Data Madness: The importance of deleting/removing critical data from old devices

You arrive at work and get an immediate call to see the CEO. Upon entering the office, you notice that the CIO and other executives are in the room, as well as several people in suits you don't recognize. Everyone is looking stressed, brows furrowed and heads bent.

Those new people in suits are lawyers planning the company's defense to the major data breach that was just detected. The malicious activity occurred last month and the hacker supposedly used your information.

After frantic moments of head scratching, you remember: You sold your smartphone last month. While it was a personal device, you used it to check office email and it had stored access to the company network password.

While data madness often happens when vital data goes missing, it can also occur when data isn't properly disposed of. Too often, organizations fail to stress the importance of information security at every phase of the hardware's life cycle. Before a machine can be decommissioned, data must first be thoroughly purged and, in some cases, destroyed.

A broken phone can still house perfectly working data. A broken phone can still house perfectly working data.

Sanitizing data vs. deleting data
In some companies, the temptation is to delete data by moving it to the recycling bin and pressing "empty." However, this is not enough. According to Secure Data Recovery, data emptied from the recycling bin is not permanently deleted – at least not right away. The computer simply deletes the pathing and labels the information as "free space," meaning that it can be overwritten by new data.

For all intents and purposes, data deleted from the recycling bin is gone, at least as far as the layperson is concerned. Those with computer programming and specialized skills or software, however, can recover the information and restore it. If you've ever done a search for "data recovery" – you will see that these skills are not in short supply.

Yet companies make this mistake all the time. A survey conducted by Blancco found that almost half of all hard drives carried at least some residual data. The same was true for over a third of smartphones. Files such as emails, photos and sensitive company documents were recovered from these devices. To securely delete files requires a more thorough process.

The University of California, Riverside defines data sanitization as "the process of deliberately, permanently, and irreversibly removing or destroying the data stored on a memory device." Sanitized data drives typically carry no residual data, even with the aid of recovery tools. However, this solution often times requires additional software that will erase and rewrite information multiple times.

Companies have a wide variety of options to choose from when it comes to securing data sanitization software. Microsoft even provides an in-house solution in the form of its tool, data eraser – which has been optimized for PCs and tablets. It's important to remember that different types of data drives will only be compatible with certain software.

Given the sensitive nature of the material in question, companies should only choose data sanitization software from trust organizations.

Recycling bins - like their physical counterparts - are not known for permanently disposing of trash. Recycling bins – like their physical counterparts – are not known for permanently disposing of trash.

When physical destruction may be needed
However, for some kinds of data, sanitization may not be enough. This can be regulated by internal business policy (such as placing employee payroll information as the most sensitive data) or by government laws like HIPAA – which mandate time-effective data destruction.

In this case, the storage device matters more. Hard disk drives, commonly found in computers and servers, are the easiest to destroy as they operate on magnetic fields. A hard drive degausser can permanently alter these fields, leaving the device completely unreadable.

Solid state drives and flash media are more difficult. Their data storage is circuit-based, rendering a degausser ineffective. These drives should be shredded or destroyed by quality equipment expressly designed for the task. Hard drive data can be recovered after improper destruction, even in extreme cases. ComputerWorld reported that data was restored from the wreckage of the Columbia space shuttle tragedy, illustrating the hardiness of certain drives and the effectiveness of professional data recovery tools.

Safely disposing of data is no easy task and innovations like the internet of things have made it more difficult. Cybercriminals may be developing more sophisticated ransomware but they are also still routinely diving in dumpsters and scoping out secondhand stores for improperly deleted data. Make sure your company is taking the necessary steps to avoid data madness. 

Data Madness: Exploring the reliability of in-house data vs. cloud servers

Much is made today about choosing the right kind of data storage. When you’re running a team, the last thing you want is for some crucial information to go missing. Such a setback can be disastrous, especially if the data lost was from a survey or customer response. In addition, you have the added anxiety of only hoping the data was lost, not stolen.

As data madness continues, we’re exploring the most secure methods to backup essential data. In today’s article, we’re putting the two most popular solutions under a microscope: in-house servers and cloud data storage. For many companies, success literally hinges on data security. Know the best method and keep your organization running.

How to keep in-house servers running effectively
The longer a server is in operation, the more likely it is to break down. A Statista report found that only 5 percent of servers broke after the first year. By the fourth year, that number had more than doubled. By year seven, nearly 20 percent of servers failed. While the likelihood of a break is still relatively low after seven years, organizations are clearly taking a huge risk. Executives at this hypothetical company might as well tell their employees that there is only an 80 percent chance for productivity each day.

Servers should be continually replaced and upgraded to be effective at securely housing data. However, age is not the only factor that can cause a server to malfunction. RocketIT stressed the need to continuously upgrade server software to keep it protected and compatible with modern systems.

Since servers are gold mines of confidential data, they are the prime targets for any malicious hacker. Keeping servers up to date not only keeps them running smoothly, it also reduces the risk of viruses and malware being able to infiltrate the hardware.

Lastly, if your business opts for servers then it needs a dedicated, maintained space in which to house them. According to Serverscheck, the ideal server room temperature is between 64-80 degrees Fahrenheit with no more than 60 percent humidity. Servers work best with constant conditions so any change could impact device functionality. In addition, if there is a flood or water leakage in the room, then the organization is at serious risk of data loss.

Servers need dedicated, environmentally-controlled space in order to function at peak levels. Servers need dedicated, environmentally-controlled space in order to function at peak levels.

Choosing the right professional cloud services provider
If your company instead opts for a cloud service provider, it must choose the right provider. There are currently numerous options in the field, with Amazon and Microsoft standing out as the dominant players.

Many cloud service providers use physical servers themselves. Essentially, they handle all the maintenance, storage and cybersecurity responsibilities and charge clients for the operations. While some servers, like Cisco in a recent fiasco, have lost client data, the problem has so far been a rare occurrence, according to The Register.

However, there is another side to cloud data. It can keep existing even when the order is given for deletion, as some celebrities learned in an unfortunate way, according to Wired. If an organization is going to store data through a cloud provider, they should be very careful if and when additional backups are made. Data that survives its intended expiration can be dangerous, especially if the parent company has no idea it exists.

And the most secure data storage method is…
Oxford Dictionaries chronicled the phrase “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” as a way of summarizing that you need to choose only one option. With data storage – you can eat as much of your cake as you want, while still having an infinite supply left over. For companies serious about safeguarding data, the best option is simply both.

Backing up data to multiple sources is one of the best ways to ensure that it is never accidently deleted. Just be sure that every copy is secure, to keep classified information out of malicious hands.

Storing data in multiple sites ensures that it lasts longer. Storing data in multiple sites ensures that it lasts longer.

How to choose the right managed services partner: The ISG difference

Managed services now play a leading role in many companies’ most critical infrastructure assets. Migrating from on-premises equipment to an environment that is maintained and updated by a team of dedicated experts comes with an array of advantages, and is spurring adoption across numerous industries.

According to the most recent estimate from MarketsandMarkets, the global managed services market – including offerings related to data center, infrastructure and networking services – is on track to reach $242.45 billion by 2021. As growth in this market continues and competition among providers heats up, it’s imperative that your business selects the best partner to support its needs. Here are a few things to consider in that realm:

Service offerings that align with your corporate goals

It’s imperative that organizations choose a vendor with the right service portfolio. Above all, the services supported by this provider should meet your company’s needs across the board, including both current and future projections.

Migrating to a managed service provider environment comes with a wealth of benefits. Migrating to a managed service provider environment comes with a wealth of benefits.

Robust customer support

It’s also important to weigh the customer service capabilities your solution vendor is willing to provide. For instance, is support available any time of day? If a service issue emerges, how quickly can the provider respond? How active is the vendor with their clients?

“An MSP should offer remote and onsite support,” CompuData recommended. “You should be able to speak to an IT services technician at any time to correct any issue.”

Support for compliance needs

Depending upon the industry in which your company operates, finding a compliant managed service provider can be absolutely essential. Rules like the health care industry’s Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or the retail sector’s Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, for example, are crucial, and any managed service options must align with these guidelines.

ISG: Breaking the managed service provider mold

When it comes to managed service providers, no two solution vendors are the same. As an enterprise network stakeholder or executive decision-maker, this is one of the most critical choices you’ll make for your organization.

“When it comes to managed service providers, no two solution vendors are the same.”

Thankfully, here at ISG Technology, we understand you have unique requirements and must find a provider that can help you check off every box on your list.

ISG comes to the table with robust experience, helping clients in a range of different industry sectors reap the kinds of benefits that managed services can provide. We also have policies and processes to align with several different security standards, including HIPAA, PCI DSS, GLBA, SOX, FERPA and more.

In addition, because data security matters regardless of the industry, all of our solution environments are protected with robust safety measures. This includes firewall management capabilities, anti-virus and anti-malware, content and URL filtering as well as data backup to ensure that your most critical information and assets are always secured.

Our team works to proactively measure your available service resources in a way that provides the most value for your company. Here at ISG, we are dedicated to providing everything you need to support your IT needs. To find out more about our managed service offerings, contact ISG Technology today.

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How managed services help you address your most pressing business challenges

More and more businesses are turning to managed service providers for their business and IT needs. When a managed solution is adopted and integrated into a company’s existing infrastructure, it enables the organization to shift certain responsibilities to an outsourced, expert team. This offers considerable advantages, especially when it comes to addressing some of the most pressing company pain points.

As this approach continues to become more popular, the market for managed services considerably expands. According to MarketsandMarkets, the global managed services market will reach $242.45 billion within the next four years, expanding at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 11 percent.

But how, exactly, does outsourcing specific IT functions benefit today’s businesses? Let’s delve a little deeper to find out:

IT budgeting: An across-the-board challenge

No matter what industry an organization operates within, ensuring that users are being supported with the proper resources while aligning investments with the overall budget is an ongoing battle. As new technological capabilities emerge, it can be tempting to adopt these to help improve productivity and efficiency. However, it’s often difficult to fund these endeavors, especially when these are taken on in-house.

“Managed services allow businesses to eliminate significant up-front costs.”

Many IT strategies require the use of specific hardware and software, which can be very expensive. This, coupled with costs related to staffing, training and other required support can drive up prices even further.

Managed services, on the other hand, allow businesses to eliminate significant up-front costs while still utilizing the most advanced equipment maintained by a staff of experts. The solution vendor is responsible for the purchase of technological components, and its knowledgeable, trained employees update and manage these resources for the business client.

“Ultimately, an MSP will offer a much more extensive level of support for a fraction of the cost,” My I.T. Pros pointed out.

What’s more, the savings enabled by utilizing managed services can be put to better use internally. These funds can be shifted to support other areas of the business, providing financial backing for other important pursuits. This not only addresses the challenge of IT costs, but enables the organization to do more with its available budget.

Bridging the skills gap

A main driving factor behind companies’ decision to adopt managed services revolves around the level of internal expertise within the organization’s staff. Especially within smaller businesses, it can be difficult to find employees with the right IT skills. Some corporations simply don’t have the funds to bring on highly trained  IT workers. The average salary of a systems engineer with a bachelor’s degree hovers around $85,000 annually, according to Sokanu.

As opposed to hiring an individual to fill this role, the business can turn to an expert managed service provider. This vendor provides access to a talented staff at a significantly lower cost. In this way, companies large and small can help cost-efficiently bridge any knowledge gaps that might exist.

Managed services ensure that IT resources are expertly managed by knowledgeable, talented experts. Managed services ensure that IT resources are expertly managed by knowledgeable, talented experts.

Managed service support from ISG Technology

From aligning with available budgets to helping ensure mission-critical platforms are managed by knowledgeable experts, managed services can be a considerable boon for companies in every industry.

When it comes time to adopt managed services, it’s best to work with an experienced service provider that can address your organization’s most important challenges with an array of available solution options. ISG Technology helps ensure that your staff members have all the tools and support they require while keeping your IT costs down.

Our Managed Services – including Backup-as-a-Service, Network Management and Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service – can improve agility, eliminate silos and protect sensitive data. To find out more, contact ISG Technology today.

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3 ways managed services provide access to the most advanced IT tools

An increasing number of businesses are turning their focus to managed IT services. These solutions, when maintained and updated by a team of trained professionals outside of the core business, can offer numerous benefits, including cost savings, enhanced security and access to a growing number of advanced tools.

Those are just a few of the reasons businesses across many industries have adopted managed services as part of their critical IT infrastructure. As a result, the market for these solutions has been on the rise – MarketsandMarkets reported that by 2021, the global managed services sector will reach a value of $242.45 billion, a considerable increase over 2016’s $145.33 billion.

One of the most attractive advantages of leveraging managed services is the ability to access some of the most innovative, state-of-the-art IT tools and components. Let’s take a look at three ways managed service providers make this benefit possible for today’s enterprises:

1) Leveraging advanced infrastructure as a market differentiator

As the market for these services continues to grow, competition among solution vendors will only ramp up. Currently, there are more than a few service providers existing in the marketplace, with more breaking into the sector every day.

This not only creates more options for business decision-makers, but also helps ensure that companies have access to the most advanced infrastructure tools possible. In order to compete, solution vendors utilize their modern infrastructure components to differentiate themselves in their industry vertical. The most advanced tools become feathers in the caps of service providers, helping them grow their client base.

“The most advanced tools become feathers in the caps of service providers.”

“[A]s customers seek to adopt these new capabilities, managed services offerings must adapt too,” wrote MSP Alliance contributor Charles Weaver. “Offering higher value advanced services not only helps to overcome the potential revenue loss, it also helps MSPs differentiate and grow their businesses more profitably by providing greater customer value.”

In this way, having the most up-to-date infrastructure that takes advantage of the newest network components and management strategies enables service providers to make a name for themselves in a growing marketplace. Best of all, clients get to utilize the most advanced equipment possible.

2) Bridging internal technology gaps

One of the top reasons businesses adopt managed services is to leverage innovative solutions in a way that works with the assets the company already has in place. Managed service providers can provide technology that integrates with the enterprise’s infrastructure, helping to bridge any caps in capability or functionality that might have existed previously.

This is especially pertinent as vendors expand their reach, offering access to an increasing number of advanced solutions. In today’s market, an array of critical processes can be outsourced, allowing enterprises and small businesses alike to create a holistic technological approach.

“[W]hile companies are increasingly relying on outside providers for part of their IT needs, MSPs generally complement rather than replace internal IT,” noted CIO senior writer Thor Olavsrud. “Instead, especially in larger companies, bringing an MSP into the mix frees up existing IT staff to focus on more strategic projects.”

This is a considerable boon, not only for the service provider, but for its client partner as well.

Managed service providers can offer access to advanced tools that might otherwise have been too expensive for businesses to implement internally. Managed service providers can offer access to advanced tools that might otherwise have been too expensive for businesses to implement internally.

3) The most cost-efficient IT resources

Building upon this is the fact that managed services can help even the playing field among businesses of different sizes, providing access to advanced tools that might otherwise be out of reach for smaller organizations. Many solution providers offer innovative solutions at an incredibly cost-effective price, enabling businesses to eliminate the need for up-front investments while supporting predictable IT costs.

This benefit is especially powerful for small businesses, but can be a significant advantage for organizations of all sizes.

“Some small businesses just don’t have the capital to purchase new hardware,” Netswitch pointed out. “Instead of figuring out whether you want a lightning-fast server to work with your databases or your web hosting, you get access to high-end servers working in a distributed resource environment. This gives you an even better performance boost. You avoid paying the overhead for expensive servers while still reaping the benefits.”

This only scratches the surface when it comes to the advanced IT tools offered by today’s managed service providers. To find out more, contact industry-leader ISG Technology and check out our managed service solutions today.

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3 Reasons Your Company Can Benefit From a Managed Help Desk

Businesses now use more technologically advanced tools than ever before. These IT systems form the backbone of some of your company’s most mission-critical processes. However, if one of these resources should go down, or if employees aren’t sure how to use them appropriately, your organization may not be reaping as many benefits from its IT solutions as it could be.

This is where the enterprise help desk comes into play, and becomes such an important part of the company. This critical resource provides a place for employees to reach out to when problems occur, and enables the IT team to be in the know about the latest issues it needs to address.

Traditionally, the help desk was staffed by a business’s own IT employees. However, many corporations soon discovered that this was not ideal. Now, more enterprises than ever are turning to outsourced, managed help desk services, such as those offered by ISG Technology. There are a number of advantages a managed help desk can bring. Let’s take a look at how this could benefit your organization:

1) More time for your core team

With a team of experts handling help desk calls, your internal IT staff no longer has to worry about the red phone, so to speak. An outsourced service shifts the responsibility of help desk calls off your IT department’s plate, giving them more time to focus on other, mission-critical initiatives.

“An outsourced service shifts the responsibility of help desk calls off your IT department’s plate.”

There are a number of new IT trends and advancements taking place every day. If your IT team is busy answering help desk calls and chasing down solutions, they may not have the time they need to institute these innovations within your company. Without the burden of help desk calls, though, IT teams have the resources they need to investigate and educate themselves on the newest strategies, and can bring these to the attention of the executive boardroom.

2) Considerable cost savings

One thing that holds many organizations back from adopting a managed solution are perceived concerns about cost. An outsourced help desk solution, like many managed services, can actually help an organization save considerably, particularly when it comes to staffing, equipment and training expenses.

Outsourcing your helpdesk means that an expertly resourced team takes on this responsibility. In this way, your business can save time and money and need not worry about things like training, the necessary hardware and software, a space for the help desk team or hiring new staff members to support it.

“For small organizations, the manpower needed to answer phones with enough extra help to account for vacations, sick days and turnovers could even double your payroll,” market expert Business.com stated.” Add this to the space, equipment and training necessary for adequate support and help desk activity can suddenly take up a large portion of your budget.”

An affordable managed help desk, however, can help eliminate these expenses, ensuring expert support at a fraction of the cost.

A help desk service is critical to business, and is even more impactful when handled by outsourced experts. A help desk service is critical to business, and is even more impactful when handled by outsourced experts.

3) Focused user support

The priority of any help desk is to solve any and all issues that come its way. This means that providing an enjoyable experience for the caller can sometimes fall to the wayside, especially for internal staff members.

An outsourced team, on the other hand, doesn’t just offer top-notch, knowledgeable IT support – these experts are also trained in client support. This means that every request to the help desk is met with a quick and courteous response, providing the best experience possible for your employees.

To find out more about how a full-service help desk solution can benefit your company, contact the experts at ISG Technology today.

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Managed Services Solve Multiple Challenges

Industry: Finance

In the past, all of OSBC’s file and email servers were kept in the office of the institution’s director of IT, but eventually OSBC outgrew its in-house approach:

Challenge

  • It had high data security requirements, putting a premium on safe handling of data and regular monitoring of infrastructure.
  • Its building was normally shut down on weekends to save power and energy. Accordingly, temperatures inside the server room could rise to almost 90 degrees Fahrenheit by Monday morning while the air conditioning was off.
  • Overall, the OSBC needed professional IT services that were economically feasible and wouldn’t require building their own data centers from scratch.

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