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Creating a Cost Effective IT Strategy :: Top 3 IT Services You Need

Tuesday, August 01, 2017
Implementing a cost effective IT strategy will benefit your business in countless ways. For starters, it gives your employees the productivity tools they need to be successful, keeps employees educated on IT security, and keeps your business protected against security threats - inside and outside your network. The big question is, where do you begin? We've taken the guesswork out of it by laying out the services you need to build a foundation that supports your critical business applications.

What are the “must have” IT services?

SECURITY PROTECTION: You need protection from outside and inside sources to keep all devices safe. Email phishing and wire fraud are real threats that can be very costly; and ransomware is the leading risk for data loss and corruption. To avoid these headaches, executing an appropriate security solution is key.
1. Educate your staff – train employees on how to detect threats and phishing emails, use strong passwords, and always secure devices with a PIN
2. Purchase a cloud-managed firewall with integrated threat prevention
3. Use a layered security solution that protects all devices
4. Encrypt your drives and keep your systems up to date
5. Ensure your solution is actively monitored with reporting options that show your current security risk level
Pro tip when purchasing a security solution:

Always buy software that is user-based versus device-based. A user-based license can be used on multiple devices so that your employees are protected on every device they use.

DATA BACKUPS: Part of a great security policy is an even better data backup policy. Don’t keep your most valuable asset – your data – in one location. Implement a cloud-based backup and disaster recovery service that will provide in-house data backup and restore capabilities. It’s also important to confirm your backup solution is being actively monitored and you receive easy-to-understand status reports. Always regularly test your backups.
A properly configured backup solution should always:
1. Protect against accidental deletion, system failure, and Ransomware
2. Allow your business to keep running in the event of a loss
3. Encrypt the backups to prevent data theft
4. Follow or exceed the 3-2-1 rule - have at least 3 copies of your data, 2 of which are local and on different mediums and 1 copy that is stored offsite
Pro tip when purchasing a backup solution:
Tell your IT provider: “I want a backup solution that protects all my systems and data, regardless of where they are”. Also, make sure that you establish how often you want your data backed up and that the backup solution is compatible with your in-house infrastructure.

EMAIL SOLUTION: Everyone uses email but what about security and collaboration? Employees are working from everywhere and teams still need to come together to get stuff done. Your e-mail solution must allow you to securely communicate with your staff and customers from any device at any time.
1. Use a cloud-based email solution for the highest security, most features, and most cost savings. Moving from in-house email to Office 365 saves up to 90% in admin and maintenance costs.
2. Take advantage of the collaboration capabilities for both internal communications and with your customers – instant messaging, document sharing, video, instant meetings, etc.
3. You don’t have to do it by yourself – work with a certified Cloud Partner for ease of administration and maintenance.
Pro tip when choosing an email service:
Make sure it has built in security, encryption, secure access from any device, multifactor authentication, the ability to set policies to control access to files, and user based pricing so that you can have the service on multiple devices.

If you have any questions, are looking for additional information, or would like to discuss your IT strategy, please reach out to our sales team or give us a call at 616.837.6930. We’re happy to be a resource to your business.

Windows 10 Enterprise E3 + Enterprise Mobility Suite

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Why choose Windows 10 Enterprise E3?

Lock down your sensitive data with the most secure edition of Windows.
Protect your business with the same level of security and control used by some of the world's largest organizations. Ideal if you process sensitive data, operate in a regulated industry, are publicly listed or are planning to issue an IPO, and/or have strong inhouse R&D or IP development.

Simplify your IT with the help of a trusted partner.
Small IT staff or no IT staff at all? No problem. Let us deploy and manage, and secure your devices so you can focus on more strategic priorities - like growing your business. We'll also work with you to develop a customized device strategy tailored to the needs of your business.

All at a small business price of $7.
Per-user, per - month pricing and a pay -as-you go subscription model give you the flexibility to scale as our business needs change, purchasing access only for the employees that need it.

How can EMS make Windows 10 Enterprise E3 even better?

One user, one login.
Give your employees access to all their Microsoft services with single sign on using Azure Active Directory Premium (AAD) in EMS. They'll be happier
and more productive with just one password that doesn't require signing in again between apps.

Customize and scale your device strategy.
With Microsoft lntune in EMS, we can easily configure the features of Windows 10 Enterprise E3 at scale, across all of your users and devices, in the way that best meets the needs of your business.

Compliance made easy.
Using mobile device management tools in EMS, along with the powerful security and control features in Windows 10 Enterprise edition, we can monitor your devices, network traffic, and data integrity and provide detailed compliance reports on a regular basis.

Upgrade for FREE!
Windows 10 Enterprise E3 gives you best in class security and management with flexible, pay as you go, pricing from just $7 per user, per month. Plus, for a limited time, customers can move from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10 Pro at no additional cost! This could be a huge cost savings for your business but the offer won’t last long. Please email or call us today to get started on your free upgrade.

Small & Medium Business (SMB) Technology Solutions

Thursday, February 02, 2017

If you own a small or medium sized business you still need technology solutions that can take on your competition, and give your business the edge it needs to drive growth – all without breaking your IT budget. Our experience with highly technical, large enterprise solutions, combined with our dedication to the SMB marketplace allow us to offer enterprise-level results at a cost that even the smallest business can afford. Our SMB solutions provide customers with necessary business operations like unified communications, e-mail & messaging, virtualization, and backup solutions at a fraction of the cost of enterprise systems. Just because you are classified as a small or medium business doesn’t mean you can’t have enterprise capabilities.

Business owners often wear many hats, and as a result you may be trying to handle the technology portion of things yourself. We understand that you need the proper solutions in place without breaking the bank, and that's where we come in. Let's talk about how we can begin saving you time and money.

Keep Your Business Secure With Advanced Malware Protection

Monday, October 24, 2016
Does your business struggle to find a solution that can effectively address the full lifecycle of advanced malware? Effective protection needs to combine incident response and remediation against the latest threats without breaking the budget or sacrificing efficiency. Part of the challenge comes from a lack of continuity and intelligence between detection, blocking, response, and remediation.

Often, this lack of intelligence can leave you unaware of the full extent and depth of a security breach or virus outbreak, which means remediation efforts could begin well after the attack. In addition, the root cause could be missed, leading to an endless cycle of reinfection.

As a result, security professionals are often left wondering:
● What was the method and point of entry?
● What systems were affected?
● What did the threat do?
● Can we stop the threat and eliminate the root cause?
● How do we recover from the attack?
● How do we prevent it from happening again?

In an effort to combat today's sophisticated malware, Cisco has designed a system to protect you before, during, and after a security attack or virus threat. Cisco® Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) for Endpoints provides the level of protection you need to stop advanced threats missed by other security layers. This intelligent, enterprise-class advanced malware analysis and protection solution uses big data, continuous analysis, and advanced analytics to detect, track, analyze, control, and block advanced malware outbreaks across all endpoints: Windows PCs, Macs, Linux, mobile devices, virtual systems, in the network, and on email and web security appliances so that you can take control of an attack, before it causes damage.

Features include:
- Enhanced threat defense: protection against millions of malicious files
- Rapid detection: automatic alerts for malware detection
- Ease of Management: enable AMP with 2 clicks
- Visibility: view threat data across multiple sites

If you want to learn more about this robust security and malware protection device, contact us today and we'd be happy to demo the product for you.

Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security :: Empowering Employees + Protecting Data

Thursday, October 06, 2016
What if an employee wants to use a personal device for work, or if a business tries to reduce expenses by having employees use their own devices instead of purchasing devices for them? How do employees keep the personal and professional aspects separate?

Figuring out how your business should approach the bring your own device (BYOD) revolution can be challenging as data is no longer stored on premise and employees are working from anywhere. As businesses are beginning to allow BYOD – it’s important to increase the awareness among employees. But, it’s equally important to make sure your business is fully protected and ready to support mobility.

53% of U.S. companies have no formal BYOD policy for security*. This figure should be shocking considering unsecured company data can cost millions in lost time, research, regulatory fines, or litigation settlements. But, protecting your information shouldn’t make it harder for workers to get their jobs done.

Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) helps reduce security risks and enables workers to be more productive with features like:

Bottom line: EMS keeps employees productive on their favorite apps and devices—and company data protected.

Only Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security provides protection, detection, response across user identity, device, application and file content. No other solution provides this comprehensive range of security. It supports all types of devices (not just those running Microsoft operating systems) and unlike others, this solution works both inside and outside organizational walls, that is, on-premises and in the cloud. Moreover, Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security technologies allow companies to manage applications and devices without having to “lock them down” in a way that frustrates employees.

If you’re interested in learning more about this solution – give us a call at 616.837.6930 or email us

* source: Champions Solutions Group

Increase Network Security For Your Business

Wednesday, October 05, 2016
If your business walls could talk, what type of information would they share? Think about the pertinent records, documents, personal files and access to loads of other information that are stored internally. If everything was compromised, the time and money spent trying to put the pieces back together could be detrimental to your business. October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month so it's a good time freshen up your business security practices and make sure all your valuable information isn't hanging out there waiting for thieves to take it.

Here are five things you can do right now to secure various aspects of your business from mobile devices to your network. 

Erase Old Hard Drives
Before you toss out that old computer or copy machine, it's vital that you erase the hard drive completely (and that doesn't just mean dragging everything to the trash). An old computer or hard drive is a playground for identity and data thieves, leading to a potential security breach. In addition, some copy machines store documents on a hard drive for a period of time so be sure to double check before sending the old machine packing.

Use Secure Passwords
As a business owner you should consider implementing a password policy. While users might find it a hassle, it's far less inconvenient than dealing with a network security or data breach. Simple first steps include resetting all your passwords periodically. The longer you keep the same password, the more time an attacker has to access it. When was the last time you changed your passwords? Learn more about password security here.

Update your servers, software, and workstations
Operating system and software updates come out regularly, and oftentimes new barriers are put in place to help prevent hackers from getting in, making the updates critical. But, how often are you paying attention to these update notices? Whether your servers are running Windows, Linux, Mac, or some other operating system you need to make sure you've got the most recent update to help protect against vulnerabilities. Software and workstations are no exception. If your software is being handled in the cloud, your updates are applied automatically. But local programs and workstations need to have the security patches applied as soon as they are made available, to reduce the chances for security vulnerabilities. Learn about how our Remote Monitoring and Reporting service can apply updates for you so you can effortlessly manage risk.

Utilize a proper email filter
It's easier than ever to check your email anywhere - at your workstation, on your mobile device, or through a public wifi system. If those systems aren't protected you're opening the door to a potential security breach. In an effort to avoid spam, malware, and phishing attempts you must have the proper email security and protection services in place.

Set screensavers and timeouts on workstations
No one wants to believe a security breach took place right inside the building, but disgruntled workers and simple human error can wreak havoc on a business. A logged in but unattended workstation or device can be accessed and browsed for data, or documents can be left open. Consider requiring users to lock their workstations or devices when not in use, and require a password to unlock the system.

Cybersecurity Best Practices Series
Learn more about protecting yourself and your business from cybersecurity threats through diligent practices and continued education at ChoiceOne Bank's three part informational series, presented by IT Resource. We'll show you how to protect your business, employees and identity. To attend any of these events, get details and register here.

Cybersecurity Best Practices Business Series

Thursday, September 29, 2016
Protect yourself and your business through diligent practices and continued education. ChoiceOne Bank is hosting a three part informational series, presented by IT Resource, to help you learn to protect your business, employees and identity through cybersecurity best practices. Whether you and your employees participate in one class or all three topics, our goal is help you feel to prepared, protected and proactive.

Wednesday, October 5, 5-6pm OR Thursday, October 6, 7:30-8:30am, RSVP below
In today's connected society, access to your information from anywhere at any time has become a necessity - whether from inside your office, remotely while out of the office or from a mobile device. The necessity of having your data available from anywhere increases the risks to your data geometrically and being proactive in protecting it has become more important than ever. In this 45-minute presentation we will cover how to ensure your entire network is properly shielded from threats both inside and outside.
We will cover:
  · How layering your security provides maximum protection
  · What the latest firewalls provide and how they can protect you
  · How Active Monitoring can prevent and detect intrusions and threats as they occur
  · How to easily protect yourself and devices whether inside or outside the office
  · Why Virtual Private Network (VPN) strategies are still important
  · Wireless strategies that secure and protect your information
Presented in common terms, we will help you understand the security threats that we all face and several high-level strategies to combat them in an ever changing, fully "networked" world.

Thursday, November 3, 7:30-8:30am, RSVP below
Everyone seems to focus on technology to solve security risks, but how do you protect that technology from both inside and outside threats? How do you protect your desktop or notebook? Your email? Your business or personal data? In this 30-minute presentation we will focus on the common sense processes to safeguard your workplace from intrusion, loss, and other problems that will keep you from working in an efficient manner. Topics to be covered include:
  · Passwords
  · Email security
  · Mobile security
  · Social engineering
  · General physical security
Presented in common terms, we will help you understand the risks and provide a high-level guide to preparing your workspace to be safe, secure, and protected at all times.

Wednesday, December 7, 5-6pm OR Thursday, December 8, 7:30-8:30am, RSVP below
No one ever wants to be involved in a security event or have their data compromised, lost or destroyed. These events are disruptive to your business, can harm your company reputation and could have devastating financial costs. As much as we invest in the strategies of protecting and securing our information, we must also plan and be prepared for what to do if a security event occurs.
In this 45-minute presentation we will show how to prepare for the unpredictable, and with some simple tools, how to maintain your business functions and recover as quickly as possible. Topics to be covered include:
  · Strategies for business continuity planning
  · Strategies for backup and recovery
  · Ensuring your data is in a safe place
  · Dynamics of cloud computing
  · Communication do's and don'ts in the event of a breach or data compromise
Presented in common terms, our objective will be to ensure you understand that security events are a reality and you should be prepared to address common items quickly if such an event happens.

Each of these series takes place at ChoiceOne Bank, 450 W. Muskegon, Kent City. To register for any of these events, click here and indicate which date you will be attending.

What's Your Password?

Thursday, August 18, 2016
What do the terms "password" and "123456" have in common? Year after year they're the two most common passwords used in the US. Football, baseball, and qwerty all make the top 10 list as well. Are you guilty of using any of these terms to secure your most important documents?

You may already be taking network security seriously (at at least think you are), but maybe it's time to take things to the next level with strong, easy-to-manage passwords.

Your business has always taken security seriously and been mindful of protecting your data. You’ve invested in firewalls, anti-virus programs, spam filtering, and backup/disaster recovery tools. But when is the last time you considered the first line of defense beyond all these security measures? Passwords are used to protect your systems, data, and online accounts; however, the difficulty of remembering strong passwords often puts people off when creating them. Instead many of us are guilty of using the same password for all of our accounts, which isn't a wise decision.

Why is password management important?
In a world where password hacking software can test up to 10 billion password combinations in seconds, entire businesses rely on the memory of different team members for critical account passwords, and anyone can learn how to crack a password through a simple YouTube video. Our password management service, PassPortal, makes it simple for you to use strong passwords while delivering the following benefits:
  • Ease of use: Staff members can easily reset their own Windows login passwords without needing to call the help-desk and wait for a response.
  • Enhanced productivity: Staff members will no longer waste time hunting for or trying to remember passwords.
  • Improved operational efficiency: Staff members will be able to consolidate website favorites/bookmarks across all computers using one click login tools.
  • Unsurpassed security: Staff members will use more complex passwords as opposed to easily remembered passwords – and each password will be unique, reducing the risk of a data breach.

To further enhance security and verify the identities of those accessing your passwords, our service also offers multi-factor authentication. This allows you to log on using an expiring one-time passcode that's sent via SMS, email or phone call to protect you from key loggers, over-the-shoulder peeking, and sticky notes.

Let our password management solution improve your organization's productivity and increase your security and operational efficiency. Give us a call today at 616.837.6930 or email us for more information.