managed IT service provider is so valuable.

These IT security solutions and services are always working to detect potential threats or vulnerabilities. Having fully managed IT support means that any disturbances or issues can most often be troubleshot and repaired before they are a concern to the business owner.

A managed IT service will provide a sophisticated IT infrastructure for a company’s entire network, including:

  • Firewalls
  • Data
  • Phone systems
  • Switches
  • Networked devices
  • PCs
  • Printers
  • Routers
  • Servers

4.) Cost Effectiveness

When you have managed IT service, you’ll be paying the same amount each month regardless of how much support you need. This means you’ll know exactly what to budget and what services you’ll receive, allowing you to be more flexible when financing other aspects of your business.

There is no reason to wait until something goes wrong to elicit IT Support for your business. Catastrophic data breaches and network failures are not worth the costs or the downtime. If a business aims to grow and flourish, keeping its competitive edge, they will need a solution that offers managed IT services to avoid the avoidable.

Unlimited IT support for a fixed monthly fee gives your business the ability to focus on things that truly matter, without neglecting its technology management.

Want to learn more about the advantages of managed services? Call Elevated Technologies at 281-653-7726 to learn more and move forward with the confidence of a fully managed IT service for your Houston business!


Elevated Technologies Ranked Among Top 501 Managed Service Providers by MSPmentor

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Elevated Technologies Ranked Among Top 501 Managed Service Providers by MSPmentor

10th Annual MSP 501 Ranking and Study Identifies
World’s Most Progressive MSPs in Information Technology

DATE June 13, 2017: Elevated Technologies ranks among the world’s most progressive 501 Managed Service Providers (MSPs), according to MSPmentor’s 10th-annual MSP 501 Worldwide Company Rankings. The top MSP 501 companies ranked this year include organizations from around the world and from diverse technology and business backgrounds. Collectively, they amassed $14.48 billion in total revenue (based on 2016 results), up more than 15 percent from a year earlier.

The complete 2017 MSP 501 list is available at MSPmentor.net. In addition to honoring Elevated Technologies this year’s MSP 501 list and study showcases the top ranked MSPs worldwide. Over the next few weeks, MSPmentor will unveil additional lists showcasing:

  • The top MSPs in Europe, Middle East and Africa
  • The top MSPs in Asia, Australia and New Zealand
  • The top Small Business MSPs’ list, comprised of organizations with 10 or fewer employees
  • The top vertical markets pursued by MSP 501 companies
  • The leading tools they leverage to run their businesses
  • And the top technologies they provide to customers

“This is quite an honor,” said Jason Rorie, Founder of Elevated Technologies. “We are very pleased and humbled to be in such great company with other outstanding MSPs.”

“On behalf of MSPmentor, I would like to congratulate Elevated Technologies for its recognition as an MSP 501 honoree,” said Aldrin Brown, Editor in Chief, MSPmentor. “The managed service provider market is evolving at a rapid pace and the companies showcased on the 2017 MSP 501 list represent the most agile, flexible and innovative organizations in the industry.”

The 2017 MSP 501 list is based on data collected by MSPmentor and its partner, Clarity Channel Advisors. Data was collected online from Feb. 16 through May 15, 2017. The MSP 501 list recognizes top managed service providers based on metrics including recurring revenue, growth and other factors.

About Elevated Technologies

Elevated Technologies delivers premier managed IT services, consultation and support for organizations that absolutely depend on their technology. We specialize in IT Management,  Monitoring & Maintenance, Business Continuity, Remote & Onsite Network Support, and Data Security. The hallmarks of our service – flexibility, reliability, protection – are the guiding principles behind our world-class IT management and professional services.

About Penton Technology’s Channel Brands

Penton Technology’s channel brands define emerging IT markets and disrupt established IT markets. They are a division of Informa. The channel brands include: MSPmentor (www.MSPmentor.net), The VAR Guy (www.TheVARguy.com), Talkin’ Cloud (www.TalkinCloud.com), the WHIR (http://www.thewhir.com) and WebHostingTalk (http://webhostingtalk.com).

 About Informa

Penton Technology, Think Tank, MSPmentor, The VAR Guy, Talkin’ Cloud, the WHIR, WebHostingTalk, Channel Partners Online, Channel Partners Conference & Expo and Channel Partners Evolution are part of Informa, the international business intelligence, academic publishing, knowledge and events group. Informa serves commercial, professional and academic communities, helping them connect and learn, and creating and providing access to content and intelligence that helps people and businesses work smarter and make better decisions faster.

Informa has over 7,500 colleagues in more than 20 countries and a presence in all major geographies. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a member of the FTSE 100.

 MEDIA CONTACT:
Aldrin Brown,
Director of Content, MSPmentor
Aldrin.Brown@penton.com



Watson Has a New Job

 

You may or may not have heard of Watson by IBM. In case you haven’t heard of it, IBM Watson is a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data. Basically, it can be asked questions and will give back answers. The way it works is it [Watson] analyzes unstructured data to present an answer or solution. Watson is able to understand complex questions, grammar and context, and will evaluate all of the possible meanings to determine what is being asked. A question is submitted to Watson, it then searches millions of documents, collects evidence using a scoring algorithm that rates the quality of the evidence. Once this is done, it ranks the possible answers based on the score of the evidence. Finally, it gives you an answer or solution to your question. Sound complicated? It kind of is. However, it is put to good use. It is currently being used in work to battle cancer and cybercriminals, but Watson just landed a new job with Macy’s. It will be called Macy’s On-Call. Since most people have their smartphone with them while shopping, Macy’s is taking advantage of this to improve their customer’s experience. Macy’s On-Call will give shoppers the ability to ask Watson questions regarding a store’s products, services, and facilities by typing in their question. The question will be delivered through location-based software Satisfi, who is an IBM partner, which will access Watson from the cloud. The cool part? It is customized to each individual store. You can ask “where are the shoes?” or “INC dresses.” It will give you specific directions on where that item is located or more information about an item. Macy’s On-Call will use machine learning which evolves over time, so the more you use it, the more it learns about what you want/like/need. The long term goal is to integrate it into the Macy’s app. Technology that makes shopping easier is always a good idea.

 


Johnson & Johnson Moves to the Cloud

 

In today’s world, everyone seems to be backing everything up to the cloud, from data and pictures to important documents. Many companies are using the cloud as a way to back up their data. Big corporations have started doing the same thing. It seems as though this has become the norm, and eventually it may be the only way to back up your information. Johnson & Johnson has announced that they have begun making their transition to cloud systems. A spokeswoman for the company said that by 2018, Johnson & Johnson plans to have 85% of their applications in cloud systems. They will be using three separate cloud systems to include Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and NTT Communications Corp. The company announced that they will also be shutting down or consolidating 40% of existing software applications. Stuart McGuigan, chief information officer, stated that “Johnson & Johnson turned off its last mainframe last year, which is not something I was sure I’d see in my lifetime: A Fortune 100 company with absolutely no mainframe footprint.” Sandi Peterson, group worldwide chairman stated that the “company has moved more than 500 terabytes of data to Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Azure and NTT’s cloud platform, improving how research is conducted”. Peterson went on to say that “aside from cutting costs, cloud provides Johnson & Johnson with a way to grow faster. Putting so much data in the cloud, to use the computer processing power of outside providers, lets the company speed up product development.”

When major Fortune 100 companies start committing to the cloud, it’s a key indicator that a shift in typical business operations is taking place. In case some of you are wondering what cloud computing is, cloud storage providers such as Elevated Technologies gives you a remote data center, where it manages the infrastructure, servers, and virtualization of your data, and you simply access your virtual files using the internet, giving you access anywhere, anytime. As you can see from Johnson & Johnson’s perspective, there are numerous benefits to cloud computing. Elevated Technologies provides cloud based services that you can trust and rely on. To securely backup your data and enjoy convenient access to your data, contact Elevated Technologies and learn what we can do for your business.

 


HPE Sued Oracle: Here is the Story

 

From the world of mergers and acquisitions to the world of law suits, HP was previously in the news for their known merger with Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC). The most recent activity regarding HPE is their lawsuit against Oracle. HPE and Oracle have had a long-standing relationship for over three decades. Things considerably changed when Oracle bought Sun Microsystems in January of 2010. This buyout resulted in Oracle becoming a direct competitor of HP in the hardware division. This is also when the lawsuits between HPE and Oracle erupted. HPE stated that Oracle “breached a clear contractual obligation to HPE and acted in bad faith, with the intention of driving hardware sales from HPE’s Itanium to Oracle’s Sun servers.” Oracle had agreed on the software development for Itanium, a chip that HPE is dependent on for its selective servers. Oracle decided to stop developing software for use with HPE’s Itanium-based servers in 2011. Oracle claimed that Intel made it clear that the chip was nearing the end of its life and was shifting its focus to its x86 microprocessor. HPE said it had an agreement with Oracle that support for Itanium would continue, without which the equipment using the chip would become obsolete.

There has been bad blood between the two companies for a while. It started when Oracle hired HPE’s former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Hurd and appointed him as the Co-President. HPE was incredibly unhappy about this; they filed a lawsuit claiming “irreparable damage” as it was believed that Hurd would provide “valuable trade secrets” to Oracle. The two companies ended up mutually settling regarding the ‘trade secret’ lawsuit. On June 1, 2016, HPE asked Oracle to pay $3 billion in compensation for causing a fall in the demand for its Itanium-based offerings. This isn’t the first go-round of lawsuits for Oracle. About a month ago, Oracle lost a $9 billion verdict to Google while trying to stake a claim to the search giant’s Android phone business. This $3 billion award for HPE will account for 5.4 percent of Oracle’s $56 billion cash on hand, according to data collected by Bloomberg. It has been noted that HP is extremely happy with this verdict and that Oracle plans to appeal.

 


Windows 10 Is Having More Issues

 

Everyone who has ever used Microsoft knows that the company is compelling users to upgrade to Windows 10. Many people have already upgraded and are now experiencing problems with their computer, whether it is slow performance or computer crashes. Anyone who uses Windows has seen the pop-up encouraging you to upgrade to Windows 10. You might want to be careful the next time you click the “X” to close that pop-up box. On some of the pop-up boxes, a scheduled download date is shown. Turns out clicking the “X” does not cancel it.  Normally, if you would click the “X” you’d be canceling the update offer. But instead, Microsoft set it so that clicking the “X” actually confirms the date shown in the pop-up window. This is definitely a sneaky move. So much so, that Microsoft was sued by a travel agent in Seattle. Turns out this sneaky upgrade caused her computer to crash and resulted in loss of work. Microsoft lost the lawsuit and had to pay her $10,000. So the next time you see that upgrade box, be very careful about how you proceed.

 

 


Microsoft’s New Technical Advisor

 

So we heard earlier this week that Microsoft is acquiring LinkedIn for $196 per share. The deal is expected to be wrapped up later this year and values the social networking site at $26.2 billion. Some people have voiced that Microsoft is overpaying for LinkedIn, although Microsoft’s new Technical Advisor disagrees. This usually isn’t something that makes the headlines, except when that advisor is Bill Gates. Gates is the co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft. Who better to assist the company than one of the men who created it? Gates has been questioned regarding his stance on the merger. He has said this deal is “a great transaction” and “the value of the two companies’ combined is greater than the two by themselves.” With Gates behind this deal, you can bet it will be a good one.

 


Microsoft Pairs with LinkedIn

 

We have another merger in our midst. Microsoft has announced their plan to acquire LinkedIn. So what is the deal? Here is what you need to know. The agreement states Microsoft will purchase LinkedIn for $196 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $26.2 billion, inclusive of LinkedIn’s net cash. LinkedIn will be able to keep its independence and brand. Jeff Weiner, the creator and CEO of LinkedIn, will retain his position. The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies. The deal is expected to close this calendar year and is subject to approval by LinkedIn’s shareholders, the satisfaction of certain regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. This deal will combine the world’s leading professional cloud with the world’s leading professional network, which is kind of ingenious. That’s it for now. We’ll keep you posted on how this plays out.