02 Nov 2017

Keep Your Personal Information Protected – Change Your Passwords

We have passwords for everything – our computers and cell phones, our garages, and, for some of us who can’t control our snacking habits, even our refrigerators are password protected. Many services that you use such as email, online banking, and your apps for shopping will automatically prompt you to reset your password with a new one; but how often should you really be changing your passwords to keep your information protected?

Personal vs. Shared-Device Passwords:

First thing’s first: we all know that we have the same password, or a variation of it, for everything we use. Of course, that’s the easiest way to keep yourself from having to send your forgotten password to your email, which you’ll then have to sign into, and change your password yet again. While it saves time and energy to have the same password for all of your logins, it’s never a good idea to use your personal passwords for shared computers.

This isn’t to say that you have a malicious coworker (which, you might) who would sign into your personal accounts using the password from your work computer, but, as the saying goes, it’s always good to keep your work life and personal life separate. The same goes for your work and personal passwords.

What Passwords Should I Be Changing?

The sweet and simple answer is: all of them. If you want your information to have maximum protection, you’ll need to periodically change your passwords to ensure that you don’t get hacked. If you made an email account specifically to get your fourth free trial of your favorite online radio streaming service, no need to go back and change that password. But it’s safe to say that the more you use a particular website, email address, or online service, the more you should be changing your passwords.

How Frequently Should I Change Them?

The current, most common recommendation for changing your password is once every 90 days, but do you really need to be changing your passwords that often? For your most important accounts that need the most protection, like your online banking account, you’ll want to change your password at least once every 90 days, if not more frequently. And that doesn’t mean you can be lazy and change your password from “password1” to “password2” – if you really want to maximize your protection, you’ll have to get more creative than that. Something as simple as adding an “e” or “b” to signify that it’s your email or bank password will be a reminder for you and a head-scratcher for a hacker. For other passwords, such as your social media profile or movie-streaming account, you can wait as long as a year to change your password (or longer, if you really feel that daring).

Tips for Changing Your Password:

Though it’s a little extra hassle, keep a list of all of your passwords somewhere safe – and not on your computer. Have a hard copy of your passwords tucked away in your desk or on a thumb drive so that they’re easily accessible to you, but not to your potential hackers. Keeping all of your passwords similar, but not exactly the same, can also help when it comes to trying to remember what exactly you chose a few months ago. If you find yourself forgetting whether or not you’ve changed your password, set a schedule to change all passwords at the same time so that you never have to search through the depths of your memory to figure out what password you used when you signed up for your account in 2009.

Just like wearing a seatbelt, passwords can be annoying to remember but are there for your protection. Don’t get caught with your proverbial pants down and leave your personal or professional information up for grabs.

11 Feb 2017

Cloud Services!

What is the ‘Cloud’ that I’ve been hearing about?

The word ‘Cloud’ is used as a general term to represent a segment of IT services utilizing the many large data centers we send information to, store information in, and receive information from. These data centers provide the infrastructure for IT Cloud Services and are located in many different buildings, in many different locations throughout the world. The buildings are filled with networks of servers, miles of fiber-optic IT Network Cabling, and staffed with software engineers that provide IT Network Support Services including IT Network Security. Businesses access their data in the cloud via the internet.

services-04What types of services does the cloud provide?

The definition of the cloud is deliberately ambiguous and all-encompassing because there is a long list of constantly evolving cloud computing services. The three types of services most likely to be useful to consumers and businesses are related to Infrastructure, Platforms, and Software.

 Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

The foundation of cloud computing is the physical infrastructure of servers, storage disks, fiber optic cables and other facilities. Organizations benefit from pay-as-you-go, on-demand storage and web hosting, which can be easily scaled as business needs change.

 Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Building on the cloud infrastructure foundation, cloud computing provides the platforms and operating systems on which business applications run. A service operator provides programming and web servers allowing application developers to create, test and run their software solutions.

 Software as a Service (SaaS)

Consumers use the software solutions developed for use on the cloud. Examples of software that is cloud based include Salesforce, Google Apps, and Microsoft Office 365. Traditional software required a single, up-front cost to use and was installed on each desktop or laptop. Cloud based software requires an annual or monthly fee per user, and the software is accessed through the cloud. Files created can be saved and backed up to a desktop, laptop, or on the cloud, allowing for more available memory on each desktop or laptop. Files saved to the cloud are secure, and some cloud services software allows you to access your data from multiple devices including mobile phones.

Organizations can quickly change the number of users without having to change their associated platform and infrastructure. A just-in-time approach allows for a short response to any changes in staffing.

 Cloud storage services

Cloud storage services, which include secure file hosting, file sharing and remote data backup may be the most important SaaS offerings for the average computer user. Cloud storage services typically include 2-5 GB of storage for hosting your data, and you can easily increase your storage for an additional fee.

In the Chicago area, IT Risk Managers partners with Cloud Service providers to develop solutions for unique Small to Mid-size Business needs. If you have any questions about IT Cloud Services or any other IT Business Services, contact IT Risk Managers at info@itriskmgrs.com

24 Dec 2016

Don’t let your IT team sweep the floors!


business, people, cloud computing and technology concept - smiling business team with smartphones, tablet pc computers working in office
Are your IT people sweeping floors?

I want to explain how you can help your IT Department succeed and dispel the myths and fears about IT outsourcing services. Efficient allocation of resources is something that we contend with every day.

Where can we get the greatest return on our investment from our trucks, warehouse, office space and our people. Well IT is no different.

Your internal IT staff has value as a technical resource but more importantly as a business resource. Yet, we see IT staff performing tasks equivalent to sweeping the floors, that’s an expensive janitor.

And, this no knock on them, it’s how the resource is utilized. If your IT services person is busy cleaning up viruses, doing PC maintenance, fixing printers, and doing network cabling, they are being under-utilized.

This is where the right IT outsourcing services can come into play for your business. Your IT person’s efforts should be centered on tasks that make the business more money or drive efficiency. Utilize them for the IT business consulting needs or enterprise IT support needs. Have them work on IT business project services that better connect you to your clients, instead of maintenance of your servers and IT network support.

You may want to look towards IT for better ways to market your products and services instead of low ROI IT support network and IT help desk needs. Blogs, social media, and e-commerce are all IT project services and IT management services that require IT business consulting and expertise that your internal IT team can help with. Better that then having them replacing old hardware, fixing computers, or cleaning viruses.

Asking your IT services consultant to kill viruses is asking them to kill their time. A fear of IT outsourcing is a fear of losing control. However the opposite is true. A good IT outsourcing services company will give your business more information, better remote access and better IT network security.

An IT outsourcing services solution for your business, needs to have a proactive network services platform. Their network support and business IT support should include a help desk, network operating center, on site support, and a good IT cloud services solution.

For information on Chicago IT outsourcing services email info@itriskmgrs.com

20 Dec 2016

The benefits of an IT Health Assessment

Have you ever had your IT systems assessed?

IT serviIT Risk Managers - IT Consulting Firm in Chicago, ILces and delivery processes are not the first thing you think about each year as the business requires more and more with less budget. However a good check and balance to see where IT is at is through an Information Technology audit & health assessment. Think of it this way, your CFO probably has the financials audited all of the time.

Is it because he is unsure of himself? Probably not! For leadership it’s just good practice. What they are trying to avoid is a surprise. So why is IT any different? You can easily argue IT can be even more critical then day to day financials.

IT Services and delivery is the same thing, a surprise in IT can shut down the whole company and who will they look at IT Leadership. When was the last time you had a security or best practices assessment of the IT systems, services, consultants and processes.

Our most secure and efficient clients and the ones who have this performed annually. Once completed, the results can be a framework to improve your IT Services model and management will appreciate your  pro-active approach.

A network benchmark assessment from a 3rd party IT Consulting firm is the best way to get you the information you need to keep your department informed and eliminate surprises.

For further information on IT services and security audits email info@itriskmgrs.com

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