Tips on Renewing Warranties on IT, Server and Software

Here is a good blog on whether or not you should renew your warranties on firewalls, servers, routers, software, etc. It is written by a friend of mine, Ken Zimmerman, at Trivalent Group out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  He provides [...]

Tips on Renewing Warranties on IT, Server and Software2016-03-08T19:12:28-08:00

Be Ransomware Aware

Educate your users - Don’t let them be tricked into downloading malware

 Everyone should follow this advice:

  1. Be very cautious when opening an attachment or clicking a link in an email, instant message, or post on social networks (like Facebook)—even if you know the sender. If you are suspicious, call to ask the sender if they sent it.  If not, delete it.
  2. The attack can look like it is from an official sources like banks, UPS, FedEx, USPS, eFax, etc. This has been the most common attack method to date.
  3. If an e-mail gets blocked and quarantined by your spam filter...
Be Ransomware Aware2016-02-29T22:28:51-08:00

10 days to Save Big on Taxes for Equipment Purchases

Orange County, CA - You have Less Than 10 Days to Save Big on Tax Write-offs for Equipment Purchases.  You need to act now.

The Section 179 deduction, named for a provision in the federal tax law, allows a small business to deduct -up front- the entire cost of equipment ranging from computers to furniture to vehicles and machinery. The deduction is normally $25,000, but for the past years our lawmakers in DC have increased that amount substantially.

I have some great news for you.  Here is an excerpt an article on The Hill regarding Section 179 updates.  It says recent legislation was passed to raise the instant depreciation level to $500,000. 

10 days to Save Big on Taxes for Equipment Purchases2017-09-18T00:36:18-07:00

What 12 Security Things Should I Focus on to Be Defensible in 2016?

Here is a sneak-peek and what is likely my most important blog for the upcoming New Year.  This is just a partial teaser....

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Irvine, CA - I was recently asked by a roundtable of CEOs to advise them on network security.  They had a lot of questions and a lot of misinformation.  I was surprised as this was a group of technology company CEOs and what I quickly found out is that they did not know much more than my non-tech company CEO clients.  From that discussion they asked me to come back and present to them a short list of actions they should take in 2016 to better secure their systems.  Initially I wanted to present them with a list of 10 things they should focus upon.  For anyone that knows, it is easy to create a list of 100 things that should be done to secure a system. However, I decided in order to make the list actionable and not overwhelming I needed to focus on the 10 things I have seen in the past year or two that have caused the most real-life grief for our new and existing clients.  I wanted to keep the list to 10 items, but I had to fudge a bit and expand to 12 core items. Then I added three bonus items for those who are over-achievers and another three for those in regulated businesses like healthcare, financial services and Sarbanes-Oxley.

This list is not complete nor absolute.  It is a list I have created largely in order of my perceived importance based upon the real-life hacks, breaches and other maladies related to failures of network security to keep the bad guys out.  You will need to assess the requirements that are appropriate for your firm.  If you are looking for a good place to start, I offer up my suggestions below.

1.       You need to do a vulnerability assessment or security assessment.  It is impossible for you to know what actions you should take to properly secure your systems without first doing an assessment.  Assessments are common practice at many firms, yet completely ignored at others.  It is fairly easy for you to order a vulnerability assessment and the best part is that it takes very little time and participation from you and your IT staff.  The cost for this service ranges from a few thousand dollars for a very small firm to several tens-of-thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for larger enterprises.  These should be done at least once per year just like your financial audit.

2.       Patching for Software Security Updates is perhaps one of the most overlooked and under-rated security measures you can implement to better secure your systems.  I maintain that good software patching measures are in some ways more important than your firewall.  A firewall is a formidable device that once it gets set-up has a number of ports opened up so that your firm can transact business.  That is where it gets weak.  Through these legitimately opened ports attackers will send nasty payloads that compromise your system, often without you knowing.  Imagine a hardened castle all buttoned up, but the draw bridge must be opened in order to conduct commerce.  Through that legitimately opened bridge come the sneak attacks, the scammers, crooks, mischievous and spies....

What 12 Security Things Should I Focus on to Be Defensible in 2016?2015-11-12T03:10:52-08:00

You’re the Non-technical Boss with Responsibility for the Network…

How do you know your most important functions of your network are working?  How do you manage technical people whose work you don’t fully understand?  This week I have seven simple questions to ask and I provide you some tips on what answers you should expect.

Backup and Disaster Recovery is one of the most important functions in Information Technology management to assure the future viability of your firm.  But backup and DR is a function you don’t really know is working until you really need it and that is not the time to find out it is not working as planned.  My recommendation is that you bring this topic up in your next meeting with your IT team.  Here are the questions I suggest you ask:

1.       How is our backup system running?  (Let your IT person talk.  Be patient and don’t interrupt.  Let them tell you all they can.)

2.       Are we getting any error messages from the backups? (Error messages are not....

You’re the Non-technical Boss with Responsibility for the Network…2015-10-07T22:13:17-07:00

Eight Reasons You Feel Like a Hostage to IT

Over the years we have seen many new clients come to Alvaka Networks feeling like they are hostages to Information Technology.  IT Hostages feel this way for many different reasons.  Most often the person feeling this way is the CFO, Controller, CEO, COO, IT manager or an IT technician for the most part in that order in terms of frequency.

Why do you feel that way?

Eight Reasons You Feel Like a Hostage to IT2015-07-07T21:31:37-07:00

Do You Accept Credit Cards? If Yes, Read This….

VISA just released this Security Alert.  It affects everyone who uses a Point-of-Sale (POS) terminal to accept credit card payments.  If you use that small device by your register to slide cards in order to accept payment you may be at risk.

VISA has identified malicious code that can allow hackers to gain access to the credit card information you are receiving through these POS terminals.  Some of the service providers who maintain these devices are not following good security practices and

Do You Accept Credit Cards? If Yes, Read This….2019-07-16T21:17:59-07:00

Oli’s Top Five Computing Threats for the Second Half of 2015

I was recently asked to be part of a webinar moderated by Elliott Markowitz, The VAR Guy.  Elliott wanted me to share my thoughts on the top threats facing small to mid-size businesses.  My answer is not scientifically derived, but based upon what I am seeing most often in the past two years of IT and security management in my world.  I am seeing the top threats from these five areas:

1.    Ransomware – Organized crime groups that encrypt all your important files and hold your data hostage until you pay....

Oli’s Top Five Computing Threats for the Second Half of 20152019-07-16T21:21:51-07:00

Purpose, Mastery and Autonomy in Managing IT Infrastructure

I love Daniel Pink’s writings.  I thought I would share this article from SmartCompany.com.  The message about Purpose, Mastery and Autonomy I reread from time to time.  The message is short, but it rings so true for me.  The most [...]

Purpose, Mastery and Autonomy in Managing IT Infrastructure2017-09-18T00:52:35-07:00