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Knowledge management program

What is a Knowledge Management Program and How to Implement One


 

CyNexLink Blog   •   December 5, 2017

 

A company can greatly improve their business practices with the implementation of a knowledge management program, a plan that outlines the creating, sharing, using and managing of knowledge in an organization.

Yet, many businesses make the mistake of diving into the initiation of a program without paying heed to the necessary particulars to create an adequate system. A desirable knowledge management program will analyze culture, technology, processes and people.

First, it’s beneficial to cultivate a culture that values knowledge and the sharing of it. This philosophy creates an environment wherein knowledge fuels enterprise. In addressing technology, businesses can choose how to configure and use the tools needed for knowledge management.

Analyzing processes allows for best practices to be established for the management, identification and dispersal of knowledge. It’s also necessary for companies to examine the people that make up the business because they represent the transferring of knowledge within the institution.

After analyzing each of these components, then the initiation of the knowledge management program can commence. But, how should a company start?

First, objectives need to be established.

Owners and managers need to identify shortcomings in the business in need of rectification so that adequate solutions can be determined. These solutions should be factored into short- and long-term goals.

Then a more abstract issue arises: how do you prepare the company for the inevitable change?

The changing of a business’s knowledge management protocol beckons a cultural evolution. Employees must learn to modify the way they comprehend and share knowledge. It’s incumbent on ownership and management to identify how best to blueprint this cultural shift.

As referenced earlier, business leaders then need to identify the technology that can support the program and its objectives. Costs and benefits need to be cross-analyzed for each piece of technology. If heightened computing and automation is needed, then that needs to be factored into the purchasing scenario.

Once these pieces are in place, then an obvious but necessary step in the program is to assess the current state of knowledge management in the business. This should cover the previously mentioned topics of culture, people, technology and processes.

The next step is implementation. This will require significant funding, resources and commitment. The process may be arduous so incremental advances are necessary. A business needs to pay attention to the short-term gains as the plan advances.

It’s important for businesses to monitor the effectiveness of the program as it moves along. It would be wise to have baseline measurements from the pre-implementation system to measure against the new program.

A knowledge management program requires time and funding but can increase a business’s staff productivity, deliverable consistency and product quality, so it’s worth it for companies to put forth the effort.

With the right knowledge management program and IT infrastructure, you can boost your firm’s organizational and productive capabilities. Take a look at our portfolio to see how we’ve helped our clients enhance their productive efforts. Contact us and find out how our IT specialists partner with you to accomplish your business’s goals.

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Encryption system

How to Craft a Successful Encryption System


 

CyNexLink Blog   •   December 4, 2017

 

With the growing menace of cyber espionage and software hacking, cryptography has become an essential part of communication on the web.

The goal of cryptography is to keep communications secret as they travel across an insecure web. Encryption, a component of cryptography, has become a critical tool in guarding data from the prying eyes of cyber criminals.

“Encryption works,” said former NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. “Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on.”

Encryption is essentially based on mathematical algorithms that deny a person’s ability to see information unless they have a code or key.

Here’s five elements to constructing a successful encryption strategy:

  • Work Together: Collaboration amongst a company’s management, IT and operations members is necessary to foster a strong encryption strategy. Each business limb should come together to identify and analyze the regulations, laws and guidelines that will be utilized while making decisions on purchases and implementation. The group should also identify risk-prone areas like laptops and mobile devices.
  • Guard Codes and Keys: The organization’s keys and certificates need to be secured. If this information is at-risk, then whatever security controls are in place can easily be stormed and overcome. There are many businesses that lack the understanding of the thousands of keys and certificates and what they are used for. It’s prudent for businesses to comprehend the use of keys and certificates, who has access to them and when and how they are used. Therefore, keys and certificates should be managed centrally.
  • Implement Encryption Solutions with External Help: Once key management scenarios are cemented, a company needs to find encryption solutions. Generally, it’s desirable for businesses to try the solutions out before purchasing. Here, it would be desirable to seek the counsel of an independent organization that can aid in the testing and evaluation of potential solutions.
  • Control Access: Accessing data needs to have stringent authorization standards. This is critical in the prevention of external tampering with sensitive organizational information. Businesses should have strong file permissions, access-control techniques, passwords and two-factor authentication.
  • Pre-deployment: Before rolling out the encryption solutions, companies should have policies agreed upon by management, business partners and third parties that will handle data. If these partners and parties are unwilling to adhere to the guidelines, then companies cannot risk handing over sensitive information.

In the folds of the insecure web lie external threats that crave sensitive information. Companies need to defend themselves from these threats and the best way to accomplish that is with encryption. But, it’s incumbent on owners and managers to formulate the adoption of encryption in a thoughtful manner in order to fortify staunch defenses against the lurking criminals.

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There is no such thing as too much of a good thing…

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Understanding the Internet of Things (IoT) and How it Can Help Your Business


 

CyNexLink Blog   •   November 30, 2017

 

The world is becoming increasingly connected. This isn’t a mystery. But how expansive is this growing unity?

The term used to describe the connecting of any device with an on and off switch to the Internet is called the “Internet of Things.” This can include cellphones, headphones, coffee makers, lamps and refrigerators. Essentially, anything you can think of is part of the vast network.

Gartner, an American research and advisory firm, projects that there will be more than 26 billion connected devices by 2020. The world is expected to become evermore connected in the enduring march towards technological purity.

This unity will allow for devices to communicate with one another. This already has a direct impact in the daily lives of many. For example, your car and device may “talk to each other” about your daily travel demands, resulting in your phone recommending driving routes.

The technological implications are vast, with researchers prophesying “smart cities” or a “smart world” with all limbs of technology in communication with one another for the sake of efficiency.

But what does this network of things mean for companies? What is the business value of the data generated by the Internet of Things?

Internet of Things analytics can help companies comprehend the data at their disposal. An analysis of the network can lead to improving business operations, reducing maintenance costs and avoidance of equipment failures.

Package delivery trucks, manufacturing systems and electrical grids have sensors that monitor performance. A business can collect and store the data gleaned from the sensors to greater improve efficiency by analyzing patterns and blueprinting more proficient delivery methods and preventive maintenance.

Prior to the inception of the Internet of Things, it was difficult, or near impossible, to analyze the aggregate of information from various devices, which were independent of one another. Now, Internet of Things technology allows for data to be pooled into data warehouses, Hadoop clusters and other data platforms.

Retail businesses can use data collected from security cameras and Wi-Fi to better understand the behaviors of their customers while shopping. Companies can also utilize the data from smartphones, wearable devices and others to initiate targeted marketing techniques.

Business Insider predicts that trillions of dollars will be spent on Internet of Things solutions over the next few years. Considering the inevitable expansion of the institution, it seems businesses should engage with Internet of Things analytics to lower operating costs, increase productivity and expand to new markets, all necessary ingredients to maintaining a healthy company.

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There is no such thing as too much of a good thing…

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Small Business Worries


 

CyNexLink Blog   •   October 10, 2017

 

Many surmise that when an individual starts their own business and can set their own rules, their troubles will disappear. However, the converse is usually true, and small business leaders have their own set of nightmares that keep them up at night.

There are basic worries that plague the minds of small business owners. A survey of more than 1,100 small businesses by Wasp Barcode Technologies produced a State of Small Business report that delineates the essential challenges of small businesses.

It identified increasing profit, employee healthcare and cash flow as some of these challenges.

Yet, Greg Petraetis of Smallbizdaily says some of the emerging worries to antagonize the minds of small business owners will be customer retention, cyber attacks and smart cultural branding.

Customer Retention

Retaining a stable customer base is essential to the desirable functioning of a small business. Customer retention increases profits and as the technological realm evolves, competition will increase as new entrepreneurs and ideas are enabled, making customer retention all the more important.

Yet, there are a variety of ways to retain customers. As an example, Spotify used Facebook to engage its customers while promoting its services and Dropbox gave users free data as a gift for providing written feedback. This ability to engage existing customers requires an awareness and ability to adapt to their needs and desires. Small business owners should be aware that there is ever-changing technologies that aid in the understanding of a customer base through data analysis.

Cyber Attacks

Small business owners aren’t particularly concerned with cyber attacks as it ranks way down at number 51 out of 75 possible business concerns, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. But computer security will soon line up along estate tax and electricity costs at the forefront of small business owners’ concerns, as 60% of all targeted cyber attacks in 2014 affected small- or medium-sized businesses.

Couple this with the fact that the average price for a small business to repair the damages of a cyber attack are about $690,000, and its clear that owners will have to pay heed to the beast on the horizon.

Branding

Defining the right brand and culture of a small business is a primary concern for leaders. It determines how your business will be perceived by customers and its reputation. More than ever, the culture of a brand is playing a role in how customers make their purchasing decisions. Especially with young adults, the values of a brand are seen as an extension of the individual, as a way of expressing oneself. Clearly, it’s important for business leaders to pay attention to the cultural values of whatever customer base they are targeting. Businesses that are known to conduct their workplace in an “inclusive” or “environmentally responsible” manner already reap financial benefits.

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CyNexLink-ddos-attack

Ransomware and DDoS Attacks Prove Treacherous for Businesses


 

CyNexLink Blog   •   September 7, 2017

 

Despite an assemblage of lurking cyber threats, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and ransomware are considered to be paramount concerns for a business.

Attacks are becoming more common, like the WannaCry ransomware attack in May that targeted computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system. That attack encrypted the data of users so they couldn’t get to their information unless they paid a Bitcoin ransom.

Cyber criminals are more readily employing this tactic of infecting machines with crypto-ransomware and holding the files hostage or launching a DDoS attack until payment is made.

An attack on a business could be crippling and even fatal to its future.

Encrypting data files could result in their permanent loss and paying the ransom could cost a business tens of thousands of dollars.

Even more troubling is how DDoS attacks can be used in conjunction with a ransomware attack. DDoS attacks are when a machine(s) becomes unusable when a cyber crook disrupts the services of a host connected with the web. This is usually done by flooding the machine with requests, which overloads the system.

These attacks can disguise a ransomware attack. DDoS attacks generally can last about 5 minutes, which may seem insignificant, yet, it may take only seconds for the hackers to take critical security structures offline, like firewalls or intrusion prevention systems.

While IT staff attempt to combat the network issues, hackers can inseminate the network with ransomware.

Most cyber security strategies seem to focus on coping with the outfall of a ransomware attack, but it would be prudent on businesses to work on preventing them from ever occurring. Being proactive is key when it comes to protecting a company from a crippling cyber attack.

A desirable protocol would be to install DDoS protection hardware that detects and blocks attacks from happening. This solution, and others, should be discussed with qualified professionals that can help come up with a strategy that best protects a business from the ever-common ransomware and DDoS attacks.

Here’s a breakdown from Craig Young, a cybersecurity researcher with security firm Tripwire:

“In my opinion, businesses are best to never pay DDoS extortionists and instead are better served saving that money for DDoS mitigation services from reputable firms. Since a DDoS involves flooding a target with junk messages until the communication lines are so full of junk that there is no room left for the legitimate messages, the solution often is to acquire really big communication lines and position servers all around the world, making it less likely that an adversary could overwhelm them.”

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Why You Need a Technology Replacement Plan


 

CyNexLink Blog   •   September 5, 2017

 

Small businesses and nonprofits generally utilize a strategic plan to guide them through their monetary objectives, yet, many don’t have an accompanying program for their technology that supports the overall venture. These companies tend to take a reactionary, conservative approach to software and hardware that ultimately can plague efficiency and mire monetary gains.

When hardware breaks down or critical software can’t run because of outdated systems, it needs to be replaced. However, it would be prudent of businesses to adopt a strategic plan for tech replacement which bypasses potential security risks and surprise expenses for the sake of productivity.

Desktops tend to last 3 to 4 years, yet, small businesses and nonprofits may try to squeeze out a few more years for what is perceived as “saving money.” But, maintaining older computers can have a dramatically negative impact on a company, as was shown in a 2014 study conducted by Techaisle.

That study shows that maintaining older computers can negatively affect operating costs due to repair expenses.

“Among small businesses with 50-99 employees, the average cost of repairing PCs 4 years old or older is $521 per year,” the study says. “The repair cost therefore either equals or even exceeds the purchase price of some new PCs.”

Older computers also diminish productivity.

“Slightly over 36 percent of small businesses have 4+ years’ old PCs which create many different types of problems for the both the owner and the employees,” the study says.

Conversely, newer computers were shown to increase productivity and reduce operating costs. Small business owners said new computers allowed them to run 60% more applications at the same time without any negative impacts to the system or application performance, unlike any computer that’s more than four years old, the study says.

“This is a significant improvement as small businesses are increasingly using several different types of applications simultaneously including business productivity applications, Email and web, online chat and video, line of business applications, social media interactions, finance and accounting as well as music and games,” the study says.

However, this study only analyzed computers. Today, businesses use smartphones and other mobile devices, which tend to have an even shorter shelf life than desktops. General consensus is that mobile devices should be replaced each year.

Clearly, tech is foundational to the essence of most businesses. Yet, many small businesses and nonprofits forget that devices have lifespans and need to be replaced.

It can be difficult trying to budget within a small business. Company leaders may think they are being savvy when overextending the lifespan of a desktop or mobile device. But, in actuality, they’re hurting their business in a number of ways.

It’s important for businesses to have a strategic outline for device replacement so that they can continue being productive and efficient rather than investing money in outdated, failing products.

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Why Strong Data Backup is Essential for Business


 

CyNexLink Blog   •   August 30, 2017

 

Your company’s data is one of its most important assets. In point of fact, it is so important that CEO Albert Metais of Steelgate Technologies propounds that “typically, if a company loses their data for more than 10 days, they end up filing for bankruptcy.” So, backing up your data is absolutely essential for core business functionality.

“With new compliance issues, data growth, and recent security breaches, the need for companies to back up their data against file corruption and data loss has increased dramatically,” said Metais.

With all this in mind, it can be overwhelming for a company to choose how best to backup their data. As always, it helps to seek out the guidance of a professional IT firm if a company lacks their own devoted department.

How does one differentiate between bad and good backup systems? How does a company balance this with cost effectiveness?

These questions may be echoing in the mind of a business owner right now, but the most important question should be, when is the most cost-effective time to upgrade?

That answer is simple: now.

You can’t gamble with your data. Average-sized companies tended to use tape backup in the past and even continue to use it today. But, this technology has become outdated. With the advent of onsite, online and disk imaging tech, there are endless ways to backup your data.

Your company should include an onsite backup file, an offsite file and disk imaging storage.

An onsite backup file in a local area network (LAN) is the basic foundation of a proper backup system. This file can be accessed quickly for immediate recovery.

An offsite backup data file is needed in case the place of business falls prey to a fire, flood or theft. This can take the form of a physical offsite backup stored on tapes or an external hard drive.

It can also take the form of an online backup, which is sent over the Internet to an offsite, secured data center.

Some may worry that online backup leaves data vulnerable, but businesses can be rest assured that it’s a secure system. Data is encrypted before it’s even sent across the Internet. Many online backup systems employ a 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard algorithm, which has never been compromised and is considered the benchmark in encryption.

Disk imaging is a backup of the whole server. This valuable backup tool not only stores the data, but also the operating system, applications and other configurations on the server. This allows the image to be reestablished quickly to bring the server back online if compromised. Data files can also be recovered.

It is clear then that data backup is an essential part of a well-functioning business. While it may seem daunting to come up with a fool-proof backup system, the relevant professionals are ready to help you develop that perfect program.

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Transferring to the Cloud


 

CyNexLink Blog   •   August 28, 2017

 

Transferring a business to the cloud can be a desirable but difficult enterprise. Working from the cloud offers various benefits, but the migration path is different for each business. It’s best for companies that don’t have a defined IT department to seek outside guidance for something as technical as this, but here’s a strategic rundown of what’s required when a business chooses to jump into cloud computing.

First, a business must assess its current processes to see if cloud computing aligns with their business practices. It wouldn’t be prudent for a business to jump into the cloud without a proper analysis of how it would affect the functioning of the company. A business should never cater to the requirements of the cloud, but rather, the cloud should cater to the business. As part of this examination, it’s important for a business leader to screen all parts of the organism, including talking with employees to see how they believe it will affect efficiency and workflow.

Next, a business needs to make sure that the data that will be migrated is “clean.” The process of making sure the data is valid, consistent and complete is a vital but onerous task that may require the technical savvy of a third-party team. As part of this process, it’s important that company heads, or external parties, find and eliminate applications or data that are no longer utilized by the business.

After these preliminary tasks comes the most challenging part of the process: transferring data onto the cloud. A well-structured plan will likely be successful in migrating the data, but companies need a system in place in case the transfer fails. This recovery system should be tested prior to the transfer.

The system should then be tested following the transfer to see if everything is working proficiently. Are applications communicating with one another? Is everything working as it did prior to the migration?

Next comes a potentially large hurdle: training employees. Modifications within a company generally require a similar adaptation from workers, which can prove formidable. Group and individual training should be scheduled during this orientation period. This part of the equation isn’t necessarily easy to predict, but it’s why including employees and their opinions in the preliminary procedure is important.

After employees are trained, the cloud solution can go live. But, businesses shouldn’t consider the headache over. There will be hiccups in the system, most being employee-related. People can have a difficult time modifying their old ways of doing things, but a company needs to make sure that there is a pathway for employees to air their grievances and get answers to questions. There is always room for improvement and this feedback can prove valuable.

 

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The True Cost of IT: Heavyweight vs. Lightweight Downtime


 

CyNexLink Blog   •   August 21, 2017

 

During the end of each fiscal year, businesses survey their financials for the purposes of measuring and monitoring their company expenses. The costs associated with sustaining their computer network naturally appears and the evaluation of its true cost is often assessed, but assessed inadequately.

Why inadequately? Simply this: the true cost of IT support is hidden from what the chief financial officer explicitly countenances. This ‘hidden’ cost is due to downtime suffered throughout the different tiers of the company. The reader will be familiar with IT downtime and its unfortunate aspects – a system crash causes the business to slow to a stop until the significant issue is resolved. Again, most readers will be familiar with this type of downtime, one helpfully characterized in the industry as ‘heavyweight’ downtime.

Heavyweight downtime, for example, is when your email server, customer relationship management system, financial application or network goes down. Every company is familiar with this aggravating and frustrating situation.

But there is another, much more significant, form of downtime, termed ‘lightweight’ downtime, which can add up to a huge sum when tallied at year’s end. Lightweight downtime is any period of time where your employees are negatively effected by sub-optimal company technology – slow loading times, slow internet speed, slow workstations, slow printing time, recovery of missing or lost files.

This lightweight downtime may add up to nothing more than a few – say ten – minutes a day for one of your employees. But let us pause to make an important calculation: if an employee is slowed in his or her work output for only five or ten minutes a day, this means they are failing to perform at their optimal capacity for up to 45 minutes to an hour a week. And this is a generous estimation.

On a yearly scale, this means, as an employer, you are facing a loss of at least 50 hours of work a year for just one of your employees.

Supposing this hypothetical employee gets paid an average salary of $40,000 a year, the cost of lightweight downtime caused by bad IT support is easily 1,000 dollars.

Considering how extremely affordable and efficient managed IT services are for small and mid-size businesses today, those firms who operate without a strategic prevention plan to optimize and monitor their computer systems are working against profit.

Often times employers who have been operating on a traditional fix-break mentality, hold a destructively passive view in regards to technology efficiency and the sporadic downtime which may result from a crash or breach. The important truth is that any period where your employees are negatively effected by company technology is considered downtime – this reality accounts for the massive financial iceberg hidden beneath the surface.

In summary, it is imperative that your business take a future-proof approach with regard to its IT infrastructure, and make sure an on-going monitoring system is in place to prevent both heavyweight and lightweight downtime.

 

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virtual machine

Virtual Machines: A Closer Look


Cynexlink Blog   •   August 18, 2017

 

Virtual machines, or VMs, have become integral parts of business-oriented computing. A virtual machine acts as an emulator of a computer, executing programs like one.

Please see the full explainer video Below

In summary, it is a piece of software that allows you to run operating systems within. It can give a company adaptability, in that, any networking configurations or installed applications will be set up separately from the host computer, but rather will dwell in the software.

While there are many progressive advantages to implementing virtual machines, there are also some disadvantages:

Virtual Machines

Advantages:

  • Can use multiple operating system environments on the same computer.
  • Virtual machines can provide an instruction set architecture, or ISA, structure different than the actual computer. The ISA serves as the interface between software and hardware.
  • When you create your virtual machine, you create a virtual hard disk. So, everything on that machine can crash, but if it does, it won’t affect the host machine.
  • There are security benefits to running virtual machines. For example, if you need to run an application of questionable security, you can run it in a guest operating system. So, if the application causes damage, then it will be only temporary after the guest is shut down. Virtual machines also allow for better security forensics by monitoring guest operating systems for deficiencies and allowing the user to quarantine it for analysis.

Disadvantages:

  • Virtual machines are less efficient than real machines because they access the hardware indirectly. Running software on top of the host operating system means that it will have to request access to the hardware from the host. That will slow the usability.
  • When several virtual machines are running on the same host, performance may be hindered if the computer it’s running on lacks sufficient power. Your virtual machine still uses the resources of your host machine. The more powerful the host computer, the more quickly the virtual machine will run.
  • A virtual machine can be infected with the weaknesses of the host machine. As an example, process isolation is a feature usually employed by operating systems. However, there are bugs that violate it. A regular computer devoid of virtual machines would then only be affected. But, a computer with a number of virtual machines would then infect each of those “machines” as well.

So, the main reason a company would use a virtual machine is if they need to run separate operating systems on the same computer. This can be for a number of reasons, including if the current system isn’t sufficient for the needs of the company’s goals.

A knowledgeable and tenured IT firm can help a company navigate the terrain of choosing the right virtual machine to suit business demands. A good IT firm can also aid in making sure the system runs smoothly and efficiently, while constantly monitoring for performance and IT security.

Check out the complete IT Security service offered by Cynexlink

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