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How to create an effective BYOD policy

If you want to let your employees use their personal devices for work-related activities, then you should learn how to create a secure and effective bring-your-own-device policy for your business.

Here’s what you need to know to get started on the right foot.

Understand the potential threats of BYOD

You can’t write an effective BYOD policy until you understand the potential threats of letting employees use their smartphones for work. Some of the biggest security threats of BYOD include:

  • Malicious websites and apps that compromise your network security
  • Lost devices that give unauthorized users access to sensitive information like email contacts, phone numbers, contracts and any data stored on your company’s network and apps
  • Employees who don’t understand the importance of keeping personal information separate from work data and apps
  • Jailbroken (rooted) smartphones that no longer include the manufacturer’s security features

Since BYOD can put your business’s security at risk, it’s not a bad idea to have a professional perform a security risk assessment that will uncover your current vulnerabilities.

Know the benefits of BYOD

Now that you know the potential threats of BYOD, you might wonder why businesses allow it.

When done correctly, BYOD can offer your business several benefits. A lot of companies feel that the benefits outweigh the risks. Besides, they know that creating an effective BYOD policy will mitigate some of those risks.

Benefits that you can expect from adopting a good BYOD policy include:

  • Increased productivity
  • Saving money by transferring the cost of mobile devices to your employees
  • Making remote work days possible, which will appeal to younger Millennial workers who prefer flexible schedules

Related: What’s an IP phone and why is it amazing for business operations?

How to craft an effective, secure BYOD policy

If you decide that you want to take advantage of BYOD’s benefits, then you will need to write a BYOD policy that protects your security, business and employees. Follow these four tips to make your BYOD as effective as possible.

1. Use straightforward language

People can only follow policies that they understand. Use straightforward language and avoid technical jargon so your employees will know how to follow your BYOD policies.

2. Authorize certain apps for business use

BYOD can make it easier for employees to use shadow IT, such as apps that you haven’t authorized. Unauthorized apps could contain vulnerabilities that give hackers access to your network. Choose cloud services that your employees can use, and ask them to avoid apps that haven’t been reviewed.

Related: 4 solid file sharing options for SMBs

3. Require anti-malware software

If your employees are going to connect to your network, then you need to make sure they use devices with reliable anti-malware software. Choose an option that matches your business needs. If the software costs money, pay for it. You don’t want someone to put your security at risk over a few dollars.

4. Educate your employees

Your BYOD policy should include an educational requirement to make sure your employees know how to use the internet, apps and other tools safely. For instance, they should know the warning signs of a phishing attempt and how to spot a fake website.

BYOD comes with a lot of benefits, but you have to take some precautions to make sure you keep your business and employees secure. If you need help, reach out to your managed IT services provider. They can review your security standards and help you create effective policies that will offset some of the BYOD policy

7 questions to ask before creating a business backup procedure

Data backup is so essential to modern business operations that it’s easy to forget how important it is. That’s unfortunate because data backup is extremely important.

If something happens to your network—anything from a short period of downtime to a ransomware attack that completely wipes your system—your data backups are the only thing between you and a complete and total disaster.

That’s because your data backups are basically an insurance policy. If anything happens to your original data, there they are, waiting to save the day.

But it’s not enough to know that backups are important. You still need to develop a backup strategy for your company, and that’s where this article can help.

“Backups should be as frequent as possible while not impacting the service quality and performance of the system.” – CIO

There’s no one-size-fits-all option

Data backup is like so many forms of IT support for SMBs. A cookie-cutter, a one-size-fits-all approach just isn’t going to meet your needs. That said, some form of backup is better than nothing, so don’t ditch your current backup plan until you have another one in place.

But if you have no backup procedure (or if you’re updating your backup procedure), there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it.

The right way is going to be highly customized to ensure that everything about your backup process protects your data and sets you up for success if you ever need to restore your data.

Which brings us to the 7 questions you should ask before you develop your new backup strategy.

7 critical data backup questions

The questions below will walk you through the strategic process of determining exactly what you need from your data backup service. We recommend that you go over all of these questions and your answers with your managed IT services provider.

In fact, your MSP should walk you through some version of these questions before making any backup recommendations.

1. What are your backup goals?

The core goal of all data backup strategies is the same—protect and maintain data. But why do you want to protect your data?

Are you storing sensitive data about your customers or employees? Do you rely on historical reports for future forecasting and performance? What would happen if you suddenly lost all your data and had to start over tomorrow?

Answering this question is important because it sets the stage for the rest of your strategic planning. When you have a firm understanding of what’s at stake, it’s much easier to really invest in the process.

2. How much do you need to backup?

How much data are we talking about? The type of data doesn’t really matter—yet. First, determine the total amount of data you have.

That number matters because it will help you decide how much total backup space you need. And don’t assume a 1-to-1 ratio. The general rule is that for every 1 terabyte of original data you have, you’ll need 4-5 terabytes of backup space.

3. How big are the files you’ll be backing up?

Now that you have a total number, what’s the average size of each file? Are you backing up a few hundred text files? Those are generally small and take up relatively little space.

Or do you have a massive portfolio of images and videos? Because those can be much bigger.

Average file size matters because bigger files can take longer to transfer. You’ll combine your answer to this question with your answer to the next question to help decide what type of back (onsite, offsite or hybrid) would serve you best.

4. How important is speed when accessing your backup files?

Offsite backups are generally safer simply because there’s distance.

If something happens to your office, like a fire, an offsite backup will be unaffected. Your data remains safe. Onsite backup servers might not protect you as well.

On the other hand, offsite backup tends to take longer to restore. If speed matters, offsite backup alone may not be the way to go. You may want a hybrid backup solution—both offsite and onsite—so that you have the protection of offsite backups with the speed of onsite backups.

5. What’s the ideal scenario for restoring data from your backup files?

Let’s go back to that terrifying question. Suppose you lose all your data all at once and you have to begin the process of a full data restoration. What’s the best case scenario at that point?

Do you need everything back in place in a matter of hours? Would days or even weeks be okay? How will you maintain business operations if you need to work remotely for a while?

You’re planning for a potential disaster. Ask yourself what the smoothest possible recovery would look like for you, your staff and your customers. Now, what kind of data backup enables that?

6. Are you subject to any regulatory requirements?

If your business is subject to compliance rules, they may limit some of your data backup options. You may not be able to use offsite backups, for example. Or you may need to ensure there’s a specific level of security in play first.

The cost of compliance violations is high. You don’t want to go through all the work of developing a backup strategy only to discover you’ve left yourself open to a regulatory fine.

7. Are you sure about the security of your data backups?

Finally, give some thought to the level of security your data backup plan provides.

If you’re using an onsite server, do you have both software-based and physical security precautions in place? If you’re using an offsite option, does the backup provider guarantee cybersecurity?

Don’t assume everyone else out there takes security as seriously as you do. Think it through and ask.

The right backup option for you

If you work your way through these 7 questions, you’re much more likely to arrive at a backup strategy that fully protects your data. And don’t forget to reach out to a data backup pro if you feel out of your depth.

After all, protecting your data matters. Make sure you give this the time and attention it deserves.

Must-have features of video conferencing for UC

Quality video conferencing solutions are essential for most modern-day offices. Web conferencing keeps remote team members engaged, enables seamless collaboration, and connects your business on a more personal basis with partners and clients over the internet.

So, if you’re in the market for an online meeting platform, let’s discuss the six top must-have features.

1. Easy document sharing

Whether you’re chatting with a team member or meeting with a potential client, easy, in-built document sharing is a must. You shouldn’t have to resort to emailing an agenda, presentation, or brochure.

It’s also worth looking for flexible document sharing features as there may be times when you want to share a document with a select segment of video conference participants.

2. Flexible chat

All web conferencing software offers some sort of chat, giving attendees the ability to type messages, share links, and collaborate effectively. But some lack the flexibility to enable specific types of chat. For example, you may wish to send private messages to individual attendees, or you may need to moderate chat messages before they are visible to all participants.

3. Practical reporting tools

Practical reporting tools can give you access to the information you need (such as attendance and typed messages) to optimize your web conferencing practices. Even better, you should be able to export this data to your file sharing platform, a Microsoft Excel format or your CRM system.  

4. Desktop sharing

Screen sharing is an essential part of video conferencing, but it’s not as simple as mirroring your desktop. There are three key factors to consider:

  • Speed. Oftentimes, desktop sharing results in a drastic slowdown of your computer’s performance and can impact the quality and reliability of the video conference.
  • Power. Desktop sharing shouldn’t use up too much of your computer’s CPU, as this can also drastically reduce the quality and experience of your presentation.
  • Accessible. Desktop sharing should pass through most firewalls.

5. No software installs required

If you’re looking to work with an individual or group outside of your team, make it easy and convenient for remote collaborators and attendees to connect via video conferencing.

To do this, opt for a video conferencing platform that allows others to connect in minimal steps. For example, many platforms offer a browser-based option, so outside parties don’t need to download any software onto their devices.

6. Reliability

Reliability is perhaps the most important feature of any web conferencing solution. Regardless of tools and capabilities, if the platform you choose is unable to offer near 100% uptime and automatic correction of connectivity issues, it just isn’t worth it. 

Near-enough isn’t good enough when it comes to video conferencing. After all, what would you do if your video dropped out halfway through an important meeting or webinar?

Bonus tips for finding the right video conferencing solution for your business

Now that you know which features to keep an eye out for, here are some additional tips to ensure the video conferencing solution you choose meets your business needs. Your managed IT services provider can help you work through these tips.

1. How many participants will you be hosting?

Consider how many participants you will likely be hosting on a regular basis. Some services offer a cheaper rate for a web conferencing solution with a smaller attendee capacity. Other services specialize in large groups and options vary accordingly. If you don’t consider the number of participants you’ll be hosting, you could end up paying for features you don’t need or missing the ones you don’t have.

2. What types of meetings will you be hosting?

Do you need video conferencing software to connect remote team members to the central office? Or, do you need video conferencing software to host larger-scale webinars, Q&A forums, or sales presentations? If you host a variety of meeting types, look for a conferencing solution that can cater to all of these needs.

3. Is mobile experience important?

If it’s your remote team you are trying to connect, chances are that mobile compatibility is important. What’s more, if host regular webinars, offering your presentation on mobile could increase your attendance rate.

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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