May 1, 2013
Economic strain has made it very difficult for many businesses in New Jersey to refresh their aging IT networks. Don’t put off needed updates any longer–we’ve got the solution.
Nowadays, when networks reach six or seven years old, they reach a point where they begin to slow down from old age. Unfortunately, due to recent economic strains, many business owners have had to decide whether to deal with the decreased productivity of their outdated network or to stretch their budgets and reinvest in an updated network.
AMRCON is ready to bring some relief to your business by offering you a much needed network hardware and workstation upgrades and virtualization of your server equipment into our private cloud environment for a price you can afford.
We avoid the costly replacement of servers and workstations as well as the professional services those upgrades require. We remove spinning hard drives from the PC and use a lite version of LINUX to connect you to your virtual desktop from the cloud that will look just the same as it did yesterday. But your servers will be gone.
Now with the removal of the servers you can figure 20-30% savings on power and cooling. Plus, for the removal of hard drives, you can figure a savings of 30-40% on desktop power consumption if not more since you can now shut these devices off at night since there is nothing to maintain.
Does this sound like something you could use? Give us a buzz at 732-705-5057 and get back to handling your business and not the worries of your IT.
March 1, 2013
Find out what AMRCON’s latest offering, ODScloud, can do for your business.
We all know the benefits of cloud computing—how it can reduce IT costs, increase productivity in the workplace, and scale easily as needs change.
Unfortunately, many cloud computing solutions are too limited for the needs of larger businesses, especially when security and compliance matter.
For this and many other reasons, AMRCON has partnered with IO Data Centers, the leading provider of next-generation modular data center technology and services, to bring you ODScloud. As part of the agreement, AMRCON maintains its own private cloud within IO’s state-of-the-art data center in Edison, New Jersey.
Our unique cloud hosting service allows small to medium sized businesses, who would otherwise be unable to utilize the advanced hardware in IO’s Tier III facility, to purchase enterprise-quality rack space. ODScloud also gives businesses the ability to:
- Host existing hardware on our private cloud
- Virtualize new or existing hardware
- Virtualize desktops
- Virtualize and utilize VoIP for Disaster Recovery
- And much more
To learn more about ODScloud and what it can do for your business, contact AMRCON. We’re thrilled to be able to offer this outstanding new service to our new and existing clients.
February 1, 2013
Another mass power outage hits the east coast. Was your business ready?
After more than 31,000 homes and businesses in Long Island, New York lost power yesterday to a freak windstorm, we thought it an opportune time to remind business owners how important a backup and disaster recovery plan is for your business.
These days, disastrous weather conditions seem to be on the rise and are becoming increasingly difficult to predict, which is why it is so important for businesses to always be at the ready.
You’ve probably heard these backup and disaster recovery tips before, from AMRCON or from another managed services provider. But you may have not taken the time yet to implement them. Take our advice: don’t wait another minute.
Tip #1: Implement a Disaster Recovery Plan
If you don’t have a plan, now’s the time to talk with your managed IT services provider. They will be your best resource for designing a plan that helps preserve business continuity after disaster strikes. If you don’t know where to start, take a look at our IT Disaster Recovery Plan Checklist and give us a call at 732-705-5057.
Tip #2: Consider Switching to Cloud Hosting
If you’re not already on the cloud, you may want to consider making the switch, depending on your industry. Managed cloud hosting is safe and secure, offers reliable backup and disaster recovery options, and has a much more predictable cost structure than company-owned hardware and infrastructure.
Tip #3: Review Your Recovery Plan Regularly
A disaster recovery plan is only effective if you take the time to test and review it regularly. Technology is constantly evolving; you’re disaster recovery plan needs to evolve with it.
Need help designing and implementing an IT disaster recovery plan for your business? Fill out our Free Network Audit request form- we’d be happy to assist you.
August 30, 2012
Network security is something every business owner needs to think about. Here are the top 5 network security threats you should be aware of and take steps to avoid.
Photo Credit: Robb North (Creative Commons)
Over the last several years, network security for small businesses has become increasingly complex as new Internet threats emerge. Small business networks face constant threats from a number of malicious tactics that aim at slowing productivity, stealing valuable information, and crashing whole networks.
Below, we’ve outlined 5 of the most common network security threats for small businesses today. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact AMRCON for more information and suggestions for improvements to your network security.
#1 – Viruses
Although the term is often used generically, a virus is by definition malware that inserts malicious code through user interaction into programs and documents and then spreads to affect an entire network. A virus will usually infiltrate a network through email attachements, so a good way to avoid viruses is to train your staff to never open an email attachement they weren’t expecting.
#2 – Trojan Horse
A trojan horse is a malware attack that is disguised as something innocent like a computer game, free software, or an email link to a video. Once the malware is downloaded to a computer, it can be used to steal valuable information and record keystrokes to gather account numbers and passwords.
#3 – Spam
Spam is not only a nuisance. It also accounts for billions of dollars of lost productivity. In some cases, it can even be used to take up so much bandwidth that a network crashes. You can best defend your network from this threat with a Spam Guard product.
#4 – Phishing
Phishing is a malicious email tactic used to trick unsuspecting victims into handing over sensitive information like account numbers and passwords. A phishing email supplies the user with a link to an unsecured website that looks very similar to a trusted business like PayPal or Bank of America and asks him or her to reenter account details, passwords, card numbers, etc. Check out this post about phishing for more info.
#5 – Lost/Stolen Laptop or Mobile Device
Lost or stolen lapstops or mobile devices are not what we usually think of as network security threats, but they pose a big threat to networks. The information on a lost or stolen piece of hardware may be used to gain access to the network and compromise security.
Is your network secure? Sign up for a Free Network Audit for a no-obligation assessment of your network.
August 2, 2012
What is spyware and how does it affect my computer? Find out the answers to these questions and more in this brief description of spyware.
“Elf Bowling,” a freeware game released in 1999, introduced many Internet users to spyware.
By definition, spyware is any type of malicious software (malware) that covertly gathers user information through the user’s Internet connection without his or her knowledge.
Spyware usually find its way on to your computer as a hidden component of freeware or shareware programs that are downloaded from the Internet.
The Case of “Elf Bowling”
Many Internet users were first introduced to spyware when, in 1999, a popular freeware game called “Elf Bowling” came bundled with spyware software.
Once spyware is installed, it monitors and gathers information about your activity on the Internet and then sends that information to another person without your permission. In the case of “Elf Bowling,” the spyware that came with the game reported user information back to its developers.
While most spyware is used for advertising purposes (i.e. adware), some applications are used to gather sensitive information about the user like email addresses, passwords, and even credit card numbers.
Because spyware is an independent executable application, it may also have the ability to:
- Monitor keystrokes
- Scan files on your hard drive
- Change settings on your computer
- Steal information from other applications like Word documents and chat programs
- Read cookies
- Install other spyware applications
- And more
As if that isn’t bad enough, spyware also steals from your computer’s memory resources and eats up a ton of bandwidth while transmitting your private information to its developers via your Internet connection. That’s why a computer or computer network that has been infected by spyware will often experience system crashes and general system instability.
Spyware = Bad News for Business
Spyware is bad news for any business. It can steal sensitive information about your organization, clients, or anything else you store on your computer network. And it can wreak havoc on your computer system, putting business continuity at risk.
If you’re worried about the security of your business computer network, contact AMRCON for a Free Network Audit. We’ll diagnose security loop holes or other flaws in your network and help you get your system back on track.
July 19, 2012
Cloud computing is taking over the world of IT infrastructure—and for good reason. Learn how moving to the cloud can help your business achieve new heights of efficiency.
Photo Credit: Bruce Clay, Inc (Creative Commons)
Everybody’s talking about the benefits of cloud computing for businesses these days. Why? Because cloud computing offers an affordable solution to the high upfront and maintenance costs associated with company-owned hardware and IT infrastructure.
By paying one reasonable monthly rate, your business can have the access it needs to send and receive email, collaborate on documents, manage calendars, host a website, backup critical data, and more.
And the best part is, you don’t have to purchase or maintain any hardware. Your cloud computing provider will do it all for you.
Cloud computing means less hassle for you, but it also provides a number of other benefits, like:
- Reduced IT costs. With cloud computing, there’s no software or hardware to purchase. You pay a subscription fee, so upfront and ongoing costs are predictable.
- Increased productivity. When your data is in the cloud, you can access it anywhere at any time as long as you have an internet connection.
- Efficient team collaboration. It’s a lot faster and easier to collaborate on web-based documents because you eliminate the version control issues that often arise from emailing documents from one team member to another.
- Scalability. Because you’re not required to purchase your own hardware, cloud computing makes it easier to add users and increase the size of your IT infrastructure to keep up with the pace of your growing business.
There are hundreds of cloud computing options out there. Some are free—like Google Apps—but the majority are subscription based. The important thing is that you choose a provider that meets all the safety and security requirements your business needs.
And it’s also critical that you choose a provider with experience and excellent customer service so you have a reliable person to call if a problem arises.
At AMRCON, we take network security and customer service seriously. Our cloud computing solutions are tailored to meet the needs of individual businesses, and our customer service is unmatched.
AMRCON’s cloud computing solutions include:
Request a Free Network Audit to learn more about cloud computing and how it can help you take your business to the next level.
July 5, 2012
As more and more businesses realize the benefits of hosting their business network on the cloud, the question becomes: what cloud service makes the most sense for my business?
Photo credit: karindalziel (Creative Commons)
There are several options, but none have grown in popularity more quickly for SMBs than public cloud hosting services like Microsoft Office 365.
Office 365: A Cost-Effective Solution?
One of the biggest reasons Office 365 and other public cloud hosting services are so popular is their low upfront cost. By choosing to host his or her business network through a public cloud service, a business owner can avoid the higher upfront costs associated with hosting in-house servers.
On the surface, the low-cost feature of public cloud computing makes a lot of sense, especially for businesses with less than 10 employees. However, for businesses with more than 10 employees, this cost saving feature is called into question. Microsoft Office 365 charges for their services per employee. Therefore, the more employees you have, the bigger your monthly subscription fee will be.
The cost-effectiveness of Office 365 is further compromised for small businesses that prize customer support. While Microsoft’s small business plan is only $6 per user per month, it does not include phone support for technical issues. Instead users are instructed to troubleshoot the issue themselves through Microsoft’s community forum. In other words, if you have any issues, you’ll have to do the work to solve the problem which many business owners simply do not have time to do.
Outsourced Private Hosting: Greater Security, Outstanding Service
On the other hand, business owners have the option of outsourcing the hosting of their business network to a private cloud. The difference between a private cloud and a public cloud is that private clouds are, by definition, dedicated to a single organization. Therefore, businesses that must meet strict regulations for the handling of their data often find private hosting to be best option.
In addition to enhanced security, private cloud computing offers a level of customer service that outsourced public hosting cannot achieve. For example, if you choose AMRCON as a partner, an account manager is assigned to your business. That way, you’re able to talk with the same person when you need assistance or have questions. Because your account manager knows your account thoroughly, he or she is able to address any issues that may arise quickly and efficiently.
For many businesses, maintaining business continuity is essential and having a plan in place when problems arise is the only way to remain successful. Along with support and security, the most effective outsourced private hosting services include a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that is tailored to meet your business’s specific needs.
While Office 365 is a cheap option for small businesses, it’s cheap for a reason. You miss out on the service, security, and care that can only be found with private hosting.
Choosing outsourced private hosting through an experienced Managed Services Provider like AMRCON is the best, most cost-effective way to meet industry regulations, maintain a secure network and keep your business on track. Contact us to learn more about the benefits of outsourced private hosting.
June 4, 2012
A recent article published by NJBIZ—New Jersey’s only weekly business journal—discusses the necessity of business interruption insurance for preserving business continuity. Is your business protected?
Photo credit: Nicholas_T (Creative Commons)
Disasters are an inevitable part of business, which is why planning for disaster as completely as possible is so critical for maintaining business continuity.
A business may not be able to recover from disaster unless it spends a good deal of time planning for it in advance. In an instant, all the time, effort, and financial investment you poured into your business could disappear.
That’s why AMRCON offers ODS Backup & Disaster Recovery to its clients in New Jersey, especially to businesses in industries that require by law comprehensive and continually-tested disaster recovery plans like medical and financial organizations.
But the story doesn’t end there. A disaster and recovery plan is just one piece of armor against the uncertainties of life.
What would happen if a disaster shut down your business? Would you be able to continue after a big interruption in business?
According to a recent article in NJBIZ, for many businesses—like manufactures, doctors, lawyers, and retailers—recovering from disaster will require business interruption insurance.
“Manufacturers, doctors, lawyers, retailers and warehouse companies usually are those with the most urgent need for interruption insurance, since a fire, power outage or natural disaster could shut down operations and take weeks or months to get back up to speed,” a business interruption insurance expert explains in the article.
Does your business need business interruption insurance?
Let us help you determine the best course of action for your business. AMRCON works in collaboration with Agility Recovery and Business Insurance Consultants to bring businesses in New Jersey the most comprehensive disaster and recovery plans available.
Contact us to discuss your needs today.
April 23, 2012
If disaster struck tomorrow, could your business recover? Without a backup and disaster recovery plan in place, the answer may be “no.”
Disaster is always on the horizon. Will you business be prepared? (Photo by Ani Carrington)
Disasters are an unfortunate part of life. They can strike without warning and leave your business in complete disarray.
Whether it’s a mechanical error, a virus, a hurricane or some other type of disaster, you’re at risk of losing some or all of your data.
The exact percentages are up for debate, but here are some backup and disaster recovery statistics we gathered from various sources:
- Only 35 percent of small and medium-sized enterprises have a disaster recovery plan in place.
- The survival rate for businesses without a backup and disaster recovery plan is less than 10 percent.
- 90 percent of businesses that lose data due to a disaster are forced to shut down within two years.
- 53 percent of victims never recoup losses incurred by a disaster.
As you can see, having a backup and disaster recovery plan in place is an essential ingredient in ensuring business continuity.
The above statistics have been quoted in the IT industry for a number of years, but we recommend taking them with a grain of salt. Not everyone agrees on the percentages.
However, even though the accuracy of these statistics is not clear, they are probably not very far off. A loss of data can severely immobilize a business and risk destroying that business in the long run.
What does a backup and disaster recovery plan cover?
A comprehensive backup and disaster recovery plan is designed to keep a business operational despite disaster.
That being said, every plan is different depending on your managed IT services provider. AMRCON works closely with businesses to analyze their unique situations.
As part of your plan, we may suggest any number of back-up and disaster recovery services, including:
- Server and workstation daily backups
- Offsite server replication
Visit our Backup & Disaster Recovery page to learn more or request a Free Network Audit to discuss your business’ needs.
Don’t let a disaster keep your business from achieving the success it deserves.
April 10, 2012
Do you have a suspicious email in your inbox? It might be a scam! Today, we present a few simple questions that will test an email’s validity.
Everybody, at one time or another, has received a suspicious email in their inbox.
At first glance, the email looks legitimate. It contains a familiar logo and a link to a professional-looking Website.
The message inside the email feels serious and needs to be addressed ASAP. All you have to do is answer a couple questions about yourself, and the issue will be resolved.
Don’t do it! This is called phishing, a method used by criminals to trick unsuspecting victims into turning over private information like passwords and account numbers by posing as a trusted source.
The next time you receive an email asking you for personal information, ask YOURSELF a few simple questions.
Are you a customer of the reported sender?
The first question you should ask yourself is, am I a customer of this “business”? If you have never heard of the business or are not a customer, do not respond.
A scammer will often send out thousands of identical emails impersonating a trustworthy business. Their hope is that a percentage of people who receive the email will be actual customers of the business they’re impersonating.
Is the email time-sensitive?
A phishing email will often give the impression of urgency. For example: “If you don’t respond within two days, your account will be closed.” If you’re a customer of the supposed business and there’s something seriously wrong with your account, they’re not going to send you an email about it.
Is the email address unidentifiable?
A legitimate business will use an email address that can be traced. On the other hand, a phishing email will often come from an unidentifiable email address.
If you can’t trace the source, do not respond.
Are there spelling and/or mechanical errors?
Check the email for spelling and mechanical errors in the writing. Big name businesses like eBay and Bank of American will pay someone to proofread an email before sending it out.
If the language in the email feels unnatural or if you notice any spelling mistakes, report the email.
Is the email formatted incorrectly?
Look closely at the layout of the email. Does the formatting look unprofessional? Are there spaces missing between paragraphs? Incorrect copyright symbols?
A legitimate business will not make these mistakes. If the email looks unprofessional, report it!
Safeguard Your Personal Information
Ultimately, no legitimate business will ever ask for sensitive information in an email. It just doesn’t happen.
If you receive lots of suspicious emails in your inbox, you may want to consider upgrading to a more effective spam filter. AMRCON offers a unique Spam Guard that will quarantine phishing, spyware, viruses and malware before they cause problems. Learn more about this indispensable tool.