How IT Support & Services Accommodates Data Strategies


There has been an evolution of the value of data in business, and IT support & services help organizations realize their data’s potential. In bygone days, data needed to be stored but was otherwise considered to have little to no value. On the contrary, as many tech leaders have revealed, data is an organization’s greatest asset with the exception of its personnel. Maximizing the potential of data requires a well-rounded data strategy, which few small and medium businesses have going for them. Learn more below about how to develop a data strategy with the assistance of IT support & services.


What is a Data Strategy?


A data strategy is similar to a road map that aligns various activities across data management disciplines and improves the method in which data is acquired, stored, managed, and shared. IT support & services cannot achieve this alone. Members of an organization plus IT leaders complete the task together. The various disciplines that need to be brought into harmony in a data strategy may include:


  1. Metadata, which is a set of data that describes and gives information about other data, e.g. the data’s origin, definition, location, domain values, and more.
  2. Master data management.
  3. Data migration.
  4. Data governance.
  5. Data quality.
  6. Data integration.

An organization’s business goals and strategic priorities must be identified in order to pinpoint all the ways data can help reach goals and stay aligned with company priorities.


Establish a Metadata Process


In each business application in which data is collected, it is essential that it be made available throughout the organization for access and use. A metadata process must be established for this to happen, and enterprise content management (ECM) can help. ECM is the technology utilized to capture, preserve, store, manage, and deliver documents and other data related to organizational processes. Your company may have the data you need but, as yet, it isn’t being used to achieve your goals. Or it could be that you are collecting only a portion of the data you need from your customers, suppliers, or business partners.


Determine How Data Will be Analyzed


Until pertinent data can be accessed, analyzed, and used to make informed decisions, it hasn’t yet become a business asset. Data is often loaded with valuable information, but it starts out as a raw commodity at the point of creation. Process being an integral part of data strategy, it determines the programs or activities needed to generate a finished good from a raw “product.” IT support & services can provide the tools and know-how to come up with process.


Best IT Support & Services


Move your data over from the “burden” column of things simply to be securely stored to the “asset” column, ensuring that it helps your business meet its goals and objectives. IT support & services from Info-Link Technologies will put your data to work and improve your organization’s bottom line.


Contact Info-link Technologies

VoIP Provider Right for SMB


More small and midsize businesses (SMBs) today are replacing plain ol’ telephone service (POTS) key systems with VoIP. Why? Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) offers dynamic features that boost productivity and lower costs. 


If you currently use a POTS office key system, the odds are against finding replacement parts should it malfunction. Like it or not, your organization will soon be using VoIP.


Trust us, you want VoIP. More flexible and scalable than POTS, it offers myriad call management, mobility and collaboration features not available with legacy landline service. What’s more, VoIP costs less than POTS since it uses the same connection as your Internet.


Cost-Effective Pricing


Vendors charge divergent prices for VoIP hardware and installation as well as system management, maintenance and updates. When evaluating communications needs for your organization, don’t overlook budgeting for one-time and ongoing expenses. Avoid providers with “hidden” surcharges or extra fees for standard features such as voice mailboxes, custom messages, auto attendants and ring groups. Look for transparency in pricing and service.


Vigorous Cybersecurity Capability 


Since VoIP relies on an Internet connection, it’s subject to the same cyber threats as email and web browsing. Ensure that your VoIP provider follows best practices when safeguarding your organization against malware, phishing scams, etc.


Availability of Call Management Features


Below is a laundry list of features available with VoIP service packages. Not all are offered by every provider, or some may be considered “basic” while others are “advanced.” Make sure your provider offers features specific to your organization’s needs.


    Basic

  1. Caller ID
  2. Voicemail
  3. 3-Way Calling
  4. IP Fax
  5. Call Blocking
  6. Call Forwarding
  7. 411 or Phone Number Directory Search
  8. Local Number Portability

    Advanced

  1. Remote Management by web portal
  2. Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR)
  3. Automatic Call Distribution
  4. Unified Communication Platform (i.e., Voicemail to Email, Video Call to Conference Call)
  5. Bandwith and Call Duration Monitor
  6. Conference Calling (4-30 people)

Dependable Tech Support


You want reliability benchmarks of service and support. This means delivering VoIP over a “High Availability” (HA) network with 24/7 tech support that can be contacted via phone, email or live chat when needed. Support should also include disaster recovery (DR) planning in case of catastrophic system failure. A provider should detail what protocols are in place to address disasters and restore connectivity.


Third-Party Integration


A provider should allow your organization to integrate VoIP with third-party services such as applications, extensions, plug-ins/add-ons, and processes. These include Dropbox, Google Drive, Salesforce and apps found at Google Play Store or Apple App Store.


Make sure you completely understand the security ramifications of using any third-party application. Ease of data integration is also a consideration. Otherwise, your organization faces the daunting (and time-consuming) task of creating new databases or data transfer. 


E911 and Local Area Code Support


Since VoIP works differently from POTS, E911 should be available in case of medical or law enforcement emergencies. Local area code support means that inbound POTS calls to your organization will not incur toll charges.


Contact Info-link Technologies to learn more about our VOIP services for your business.

Business IT Support – Why Your Business Needs It?

Your IT network infrastructure is the communications backbone of your business so you need to guarantee it remains healthy and running smoothly. One way to ensure this is by tapping into the expertise and services of a Managed Service Provider (MSP).


By entrusting your IT to an MSP, their team of skilled IT specialists will provide technical support and maintenance to all devices that connect to your IT network infrastructure.


Reasons Why You Need MSP IT Support and Services


Guarantee Excellent Managed IT Services


Excellent quality of IT support and services is the biggest advantage MSP support offer. They only hire IT specialists that passed their comprehensive hiring processes. Moreover, they also provide those IT specialists with extensive technical training to keep them up with the best IT practices and standards. This gives you the assurance that they will be able to provide top-quality IT support and services for your business IT network. 


MSPs also guarantee excellent services by equipping their infrastructures with well-tested and cutting-edge technologies. By constantly using top-notch tools, MSP support gives their clients assurance that they will only provide IT support and services of the highest quality.


Guarantee 24/7 IT Network Monitoring


When you hire an MSP, their IT team will guarantee 24/7 monitoring of your entire business IT network.  This factor is critical as tech problems can happen at any time. With qualified IT specialists constantly monitoring your IT infrastructure, they will be able to address those issues before they lead to prolonged network downtimes or service disruptions.


Also, MSP can either troubleshoot those issues remotely or on-site. With remote troubleshooting, they will be able to fix tech problems without visiting the affected device’s location. This allows them to more quickly respond and fix issues. However, in cases of issues that can’t be fixed remotely, your provider will send an IT technician to your location to personally fix the issue.


Strengthen Data Security


Businesses store confidential and sensitive data on their business IT networks. With this, they need to find a way to guarantee top-notch data security. 


By hiring an MSP, it’s IT staff will have the power to manage and organize all your sensitive files and information. These IT specialists will also set up extensive security strategies and protocols to strengthen the overall security of these data. This will guarantee you that all your business data remain safe and well-protected.


Save Operating Costs


Relying on the IT support and services of an MSP drives cost savings. Managing and monitoring your own IT infrastructure is costly. It forces you to purchase and integrate new technologies and solutions. It also requires you to hire a full team of IT system administrators and technicians to watch over your network. All these extra costs can be avoided when you get the services of an MSP.


An MSP support will provide you with excellent IT support and services using their own high-grade tools. An MSP also guarantees that only qualified staff will manage and monitor your IT infrastructures. With these, you will have excellent IT support and services without spending beyond your resources and capability.


MSP Support Focus on Core Business Functions


With a reliable MSP support handling the management and monitoring of your network, you can now focus on the core functions of your business. You can now focus on other high priority initiatives like new business strategies, building better client relationships and much more. With an MSP support providing 24/7 monitoring, you will be able to do these without worrying about the health of your IT environment.


Conclusion


Consider Info-link Technologies when looking for an MSP support to provide you excellent IT support and services. We’re a full-service IT company who provides Ohio-based businesses with strategic IT support and services to drive performance, enhanced security, and overall reliability.


Since 1995, Info-link Technologies has been at the forefront of providing top-notch managed IT services to improve operational efficiencies and strengthen network security.


Looking for a reliable MSP support to provide your business with excellent IT support and solutions?


Contact Info-link Technologies today.

Why Information Assurance (IA) is Important for Every Business

In a New York Times article, news correspondent Constance Gustke emphasizes that no business is ever too small to be digitally taken over by cybercriminals. In his report, he says that a San Diego-based toy store faced its ultimate nightmare when their system was hacked. What’s worse is that this wasn’t the company’s first time. Along with this era’s rapid advancement in technology, comes the convenient danger of being digitally compromised and put to harm. This is where IA (information assurance) should come in.


Every business, no matter how big or small, is bound to use a system or two to run and maintain the smoothness of operations. The harm here is if there is no security whatsoever protecting one’s IT technology. To many unaware of what information assurance actually is, it’s wrongly referred to as a classy, superficial service that’s less than optional for offices. Some think IA is a process where an IT expert examines your existing software, installs security updates and keeps it from receiving malware. 


But the truth is, IA is elemental to every business’ IT management plan to safeguard and ensure system and data integrity, availability, and confidentiality. IA serves as a warranty promising that information will be made accessible to authorized personnel when necessary. The need for online security assurance has never been more needed until today. 


For businesses that exchange and keep personal and property information using information networks, it’s the information inside these individual machines that call for protection. As we continue to face more network security issues, IA (information assurance) has continued to be a more vital professional necessity that’s crucial to the safety of one’s business data—both private and public. 


As this is a discipline in an evolving science, experts in this field should be adept to various IT secrets, trades, and professional software in order to counter cyber attacks and digital espionage. Right off the bat, it’s safe to say this is something not any person in business can learn overnight. Soloprenuers, no matter how sharp, quick-witted, and flexible, are not exempt from the need to work with IA experts. If you’re not entirely convinced yet, below is a solid list of what problems IA covers.


Conventional Business Problems Information Assurance (AI) Can Fix


Many businesses have management struggles in that the need to find a more effective and hastened way to handle one’s company network can be a challenge. IT outages are common, too. Not only do these harm your system, but they also keep your staff from being able to work efficiently, too. The absence of formal agreement also doesn’t forward your business’ cyber safety. 


All these mentioned it’s imperative that entrepreneurs choose to collaborate with an IT company that takes care of their business’ IA matters.


Here are the many perks a brand gets once you employ an IA services company:


An Information Assurance (AI) Company Can Guarantee Quick Responses to Your Needs 


Once you take advantage of an IA company’s services, you’re sure to always come first. Under this customer engagement solution, your concerns are taken care of first over non-priority clients. 


Information Assurance (AI) Includes Network Monitoring 


Network monitoring consistently records the standing of your network including bandwidth, mishaps, and other important indicators. As a result, you and your personnel will constantly experience can enjoy a stable environment. 


Information Assurance (AI) Provides Detailed Reporting


This form of documentation is incredibly important. Comprehensive reporting can present any file containing data on a plethora of digital facets. Whether it’s long-term or short-term, sudden or planned, IA can uncover any issues you’d like to be educated about. 


Information Assurance (AI) Guarantees Remote Network Support

You won’t be in your office 24/7. And that’s fine. With IA, your system is sure to be kept safe and protected wherever you are whatever time of day. An IA company can resolve server or network issues anywhere. Hence, your IT resources will always be up and running. 


Information Assurance (AI) the Handling of Server Configuration 

Server configuration management delivers premium productivity and security by devising, deploying and implementing standardized server settings.


Information Assurance (AI) Includes Firewall Management


Firewall management consistently handles the effectiveness and the smoothness of your business firewall; an intricate system that calls for careful attention to make sure your business is kept protected at all times. 


Info-link technologies is a company that’s able to do all these and more. Having been in the IT industry for more than a decade now, Info-link Technologies can promise you the complete IT assurance package by outlining a customized information assurance plan at a reasonable rate.


Contact Info-link Technologies today!

Millennials Are Stressed About their Finances

An Opportunity for Community Banks and Credit Unions

The ability to effectively distinguish themselves from their national big chain counterparts has been the rallying cry for most community banks and local credit unions. And if the reports of market share losses over the last two years are any indicator, it’s a battle that most are losing.

The ugly truth is, your customers will likely have to walk or drive by three to five national bank branches to get to yours; so, you better have something truly special to give them a reason to ignore all of the glitz and glamour your much better financed counterparts have to offer.

From the website www.thefinancialbrand.com, come the following insights

  • Consumers are worried about their financial health across virtually all demographic segments. For many, this may mean living paycheck to paycheck or worse.
  • Unsatisfied with offerings from their primary financial institution, most consumers rely on a hodgepodge of paper and digital tools, from monthly statements to electronic tracking tools available online and on mobile devices. There is a need for better options that are real-time, consolidated and easy to use.
  • Security options top the list of desired tools for managing finances and protecting identity.
  • As consumers become more aware and comfortable with digital apps across industries, they are more comfortable with digital banking solutions, opening the door for organizations that can provide integrated financial wellness applications.

And this is where community banks and credit unions can take advantage of the significant opportunity the AI-based financial wellness tools and cutting-edge security solutions can provide them.

Most key to these solution offerings are proactive tools that provide financial wellness insight to the customer as well as alerts and notifications regarding when bills are due or potential cash flow challenges that are based on past spending and income trends.

Consumers are demanding less cumbersome and time-consuming budgeting tools. Instead of reporting that is solely based on past transactional history, present-day AI solutions are capable of crafting highly personalized customer experiences and targeted financial guidance which is based in real-time, is contextual and forecasts rather than simply reports.

And these are offerings that even the 500 pound gorillas in the marketplace are slow to offer. Today more than any other time in our history, community banks and credit unions must heed the sage advice so many of us have heard in the past.

Innovate or die.

Data Protection and Backup: Small Business, Big Risk

Let me start off by saying that I am supremely confident that data backup and recovery for your business is not exactly at the forefront of your daily concerns.You have clients, patients, and customers to satisfy.  Inventory to manage, bills to pay and operations to control.  Your day to day business operations take up every moment of every day and there is little room to be proactive about anything.But…data backup and security is a lot like flood insurance.  You don’t really give it much thought until the coastguard pulls up to your front door in an inflatable zodiac to rescue you.

And while I am at it, I am willing to bet that if you DO experience some catastrophic computer/network disaster, you are going be REALLY concerned about getting your data back.

Systems will be down, clients won’t be getting serviced and you are going to be giving serious consideration to day drinking at work.  And if there is a problem with restoring all that data, and YOU were responsible for backing it up, let’s just say you won’t be the most popular kid in the lunchroom.

And because the only way that I am going to be able to get you to take this seriously, here are some scary statistics to ponder.

  1. 20% of all small businesses will be hacked within a one year’s time period.  Yep, one in five.
  2. Of all the companies who suffered a critical data loss for more than a week, 93% declared bankruptcy.
  3. Do you manage your own network?  40% of you will have it accessed by a hacker. And half of you won’t even know it happened!
  4. Almost a third of all targeted attacks are deployed on companies with under 250 employees.

Now at this point, you might be thinking to yourself…” Hey pal,back off with the spooky disaster statistics.  We do backups.”

But my question to you is HOW do you perform them and HOW OFTEN?

I remember my first job was working for a veterinary hospital and the office manager at the time would perform system backups once a week on tape.  Then she would take that tape, stick it in her purse, and take it home until it came time to perform another backup.

Now, for 1989, this wasn’t a bad system, despite the myriad of things that could have gone wrong.  Like, what if the backup didn’t work (we never tested it)?  Or what about all the data that we collected in the six days between backup sessions?  Were we just ok with losing all of that?

Today, we have a variable cornucopia of options when it comes to backing up and securing our critical I.T. data.  From multiple/redundant external drives to cloud solutions, we have come a long way from taking a data tape home in our purses.

Andbecause each business’s data and I.T. environment is different, it is wise to talk to a professional firm who can assess not only the best service or tool, but the procedures and policies that will hold your shiny new backup system together.

InfoLink works with multiple vendors to provide just the right solutions that are tailored to your specific business and needs.  No cookie cutter fixes here.

And the best part is…we can actually SAVE you money on your solutions, not cost you more.To schedule a free evaluation of your systems and get answers on how to protect

them with iron-clad confidence, reach out to us today by visiting us at www.nfolink.net.

Until It Happens to Your Business

As soon as I start talking about computer security, data breaches, and malware to small business owners, their eyes inevitably glaze over and their facial expression tells me one thing.

I know this is important, but I am too busy dealing with today’s challenges to worry about what MIGHT happen…

Hey, after all, this kind of thing only happens to the big companies, right?

The fact is, businesses large and small, from big retailers to small town chiropractors are being attacked. And it isn’t until your business has ground to a halt that you start to wonder why it happened and what the heck you are going to do minimize the damage.

Just for a moment, ask yourself these questions:

  1. If you suddenly lost all access to your databases (customer info, transactions, etc.), how would that impact your business?
  2. How would your customers/clients react to the news that you exposed their sensitive information to an outside source?  Oh, and BTW, you had no idea who it was or what they would do with it?
  3. You no longer controlled your network and all sales functions came to a grinding halt, how many hours/days of that could you sustain before the damage was permanent?

The reality of computer security is that once you are a victim of an attack, the damage is done and there is little you can do to reverse it.  Your client?s confidence in you is already shattered, business has been lost, and the costs to repair it are going to be significant.

So, what’s the moral of this story BE PROACTIVE!

Almost all of the threats that are currently out there can be avoided by having sound and consistent I.T. security protocols and procedures in place. Gary Hayslip produced an exceptional article for csoonline.com that outlines the foundations of a sound Incident Management Plan.

  1. Identify
    The business develops an understanding of its risk and then implements the capabilities to manage it. Core tasks in the Identify function are orientated towards gaining an understanding of the critical systems, assets, data, and capabilities required for business operations.
    • Identify and prioritize critical business systems and processes which may be exposed to compromise. Think of the procedures, applications, data, and people required for essential operations needed by the organization to function as a business.
    • Develop a Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans (BC/DR) while taking into account some of the following requirements:
      • Coordinate how business with work with suppliers and primary customers during a business emergency.
      • Plan how the business would conduct manual or alternative business operations if required.
      • Plan how the company would do offline financial transactions.
      • Develop written procedures for emergency system shutdown and restart.
      • Develop and test methods for retrieving and restoring backup data; periodically test backup data to verify its validity.
      • Have established agreements and procedures for conducting business operations in an alternate facility/site.
      • Educate and train staff on Business Operations Plan, DR/BC Plan.
  2. Protect
    The business implements a cybersecurity program with appropriate security controls and capabilities. The core tasks in the Protect function are centered on the organization developing the strategic processes to limit and contain the impact of a cybersecurity incident.
    • Develop core critical “cyber hygiene” policies including Acceptable Use, Access Control, Change Management, Information Security, Incident Response, Remote Access, BYOD, Email/Communication, and Social Media.
    • Implement an enterprise cybersecurity program comprised of these best practices:
      • Backup business data (daily incremental/weekly – full).
      • Keep all systems updated with anti-virus and anti-malware security software.
      • Keep all computer operating systems updated with current operating systems and security patches.
      • Secure wireless networks with encryption and vendor recommended security procedures.
      • Implement, monitor, and audit system and network logging.
      • Implement access control and authentication of critical/sensitive networks and business data.
      • Train employees in cybersecurity awareness and proper use of business systems.
  3. Detect
    The business implements the appropriate security controls and technologies to identify and investigate the occurrence of a cybersecurity event. The core tasks in the Detect function are focused on the timely discovery and investigation of anomalies and abnormal events through continuous monitoring and detection.
    • Implement continuous assessment, monitoring and remediation of network and assets deemed critical to the business.
    • Develop a training program for security personnel on the use of cyber threat intelligence and management of anomalous events.
    • Develop an incident response plan for the organization’s cybersecurity teams to manage during a cyber-event by doing the following:
      • Maintain a current inventory of computer assets (hardware, software, and cloud).
      • Maintain a list of IT service providers and emergency/law enforcement contact information.
      • Create a checklist of specific actions in the event of a cyber incident.
      • Define and establish priority notification of employees.
      • Define and establish priority notification of customers/clients as deemed necessary and at the appropriate time.
      • Define other notifications (e.g., law enforcement).
      • Account for Regulatory Compliance (as required).
      • Conduct refresher training on incident response emergency procedures (at least annually).
  4. Respond
    The organization implements the appropriate controls and procedures to take action with regards to a confirmed cybersecurity incident. The core tasks of the Respond function are designed to support the business ability to contain the impact of a cybersecurity incident.
    • Identify impacted/compromised systems and assess the damage.
    • Implement incident response plan actions (emergency/contingency plans) to minimize the impact on business operations.
    • Attempt to preserve evidence of incident while disconnecting/segregating affected identified assets.
    • Collect the affected assets system configuration, network, and intrusion detection logs.
    • Notify appropriate internal parties, third-party vendors or authorities, and request assistance, if necessary.
    • Reduce damage by removing (disconnecting) affected assets.
    • Document all steps that were taken during the incident and conduct a “lessons learned” discussion to improve the incident response team?s procedures.
  5. Recover
    The organization develops and implements procedures to be activated in the event of a cybersecurity incident. The core focus of the Recover function is to keep the company in operation during such an event and assist it in recovery efforts as it returns to normal business operations.
    • Restore recovered asset to a periodic “recovery points” if available and use backup data to restore systems to last known “good” status.
    • Ensure all backups of critical assets are stored in a physically and environmentally secured location.
    • Remember updating recovered systems with current data may require the business to manually input transactions if it was conducted offline due to a cyber event.
    • Create updated “clean” backup from restored asset.

In today’s dynamic threat environment, developing a risk management methodology is a strategic imperative for companies. NIST’s risk management functions are necessary steps an organization can follow to manage its risk and the impact of a cyber incident. It is important to begin the process; accept you need it and incorporate it into the business portfolio of critical operations that are required to be successful.

The True Cost of Cyber Attacks

If you watch the news with any kind of regularity, stories of companies falling victim to a cyber-attack almost seem commonplace nowadays.
Typically, the attacks are centered around credit card information or personal records like medical or personnel.  Either way, it never plays well on the news for the company who fell victim.

In 2017, cyber-attacks cost the global economy over $450 million and the average breach costs a company around $3.6 million in total.
Aside from this terrifying amount of money, cyber-attacks take their toll on companies in ways that are tough to recover from.

The “Unseen Costs” can include…

  1. Damage to Brand and Reputation
  2. Loss of Intellectual Property
  3. Compromised Customer Relationships
  4. Huge Insurance Costs

The days of approaching cybersecurity for your business as a second thought are over.  Companies both large and small, from huge manufacturers to private medical practices must all become vigilant and take aggressive and proactive steps to protecting themselves…NOW.

Chances are, if your company DOES become a victim of a cyber-attack, you won’t end up on the six o’clock news.
But what would it cost YOUR business?  And could you survive it?

To learn how Info-Link Technologies can help protect your business, visit us at www.nfolink.net.