Category Archive: Cloud

  1. COVID-19 and Working Remotely

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    The coronavirus presents unique challenges for businesses and employees. Social distancing has become the new normal, to better protect our healthcare system and fellow citizens. For many companies, this has meant creating new solutions to maintain productivity through this trying time.

    Many companies have used remote work solutions in the past. But this new situation has forced a much higher number of companies to adapt to a work from home model quickly. Because it was a quick emergency solution, companies and employees are finding some pain points to their new work environments. The number one concern for many companies is cybersecurity.

    At IA Tech Group, we’re trying to educate our clients and the public to the heightened risks of hacking and phishing. Malicious actors have wasted no time in using the current crisis to gain access to personal data and infiltrate company systems. Integrated Axis is here to help you navigate the challenges of working remotely during COVID-19.

    Cybersecurity and Working Remotely

    When companies conscientiously plan for work from home solutions, they put protocols in place to protect their networks and data. The fact is, the quickly escalating situation with the coronavirus made that more difficult. But it’s not too late to implement solutions now. Here are some key security issues to tackle right away:

    • Develop a device protocol. It’s important that all of the devices that your employees use to access company information is protected. Many companies mandate that employees only use company devices while working. If you’re allowing employees to use personal devices, you should make sure they have the same level of security software.
    • Educate employees on standard practices. Many people use lax security at home and don’t understand the security measures used in the office. After all, we’re not all IT experts. Update employees on the best practices for security, so they’re less likely to make mistakes that impact your data.
    • Assess their network security. Most home networks are not as secure as the ones used in the office. Open a line of communication and make recommendations for employees to strengthen their network at home to offer better support.
    • Give employees information on current threats. There are a number of new hacking and phishing techniques that have come out in the last few weeks. Understanding how these threats work will give employees better information so that they don’t fall prey to the scams.
    • Make sure they know the signs of infiltration. There are signs, such as a slower computer and pop up ads, that indicates your device has been compromised. Make sure that your employees know the signs to mitigate damages as soon as possible.
    • Initiate good practices in upkeep. Give your employees the tools they need to run regular checks on the devices that they use at home.

    woman working at home, thinking

    Can Integrated Axis Technology Group Help?

    If your business has quickly moved to remote working solutions and you’re concerned about the security risks, contact Integrated Axis today. Our team of dedicated professionals can assess your current protocols, help you implement a robust cybersecurity plan for remote work, and make sure that your IT Department has the support you need.

  2. Cloud Backup 101

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    People are increasingly relying on cloud storage for both personal and professional information because of the various benefits it provides. However, using the cloud for data storage does not negate the necessity to back up your most important information in other locations. Cloud storage has its benefits: flexibility, high security, and the ability to access it anytime from multiple different devices. In many ways, the cloud is comparatively safer than other types of data storage.

    cartoon cloud image against a blue background

    Should I Back Up My Cloud?

    Although there are many advantages to the cloud as a data storage solution, you also face certain risks, some of which can be mitigated by backing up your most vital data. Here are a few reasons why having local copies of important information is a wise idea:

    1. Human Error and Syncing Issues

    Although your data is generally safe when it’s in the cloud, a technical issue with a service could cause your data to be erased. You also can accidentally overwrite or erase critical data, which would be a big misfortune if you didn’t have the information backed up locally. When you’re switching service providers, there also is a risk of data getting lost in the transition.

    2. Cybersecurity Breaches

    Cyber threats are an evolving yet always present problem in the digital age. If you are the victim of a data breach or malware attack, you could lose your data or have to pay a steep price to recover it. According to a study by the Ponemon Institute, the average cost incurred by a business for each stolen or lost record is $158. With local backups, your company is more resilient and can return to business as usual quickly and efficiently after a cyberattack.

    3. Service Crashes

    Although highly unlikely, a service may experience a problem and erase your data, which is what happened in 2009 with Microsoft’s Sidekick servers when roughly 800,000 users lost access to their personal data. If the services you use crash or are temporarily interrupted, your access to mission-critical data becomes restricted, which can disrupt the flow of your business, negatively impact your clients and cost you time and money.

    man's hand holding cartoon cloud security images

    How to Back Up Your Cloud

    If there is data you’ve been compiling over the years or that is critical for personal or business reasons, you shouldn’t rely solely on the cloud to keep your data safe. It’s equally important to have local backups of this data.

    The Google Takeout page allows you to download your data from numerous Google services, such as Drive, Contacts, Google+, and YouTube. You can also export and download your calendars from the Google Calendar website on the Settings screen. LastPass is a smart solution for exporting your passwords and notes as an encrypted file.

    Certain cloud platforms, like Azure, have internal backup and data recovery systems, and they provide complete user control when it comes to how and where backed-up data is stored.

    These are a couple of examples of services that can help businesses in the southwest locate and create a local copy of your most important data. You can also get recommendations and assistance from a company that provides IT and business tech solutions, such as Integrated Axis Technology Group (IA).

    IA is the go-to firm in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona, for boosting the cybersecurity protocol of your business and ensuring your data is preserved in case of human error, malicious attacks by hackers, and technical failure.

  3. Business Continuity Planning

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    With a potential pandemic sweeping the globe, businesses, educational institutions, and other organizations are beginning to test the strength of their continuity planning—or lack thereof. And in today’s tech-focused society, a company’s ability to keep things humming along during quarantine or other sudden disruption largely depends on its data services. Learn why business continuity services are so essential and how Integrated Axis Technology Group can help organizations meet their continuity goals.

    What is Business Continuity Planning?

    Business continuity planning allows businesses to seamlessly adjust to unexpected events by protecting and maintaining crucial data and systems. These plans can encompass everything from a brief power outage to a wildfire evacuation to a terrorist attack. By creating a plan that can adapt to a variety of different variables, businesses will be able to minimize shutdowns or supply chain issues that can cause significant disruptions.

    Many business continuity plans depend on the cloud—both to back up crucial documents and programs and to provide remote workers the ability to work from home. A business continuity plan can be as detailed or as simple as an organization would like, but in general, the more detail, the better. The best continuity plans have concrete, clearly-communicated benchmarks, and standards to ensure that everyone operating within the plan is on the same page.

    Business continuity plans should be tested regularly. The last thing any organization wants is to discover a major fault in their disaster planning (or data breach) when it matters most. These tests can be as simple as a quarterly work-from-home day to ensure that all key personnel has the infrastructure to log in and perform their routine tasks no matter where they’re located.

    How Can Organizations Maintain Cybersecurity During a Disruptive Event?

    There are a few things that businesses can do to create a secure, reliable continuity plan.

    First is to identify and prioritize the key, core business functions, and time-sensitive tasks—the types of tasks that are necessary to keep things running. Next, you’ll want to lay out the steps required to recover core functionality, like setting up employees with a VPN, transferring processes to an off-site server, or assigning workers to retrieve certain items from headquarters.

    You’ll also want to name a continuity team: managers, directors, security officers, IT personnel, and others who can strategize and create plans that minimize business disruption. These plans should be tested and tweaked regularly, incorporating suggestions and adapting to changes in the logistical landscape.

    Finally, it’s a good idea to distill this information down to a simple checklist or flow chart that everyone can use for reference. From emergency contact numbers and email addresses to an index that helps employees determine where specific information is stored, these “cheat sheets” can be incredibly useful.

    Throughout this process, keeping your data secure is the key to emerging unscathed. If you’re wondering whether your own business’s continuity planning could use some work, look no further than Tucson’s Integrated Axis Technology Group. Integrated Axis offers backup and disaster recovery services that can protect against malware, hackers, and other threats to your business.

  4. 5G and Cybersecurity Implications

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    Cellular service has always been about speed, even from the very beginning. The lower the call drop rate, and the more dependable the connection, the better a carrier fares. As mobile phones have moved away from calling functions to become mobile computers, speed definitely matters. 5G, the common shorthand for “Fifth Generation Cellular Wireless” is the latest breakthrough in cell phone speed, but it’s more complicated than you might think.

    What is 5G?

    Strictly speaking, 5G doesn’t have a clear-cut definition – other than the fact it’s currently the fastest wireless data transmission speed. It refers to a generation of cellular speed, but within that generation, there are various definitions – low, mid, and high-band – for starters. While cellphone companies use “5G” as a sort of catch-all in terms of phone features, this isn’t entirely accurate. Just because a phone is 5G compatible doesn’t necessarily mean that it will operate at 5G speeds – only that it is capable of doing so when they’re available. The practical uses of each wireless generation tend to lag, which means we likely won’t see the apps, programs, and more that use 5G until well into 2021.

    How Can 5G Help My Business?

    One of the most exciting potential uses for 5G is an expansion of the IoT, or Internet of Things. This is the network that allows a business owner to monitor realtime stock movement in their warehouse, or determine things like foot traffic via sensors in their stores. Think of it as Bluetooth-on-steroids: it’s a vast, observable, and controllable network of “smart” devices that help by producing data and, in some cases, controlling automation. 5G connects all of these components and puts a business owner in control of it all via cellular transmission.

    Is 5G Safe?

    Because 5G is so new, serious online threats haven’t made it into the 2020 headlines quite yet. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s safe, however. 5G relies mainly on software where its predecessors relied on hardware, this makes it agile but a prime target for hackers. As users rely on 5G to control smart home functions, serve as a biometric or location-based key, or even start up a connected car, cybercriminals are taking notice. When hackers can access your connected lights and cameras, your car’s engine and locks, and your phone itself, “breaking into” your life is as easy as building the right malware.

    This is an exceptionally troubling security risk for businesses, as they keep not only their own data secured but often their customers’ as well. Though each 5G-connected device or module adds flexibility and control to the mix, it’s also a potential “open door” for a breach if a determined hacker wants to get in. For example, in 2017, hackers were able to access a casino’s database through an unlikely weakness: the wi-fi connected thermometer in a large ornamental fish tank.

    Cybersecurity Protections for 5G

    If the business tech your Tucson or Phoenix-area company uses will potentially connect with or use 5G, protect yourself with an assessment from Integrated Axis. Cybercriminals won’t wait for a new year of innovations to start trying to force their way into your data, so don’t wait to protect it. With more than 20 years of experience protecting our customers, our cybersecurity team is ready for the 5G revolution, and we’re looking forward to helping your company navigate it. Contact us today!

  5. Business Tech: Cybersecurity Checklist for 2020

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    As we enter 2020, the new year is a great time to assess your IT processes and see where your cybersecurity protocol might need to be improved. Whether you’re doing a fantastic job with data protection, or you need to shore things up, it’s always best to know where your company stands in terms of security. There are new scams and malware threats to beware of all the time.

    At Integrated Axis Technology Group, we offer comprehensive assessments to help companies stay up-to-date on the latest cybersecurity best practices. If you’re taking some time to assess your overall performance, this list will give you a good overview of where to start.

    Cybersecurity Checklist for 2020

    A security breach can bring even the most prepared company to a standstill. Making sure that each of these areas of your cybersecurity protocol is strong can help you fend off hackers and mitigate any damages quickly in the event of a breach.

    • Password Protection. Setting a password protocol for your employees is essential. One of the easiest ways for malicious actors to gain access to your database is through poor password procedures. Make sure all of your employees are using passwords each time they log into devices and platforms housing company data. They should be using strong passwords, and each password should be unique.
    • Secure WiFi Network. It’s common for most companies to use WiFi to some degree, and this means that you have to make sure that your network is adequately secured. You should also make sure employees are not using unsecured or public WiFi networks to log into your database or any email accounts which contain sensitive correspondence.
    • Educate Staff. Yearly cybersecurity training for staff should be mandatory. Your employees can’t follow best practices if they aren’t aware that their actions can be dangerous. You should also make it a practice to update staff if you become aware of a new hacking campaign or threat that they should be guarding against.
    • Use and Update Virus Protection. Virus and malware protection programs should be updated regularly and used to protect your system. When correctly updated, good software will alert you and quarantine any malicious virus before you’ve experienced any real damage.
    • Cloud Computing Cybersecurity. Cloud computing options often include data security. You should be aware of the type of security offered with your cloud computing platforms and whether added protection is advisable. You should also follow best practices when logging into cloud-based platforms.
    • Managed IT Services. Managed IT Services provide you with industry expertise on a constant basis. This means that your IT service will monitor your cybersecurity and mitigate any threat immediately. Another option is to work with a technology company on a project by project basis to help you shore up your own internal IT department.

    Are You Searching for a Managed IT Service to Help with Your Cybersecurity?

    If you’re looking for an experienced company to assess your cybersecurity protocol for the new year, contact Integrated Axis today!

  6. New Orleans & Cybersecurity

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    In mid-December, the city of New Orleans suffered a cybersecurity breach so severe the mayor called a state of emergency, demonstrating a significant change in the cybersecurity landscape moving into the New Year.

    The ransomware attack in New Orleans began about 5 a.m. Dec. 13, when “suspicious activity” was detected on the city’s network, according to NOLA Ready, a local emergency preparedness campaign managed by the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Citing a tweet from NOLA, Forbes magazine reported “activity indicating a cybersecurity incident was detected around 11 a.m.” More than 4,000 city computers were affected.

    Upon detecting the suspicious activity, the city’s IT department ordered all employees to shut down their computers, disconnect from the Wi-Fi, and unplug their devices. The city powered down all its servers.

    Damage Caused by Cybersecurity Breach

    Later that day in a press conference, Mayor Latoy Cantrell confirmed the security breach was due to ransomware, which infects a network or device and encrypts the data, making it unusable until the owner pays a ransom. Cantrell filed a declaration of a state of emergency with the Civil District Court, stating in the document that the city of New Orleans anticipates “various state and city agencies will need to work cooperatively to mitigate any damage, current or future, as a result of the cybersecurity incident.”

    New Orleans Chief Information Officer Kim LaGrue told WWNO, a station affiliated with New Orleans Public Radio, that the city was “prepared for a ransomware attack,” which means they had backups of the targeted data. According to LaGrue, the attack didn’t progress to the point where a ransom was demanded. The city’s strategy is to simply recover the data and return the system to normal.

    However, while IT engineers inspected the affected computers and systems, many city employees – including the police department – were unable to access the technology necessary to perform their jobs. Meanwhile, the cost of rebuilding the city’s computer network was approaching $1 million as of Dec. 16th.

    City officials from New Orleans have not publicly identified what type of ransomware was deployed in the attack. Still, several cybersecurity experts believe the likely weapon was RYUK, which hit state government servers in November, according to NOLA Media Group. RYUK, which is tied to organized crime, is a type of ransomware that infiltrates a computer, encrypts files, and demands payment – often in bitcoin – to decrypt the information.

    Cyber Threats: A Perpetual Problem

    According to Forbes, the FBI on Oct. 2 issued a cyber-attack warning in response to attacks on state and local governments, healthcare organizations, industrial companies, and the transportation sector. While the frequency of attacks remains about the same, the sophistication of the attacks is increasing. They also are more targeted and costly for victims.

    NOLA Media Group cited a study from Emisoft released in mid-December that claimed the U.S. faced an “unprecedented and unrelenting barrage of ransomware attacks” in 2019. Nationwide, approximately 103 state and local governments and agencies, 759 healthcare providers, and 86 school districts, universities, and colleges were hit by cybersecurity attacks.

    Heading into 2020, both public entities and private businesses should ensure they are protected against digital infiltration perpetuated by organized crime groups and individual actors. This means not only implementing safeguards against attacks on business tech but also having a disaster response plan. IT companies such as Integrated Axis Technology Group (IA) provide IT security services to ensure businesses’ networks are protected in the face of evolving cyber threats. From risk assessment and analysis to penetration testing and network monitoring, Integrated Axis can help companies in the Tucson area strengthen their ability to mitigate and recover from cybersecurity attacks in the New Year.

  7. How Secure is Your Cloud?

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    How Secure is Your Cloud?

    When you own a business, your personal data is often intermixed with your organization’s information. Even if you don’t use your own devices to access your cloud storage, you could still have personal details at risk.

    Protecting your business and cloud storage is always essential. Most businesses handle a wide range of data that, if exposed, could cause everything from plummeting brand perception to compliance issues and even the interruption of your normal operations. When you are the owner or a key stakeholder, you face even more risk. Your own cloud networking could put your personal banking, identity, and account information at risk.

    How Secure Is Your Cloud?

    While cloud storage is affordable, scalable, and provides you with a pristine copy of your important files in the event of an emergency or disruption, those files need to be stored securely. If you are unsure of the measures your organization or a provider is taking to secure your cloud data, you could be at risk. The type of firewall or virus protection used for personal computing is not enough for a business, and it’s not a security solution. Cloud security is essential for any brand with a network.

    Increased Risks for Small Brandscity with security icons connecting

    Cybercriminals have figured out an important fact — the more you need your data, the more you’ll pay to get it back. The ideal target for criminals who launch ransomware and similar attacks is not a huge enterprise. They tend to target small to mid-sized brands that rely on data to operate. This means that small businesses face more risk than ever before, particularly those that store sensitive financial, medical, or legal information. Health care providers and centers have become incredibly appealing targets because they can’t treat patients without records and data.

    Lawyers, retailers, and finance brands face a similar risk. They have a lot of data that they need to access, but that data also needs to be protected. Shortfalls in data security are typical for these types of businesses. Ones that may not have an onsite dedicated IT team to ensure business security. Data and cloud protection must be up-to-date and adequately protect the organization and clients.

    Do You Have Enough Cloud Security? Phone and computer with security icons around them

    While every brand is different, yours should be able to detail the steps your brand is taking to protect your cloud. If you don’t know and don’t have a dedicated business security pro on hand, your business is likely at increased risk. You’ll also likely have an increased risk if you have data security measures in place but aren’t regularly updating them, training employees to spot phishing, or insisting on good password choices.

    How many days could your business run without your network? If you aren’t sure, don’t know what measures you have in place, or know their effectiveness, we can help. Integrated Axis Technology Group provides seamless, integrated solutions and cloud services designed to ensure one of your organization’s most significant assets —your data — is secure. Contact us today for a checkup to see how we can help you protect your Arizona business from those who seek to harm you.

  8. 5 Must-Haves for Optimal Cloud Security

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    Organizations that migrate their IT infrastructure to the cloud often find that their existing solutions for threat protection are inadequate. This is largely because security information and event management use a rule-based approach that requires significant human input to evolve. Even when using a practical approach for on-site security, however, there will be limitations when it comes to the cloud.

    The adoption of cloud services also introduces new threats based on changes in user behavior. This transition can prevent system administrators from using existing threat protection solutions on the cloud to their fullest potential. The following best practices are a few of the most important must-haves for implementing cloud security when it comes to your business.

    Generate White Lists

    Migrating to the cloud greatly increases the number of threat events in most cases. One way to address this problem is to create white lists for events from trusted sources you generate since they have a low risk of being actual security threats. The general rule of thumb in network security is to lower the threshold for event generation. It’s important to do this to the point that the threshold generates as many threat events as you can reasonably investigate. This strategy can greatly reduce the number of events that are false positives, while still reducing the event threshold.

    Look at the Big Picture

    Must-Haves for Cloud Security

    Security for an on-site infrastructure often focuses on individual occurrences or anomalies, but cloud security needs to consider threats with multiple dimensions. Consider the scenario in which a user logs in from a new IP address, changes a security setting within an application, and downloads a greater amount of data than usual. Each of these anomalies might not be indicative of a security incident if you consider them in isolation. The combination of these indicators together, however, provides strong evidence that a security incident is in progress.

    Monitor Application Activity

    Onsite systems typically have a smaller number of IT services that run continually than cloud platforms do. Cloud security requires greater monitoring of applications to ensure that administrators have authorized them. This is because multiple unauthorized applications across services often signal a threat. The practice of monitoring applications allows you to identify threats more effectively by correlating these activities, which is why it’s so important to obtain a high visibility of services on the cloud.

    Use Machine-Defined Models at First

    It’s difficult to implement threat protection on the cloud by configuring threshold rules for which there is no context. Start with machine-defined models, which you can then refine later. The software can create these models by analyzing user behavior and detecting threats based on this behavior. Fine tune this threat detection capability manually to reduce the number of false positives it generates.

    Leverage the Existing Workflow

    Leverage the Existing Workflow

    Businesses that migrate to the cloud often have well-developed SIEM solutions(security information and event management solutions) in a security operation center that’s already implemented for their onsite infrastructure. Use a standard feed to deliver the events generated by a cloud protection solution to the existing SIEM solution. This practice allows administrators to correlate cloud anomalies with on-premises anomalies. For more information and to see how we can help you visit our website.

  9. 4 Advantages of Wifi Networking for Businesses

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    Wi-Fi, also known as wifi, is a form of technology based on the IEEE 802.11 standards that uses radio waves to create local area networks (LANs). These devices use a wireless access point, commonly known as a hotspot, to connect to a wifi LAN (WLAN) that provides access to the internet. Hotspots have a range of about 20 meters indoors and a much greater range outdoors, typically by using multiple overlapping hotspots.

    Internet access is an increasingly important requirement for most businesses today, so the method of obtaining that access is critically important since virtually everyone is in need of the internet. Many businesses are turning to wifi technology as their preferred form of networking for both their customers and employees. Wifi for business offers the following distinct advantages:

    Wifi in the Office

    Internal wifi provides workers in the office with benefits that improve their productivity and save money in the long run. Going wireless reduces the restrictions on an office’s layout since cables no longer dictate desk locations. It also eliminates the expense of IT services such as purchasing, installing and maintaining those cables. Internal wifi also means that office workers are no longer tethered to their desks, allowing them to work at other locations such as conference rooms. An additional benefit of office wifi is a greater collaboration since the ability to access data from any location allows employees to work in groups more easily.

    Mobile Access

    Mobile Access

    Mobile devices have become the standard way of accessing the internet for many employees because they allow them to access work even when they’re not in the office. Some service plans allow users to configure their mobile devices as wifi hotspots, which can be highly useful for implementing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. Wifi is especially helpful when allowing employees to continue working while traveling. A dedicated hot spot also provides traveling workers with greater security and allows them to avoid the wifi access fees common at many conferences and hotels.

    Home Wi-Fi

    High-speed wifi access can also benefit home-based workers. It allows work schedules to be more flexible since some workers can telecommute at least part of the time. This benefit helps retain top talent staff members who have come to expect telecommuting, which reduces the expense of working office space. Wifi technology also allows entrepreneurs to start and operate their business from home more easily.

    Public Networks

    Public Networks

    Wifi can be especially useful for customers, many of whom can’t go without internet connectivity for an extended period. A wifi public network at a business’s location can aid in marketing by providing a splash page that showcases its products, services, and expertise. Including the company name in the wifi network’s name can also help build a business’s brand. Advertising free wifi access draws in foot traffic for customer-facing businesses such as retail outlets and restaurants. Once in a store, wifi also encourages customers to spend more time at a business, thereby increasing sales.

    When searching for wifi and superior IT support for your Tucson business, look no further than Integrated Axis technology Group. We’re here to help you get started or improve the security you’ve already built. Give us a call at (520) 877-3033 to learn more.