7 critical questions you should ask when choosing a cloud computing provider

There’s no question that cloud computing is on the rise. More and more businesses are turning to cloud computing as their default setting. But with so many options to choose from, how do you select the right provider for your business?

Here are seven critical questions you should ask when choosing a cloud computing provider.

1. What cloud computing services do you provide?

Produced in Partnership with VMWare

There are many different types of cloud services such as a public cloud, private cloud and hybrid cloud. If you already know what type of service you want, your first step is to make sure your potential provider offers that service.

More than likely, though, you know you want to move to the cloud, but aren’t sure which type of service would work best for you. A good cloud computing provider should not only be able to explain the services they offer, but help you to determine which cloud computing services would best meet the needs of your business.

2. How secure is your cloud computing?

Security should be at the top of any list when data and networking is concerned.

Cloud security, just like network security, ensures your data stays safe. Ask potential providers what network and server-level security measures they have in place to protect your data. Security measures to look for include encryption, firewalls, antivirus detection and multifactor user authentication.

3. Where will my data be stored?

Produced in Partnership with VMWare

Since cloud computing involves the storage of data at off-site locations, the physical location and security of those data centers is just as important as online security.

SSAE 16 and SOC 2 Type II certifications are the best indicator that your provider’s products, systems and data are compliant with industry security standards.

4. How will my business be able to access the cloud?

One of the benefits of cloud computing is its flexibility and ease of access. You’ll want you understand how you will be able to access your data on the cloud and how it will integrate into your current work environment.

If your company is poised to grow in the near future, you may also want to ask about scalability and your provider’s ability to meet your growing needs.

5. What is your pricing structure?

Pricing for cloud computing can vary greatly, so make sure you understand how and for what you will be charged.

Ask about upfront costs and the ability to add services as needed. Will services be charged hourly, monthly, semi-annually, or annually?

6. How do you handle regulatory compliance?

Produced in Partnership with VMWare

Understanding the many laws and regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCCI, that pertain to the collection and storage of data can be intimidating. That’s why one of the benefits of hiring a cloud computing provider is having security experts take care of regulatory compliance for you.

You’ll want to make sure your provider is constantly working to stay up-to-date on the latest rules and regulations that may affect your data.

7. What customer support services do you offer?

Cloud computing never sleeps and neither should your provider’s technical support. Getting help when you need it is important, so you’ll want to ask your provider if they provide 24-hour technical support, including on holidays.

Ease and availability of reporting problems is also important so ask about phone, email, and live chat support options. You may also want to ask about your provider’s average response and resolution times.

Asking these questions can help you find the right cloud computing provider for your business. And getting the right answers is only a phone call away—call your managed IT services provider to start the process today.

Produced in Partnership with VMWare

Webinar: Cybersecurity for Your Suddenly Remote Workforce

As COVID-19 continues to change daily work life around the globe, organizations are facing a challenging new cybersecurity reality. To provide actionable information for IT and security teams everywhere, we’re inviting you to join our live webinar: Cybersecurity for Your Suddenly Remote Workforce.

During this webinar, we’ll help you develop a better understanding of the challenges and solutions to protecting your organization in the reality of a remote workforce. You’ll get an in-depth look at the evolving COVID-19 threat landscape, insights and recommendations based on what we’re seeing across our customer base, and tips to help you maintain and improve your security posture during these changing times.

10 Tech Solutions (& Offers) to Stay Secure & Productive During COVID-19 Crisis

As you may have seen, a number of technology manufacturers stepped up to the plate quickly with free trials and extended licensing offers when the coronavirus reached pandemic status in early March. Since that time we’ve been able to evaluate these offers and implement a number of them with our clients. This article will help you understand which of these solutions and offers could be good for your situation.

—–

Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
– Cisco AnyConnect
– Cisco Meraki
– Fortinet Solutions

Remote Worker Security
– Cisco Umbrella
– Cisco Duo Security

Communication & Collaboration
– Microsoft 365
– Cisco Webex
– ISG Hosted Voice Soft Phone

Remote Desktop Services (RDS)
– Citrix Cloud Workspace
– Microsoft Remote Session Host

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

1) Cisco AnyConnect is one of our preferred solutions to get users secure access while offsite. It’s more secure than most of the OS-based VPN solutions that leverage L2TP and PPTP, very reliable and user friendly. Here’s an overview video. Cisco is allowing existing AnyConnect customers to exceed their user limit to support the increase in remote workers, and new customers can access a free license for 90 days. Details can be found in their blog post, Cisco Free Security Offerings.

2) Cisco Meraki is also another good VPN option. Their security appliances can be remotely deployed in minutes using zero-touch cloud provisioning. They are simple to deploy across sites, and Auto VPN technology can securely connect branches in just a few clicks. They are offering 90-day free trials for Meraki Insight and a First Year On Us Promotion that can help you during this challenging time.

3) Fortinet solutions – offer an integrated solution to support telework. FortiGate next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) have built-in support for IPsec virtual private networks (VPNs), enabling remote workers to connect securely to the company network. With endpoint protection, provided by FortiClient, and multi-factor authentication (MFA) with FortiAuthenticator, organizations can securely support remote work and maintain business continuity.

Remote Worker Security

4) Cisco Umbrella protects users from malicious Internet destinations whether they are on or off the network. Because it is delivered from the cloud, Umbrella makes it easy to protect users everywhere in minutes. Cisco is allowing existing customers to exceed their user limit to support an increase in remote workers. For new customers, Cisco has extended its free 14 day trial license to 90 days during the COVID-19 crisis. To get this set up, simply contact the ISG COVID-19 Task Force.

5) Cisco Duo Security is Multi-Factor Authentication that enables organizations to verify users’ identities and establish device trust before granting access to applications. By employing a zero-trust model, it decreases the attack surface and reduces risk. Cisco is allowing existing customers to exceed their user limit to support an increase in remote workers, and new customers can access a free license.

Remote Desktop Services (RDS)

In a perfect world, we’d all take our laptops home, access the company network via the VPN and business would barely skip a beat. But in the real world, it’s not that easy. Not everyone has a laptop to take home. Some workstations must stay on company property for security reasons. Some employees require high performance computing that simply can’t happen through VPN. And the list goes on. When this is the case, the following options are worth considering.

6) Citrix Cloud Workspace is a quick way to provide remote access to employee workstations and the company network. It gives the employee access to their workstation in their office remotely and securely – eliminating file sharing issues and communications being relayed outside the company network. Currently, Citrix is offering a 60-day trial and onboarding with ISG’s team of Citrix engineers is quick and painless.

See how ISG helped MTM transform healthcare logistics with Citrix workspace solutions >>

7) Microsoft Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) is another way to connect remote users to the applications they need. If you have a VMware environment and have been considering a solution to roll-out updates to employee devices more efficiently than touching each device, you may want to consider RDSH. While this solution requires a greater investment of time and budget than the Citrix solution, there are many advantages that make it worthwhile to explore. Microsoft offers a 180 day trial of the licensing.

Communication & Collaboration

8) Managed Microsoft 365 – Microsoft 365 has become the industry leader in communication and collaboration for its ability to integrate the tools that we’ve all grown accustomed to, like Word, Excel and Powerpoint. When Teams, Sharepoint and OneDrive were added to the mix, the ability to share and co-author files took remote work/collaboration to a whole new level. We use MS365 at ISG, and it has kept us up and running throughout this entire crisis.

Currently, Microsoft is offering E1 licenses for free for six months. While this does include Teams (the app that makes it all happen), we are not recommending this trial for companies considering O365 for a long-term solution. This complicates a migration to Microsoft 365 down the road. If you have questions about this, please email our COVID-19 Task Force.

9) Cisco Webex is a solution you should explore if you need to quickly scale your ability to communicate and collaborate effectively. It’s an industry leading solution that includes HD video meetings, content sharing, recording, meetings, webinars, desktop and mobile app, messaging and more. Cisco is expanding subscriptions on a temporary basis at no additional cost for existing customers and offering Webex for free to individuals during the COVID-19 crisis. We have helped a number of clients deploy this solution in minutes, and Cisco has an incredible library of materials to support rollout efforts.

10) ISG Hosted Voice Soft Phones – If your focus is to quickly stand up a remote phone/telecommunication option for your remote workforce, ISG’s hosted voice solution offers the ability to spin up a soft phone client. There is no need to purchase a new phone system and you can seamlessly transition what you have into a remote solution that works on a PC, tablet or cellular device. This 100% cloud-based solution includes conferencing, transferring, on-hold, call jump, IM/Presence and more. And, until the end of June we are offering month-to-month contracts if you’d like to test it out for yourself.

If you have questions about any of the above solutions or how to take advantage of their COVID-19 promotions, please don’t hesitate to contact the ISG COVID-19 Task Force.

The Ultimate Remote Workforce Checklist – Security, Productivity & Business Continuity

Pandemic has struck the globe. Workforces have been sent home. And the IT team has scrambled to make it happen in record time.

Words can’t describe how impressed we’ve been at the business community’s response to enabling a remote workforce at such a rapid pace. And as an IT services provider, we hold the fellow IT professionals at the companies we serve in very high regard. We’ve seen so many of you working tirelessly to serve the needs of the business to ensure we keep our communities safe. Kudos to you.

When social distancing is no longer the norm, we’ll find a local watering hole and buy you a well deserved drink!

Until then, we want to provide a resource for you to ensure you’ve “checked all the boxes” as you go remote. Normally, making a transformation of this magnitude is planned out months, often times years, in advance. Use this checklist to ensure your network remains secure, your users are as productive as possible and business continuity remains in tact.

Download the Checklist

Remote Workforce Checklist

If you have any questions during the COVID-19 crisis, please don’t hesitate to contact our COVID-19 Task force via email. Good luck. And stay safe out there.

Business Continuity & Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Like many companies across the country and around the world, ISG Technology is closely monitoring the Coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the people and communities we serve. We wanted to take this opportunity to help you understand how we are implementing our business continuity plan so we can continue to help you navigate this unique situation. Here are a few highlights.

Staying Informed & Healthy

First and foremost, we are closely following and adhering to the World Health Organization (WHO), state agencies and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidance to ensure the safety of employees, clients and partners.

Business as Usual (as Possible)

We are still providing onsite professional services for our clients within the guidelines of our government agencies and with respect to our clients’ policies. If services can be provided remotely, we are making this suggestion and working with each client to ensure effectiveness. In the event there is a mandated community quarantine, we will remain operational via the cloud-based communication and productivity tools we use on a daily basis.

All ISG employees are cybersecurity trained and prepared to use best practices when working from home.

Keeping You Informed

Because this situation is changing rapidly, we have assembled a COVID-19 Taskforce that consists of subject matter experts across our company. This team will be meeting daily to discuss the business continuity issues our clients are experiencing in a variety of areas including remote workforce productivity, security & access, policies & procedures, networks & infrastructure, etc.

We will be disseminating helpful information to you via email and our website in the coming days and weeks.

Remote Workforce Implementation

We are already working with a number of our clients to get the tools and best practices in place so they can continue to make a smooth transition to a remote workforce. This includes reviews and updates to critical business policies, procedures and relevant security assessments as well as ISG Help Desk, Office 365, Citrix, Cisco Security products and more.

If you are seeking guidance on the right solution for your organization, we are here to help. If you have questions related to your business continuity needs, contact us at taskforce@isgtech.com. Our team will see to it that they get answered quickly.

If there is anything we can do to help you or your organization please let us know. The entire Twin Valley Family of Companies is committed to helping you continue unlocking possibilities for the communities you serve during these challenging times.

Webinar: Data Protection Fundamentals To Strengthen Your Cybersecurity Strategy

The tournament may be crazy. But what’s crazier is the number of businesses that don’t have a solid cybersecurity strategy. That’s why we’re dedicating the month of March to helping as many organizations as we can strengthen their defense against modern security threats. We call it Security Madness.

In this webinar, you’ll learn the latest security landscape and current concerns, how to utilize the NIST Security Framework in your security strategy , how data backups fit into your security strategy and five steps to keeping your systems protected.

Protect your company and your reputation with managed cybersecurity

Although many businesses understand the significance of their compliance obligations, data and privacy compliance laws evolve at such a rate that it’s hard to stay ahead. Below, we go over why compliance is so critical to your business and why a managed cybersecurity solution is the best way to support your compliance and cybersecurity needs.  

The importance of compliance

Compliance is critical for many reasons, but for businesses, there are two key considerations – reputation and financial loss. Typically, compliance breaches have serious financial implications. For example, in the healthcare sector, a breach usually costs an average of $150 per record. When we also consider the likely reputation damage caused by a data breach, the overall cost to the business can be far higher. 

In other words, compliance has never been more important. 

How cybersecurity helps you stay compliant

Cybersecurity boosts your compliance in three key ways. 

Data Encryption 

Encryption is a straightforward form of data security that turns a document into a scrambled, unreadable file. It’s only converted back to its original form when a user enters a password. Encryption helps you preserve data confidentiality when you store files or send emails. 

Network monitoring 

If you monitor your network, you can identify and isolate threats and vulnerabilities before they infiltrate your system. This allows you to protect sensitive data, including medical records, from external threats. 

Phishing and ransomware protection

Phishing emails often look just like authentic emails from trusted organizations. Unfortunately, this is how so many employees unwittingly share sensitive information with fraudsters. Up-to-date cybersecurity can help you identify malicious messages and isolate them, which assists with your compliance obligations. 

If like many companies, you’re worried that complying with your regulatory requirements is too much for you to handle in-house, that’s where managed cybersecurity comes in. 

Why managed cybersecurity is the best option for compliance needs

The truth is that managed cybersecurity saves you time, resources, and reputation damage. In fact, research shows that companies that deployed security automation technologies experienced around half the cost of a breach ($2.65 million average) compared to those without such technologies ($5.16 million average). Here’s why you should opt for managed cybersecurity services (or MSPs) over-relying on your in-house team. 

Expert knowledge 

MSPs are experienced industry specialists who stay ahead of the changes in compliance and privacy law. They understand your compliance obligations and are dedicated to helping you remain compliant at all times.

Dedicated compliance support

MSPs aren’t just industry experts. They’re available 24/7 to support your unique compliance needs. They can monitor your network security around the clock and remedy any system vulnerabilities before there’s a costly data breach.

Backup facilities 

With the support of an MSP, you can remotely store and password-protect sensitive data, and you can restrict employee access to confidential files. This minimizes the risk of an employee negligently – or maliciously – tampering with important records.

Operational efficiency

Essentially, MSPs take the stress out of compliance. They free up your other employees to focus on running the business while they take care of your legal data protection obligations. As a result, you can concentrate on growing your company.

With an MSP’s support, compliance is one less thing to worry about.  

Reach out today 

As cybersecurity becomes ever more challenging, you need IT, specialists, on your side. With managed cybersecurity services, you benefit from the constant support of a dedicated IT team that fully understands your unique cybersecurity needs, all while reducing downtime. For more information on managed cybersecurity, contact us. 

How to find the right cybersecurity provider for you

A cybersecurity provider can help reduce your downtime and minimize your exposure to the growing number of security threats out there. To help you find the right provider for your organization, we’ve broken down what you should look for in a provider – and why having that cybersecurity support is so important. 

Why cybersecurity is important

The importance of cybersecurity can’t be overstated, and every business needs a reliable cybersecurity solution. Why? Because cyberattacks are on the rise – over 61 percent of businesses experienced a cyberattack within the last year, and this statistic is only set to increase. 

Although you may think you can handle your own cybersecurity needs in-house, cyber threats are becoming increasingly more sophisticated, and you’ll need the help of a dedicated security partner to stay ahead of the challenges. 

What a good cybersecurity provider can do for you

The truth is that not all cybersecurity providers are created equal. However, all good providers demonstrate these four key characteristics.

Comprehensive protection  

A good cybersecurity provider actively protects your company against the ever-rising threat of complex phishing and ransomware scams. Phishing attacks account for over 90 percent of data breaches, and a cybersecurity provider should offer comprehensive protection against all such threats.

Service dedication  

Business doesn’t sleep, and neither should your network support. Your security provider should provide constant network monitoring services to detect vulnerabilities and prevent intrusions before they strike. 

Customized, proactive support 

Since cybersecurity threats evolve so frequently, it’s often impossible for in-house IT staff to keep up. Your cybersecurity provider should be dedicated to staying ahead of new and emerging security threats so you can focus on running your business.  

Flexible budget options 

No two businesses have identical cybersecurity needs, which means there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all security model. A good cybersecurity provider works with you to identify your core security needs and offers you a range of services within your budget. 

How to find a cybersecurity provider

Finding the right cybersecurity provider for your unique business needs doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some tips for finding the right provider today.

Consider your needs

Before looking for a cybersecurity provider, be clear on what you actually need from them. For example, your priorities may include:

  • Cloud and remote security 
  • Privacy law compliance 
  • Network monitoring 
  • Infrastructure upgrades 

When you understand your priorities, it’s easier to find the right cybersecurity provider.

Be honest about your budget

Set out your IT budget and be realistic about what you can afford to spend on cybersecurity services. Good providers offer flexible support plans to suit every budget. 

Ask questions

There’s no such thing as asking too many questions when you’re looking for a cybersecurity provider. Your provider should feel like an extension of your own team, so it’s important that you’re comfortable asking them for support and advice. 

Choose an expert 

For any business, it’s important that you choose a provider with the experience and expertise to handle your unique security needs. Whether you’re subject to complex privacy regulations or you’re looking for comprehensive, remote support, be sure that your provider understands your niche and how to protect your data and assets effectively. 

With a reliable cybersecurity provider, you can easily secure your business data and IT infrastructure in a cost-effective, legally compliant way. For more information on how to devise the right cybersecurity solution for you, contact us today.

Why you should outsource your cybersecurity to professional service providers

Cybercrime can cost the average US organization up to a staggering $13 million per year, according to recent reports. What’s more, even a single cybersecurity incident can cost an SMB over $54,000 in recovery costs. The good news is that there’s a way to protect your business from the financial costs, service disruption, and reputation damage associated with data breaches, and that’s by partnering with a managed services provider (MSP). Below, we break down how managed cybersecurity services work and why partnering with an IT professional is the best way to protect your organization from cyber vulnerabilities. 

How managed cybersecurity works 

Managed cybersecurity means outsourcing the management of your cybersecurity systems and devices to an external service provider. These providers are known as Managed cybersecurity Services Providers (MSSPs) or Managed Services Providers (MSPs). 

MSSPs and MSPs typically offer a wide range of cybersecurity services, including: 

  • Data backup and recovery
  • Intrusion detection and threat monitoring 
  • cybersecurity audits
  • Network monitoring
  • Disaster planning
  • cybersecurity intelligence
  • Incident response and investigations 

These IT professionals are especially helpful to organizations with limited or no in-house IT staff, but every company should consider partnering with them. Here’s why.

Why cybersecurity is so important 

Cybercrime and data breaches are more common now than ever before. One recent study showed that businesses face an average of 145 cybersecurity breaches per year, and this figure is only expected to grow. cybersecurity incidents don’t just cost your company money, either. Other consequences of cybersecurity failures include: 

  • Loss of company reputation
  • Damage to hardware 
  • Irretrievable data loss 
  • Hours, or even days, of downtime 

Can partnering with an IT professional really protect your business from these side effects? The answer is yes. MSPs protect your business from cybersecurity incidents in the following essential ways. 

24/7 support

Hackers work around the clock, and so should your support system. With an IT professional on your side, you’ll have access to round-the-clock IT support and intrusion detection, giving you the confidence you need to get on with running your business while your service provider handles your cybersecurity needs. 

Expertise 

It’s hard to find in-house IT professionals with the up-to-date skills and knowledge they need to protect your business from cybersecurity threats. MSPs and MSSPs have the training, expertise, and experience to protect your company from these evolving threats as and when they arise. 

Compliance management

Highly regulated industries such as finance and healthcare must adhere to strict data protection and cybersecurity regulations. An MSP can help you comply with these regulations, and they’ll alert you to any changes in the law that affect your business. In a constantly evolving regulatory landscape, this support is invaluable. 

Cost savings 

Recovering from downtime costs you time, money, and resources. IT professionals save you money by reducing your exposure to these costs – all for a predictable fee that fits in with your annual IT budget.  

Training 

There’s no substitute for well-trained staff, given that employee negligence is a leading cause of data breaches and cybersecurity incidents. A cybersecurity services provider can help to prevent employee error and negligence by making your personnel aware of the latest threats and how to avoid them. 

Choose a partner today

Partnering with an IT professional or MSP drastically reduces your exposure to hackers and minimizes the risk of data loss and corruption. For more information on what an MSP can do for you and your business and why it’s so important to protect your organization from cybercrime, contact us today.

Your guide to developing a risk management framework

From cybercrime to unscheduled downtime, risks and threats are just as much of a problem for small and medium-sized companies as they are for large corporations. Here’s why developing a risk management framework is so vital to staying in control of your business – and here are some tips for drafting your own strategy.

Why a risk management framework is important 

The reality is that downtime costs, on average, between $300,000 and $400,000 per hour. According to recent studies, however, at least 51 percent of costly downtime is avoidable with the right risk management strategy. Risk management is so important, then, because it allows you to plan for disasters and other downtimes. 

With careful planning, you can mitigate the financial and reputation costs associated with downtime, cybercrime, and system failures. It all comes down to your risk management framework.

Steps to creating your risk management framework 

Creating your risk management framework is simpler than it seems. To help you get started, here are some of the key steps you should be following.

Set goals

Establish clear objectives for your risk management framework. Understand what you’re trying to achieve and why it’s important. This helps to keep your framework relevant to your business and your specific needs. 

Identify your major threats

Consider the risks and threats that your company faces. These risks may vary by sector; for example, if you’re in healthcare, data breaches are a major possible risk. Once you’ve identified the risks facing your company, you can move on to the next stage. 

Rank the risks and prioritize them

Some disasters are more likely to affect your business than others. For example, if you operate in a region prone to earthquakes or natural disasters, safeguarding your data and your infrastructure is a major concern.

Establish processes 

Decide how you’ll tackle each threat and establish processes for dealing with them. For example, if cybersecurity is a major concern, set up regular network monitoring and ascertain how you’ll keep your security software up to date.

Undertake procedural testing

Risk management strategies are only effective if you know that they work. Test your threat response time if, for example, malware infiltrated your systems, or a fire broke out. 

Finally, make sure employees understand what to do if they discover a problem. Don’t leave anything to chance – there’s no such thing as overpreparing for risks. 

Review regularly 

The final step for creating a basic risk management framework is establishing an audit and review procedure. You must review the risks affecting your business at regular intervals, and particularly before and after periods of growth or transition. 

You should also establish a procedure for auditing your existing security and risk management protocols, and amend them if they’re no longer working. 

Finally, make sure you have a proper reporting procedure in place. Keep your managers and key personnel informed of any updates to your risk management protocols, and ensure they’re fully aware of any potential or emerging risks and how to deal with them. 

Take action 

Risk management is critical for any business. An effective risk management framework can help you streamline your operations, minimize downtime, and reduce wasted resources. For more information on risk management and developing a framework for your business, contact us today.