It looks like we are getting an early start to winter this year as it is not too often that we see snow on Halloween morning. Here in Monticello we got over 5 inches of snow last Wednesday night into Thursday morning.
This provides the perfect reminder to check your winter preparedness plan for power/internet outages, stranded employees and holiday shopping!
Can your employees access company data securely if they are snowed-in or traveling?
- Review offsite data access procedures for staff. Are they using a VPN or Remote Desktop? Check: data/connection security, client application update, password still works, staff remembers offsite access protocol.
- Consider cloud-hosted apps through a secure management platform, like Citrix Hosted Desktop with ITS. All of your apps and data are accessed via a secure cloud connection, to only your users; available on a multitude of devices.
If your physical office loses power or internet, do you also lose access to email?
- Consider cloud-hosted email instead of an on-premise Exchange Server, to provide maximum uptime.
- Develop a plan for accessing and delegating email of other staff if necessary during winter travel.
UPS units save networks from costly equipment replacements and downtime:
- Protect network equipment and servers from power surges by plugging them into a UPS unit.
- Select and setup your UPS to allow enough battery power to shut down network gear and servers in the event of an extended power failure.
- Determine proper boot order for equipment after power resumes, and determine what checks should take place to make sure equipment is working.
- Name staff in charge of powering down gear when on battery power and re-booting after power resumes.
- Check the load and battery function on your UPS quarterly.
Human error is the number one cause of network breeches.
- If your employees will be online shopping, consider whether you have trained staff on how to avoid clicking on fake updates, bad links, etc., that can invite viruses and ransomware into your network.
- Make sure you have a solid, ongoing backup of your business-critical files. If you are infected with a virus or ransomware, restoring to your most-current backup is usually your best option.
- Train staff on how to look for file changes and system alerts that can signal a virus or ransomware infection, and teach them how to react to mitigate damage.
- While we are on the staff-training topic, consider addressing browser hijacks (how to avoid, and how to recover), scam calls asking for permission to remote into machines or servers, and phishing emails that ask you to enter credentials or personal information.
Easily Work From Home:
Even employees who are stranded at home can get work done with Unified Communications (UC). UC is a way to improve mobility, effectively communicate, and collaborate with colleagues and customers. Unified Communications is available through 3CX‘s IP phone system. Mobility is important when travel is not manageable. With IP phones, you can pick up calls that come in on your office phone on your cell phone, tablet, or computer. You can also view presence and availability of colleagues, chat, and transfer calls. With this capability, offsite work becomes more possible.
And, ’tis also the season for new devices! Do you have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy?
- Can your firewall limit access to company files for only company devices, and deliver guest internet access for staff phones and guest users?
- Can your network hardware shape network traffic, and give maximum bandwidth to company devices and important websites, and limit bandwidth for guest devices or non-important websites?
- Does your firewall provide a quick glance at network stats – which websites are visited the most frequently or which devices are consuming the most bandwidth?
- Learn more about our firewalls and network hardware.
ITS specializes in helpdesk services; we provide Managed IT Services for businesses without dedicated IT staff, and work with existing IT staff to provide coverage beyond existing time and training allocations. Contact ITS to learn more about any of our IT services.