It’s hard to believe, but we’re already into the last quarter of 2013. Before you know it, we’ll be embarking on a brand new year – new goals, new budgets, and new plans.
At 365, we’ll be setting up our Q4 myCIO meetings. These are our quarterly reviews, with the ownership/executive teams at each 365Care+ client. We take one hour each quarter to discuss strategically-significant issues related to their technology, and anything that needs to be on the radar for the upcoming quarter.
As we look ahead to 2014 specifically, there are some key technology issues that need to be on the table for businesses of all sizes. So we would encourage you, before the year ends, to set aside some time for a discussion. Get your key decision makers in the room, and talk about what your systems and infrastructure will look like 12 months from now.
1. End of Support for Windows XP – April 8, 2014
On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will discontinue support for their Windows XP operating system – one that is still very prevalent in the corporate world. Why is this important? As Microsoft releases security patches for newer operating systems (Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8), these same patches will NOT be released for XP. The patches being released will identify vulnerabilities which may also exist in XP, and could therefore be exploited.
Bottom line: Windows XP machines on your corporate network beyond April 8, 2014 are a threat to your network’s security.
Action Item: Plan to upgrade/decommission all Windows XP machines by end of Q1 2014 (March 31)
2. The rise of Crypto Locker / Ransomware
There’s a new breed of computer virus in town – and unlike old malware that would bombard you with pop-ups or make your computer unusable, this kind takes something you care about – your data. Crypto Locker (and variants) will encrypt your data using a secure code that can only be unlocked with their key.The key is offered – for a price. The only solution (other than paying)? Restoring unencrypted data from backups.
Action Items: Review safe computer use practices with all users (Email attachments, links, etc.). Validate available backups and restore points.
3. Moving beyond Backups – The need for Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery
For many businesses, backups are no longer sufficient. While data restores are important, the key metric is maximum possible downtime from a server/application outage or a complete site loss. Knowing your risk, and evaluating available solutions to reduce it, is essential. Further reading on this topic:
Action Item: Determine current maximum downtimes. Are these acceptable?
4. Cloud services & Bandwidth
More and more businesses are moving some or all of their network infrastructure to the cloud. While these off-site, hosted solutions offer some significant benefits, they also place increased importance on your Internet connection.
Companies considering increasing their reliance on the cloud need to evaluate their current Internet Service Provider (ISP) offering, particularly as it relates to upstream bandwidth.
Carriers such as MTS, with their VDSL service have increased speeds on basic business Internet packages, while competitors such as VOI Network Solutions offer full symmetrical Internet solutions to meet even the highest bandwidth demands.
In addition to ensuring adequate bandwidth, companies should also consider redundant internet providers with full failover between them.
Action Item: Review current Internet plan. Will this be sufficient for our needs going forward? Will it support an increasing reliance on hosted/cloud services if we plan to move in this direction?
5. Best practices & security for Mobile devices
Smartphones are everywhere. While you may be controlling data accessed on your company’s workstations, your employees are accessing whatever they want on their mobile devices – including corporate Email. Some of you may even have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program, allowing employees to use their personal devices for work purposes.
Do you have policies in place to cover this? Are these devices secured? What happens if an employee who leaves the company has corporate data or communication on their device?
Action Item: Develop a policy for mobile device usage and access to corporate resources.
So there you have it – send out the calendar invite, book the meeting, and have the conversation. Ensure that you will be ready to meet the technology challenges of 2014.
If there’s an empty seat at the table, we would love to join you. Please – get in touch. At the end of the day, IT is all about results. See how we’re helping Winnipeg businesses achieve Worry-Free IT:www.Worry-FreeIT.ca