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The Dangers of Shadow IT Projects

Cloud computing is one the most beneficial ways for businesses to operate, but still creates online threats. Many threats can appear, but Shadow IT can interfere with devices, technology systems, applications and software. Learn about the dangers of Shadow IT and why is it being used: 

 

What is it?

Shadow IT can be described as projects or networks that are managed by outside providers, without prior approval from the IT department. With cloud database popularity, shadow IT is growing and creates vulnerabilities including data leaks and database violations. 

 

Risks

Now that you know what shadow IT is, what are the risks? The main risk is data leaks. Oftentimes when shadow IT is being used, it prevents certain backups from being performed. This means important data could be lost forever. From sending a document to a personal email, to file sharing on the cloud, this makes it possible for shadow IT to intervene and allow the information to be compromised by outside networks that cannot be monitored by the IT department. 

 

These risks can go beyond simply leaking information. Depending on the network, shadow IT can harm financials, internal communications and errors within the system. When systems have access to this vital information, they can duplicate it and cause harm to your business and result in losing money. 

 

Not all networks who use shadow IT are purposely doing it to cause harm, and most of the time big companies use this to increase productivity. Companies who use this include Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft Office. It is important to know that even though shadow IT can be beneficial, it still makes companies vulnerable to internal harm and should be dealt with. 

 

Prevention

It can be determined that shadow IT will not be going away soon, which is why educating employees on this issue will be the best prevention plan. Along with knowing the risks, routinely checking your data will help manage and determine if shadow IT is affecting your business. 

Want to know more about shadow IT? WesTec services can help! Feel free to contact us and check out our services to see how we can assist you. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for updates.

Leasing vs. Financing IT Equipment

 

IT equipment is essential for businesses in 2021. The main question is — leasing vs financing IT equipment? There are pros and cons for both options, but it depends on the kind of working environment, efficiency requirements, and budget. 

Leasing 

One of the greatest advantages of leasing is not being financially responsible for the equipment. Rather than having your company held responsible, you would be passing the financials to the leasing company. Instead of paying up front for the equipment needed, leasing allows you to set a monthly payment. A lease is also an option that will guarantee the same equipment with fixed monthly payments. 

Financials aside, leasing provides access to the newest, up-to-date equipment. Once your equipment has run its course, you can easily upgrade. Newer equipment requires less maintenance, which allows for greater productivity. 

However, there are some disadvantages to leasing IT equipment. Depending on your leasing terms and IT needs, leasing can be more expensive than financing — especially if you sign a lease and don’t end up using the equipment, as you are still obligated to pay. 

Financing

If leasing isn’t for you, you also have the option to finance. When financing, there are no contracts involved — you simply buy the equipment directly from the source. If maintenance is required, financing allows you to go about it at your own discretion. You won’t need to make an appointment with the leasing company or be stuck with damaged equipment. When you own the equipment, you can simply take care of everything on your own. 

For businesses on a tight budget, financing is the more cost-effective option. With one simple payment, the equipment is yours! 

However, there are a few downsides when it comes to financing. Depending on the business, making a big investment like this could max out your credit lines. Furthermore, you could be stuck with outdated equipment, whereas in leasing, updated equipment is always available. 

The Final Decision 

Between financing and leasing IT equipment, both have their pros and cons. However, it is up to you to decide which option is most cost-efficient, given your budget and IT needs. For the most advanced models that don’t require one big payment, leasing would be the best option. For a one-time payment and maintenance freedom, the best option would be financing. 

 

  Not sure whether to finance or lease IT equipment? We can help!    Feel free to give us a call or visit our website

Internet Security in Education: 3 Laws that Protect Students and Their Information

In the era of technology, some have concerns about their privacy. In schools, the top priority is to protect students and their information. With students constantly engaging in technology, whether it be submitting homework, emails with teachers, or saving documents, state and federal internet security laws protect all this information. 

 

 

FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act 

FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is one of the most widely known federal laws regarding student privacy. It applies to every educational institution or those of a similar rank. This law protects the education records of all students and sets boundaries between what information students’ parents have access to when the student becomes 18 years of age. If educational records are needed by another school, parent, or in medical cases, there must be a written permission letter from the student or guardian to release that information. Details such as name, birthdate, phone number and school attendance is not under this law and does not require a written permission. 

 

COPPA: Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

Different from FERPA, COPPA: Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act is specific to the online services used by children 13 years and younger. This act controls what personal information is collected from young children. Applications and websites all have to abide by this act and schools can intervene as parental consent if needed. 

 

CIPA: Children’s Internet Protection Act 

In addition to protecting the privacy of students, it prevents them from seeing unwanted information while on the internet. CIPA: Children’s Internet Protection Act uses a filtered web system that schools and libraries use. This system blocks and hides harmful information or acts such as chat rooms and cyberbullying. CIPA also sets a curriculum on how to protect minors on the internet. This curriculum is required to use this program. Schools and libraries must implement these guidelines addressing a new internet safety policy. 

 

These three acts and laws are a preventative measure from harmful internet activities and exploitation. With the main goal of protecting students’ privacy and engaging them in new internet safety protocols these acts are required by law. 

 

Technology can be confusing, and it’s important to know your rights! Have any further questions on internet privacy? Contact WesTec today! And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

Cloud Hosting Models - WesTec

4 Cloud Hosting Models

In recent years, we have seen cloud computing become the industry standard for computing and storage resources. Cloud computing uses four different models, indicating how services are made available to users. Learn more about the 4 Cloud Hosting Models:  

 

Public CloudCloud Hosting Models - WesTec

Public clouds are available for anyone who would like to make use of the resource, from low security application development to file and email sharing. One example of this would be Google applications such as Gmail and Google Drive. These are available through the use of a public cloud, accessible by any user with an account at any time. 

 

Private Cloud

Just like it sounds, a private cloud is a private network typically used by a single organization for security. The cloud can be easily managed onsite or offsite by outside groups or third party organizations. While much more costly than its public counterpart, private clouds are the better option for organizations that require the extra security and privacy.  

 

Cloud Hosting Models - WesTecHybrid Cloud

In a hybrid cloud, organizations make use of a combination of private and public cloud infrastructure. The most common use is when an organization needs to quickly scale up their IT infrastructure to provide the necessary cloud capacity, like an online retainer during the busy holiday season.

 

Multi-Cloud

A Multi-cloud is any combination of public, private, and hybrid clouds. Within an organization, there might be multiple private clouds in addition to private clouds. These clouds can be interconnected or separate. The multi-cloud category is a catch-all for any mixture of clouds, therefore allowing for the most flexibility and customization.

 

Having cloud hosting trouble? We can help! WesTec Services is a trusted and experienced IT services provider located in the Houston area. Give us a call today or visit our website to see what WesTec can do for you. 

How to Backup Your Data

Threats to a company’s data come in many forms. Cyber-attacks like malware, spyware and viruses attack valuable data from companies each day. While anti-malware and anti-virus can help prevent breaches, these softwares can’t protect data from physical disasters. Data backup is imperative for a company’s continued success.

Local and Network Backups

Storing information on-site is one of the easiest ways to backup data. It can be stored on hard drives, tape drives, or other storage systems connected to a company’s network. Copying files to USB drives or external drives also provide an easily accessible copy of files. However, this should not be the sole method of data backup. Physical disaster, theft and ransomware all pose threats to local backups.

Cloud Backups

Cloud backups are quickly being integrated into businesses looking for added protection. This method of data backup allows copies of data to be stored on remote servers and accessed by internet connection. Unlike other methods, the cloud allows for automated backup of data to provide up-to-date copies of files.

Online File Storage

Similar to cloud backup, online file storage stores files on the internet. Sites like Dropbox and Google Drive allow businesses to store and share files off-site. While online file storage works well as an additional backup method, it also comes with limitations. Depending on the files, backup can cost time and bandwidth. The experts at WesTec Services recommend a business keep at least three copies of data in different places and on two different formats for proper data backup. Our team can help protect your data from threats. Contact us to get started.

HTTPS matters more for Chrome

HTTPS matters more for Chrome

June 14th, 2018
HTTPS matters more for Chrome

HTTPS usage on the web has taken off as Chrome has evolved its security indicators. HTTPS has now become a requirement for many new browser features, and Chrome is dedicated to making it as easy as possible to set up HTTPS. Let’s take a look at how.

For several years, Google has moved toward a more secure web by strongly advocating that sites adopt the Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTPS) encryption. And last year, Google began marking some HyperText Transfer Protocol(HTTP) pages as “not secure” to help users comprehend risks of unencrypted websites. Beginning in July 2018 with the release of a Chrome update, Google’s browser will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure.”

Chrome’s move was mostly brought on by increased HTTPS adoption. Eighty-one of the top 100 sites on the web default to HTTPS, and the majority of Chrome traffic is already encrypted.

Here’s how the transition to security has progressed, so far:

  • Over 68% of Chrome traffic on both Android and Windows is now protected
  • Over 78% of Chrome traffic on both Chrome OS and Mac is now protected
  • 81 of the top 100 sites on the web use HTTPS by default

HTTPS: The benefits and difference

What’s the difference between HTTP and HTTPS? With HTTP, information you type into a website is transmitted to the site’s owner with almost zero protection along the journey. Essentially, HTTP can establish basic web connections, but not much else.

When security is a must, HTTPS sends and receives encrypted internet data. This means that it uses a mathematical algorithm to make data unreadable to unauthorized parties.

#1 HTTPS protects a site’s integrity

HTTPS encryption protects the channel between your browser and the website you’re visiting, ensuring no one can tamper with the traffic or spy on what you’re doing.

Without encryption, someone with access to your router or internet service provider(ISP) could intercept (or hack) information sent to websites or inject malware into otherwise legitimate pages.

#2 HTTPS protects the privacy of your users

HTTPS prevents intruders from eavesdropping on communications between websites and their visitors. One common misconception about HTTPS is that only websites that handle sensitive communications need it. In reality, every unprotected HTTP request can reveal information about the behaviors and identities of users.

#3 HTTPS is the future of the web

HTTPS has become much easier to implement thanks to services that automate the conversion process, such as Let’s Encrypt and Google’s Lighthouse program. These tools make it easier for website owners to adopt HTTPS.

Chrome’s new notifications will help users understand that HTTP sites are less secure, and move the web toward a secure HTTPS web by default. HTTPS is easier to adopt than ever before, and it unlocks both performance improvements and powerful new features that aren’t possible with HTTP.

How can small-business owners implement and take advantage of this new interface? Call today for a quick chat with one of our experts to get started.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Mission: WesTec will be a “turn-key” solution for all of its clients’ business connectivity needs. It will offer efficient and effective solutions, directly and with strategic partners, that create tangible value for its clients at every point of contact. Westec will serve all people and entities with a servant’s heart.

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