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Microsoft Releases a Patch for their Internet Explorer Security Issues

Friday, May 02, 2014
Microsoft’s IE browser was recently discovered to have a major security vulnerability which allowed hackers remote access to data on your PC. In the interim, users were advised to change browsers until a patch becomes available.

For those who are unaware, Microsoft released a patch on May 1st. If you would like our assistance in updating your systems, please let us know via email or call us at 616.837.6930.

For those customers with our Remote Monitoring and Reporting (RMR) services, we will be able to remotely push the patch out without any interruption. All RMR customers can expect to have the patch applied by the end of the day today. If you are not receiving RMR services we can still assist in updating your systems however it may take longer to implement on your behalf. Please let us know right away so we can get you taken care of in a timely manner.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns. A helpful article about the security flaw can be found here.

What is your Virtualization and Cloud Services Strategy

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The current spring savings are a great reason to take closer look at Virtualization and Cloud Services strategies, but if saving some coin isn't enough to get you thinking about them, perhaps these three major factors in the marketplace will:

1. Virtualization has evolved beyond simple server consolidation and occurs at many levels within your organization, including Compute (CPU, RAM), Network and Storage Infrastructure.

2. At the same time cloud-based services such as Microsoft Office 365, SharePoint, Azure and third party application providers have matured and grown considerably in the marketplace. Additionally, new cloud-based services have grown quickly to offer robust solutions for:

- Cloud-managed Wireless services, like Cisco Meraki
- Cloud-managed VoIP and SIP voice services, like FreedomVoice and nexVortex
- Cloud-managed Firewall and Security services, like Cisco Meraki and Cisco Cloud Web Security

3. Pricing models for many of the cloud-based solutions are more cost-effective than traditional purchasing.

ALL our partners in Virtualization and Cloud Services have fantastic promotions and incentives this spring to help you achieve the tactics in your Virtualization and Cloud Services strategy, and there are deals for businesses of all sizes.

· The SMB Advantage from Microsoft: earn up to 15% off your annual Office 365 licensing when you migrate to Office 365 before May 31
· Cisco Unified Computing System: server (UCS) SmartPlays and Advantage Trade-in are available – unify computing, networking, management, virtualization and storage access into a single architecture
· VMware Horizon and Mirage: the ideal architecture for private, hybrid and public clouds
· US Signal:  Get 2 TB of cloud storage, Cloud-Based Managed Firewall (CBMF) and a 10 Mb Internet port for $399 per month regardless of term

If you need help in creating your Virtualization and Cloud Services Strategy, need to validate your strategy to leverage today’s best practices, or if you have your plan and need help checking the Action Items off the list, contact us today so we can get you set up. Now is a great time to take advantage of these cost-effective promotions.

Weight Loss Challenge :: The Results

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pounds have been shed, dress sizes have been lost, and we’re feeling good! We have reached the end of our weight loss competition and are reluctant to announce that we were defeated by our competitors, GCI.

Although we were hoping to win, everyone is still very thrilled with how much weight was lost individually. It certainly makes for a healthier ITR team!
Here are a few of our office participants. Pictured from left are Hans, Mike, Todd, Andrew, Lori, and Denise.

In an effort to make things as fair as possible, weight loss was measured by percentage lost. GCI came in at an average of 9.1% while ITR had an average of 8.3%! Everyone who participated agrees that it was very beneficial and a great way to start out the year.

Along with the competition with GCI, we also had a competition among those in the office. Here’s our biggest losers: Denise Sabo, 3rd place, Lori Brandt, 2nd place and Todd Hekkema for the 1st place win! Congratulations to everyone who participated!

Sally Anderson :: A Warm Welcome

Monday, March 31, 2014
People profiles give you a chance to meet our staff - the folks you may deal with on a regular basis here at IT Resource.

Official Title: Office Manager

What do you do at IT Resource?
I wear many different hats at IT Resource. My duties range from invoicing, to renewals board, to sales reviews, to keeping us in IT Resource logo wear.

Do you have any hidden talents? I will let you know if any emerge.

What is the best part about working at IT Resource? The wonderful team of people I work with.  I am always grateful for their support and willingness to do whatever they can to help everyone on the team succeed.

How long have you worked at ITR? Since February, 2014

If you knew then, what you know now, what piece of advice would you give yourself? Life is to be lived, enjoy every moment!

What is the most interesting, non-IT related, job you’ve ever had? Substitute teaching. Each day was unique and children share the most interesting details of their everyday lives, usually much to the dismay of their parents.

Tell us something your colleagues don't know about you.
I modeled for Steketee’s in two print ads.

Traditional Backup vs. Intelligent Business Continuity

Thursday, March 27, 2014

It wasn’t too long ago the safe and traditional backup strategy was to save all your information on a tape backup. At the end of the day, someone would have to remember to pop the tape out of the drive, label it, place it in a secure carrying case and remember to take it home or to another offsite location. In the unfortunate instance that something happens during the night, all your data is safe and sound on the back up tape. Or is it? If you're still operating this way it is time to look at moving to a more cost effective and efficient solution. 

Traditional backup methods such as tape, disk, and strict Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices are no longer sufficient. In fact, more business owners are finding them unacceptable to meet their business continuity requirements. Technological innovations have set a new solution standard: Intelligent Business Continuity, going beyond data protection; delivering automated assurance, continuous protection, secured storage, and instant recovery.

The differences between traditional backup and intelligent business continuity are many, and it's worth looking into if you're still using traditional backup methods.

Can take weeks to recover data after a disaster Downtime after a disaster is reduced to hours, minutes, or seconds
Risk for human error: 60% of on-site disasters are due to human error Full automation backup —very little manual management required
Difficult to test if a backup is working properly Automated screenshots are taken and reported to ensure each backup was successful and can be booted anytime
Time consuming and expensive to make copies of backups or to store backups in multiple locations Each backup is saved in multiple locations: local appliance and bi-coastal data centers
Backup speeds are slower Quick and efficient transferring of files to off-site data centers
Physical to virtual conversions can be time consuming and have a high failure rate Incremental backups can be instantly virtualized, rather than the entire backup chain
No redundant backups in multiple locations, leaving high risk for original backup systems to be destroyed Eliminates downtime in the event of a disaster by allowing your business to run off the secure cloud
Limited options for encrypting data, may not pass industry regulations (i.e., HIPAA, SOX) AES 256 and SSL key-based encryption ensures data is safe and meets industry regulations (ie. HIPAA, SOX)
 When recovering data, tape failure rates exceed 50% Minimal risk of corrupted backups or data loss
 Potential for theft of loss of media Off-site backups stored in SSAE 16 data centers

IT Resource partners with Datto, an industry leader in backup, recovery, and business continuity. The facts are startling when it comes to data recovery. In fact, 70% of businesses that suffer a serious data loss are out of business in two years. Odds like that are not in your favor. Don't let another day go by with an inferior data backup and business continuity plan. We can assess your current situation to make sure all your bases are covered. Contact us at 616.837.6930 or via email.

Join Us For Virtualization Madness on March 20

Sunday, March 02, 2014
Basketball, wings, beer, & technology:  It’ll be the first round of the March Madness tournament... Join us at McFadden's, in downtown Grand Rapids, for lunch and watch the game on the big screen as we discuss the first round of Virtualizing your IT Infrastructure with VMware’s vSphere.

Virtualization enables your business to:
- Reduce capital expenses through server consolidation
- Lower operating expenses through automation
- Enhance business continuity and disaster recovery plans

Highlights of the Event
We’ll highlight what’s new in vSphere 5.5 and leave you with some practical steps to take if you are looking to move along the Virtualization bracket. Whether your goal is to simplify your IT infrastructure, enhance your business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities, or move to desktop virtualization and mobile computing, this is the event for you!

Event Schedule
Our presentation begins at 11am, but you'll want to stick around for lunch and the March Madness games at 12:15. We've reserved the room for the entire afternoon and we'd love to have you stay for networking, basketball, lunch, and a beer on us!

Who Is Phishing For Your Information?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

As an employee of a tech firm, and someone who pays attention to the messages that come through my inbox, I was immediately suspicious of an email I recently received, despite the fact that it looked completely legit. The email was from "Delta" indicating that my order was complete and my credit card had been successfully processed. Many people would click on the link to get the details of the order, however, I did NOT click the link. I hadn't ordered any airline tickets recently so I immediately checked to see whether my credit card had been compromised. I Googled the flight number only to find that it wasn't a valid number. The sneaky part was that the email looked very similar to one that could actually be from Delta.

Scammers are getting more sophisticated every day. Target's recent data breach was one of the biggest cyber retail attacks in history. But the hits didn't stop there. Large scale hotel chains like Marriott and Hilton had data compromised as well as Nieman Marcus and various others who still remain unnamed. These high level scams have led hackers to "phish" in many new ways.

Here are some tips to avoid falling victim to a phishing attack:

Check your sources: Your bank will never ask you to confirm your passwords or private information via email. Whenever in doubt, call them directly to confirm.

Enhance your computer's security: Common sense is just as important as keeping your computer protected with a good antivirus and spam blocker. This is an area that IT Resource can help in, particularly on the business side of things.

Look for secure websites: Secure websites begin with "https" as opposed to "http".

Look for something that seems off: Phishing emails typically look like they are coming from a legitimate business, but there is typically something off about them. Grammar and spelling may be incorrect, as these emails are often poorly translated from a different language, and they usually portray a sense of urgency.

The Bottom Line

Phishing attacks are getting more sophisticated and spam filters can't catch everything. You must be a smart consumer - think about what you are opening and who it is from. Check your bank statements regularly to verify that there are no unfamiliar charges. When in doubt, you can simply hit delete.

We've been working with a growing number of companies recently who have had experiences with a virus. By simply clicking on a suspicious link in their email they allowed the virus to enter their system, which resulted in their entire network being compromised. If you have any questions on a potential phishing scam within your organization or what to do if your network has been compromised, call our help desk at 616.837.6930. And remember, when in doubt, always err on the side of caution. You never know what virus is waiting to weave its way into your system.

Save Big with Microsoft Office 365

Tuesday, February 04, 2014
Have you been thinking about purchasing or upgrading to Microsoft's Office 365? If so, now is the time to act. For every qualifying subscription of Microsoft Office 365 purchased between January 1 and February 28, 2014, you can earn partner subsidy funds to use with IT Resource. The subsidy can typically be used for software, hardware, or services. It's like getting paid for something you were already planning to purchase.

This promotion is valid throughout the United States, but one thing to keep in mind is that you must redeem within 30 days of purchase, and this deal expires February 28, 2014, so you'll want to act fast. Contact our sales team to learn more.

Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance End of Life

Friday, January 17, 2014

Cisco recently announced that a variety of Adaptive Security Appliances (ASA) would no longer be available for sale after September 16, 2013. In the tech industry this idea is referred to as End of Life. If you own a Cisco ASA 5510, 5520, 5540, or 5550 you will be affected, however, customers with active SmartNet contracts for these devices have the ability to continue to receive support from the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) until September 30, 2018.

Cisco ASA 9.1 is the last software release that will be supported on many of the ASA appliances that have reached their end of sale date so we encourage you to keep your SmartNet contracts active for these devices. For equipment and software that is not covered by a service-and-support contract, the last date to order a new contract or add the equipment and/or software to an existing contract is September 16, 2014.

Cisco's ASA 5500-X series of Next Generation Firewalls

If you are in the market for a new ASA, or would like to update your current model, we encourage you to migrate to the new ASA 5500-X series of Next Generation Firewalls (NGFW) which include a variety of different model options, many of which offer increased throughput, better interface density and the ability to run services like IPS, Application Visibility and Control (AVC), and Web Security Essentials (WSE) without requiring a separate hardware module. High Availability comes as a default option on the ASA 5515-X model. 

Most customers can take advantage of Cisco’s Technology Migration Program to trade-in eligible product, which allows you to receive credit toward the purchase of new Cisco equipment. For information about this program, contact your IT Resource Sales Account Manager, or email our sales team.

Save Big On Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Thursday, January 16, 2014

If you're in the market for a new business continuity and disaster recovery device, now is the time to act! Datto is offering significant savings on SIRIS products purchased now through January 31, 2014.

Turn in an existing BDR device (Symantec, Zenith, etc.) and receive:

  • 15% off any size Datto SIRIS with the purchase of a one year signed service contract
  • 20% off any size Datto SIRIS with the purchase of a two year signed service contract
  • 30% off any size Datto SIRIS with the purchase of a three year signed service contract

To learn more about this promotion, or to place an order, contact the sales team at IT Resource today. Remember, this promotion only runs through January 31, 2014, so you'll want to act now.