Driving Without a Seatbelt
ITSSI News Team

Is commuting to work or driving to a client an essential part of your success in business?

Is counting on a functional computer or network of computers an essential part of your success in business?

If there was no seatbelt law, would you be driving without using one every day? Maybe just most of the time?

If not, then why would most small businesses either have no reliable backups, or at best, occasional backups?

We have had first hand experience with a client who skipped backups more often than not. Our client decided to forgo our recommendations on IT backup best practices and opted for a backup protocol that entailed daily swapouts of 2 external backup drives--one for the other. Unfortunately, our client did not follow their own protocol diligently and as a result, the backup was not swapped for 6 months. In addition to forgoing our backup recommendation and mishandling their own backup protocol, they also decided against dividing up access rights to different groups and limiting the read/write rights of the individuals, despite our recommendations that they should not allow everyone accessing all data files.

Around 2 P.M. on a Friday afternoon the irreversible Ransom Virus was launched by a user downloading a picture (so she thought), only to install a malicious program, which accessed all their data files (.doc, .xls, .ppt, .pdf, etc.), encrypted them, and asked for a payment of $300 to some foreign entity before they could provide a key to decrypt the files. To add insult to injury, the scale of the damage was not verified until the following Monday. In the meantime, the malicious software had enough time to render all 3TB of company files unusable. Furthermore, that very night, the good copy of the files on the backup drive was overwritten by the encrypted version. Ouch!

The total amount of damages ran into $1000's and 6 months worth of data lost.

Avoid catastrophes like these in the future by investing in a thorough backup solution. ITSSI can help your company to avoid such catastrphic events by setting up the following precautionary measures:

- A solid multi-unit automated backup processes, including off-site storage.
- AntiVirus and AntiPhishing measures, both at the perimeter and on desktop level.
- Limiting access rights based on group participation.

The Future of Digital Security
ITSSI News Team

Conversations are circulating as to what are the best and worst ways to ensure cyber security so that we may properly address protection, integration, and visibility. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is a hot topic because it ignites the debate on how to appease the employee’s desire to use their own mobile devices to supplement their employer’s provided technology with the concern over addressing the lack of security for these devices. The potential issues associated with BYOD include data leakage, compliance with regulations, vulnerability exploits, and many other points that, if used improperly, could damage the reputation of the company. Evidently, new technology brings along new problems, and security is a very important topic within that realm.
Please contact us for a comprehensive assessment of your current configurations or if you us to help you with a roadmap; setting up the boundaries that will keep you safe.

Understanding Blockchain in 500 words or less
ITSSI News Team

An Introduction to Blockchain

You’ve heard of A.I., right? Well even though it’s got all the limelight at the moment, as far as current transactional systems go, blockchain (you may have heard of it) may have greater impact than A.I (and it's out there right now). The following describes blockchain, how it's being used, and why it's being embraced by some and forced on others.

What a Blockchain is:

1. It’s a single electronic ledger (public or open-source) which is tightly synchronized between multiple servers, each of which must simultaneously agree to any addition or change (aka "blocks") to that ledger. Note, blockchains don't have to just track financial transactions. For example, a global-plutonium-usage blockchain is a perfectly legitimate use.

2. Every entry going into the ledger must be signed by an encryption algorithm. For a new entry, blockchain mashes together all the crypto-signatures that have gone before it, resulting in the next signature. This is a required part of each entry and the key to understanding blockchain. You see, this essential action verifies the integrity of the whole “chain” (all entries). And this is done by all the servers on each and every transaction.

Blockchain claims to:

1. Improve security:

a. It's a lot harder to hack data when it's not only encrypted but you have to fake-out 200 (or 2,000) servers around the globe while uniquely altering each and every entry that's ever been entered on the chain of each of those servers (and do it all at the same time). Even if this is pulled off, a simple backup can expose the corruption because many of the signatures won’t match.

2. Improve trust:

b. The whole point of blockchain is that data-integrity is baked into the technology. The result is that imperfect institutions don’t have to be relied upon to police themselves and others (wherever “cooking the books” is a worry).

3. Offer transparency:

a. This isn't a must, but is built into the pure blockchain model.

4. Reduce middlemen and middle-processes (along with overhead and fees).

a. Currency can be "bankless" because of the reasons stated above.

b. Registering your car without a DMV.

c. Buying stocks without a broker.

Who is using blockchain today?:

To name just a few:

1. Estonia runs elections, tax collection, the recording of parcels, and real-estate purchases through blockchains today.

2. Delaware - They are moving all corporate registration to blockchain (they started the process in 2016).

3. The Ukraine does government auctions using blockchain (the citizens were none too pleased with how government assets were showing up in the hands of their politicians' friends). The Minister of Finance has since said he wants all state transactions to be done on a blockchain.

4. A company in London ensures ethically-gotten diamonds are distinguishable from "blood diamonds" by inscribing them with a blockchain ID.


Like it or not, wherever we find corrupt governments, shady "charities," or lack of adherence to transactional rules, stakeholders and communities will increasingly demand blockchain solutions.

Understanding Azure
ITSSI News Team

Microsoft has made one giant step forward in the cloud computer market with its full throttle promotion and marketing of Azure. Microsoft Azure is a cloud application platform with Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) structures for businesses to minimize hosting costs, expedite infrastructure procurement, and provide flexibility in project development. In a nutshell, it allows businesses to use Microsoft’s IT infrastructure as hosting for their content, allow user friendly interfaces to allow them to configure their infrastructure as needed, and for employees to collaborate on projects in a whole host of different languages.

At first glance, this might seem to be overkill for small businesses, but in reality it gives far greater flexibility for growth. Here's why: The biggest issue that small business owners find themselves is not investing in a proper IT infrastructure. They will spend the bare minimum to get things going, but such bare bones infrastructures provide no room for growth or scalability. As a result, IT performance quickly becomes slow and migrating over to a newer, better infrastructure becomes costly. With Microsoft Azure, budgeted monthly installments can acquire a high-performance IT infrastructure that's both scalable and can accommodate growth. Expensive migration from older IT infrastructures to newer ones becomes nonexistent and no longer time consuming. Therefore, with Microsoft Azure, new small businesses can quickly acquire a customized IT infrastructure that fits their needs and easily grow as needed. This does not mean that established small businesses with in-house IT systems cannot take advantage of Microsoft Azure. Azure's ExpressRoute enables private connections between in-house IT systems and off-site Azure infrastructures. This allows established businesses to take advantage of Microsoft Azure's flexibility, scalability, and high-performance.

However, the most important feature that is not highlighted by many articles you might read on Azure is Azure's SQL Database. Almost every small business has some sort of third party database software suite. Whether it's for inventory management, accounting, customer relation management, or some other use, most businesses have at least one database that keep businesses running. As the need for customization and expansion grows for a business, so does a business' database. With SQL Database being supported by Azure, it provides the same scalability and flexibility as discussed already. Plus, it allows businesses to hire on key personnel regardless of location to provide database customization and other services, making database customization far more cost effective.

Cloud level project management is a key new service that ITSSI is now embarking on. We provide consultation on how businesses can take advantage of Microsoft Azure and it's cloud solutions and make it fit the needs of your business. For free consultation on cloud solutions using Microsoft Azure, do not hesitate to contact us.