Benefits of technology business reviews

Most small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) don’t possess the resources to run and maintain their IT infrastructure, let alone assess whether it’s still driving value for the company. However, if you want to ensure everything is running smoothly, it’s important to conduct technology business reviews whenever possible.

A technology business review reveals the strengths and weaknesses of your company’s IT framework. It’s often performed by a third-party IT consultant who will give an objective assessment of your technology and provide recommendations to help you meet your goals. If done properly, technology business reviews allow you to:

Save money

Every review starts with a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether an implemented solution is worth the continued investment. If there are technologies costing you a fortune in management and maintenance fees, consultants will advise you to cut them from your budget. The best ones will recommend cost-effective alternatives so you can do more with less.

Increase productivity

System-wide reviews of your IT infrastructure show you what processes are hindering business operations. This allows you to formulate solutions to increase productivity. For example, if employees are mainly sharing files via email, consultants might suggest cloud collaboration platforms, like Office 365 or G Suite, that store data in a centralized location for seamless file sharing.

Enhance security and compliance

Technology business reviews can also uncover security risks within your business. Consultants look for missed patches, poorly configured networks, and other software vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited by cybercriminals.

They’ll then compile their findings to create a more robust cybersecurity strategy, usually, one that involves implementing advanced solutions like intrusion prevention systems (IPS), file access restrictions, and patch management software.

If you operate a business that’s subjected to data regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), consultants will also pinpoint IT practices and solutions that are noncompliant and customize a strategy that ensures the privacy, integrity, and availability of your data.

Implement technologies that fit

Considering that new technologies are released at a breakneck pace, it’s important to pick those that will help you achieve your business goals. Technology business reviews keep you up to date on the latest technology trends and gauge the impact of implementing them so that you can make informed decisions.

Whether your goal is to increase profits, productivity, security, or all of the above, technology business reviews can put you on the right track. Our seasoned IT consultants can conduct these reviews for you and develop a strategy that gives you an edge over the competition. Just give us a call.

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Top reasons for technology business reviews

Businesses need technology to be profitable and productive. But not all technologies are capable of delivering on their perceived benefits. To make sure your investments are worth keeping, you need to perform technology business reviews.

A technology business review reveals the strengths and weaknesses of your company’s IT framework. It’s often performed by a third-party IT consultant who will give an objective assessment of your technology and provide recommendations to help you meet your goals. If done properly, technology business reviews allow you to:

Save money

Every review starts with a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether an implemented solution is worth the continued investment. If there are technologies costing you a fortune in management and maintenance fees, consultants will advise you to cut them from your budget. The best ones will recommend cost-effective alternatives so you can do more with less.

Increase productivity

System-wide reviews of your IT infrastructure show you what processes are hindering business operations. This allows you to formulate solutions to increase productivity. For example, if employees are mainly sharing files via email, consultants might suggest cloud collaboration platforms, like Office 365 or G Suite, that store data in a centralized location for seamless file sharing.

Enhance security and compliance

Technology business reviews can also uncover security risks within your business. Consultants look for missed patches, poorly configured networks, and other software vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited by cybercriminals.

They’ll then compile their findings to create a more robust cybersecurity strategy, usually, one that involves implementing advanced solutions like intrusion prevention systems (IPS), file access restrictions, and patch management software.

If you operate a business that’s subjected to data regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), consultants will also pinpoint IT practices and solutions that are noncompliant and customize a strategy that ensures the privacy, integrity, and availability of your data.

Implement technologies that fit

Considering that new technologies are released at a breakneck pace, it’s important to pick those that will help you achieve your business goals. Technology business reviews keep you up to date on the latest technology trends and gauge the impact of implementing them so that you can make informed decisions.

Whether your goal is to increase profits, productivity, security, or all of the above, technology business reviews can put you on the right track. Our seasoned IT consultants can conduct these reviews for you and develop a strategy that gives you an edge over the competition. Just give us a call.

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How to remove bloatware from your Windows 10 PC

Bloatware is pre-installed software (that may or may not be malicious) that typically requires an unwarranted amount of disk space, slowing down your computer and exposing you to more cybersecurity risks.

Superfish

In mid-2014, Lenovo users noticed that something was awry with their web browsers: banner ads were breaking webpage layouts and pop-ups were making surfing unpleasant. A deep dive into the problem led to the discovery of pre-installed software called Superfish — malware in the form of an adware pusher. 

The app caused an uproar not only because of its disruptive ads, but also because it was found that Lenovo had essentially interrupted what’s known in the industry as the certificate chain — a chain of trust whereby companies that run machines that users visit as they traverse the internet provide certificates that prove they’re a legitimate party. With Superfish, Lenovo allegedly used self-signed certificates — as Lenovo is a known and trusted brand — making Superfish the root Certificate Authority (CA), meaning it can decide which encrypted communications to trust.

This was bad news for data privacy because in theory, Lenovo could have used Superfish to generate a valid encryption certificate, giving them an opportunity to abuse this trust to spy on PC owners. It also meant that malicious hackers could simply use Superfish’s encryption methods and abuse them to intercept other people’s internet traffic.

Bloatware everywhere

Microsoft has developed and deployed its fair share of bloatware as well. The Windows 10 operating system, in particular, has plenty of them, such as:

  • Quicktime
  • CCleaner
  • uTorrent
  • Shockwave Player
  • Microsoft Silverlight
  • Browser toolbars
  • Coupon printer for Windows
  • WinRAR
  • Apps by the hardware manufacturer (laptop brand)

Some of these even run in the background and slow down computers without users knowing it.

While some users find value in these add-ons, many prefer to start with a leaner operating system due to storage space and processing power concerns. If they want a particular software, they prefer to download it themselves so they can have greater control over their machines and how they experience their hardware and software.

Like Superfish, other Windows 10 bloatware can also cause critical vulnerabilities. One ironic incident involved a pre-installed version of Keeper Password Manager. Instead of keeping passwords safe, it allowed malicious actors behind any website to steal passwords due to bloatware. While Windows 10 users needed to enable Keeper to store their passwords that exposed them to vulnerabilities, it makes you wonder why such a flawed password manager app was there in the first place.

How to rid your PC of bloatware

Removing inclusions you did not ask can be a hassle, but it’s actually fairly easy. Windows has been kind enough to include a robust bloatware removal tool so that you can remove all apps you don’t need. Here’s how:

  1. Click the Start menu and type Windows Security in the search bar.
  2. Go to the Device Performance & Health section.
  3. Scroll down and you’ll see a section with the header “Fresh start”. Click on the additional info link at the bottom.
  4. Click on Get Started and accept the user account control (UAC) prompt.
  5. The Fresh start interface should pop open. Click Next.
  6. The tool will present a list of Windows 10 bloatware that will be removed. Review the list and click Next.
  7. Click on Start.

Bloatware not only clutters your laptops and PCs, but it can also render your business vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches. Save yourself from tons of headaches down the line; learn more about protecting your computers from bloatware. Call our team of IT experts today.

 

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FAQs about bloatware and how to remove them

Ever powered up a brand new laptop straight out of the box and realized that there are already a ton of apps installed that you know you’ll never use? That’s bloatware, and it’s a regular occurrence when purchasing new computers.

Superfish

In mid-2014, Lenovo users noticed that something was awry with their web browsers: banner ads were breaking webpage layouts and pop-ups were making surfing unpleasant. A deep dive into the problem led to the discovery of pre-installed software called Superfish — malware in the form of an adware pusher. 

The app caused an uproar not only because of its disruptive ads, but also because it was found that Lenovo had essentially interrupted what’s known in the industry as the certificate chain — a chain of trust whereby companies that run machines that users visit as they traverse the internet provide certificates that prove they’re a legitimate party. With Superfish, Lenovo allegedly used self-signed certificates — as Lenovo is a known and trusted brand — making Superfish the root Certificate Authority (CA), meaning it can decide which encrypted communications to trust.

This was bad news for data privacy because in theory, Lenovo could have used Superfish to generate a valid encryption certificate, giving them an opportunity to abuse this trust to spy on PC owners. It also meant that malicious hackers could simply use Superfish’s encryption methods and abuse them to intercept other people’s internet traffic.

Bloatware everywhere

Microsoft has developed and deployed its fair share of bloatware as well. The Windows 10 operating system, in particular, has plenty of them, such as:

  • Quicktime
  • CCleaner
  • uTorrent
  • Shockwave Player
  • Microsoft Silverlight
  • Browser toolbars
  • Coupon printer for Windows
  • WinRAR
  • Apps by the hardware manufacturer (laptop brand)

Some of these even run in the background and slow down computers without users knowing it.

While some users find value in these add-ons, many prefer to start with a leaner operating system due to storage space and processing power concerns. If they want a particular software, they prefer to download it themselves so they can have greater control over their machines and how they experience their hardware and software.

Like Superfish, other Windows 10 bloatware can also cause critical vulnerabilities. One ironic incident involved a pre-installed version of Keeper Password Manager. Instead of keeping passwords safe, it allowed malicious actors behind any website to steal passwords due to bloatware. While Windows 10 users needed to enable Keeper to store their passwords that exposed them to vulnerabilities, it makes you wonder why such a flawed password manager app was there in the first place.

How to rid your PC of bloatware

Removing inclusions you did not ask can be a hassle, but it’s actually fairly easy. Windows has been kind enough to include a robust bloatware removal tool so that you can remove all apps you don’t need. Here’s how:

  1. Click the Start menu and type Windows Security in the search bar.
  2. Go to the Device Performance & Health section.
  3. Scroll down and you’ll see a section with the header “Fresh start”. Click on the additional info link at the bottom.
  4. Click on Get Started and accept the user account control (UAC) prompt.
  5. The Fresh start interface should pop open. Click Next.
  6. The tool will present a list of Windows 10 bloatware that will be removed. Review the list and click Next.
  7. Click on Start.

Bloatware not only clutters your laptops and PCs, but it can also render your business vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches. Save yourself from tons of headaches down the line; learn more about protecting your computers from bloatware. Call our team of IT experts today.

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What is bloatware, and how can you remove it?

Bloatware is software that nobody asked for but is on your computer, taking up valuable space. These software apps come with your hardware pre-installed, and very often, it isn’t always apparent how to delete them properly.

Superfish

In mid-2014, Lenovo users noticed that something was awry with their web browsers: banner ads were breaking webpage layouts and pop-ups were making surfing unpleasant. A deep dive into the problem led to the discovery of pre-installed software called Superfish — malware in the form of an adware pusher. 

The app caused an uproar not only because of its disruptive ads, but also because it was found that Lenovo had essentially interrupted what’s known in the industry as the certificate chain — a chain of trust whereby companies that run machines that users visit as they traverse the internet provide certificates that prove they’re a legitimate party. With Superfish, Lenovo allegedly used self-signed certificates — as Lenovo is a known and trusted brand — making Superfish the root Certificate Authority (CA), meaning it can decide which encrypted communications to trust.

This was bad news for data privacy because in theory, Lenovo could have used Superfish to generate a valid encryption certificate, giving them an opportunity to abuse this trust to spy on PC owners. It also meant that malicious hackers could simply use Superfish’s encryption methods and abuse them to intercept other people’s internet traffic.

Bloatware everywhere

Microsoft has developed and deployed its fair share of bloatware as well. The Windows 10 operating system, in particular, has plenty of them, such as:

  • Quicktime
  • CCleaner
  • uTorrent
  • Shockwave Player
  • Microsoft Silverlight
  • Browser toolbars
  • Coupon printer for Windows
  • WinRAR
  • Apps by the hardware manufacturer (laptop brand)

Some of these even run in the background and slow down computers without users knowing it.

While some users find value in these add-ons, many prefer to start with a leaner operating system due to storage space and processing power concerns. If they want a particular software, they prefer to download it themselves so they can have greater control over their machines and how they experience their hardware and software.

Like Superfish, other Windows 10 bloatware can also cause critical vulnerabilities. One ironic incident involved a pre-installed version of Keeper Password Manager. Instead of keeping passwords safe, it allowed malicious actors behind any website to steal passwords due to bloatware. While Windows 10 users needed to enable Keeper to store their passwords that exposed them to vulnerabilities, it makes you wonder why such a flawed password manager app was there in the first place.

How to rid your PC of bloatware

Removing inclusions you did not ask can be a hassle, but it’s actually fairly easy. Windows has been kind enough to include a robust bloatware removal tool so that you can remove all apps you don’t need. Here’s how:

  1. Click the Start menu and type Windows Security in the search bar.
  2. Go to the Device Performance & Health section.
  3. Scroll down and you’ll see a section with the header “Fresh start”. Click on the additional info link at the bottom.
  4. Click on Get Started and accept the user account control (UAC) prompt.
  5. The Fresh start interface should pop open. Click Next.
  6. The tool will present a list of Windows 10 bloatware that will be removed. Review the list and click Next.
  7. Click on Start.

Bloatware not only clutters your laptops and PCs, but it can also render your business vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches. Save yourself from tons of headaches down the line; learn more about protecting your computers from bloatware. Call our team of IT experts today.

 

Posted in General Articles B, Windows | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Make the most of your cybersecurity investment

As cybersecurity incidents become more sophisticated, frequent, and intelligent, experts predict that the global market for cybersecurity products in 2020 will exceed that of last year. In fact, your company might be one of the thousands of businesses looking to purchase cybersecurity software. To maximize your company’s cybersecurity investment, follow these steps.

Uncover threats and vulnerabilities

Every business should run a risk assessment to evaluate its current cybersecurity infrastructure. Doing so is one of the easiest ways to identify, correct, and prevent security breaches. After discovering potential issues that cyberterrorists could exploit, rate them based on probability of occurrence and potential impacts on your business.
Keep in mind that risk assessments are specific to every business, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach for technology that will work for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Variables like your line of business and operating environment will account for differences in needs and risks. For instance, manufacturing companies and insurance groups have totally different applications to secure.
After tagging and ranking potential threats, identify which vulnerabilities need immediate attention and which ones can be addressed further down the line. For instance, a web server running an unpatched operating system will take precedence over a front desk computer that’s running a little slower than normal.

Tailor controls to risks

Instead of spending time and money evenly on all systems, focus solutions on areas with high risks. Address these areas’ issues immediately after an assessment, but also put plans in place to evaluate their risk profiles more often. This approach is particularly useful to businesses that don’t have deep IT budgets but don’t want to make security sacrifices.

Assess existing cybersecurity products

Chances are, your organization has already spent a great deal of money on purchasing and maintaining various security products. By conducting risk assessments more often, you can improve the strategies you already have in place and uncover wasteful spending. You may discover that one outdated system doesn’t really need to be upgraded, or that another legacy technology needs to be ditched. Remember that your existing products were purchased to meet specific needs, and these needs may have immensely changed or disappeared altogether.

Overcoming cybersecurity obstacles becomes easier if you regularly evaluate your IT infrastructure. Contact our experts for help conducting a comprehensive assessment today.

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A smart approach to cybersecurity investment

Cybersecurity is a threat to businesses across industries. Sometimes, organizations invest in security software without realizing the risks that come with it. Here are compelling reasons why identifying threats before buying cybersecurity products is paramount.

Uncover threats and vulnerabilities

Every business should run a risk assessment to evaluate its current cybersecurity infrastructure. Doing so is one of the easiest ways to identify, correct, and prevent security breaches. After discovering potential issues that cyberterrorists could exploit, rate them based on probability of occurrence and potential impacts on your business.
Keep in mind that risk assessments are specific to every business, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach for technology that will work for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Variables like your line of business and operating environment will account for differences in needs and risks. For instance, manufacturing companies and insurance groups have totally different applications to secure.
After tagging and ranking potential threats, identify which vulnerabilities need immediate attention and which ones can be addressed further down the line. For instance, a web server running an unpatched operating system will take precedence over a front desk computer that’s running a little slower than normal.

Tailor controls to risks

Instead of spending time and money evenly on all systems, focus solutions on areas with high risks. Address these areas’ issues immediately after an assessment, but also put plans in place to evaluate their risk profiles more often. This approach is particularly useful to businesses that don’t have deep IT budgets but don’t want to make security sacrifices.

Assess existing cybersecurity products

Chances are, your organization has already spent a great deal of money on purchasing and maintaining various security products. By conducting risk assessments more often, you can improve the strategies you already have in place and uncover wasteful spending. You may discover that one outdated system doesn’t really need to be upgraded, or that another legacy technology needs to be ditched. Remember that your existing products were purchased to meet specific needs, and these needs may have immensely changed or disappeared altogether.

Overcoming cybersecurity obstacles becomes easier if you regularly evaluate your IT infrastructure. Contact our experts for help conducting a comprehensive assessment today.

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Check these 3 things before buying cybersecurity software

The booming market for cybersecurity products is a sign that businesses are taking the issue seriously. But before your company invests in any product, ask yourself if it’s something you really need. Here are some tips on how you can make the most out of your cybersecurity investment.

Uncover threats and vulnerabilities

Every business should run a risk assessment to evaluate its current cybersecurity infrastructure. Doing so is one of the easiest ways to identify, correct, and prevent security breaches. After discovering potential issues that cyberterrorists could exploit, rate them based on probability of occurrence and potential impacts on your business.

Keep in mind that risk assessments are specific to every business, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach for technology that will work for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Variables like your line of business and operating environment will account for differences in needs and risks. For instance, manufacturing companies and insurance groups have totally different applications to secure.

After tagging and ranking potential threats, identify which vulnerabilities need immediate attention and which ones can be addressed further down the line. For instance, a web server running an unpatched operating system will take precedence over a front desk computer that’s running a little slower than normal.

Tailor controls to risks

Instead of spending time and money evenly on all systems, focus solutions on areas with high risks. Address these areas’ issues immediately after an assessment, but also put plans in place to evaluate their risk profiles more often. This approach is particularly useful to businesses that don’t have deep IT budgets but don’t want to make security sacrifices.

Assess existing cybersecurity products

Chances are, your organization has already spent a great deal of money on purchasing and maintaining various security products. By conducting risk assessments more often, you can improve the strategies you already have in place and uncover wasteful spending. You may discover that one outdated system doesn’t really need to be upgraded, or that another legacy technology needs to be ditched. Remember that your existing products were purchased to meet specific needs, and these needs may have immensely changed or disappeared altogether.

Overcoming cybersecurity obstacles becomes easier if you regularly evaluate your IT infrastructure. Contact our experts for help conducting a comprehensive assessment today.

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Revolutionize healthcare with blockchain

In an era when data privacy has never been more important, blockchain has rapidly expanded into and taken over several industries, such as healthcare and pharmacological sciences. Propositions concerning blockchain-based technology are still in the process of development, but it’s time to start familiarizing yourself with the technology.

What is blockchain?

Although the technology is known for enabling cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, blockchain has a broader use beyond an alternative form of currency. And to understand its importance, you need to understand three key concepts:

  • Blocks
    These are encrypted data or documents. In healthcare, these can be in the form of test results.
  • Chains
    Chains make data harder to counterfeit by linking every block with the one that preceded it using an encrypted address.
  • Decentralized networks
    By using decentralized networks, each computer in the network can check for suspicious modifications in the chain. Every block added to the chain gets distributed to all the computers in the network, and when one computer tries to alter previous blocks without authorization, others can compare it with their local copies and deem it as fake.

Blockchain was originally developed to eliminate the need for centralized banks to process and validate transactions. The technology allows people to freely transfer money because each computer in the network can examine the chain and confirm the legitimacy of a transaction.

As a result, transactions are much safer and more efficient. They cannot be modified unless every computer in the network is compromised simultaneously. That level of data security and integrity helps reduce costs in the healthcare industry.

Blockchain technology in healthcare

Even with the use of digital files, data loss continues to be one of the biggest problems in healthcare. One notable incident is from the American Medical Collection Agency (AMCA), where 25 million patient data records were compromised due to a hacking incident.

Here’s how blockchain can address the problem of data loss:

  • Medical histories and records can be stored in a chain that patients can access and control. If a primary care physician needs to see the patient’s medical history, they need to get the patient’s authorization first.
  • Payments between banks, government entities, insurance providers, and patients can all be coordinated in a fraction of the previous time needed and without costly intermediaries.
  • Healthcare equipment usage, depreciation, and life cycles can be automatically tracked in a chain to keep tabs on the status of expensive and fragile fixtures.

What’s more, ransomware has hit healthcare hard over the past years, and service providers are forced to rely on costly solutions to keep up with the exponential growth in digital records. Blockchain technology can resolve both issues of security and rising costs at once.

Adopting new technology can be intimidating, especially for an industry as heavily regulated as healthcare. Blockchain has already been adopted by several organizations, but before you embrace this technology, you need full-time IT experts to assess your systems and manage your security. To learn more about blockchain in healthcare, give us a call.

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Why blockchain is essential to healthcare

Healthcare organizations need cutting-edge technologies to manage medical records and improve patient care. But even the most advanced technologies come with issues. One promising solution of interest to healthcare experts is blockchain. Here’s why.

What is blockchain?

Although the technology is known for enabling cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, blockchain has a broader use beyond an alternative form of currency. And to understand its importance, you need to understand three key concepts:

  • Blocks
    These are encrypted data or documents. In healthcare, these can be in the form of test results.
  • Chains
    Chains make data harder to counterfeit by linking every block with the one that preceded it using an encrypted address.
  • Decentralized networks
    By using decentralized networks, each computer in the network can check for suspicious modifications in the chain. Every block added to the chain gets distributed to all the computers in the network, and when one computer tries to alter previous blocks without authorization, others can compare it with their local copies and deem it as fake.

Blockchain was originally developed to eliminate the need for centralized banks to process and validate transactions. The technology allows people to freely transfer money because each computer in the network can examine the chain and confirm the legitimacy of a transaction.

As a result, transactions are much safer and more efficient. They cannot be modified unless every computer in the network is compromised simultaneously. That level of data security and integrity helps reduce costs in the healthcare industry.

Blockchain technology in healthcare

Even with the use of digital files, data loss continues to be one of the biggest problems in healthcare. One notable incident is from the American Medical Collection Agency (AMCA), where 25 million patient data records were compromised due to a hacking incident.

Here’s how blockchain can address the problem of data loss:

  • Medical histories and records can be stored in a chain that patients can access and control. If a primary care physician needs to see the patient’s medical history, they need to get the patient’s authorization first.
  • Payments between banks, government entities, insurance providers, and patients can all be coordinated in a fraction of the previous time needed and without costly intermediaries.
  • Healthcare equipment usage, depreciation, and life cycles can be automatically tracked in a chain to keep tabs on the status of expensive and fragile fixtures.

What’s more, ransomware has hit healthcare hard over the past years, and service providers are forced to rely on costly solutions to keep up with the exponential growth in digital records. Blockchain technology can resolve both issues of security and rising costs at once.

Adopting new technology can be intimidating, especially for an industry as heavily regulated as healthcare. Blockchain has already been adopted by several organizations, but before you embrace this technology, you need full-time IT experts to assess your systems and manage your security. To learn more about blockchain in healthcare, give us a call.

Posted in General Articles B, Healthcare | Tagged , , , | Comments closed
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