Web Threat Defense - The Ultimate Protection

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Surfing the web plays such a strong role in the daily life of users, it's almost uncomfortable to imagine life before it. As technology has advanced, so has its users, utilizing search engines to bring ease and efficiency to their lives. This has pushed individuals and businesses forward in many ways, but has also caused them to be vulnerable in other ways.

As the web landscape consistently changes, it's important for users to adapt with it. If they don't, they put themselves and their information at risk. Web threats are growing in consistency and popularity with today's technical agenda, as 76% of scanned websites were found to have vulnerabilities in 2016 according to a study conducted by Symantec

It is important for organizations to know the purpose behind web threats in order to completely understand why taking action against them is necessary. Any time there is a weak spot in your system, whether that be a vulnerable server, a website that isn't secure, or a weak anti-virus/security system, there is always one major component you are trying to protect: data. Users responsible for web threats want to exploit sensitive data to compromise organizations. In order to avoid this, businesses need to be ready with a defense to prevent an attack from happening.

PAINFUL PLUGINS

A plugin is a piece of software that acts as an add-on to a web browser, giving the user additional functions within the browser. While plugins can increase efficiency, it's important to talk to conduct proper research before using a plugin you aren't familiar with. Regardless of automatic updates and security, plugins can become a major security threat. 

UPKEEP ON UPDATES

Updates have been around ever since technology started to evolve. While updates have been portrayed as an annoying "last step" for users, they are an extremely important part of the web threat defense process. If your organization isn't regularly updating your websites/servers/programs/firewall, cyber criminals will take advantage and steal your data.

best practices

Overall, the goal is to eliminate the possibility of becoming victim to a web attack. It's important to consistently check your website for any vulnerabilities and scan for malware or other threats daily. Don't trust every plugin you see, and be picky about the ones you utilize. When surfing the web, always be on the lookout for suspicious links and websites. 

According to Symantec, browser vulnerabilities are slowly decreasing over time with new security measures, but as the web landscape is consistently changing it continues to threaten users and entire organizations. Don't allow your IT environment to fall vulnerable to these everchanging threats.

 

Five Nines conducts routine Network Health Assessments on all clients to ensure the safety and consistency of their systems. To learn more about what our team looks for, click below to download our free and helpful infographic, no strings attached!

Is Your Network Secure? Click HERE To Find Out!

 

Topics: Security, Outsourced IT

What You Need To Know About Next-Generation Firewall

 

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There are so many components put into place to protect your organization on the technical side, it's difficult to differentiate between each one. So, when we talk about a firewall, more specifically a Next-Generation Firewall, what are we talking about? Here is what you need to know, and why Next-Generation Firewalls are important.

WHAT IS NEXT-GENERATION FIREWALL?

A Firewall is part of a computer system or network that consistently works to block unauthorized entry into your systems, while allowing you to communicate outside of your organization. Like any security function, the purpose of the firewall is to keep internal information safe. Think of a firewall as an invisible shield around your organization's technology, blocking any suspicious content from entering your system. Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW) is an integrated platform within the third generation of firewall technology. NGFW contains the same functions as firewall, but goes a step further with the addition of intrusion detection, intrusion protection, content filtering, and much more.

INTRUSION PREVENTION SYSTEMS (IPS)

Also known as intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS), the IPS vigorously monitors networks and systems for suspicious activity within the Next-Generation Firewall. If a suspicious activity is detected, the IPS must identify it, record information about it, attempt to stop it, and finally report the activity. Unlike a typical firewall, the IPS monitors both outward communication and internal processes to evaluate risk, and prevent an attack from within.

CONTENT FILTERING

Next-Generation Firewall also includes a new version of content filtering that is more concise, blocking out all the undesirable content, and only allowing for the necessary content to be shown. This increases efficiency and security when employees browse the Internet.

GEO-LOCATION

Another feature of Next-Generation Firewall is the ability to intentionally block all communication from different parts of the world. This can weed out unwanted communication and programs from virtually anywhere, and protects users to an even higher extent.

Next Generation Firewall will allow users to communicate outside of their organization with peace of mind knowing their internal information remains confidential and safe. The prevention, content filtering, and overall security measures will allow for continued business opportunity and efficiency. 

 

It's time to audit your network from the comfort of your desk. There are many other capabilities of the Next-Generation Firewall. Download our free Network Health Assessment below to assess if your current solution meets your security standards.

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Topics: Security, Outsourced IT

Why Your IT Environment Is Not A DIY Project

DIY Project.pngWe've discussed the real story behind Managed IT Services, and the importance of a strong IT infrastructure for businesses. It's important to set up your IT environment in the most productive way possible, to leverage technology for your organization.

Here is why your IT environment is not a Do It Yourself (DIY) project.

Cost

The reality is that in most organizations, IT is considered a cost center, or simply overhead/expenses.  This puts you at a disadvantage in how you must approach your department and it’s budgetary needs, in order to support the organization as a revenue stream.  Having to focus on consistent expenses regarding your IT environment is not only a hassle, it is expensive. When you maintain a network internally, often unforeseen circumstances and costs will be thrown your way. Reactive expenses weigh on your business, causing you to neglect your IT needs, which hinder your business from overcoming the original issue.

Expansion

If growth is the goal, you should never be afraid to pursue it. Your IT setup should be able to grow with you, or better yet out pace your plan for growth so it does not become a limiting factor later. If you oversee the management of new users, applications, and expansion of your network, growth may scare you rather than excite you. A Managed IT Services company will have the ability to help expand your infrastructure as you grow, keeping out in front of what matters most to your business.

Future

When managing an IT environment, you cannot only focus on the present. IT professionals are always looking at the future, with the goal of preventing technical issues, following important upgrades, and maintaining technology that is in line with the industry at large. This requires a day-to-day focus that is both experienced and adaptable.

There are many things you can make a DIY project: a back porch, a repair here and there, even business strategies and processes you find that interest you. An IT environment, however, is not a DIY project that is simple to take over. Consider talking to an IT professional before taking on your IT needs alone.

 

To learn more about outsourcing your IT needs to professionals rather than making it a DIY project, click to download our free resource below. 

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Topics: Outsourced IT

How To Know When It's Time To replace a server

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To find out how Five Nines goes beyond the tools to inject a human element when checking on your network, download our FREE infographic: 

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Your server is a diamond in the rough of the technology that runs your business. It supports all your hard work; projects, processes, and important organizational documents. Taking good care of your server will keep it running at its highest efficiency level, keeping the production of your business focused and continuous.

To accomplish this, it’s important to keep a close eye on the status of your server or servers. You may find yourself asking, "How will I know when it's time to replace my server?"

 

AGE

It's important to look at how long you have had a server. On average, physical servers typically last 3 years without hardware issues such as overheating, or failing parts. Once the 4-6-year mark hits, your server may begin to slow down, or continue to overheat. Once you start seeing a decrease in the performance of your server that is older than 3 years, it may be time to consider a replacement. Replacing the server parts or installing upgrades aren’t as effective as they used to be.

 

DOWNTIME

When your server is down, your productivity has the potential to be at a standstill. When employees can’t work, this can cause angst and frustration for everyone and brings business to an unpleasant stop. Losing time and money is never a favorable scenario, so it's paramount you pay attention to how long your server is down, and how often downtime occurs. If your server is older, or has developed issues that cannot be resolved, it may be time to invest in a new one. This could save you money on downtime in the future.

 

CONSISTENCY

How reliable is your server proving to be? Is your information secure? Are you able to access and share files at the click of a button? Pay attention to the overall performance of your server: speed, storage, accessibility. If you find a flaw in any of these details, you may need to get a second opinion on the reliability of your server.

 

PROBLEM-DETECTION

Pay attention to how problems are detected within your server. If your server does not detect problems at all, you may want to consider building a fail-safe into it. Fail-safes help detect issues with files before they arise, so you can prevent technical problems before they happen. This could help save and lengthen the life of your server.

 

If a server is decreasing in consistency, and increasing in downtime, it is time to reconsider purchasing a new one. The productivity of your business depends on the efficiency of your server or servers. Be sure to prioritize the upkeep of this key technical component, as it will keep your business technology running smoothly.

 

Topics: Security, Outsourced IT, End of Life

4 Technological Solutions That Will Change the Way You Work

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Your computer keeps freezing. You can't make a phone call, and you have a meeting in an hour. You are locked out of your Outlook account.

Have you ever run into technological interruptions such as these, that force you to take 25 minutes out of your work day to problem-solve? 

Here are 4 Technological Solutions that can help with the prevention of these issues, and give yourself and your coworkers peace of mind.

It's All About The Network

Make sure your network is properly setup, maintained, and managed. If your network isn't properly designed to support your number of users, and your application usage, you will run into an abundance of technology-related issues.

Virtual Work Environment

Building a wireless network that is efficient will play an important role in simplifying the lives of your employees. Giving employees a virtual way to connect to the business server can allow them to work from anywhere, at any time. 

Being Prepared Beforehand

Allow yourself and your business to be prepared before a tech emergency arises. Make sure to have a plan in terms of network recovery, backups, and security. If you don't have a plan, make sure someone can arrange a plan for you. It could end up saving your business if your network ever crashes.

Upkeep is Necessary

Paying attention to the technology in your work environment is not a one-day project. It will require maintenance and updates to continue to meet the expectations of your business. Managing anti-virus software, upgrades, security, backups, etc., will make the difference between staying on top of your technology problems or completely falling behind them.

 

Keeping these 4 aspects in mind can enhance and completely change the way you work.

 

Click below to download our FREE guide on the impact of Managed IT Services for more information! 

 

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Topics: Security, Outsourced IT

10 Tech Tools You Needed Yesterday

10 Tech Tools 2.pngTechnology was created to provide efficiency and ease to ordinary tasks. Here are 10 day-to-day tech tools you needed yesterday.

Don't want to read through this whole blog? Download the short breakdown of each tech tool, along with website links with our free infographic! 

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Waze

Even when you know where you are going, and you think you know the best route, Waze is still worth using. Waze documents traffic, accidents, and construction so users can leverage technology during their commute. Think of it this way, if you save one minute on a commute you drive twice a day, every week, 250 times a year, you get an entire business day back.

 

OneNote

Rather than keeping notes on your desktop, email reminders, or sticky notes, use OneNote to store all of your ideas and projects. This application helps users to organize thoughts while simultaneously storing and saving their notes. There are many useful add-ons with this application, such as the ability to drag-and-drop presentations for note-taking, allowing multiple users to work on one document at a time, and translating hand-written notes into digital text.

 

LastPass and DashLane

If you use the same password for everything, it's time to break the habit. These applications are used for the efficient documentation of passwords. As you navigate your browser and type in passwords, the applications will ask to save the passwords. This results in the creation of a secure document, filled with passwords specific to each account users are in control of. Applications such as these also allow for multifactor authentication.

 

Google Authenticator or YUBIKey

Rather than putting all of your eggs into one basket, Google Authenticator generates a one-time username, password, and a one-time code to protect applications such as LastPass and DashLane. If a password happens to get stolen,  this tech tool will continue to secure all other accounts. Yubikey has the same purpose, but is hardware based.

 

Prey

Prey is a personal mobile device manager. This is a simple way to track and control personal devices. If a user loses their phone, they have the ability to find it, or even wipe its data remotely. This tool can be compared to Find My iPhone, but it can be utilized across all devices.

 

Slack

Sick of a consistently full inbox? Here is a quick alternative to email. Slack helps employees chat with each other, rather than send emails back and forth. This application has a universal search, not limited to time, so information can be attained quickly. Users can also create channels with each other to promote different topics of discussion. The overall goal of this tool is to eliminate the clutter of email, and promote instant internal communication.

 

Google Hangouts, Google Voicemail

This tool helps provide a controllable filter between users, their phone, and their phone calls. This helps to alleviate the stress of answering unidentifiable phone calls, by prompting callers who are not in your contacts to say their name. Prompting users to say their name helps block automated callers, which in turn filters sales calls and telemarketers who are calling consistently. This tool also transcribes voicemails, and allows text messaging and phone/video calls from your computer.

 

Follow-Up Then

This service helps users to follow-up on their emails. When users send a carbon-copy on an email, this tool sends a copy of the email back to the user at the time and date specified in the original email. This helps when delegating tasks, setting appointments, etc.

 

simplynoise

Listening to music while working can be very harmful to production and focus, as well as refusing to listen to anything at all. This tool provides white noise to help users focus solely on the project at hand, rather than listening to music or side conversations going on around them.

 

F.lux

Working all day on a computer, or working late at night is bad for your eyes and can mess up your circadian rhythm. This tool helps to alter the colors on devices by changing the color balance slowly throughout the day as the sun sets.

 

The best part about these tools is that they are little to no cost, depending on the plan users choose. See a tech tool you like? Let us know your favorites below. 

Topics: Outsourced IT, Culture

What Does Connectivity Have To Do With It?

Connectivity (2).jpgOne of the major components to our client's success is the effectiveness of their connectivity. Just as it sounds, connectivity is the state of being connected, a back of mind concept for many users. This component is crucial in how different pieces of technology work together to provide a flawless work environment. 

Why does this matter? How our client's network and connectivity work together directly influences what decisions are made about what a technical environment needs, or doesn't need.

We focus on connectivity for our partners by using The 3 P's. We determine what programs are being used, how they are performing, and the overall level of productivity the user hopes to gain from efficient connectivity in their organization. 

Programs

Determining the daily use of applications is useful in arranging how to set up a network to best support the bandwidth of crucial applications. Setting up a network that can effectively support these programs will directly improve the connectivity at large. 

Performance

With the use of these programs follows the level of performance, otherwise known as latency. Latency is measured by milliseconds, and it emphasizes the amount of delays within a client's network. As the level of latency increases, the reliability of technology decreases, therefore affecting the overall performance of programs. Keeping connectivity back of mind will affect overall technical performance. 

Productivity

One purpose of IT is to help raise the levels of productivity within a work environment. If users are constantly struggling with certain technical issues, they won't be as productive. Spending time during an IT consultation examining different connectivity options will help to achieve the goal of increasing user productivity, and aid in meeting our client's goals.

The better the connectivity, the more reliable the programs will be, resulting in a high level of performance and user productivity. 

That's why connectivity matters.

 

Click here for some good computer habits to help keep connectivity top of mind!

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Topics: Security, Outsourced IT

Five Nines Ranked #105 Among Top 501 Managed Service Providers

{cc020919-a613-4d26-9362-0b3d930d89cf}_MSPmentor501_2017-Edition_RGB_Winner.pngJUNE 20, 2017: Five Nines ranks among the world’s most progressive 501 Managed Service Providers (MSPs), according to MSPmentor’s 10th-annual MSP 501 Worldwide Company Rankings. The top MSP 501 companies ranked this year include organizations from around the world and from diverse technology and business backgrounds. Collectively, they amassed $14.48 billion in total revenue, up more than 15 percent from a year earlier. The complete 2017 MSP 501 list is available at MSPmentor.net.

“Being named to this list is a great honor and validation of our team’s efforts to provide the highest level of service in Nebraska,” said Joel Friesen, President of Five Nines. “We are committed to our ongoing investment in the best people, processes, and technology to drive our client’s success. We are also grateful for our dedicated team and our loyal clients who have been the drive and energy behind what has grown Five Nines.”

“On behalf of MSPmentor, I would like to congratulate Five Nines for its recognition as an MSP 501 honoree,” said Aldrin Brown, Editor in Chief, MSPmentor. “The managed service provider market is evolving at a rapid pace and the companies showcased on the 2017 MSP 501 list represent the most agile, flexible and innovative organizations in the industry.”

Founded on an intense desire to solve problems and build long-term relationships with clients, Five Nines leverages technology to drive business success. With offices in Lincoln, Omaha & Kearney, Five Nines advises the best IT solutions for Nebraska based businesses, offering Managed IT Services. Through its unique service model, Five Nines’ clients experience reduced costs, accelerated growth, and increased productivity. Learn more at: www.gonines.com.

 

Want to learn more about the services and statistics behind a Managed Service Provider? Take advantage of this free download. 

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Topics: Outsourced IT, Culture

What To Do First: Solving Your Tech Problems

The process of solving a problem can often be strenuous, stressful, but it is one of the major components of the Information Technology industry. Here are a few steps we feel are most important when solving tech problems.

STEP ONE: ALLOCATING THE JOB TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE

IT engineers each have their own set of skills. IT is filled with different tiers and levels of expertise, therefore it is important to designate a problem to the right group of people at the right time. Not sure who or what level your problem should be designated to? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

LOW PRIORITY: Need a password reset? Have a question about the software you are using? Need help setting up a new account? You're in the right place.
NORMAL PRIORITY: Do you see a concerning pop-up notification? Are you running into consistent issues with your software? Need help updating your software/hardware? If your is productivity affected, but not at a complete standstill, you may find yourself here.
HIGH PRIORITY: Are you locked out of staff accounts? Can you access your organization's server? If you are unable to do your job due to technological issues, your IT should be considered a high priority ticket.
CRITICAL: Is your network server down? Are your applications unresponsive? Is a portion of your connectivity lost? Critical tickets typically impact more than one user, if your whole team is experiencing technical issues, you are on a critical ticket level.                                                                                              

STEP TWO: DO A DOUBLE TAKE

While the first solution at hand may seem irresistible to follow, do a double-take. Jumping to the first solution and sticking with it could end up wasting more time. Critically consider about all potential solutions in the beginning problem-solving stages to save time and resources.

STEP THREE: ALWAYS PURSUE GROWTH

Technology never stops evolving, there are always new problems and even newer solutions. Always chasing the ability to learn new things in the industry will not only increase skill set and understanding, but the turn-around time on a problem as well.

Whether you are a technological guru or an IT beginner in need of assistance, these steps should help guide you in the right direction when facing a problem. The truth is, technology will always come with potential error messages or connectivity issues. Rather than letting those problems define your day, provide yourself with the tools necessary to succeed and enhance your day-to-day technology.

 

Click below to explore more Managed IT facts through an informative graphic! 

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Topics: Outsourced IT

The Real Story Behind Managed IT

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In the IT industry, we IT folks often assume that users understand all the language and processes. Which is why when the topic of Managed IT Services is discussed, we assume you understand. We do not want to make assumptions anymore, rather, we want to provide clarification and insight on the purpose and meaning of Managed IT Services.

What is it?

The idea of Managed IT is simplistic. We want to manage your Information Technology for you. This is also known as outsourcing your IT services, sending your IT issues away from your business and into the hands of experts outside of your industry. We consider ourselves an organization that provides Managed IT Services, because we have 80+ experts who enjoy the concepts of technology, who know how to troubleshoot and problem-solve, and who have significant knowledge about how IT infrastructures function and operate.

The point is, technology is a silent support system, a key component to business success that flies under the radar until there is an issue. Managed IT Services are put in place to prevent these issues from happening, to allow you to leverage your technology, and to be the backup support system when something isn't working correctly. The truth is, technology cannot be completely trusted on its own, but an IT team can be.

How will I know if this is something I need?

If security backups, the management of an internal IT team, the possibility of unforeseen costs, and a technological infrastructure at large are aspects you feel comfortable managing on top of your business, a Managed IT Services team might not be for you. If you are already confused by that list of to-dos’, you might want to consider the possibility of outsourcing your IT services.

This process may not be for everyone, and that's okay. For the organizations these services apply to, however, Managed IT Services can make or break the amount of efficiencies within your business. The purpose of these services is to appreciate the businesses that have been built, and provide them with the tools they need to be successful.

Now what?

Managed IT Services as a broad topic might sound confusing and cause users to cringe in confusion. The goal is simple, helping businesses who use technology to pursue and achieve success. Technology is everchanging, but the way organizations excel and conduct business should only increase. Having a well-oiled team who is confident in each company's technological capabilities can do just that…increase success.  

That's the real story behind Managed IT.

 

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Topics: Outsourced IT