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SharePoint for Success

Why your business should be using Microsoft SharePoint

Communication amongst coworkers shouldn’t require a trip down the hall. Teamwork shouldn’t mean mile-long email threads. And project management shouldn’t involve searching through files for the latest version. If these are issues you’re facing at work, you need Microsoft SharePoint.

Here at amshot, we understand that collaboration is a major key to business success. Microsoft SharePoint offers document sharing and project management tools that streamline communication. But, that’s just scratching the surface. Keep reading to learn more about SharePoint and what it can do for your business.

What is Microsoft SharePoint?

If you searched for Microsoft SharePoint on Google, you’d find a few different definitions and a lot of technical jargon. But, we hate sounding like robots. In plain English, Microsoft SharePoint is a collaborative server environment that enables document and data sharing within a company. Typically, SharePoint is set up as a series of intranet sites. Each site corresponds to a different department within the company. Now, onto the specifics.

SharePoint can be broken down into three primary components. Each one contributes unique functions and builds upon the previous element:

  1. Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) provides basic functionality. This includes user access to versioning, email alerts, and shared calendars.
  2. Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) builds upon the WSS foundation to produce SharePoint’s interactive functionality. Allowing users to employ a wide range of applications to use in different business scenarios. This includes (but is not limited to) Collaboration, Documents Management, Records Management, Workflow, and Personalization.
  3. Microsoft Search Server is an Enterprise Search engine that offers in-depth indexing and searching capabilities within your intranet site. This can be integrated into a MOSS Web-based interface.

Get Better Business Results

SharePoint provides many advantages when it comes to optimizing your operations. As a provider of customized SharePoint sites, we make it our business to stay up-to-date on the latest trends. Here are some of our favorite features and how they can benefit your business:

  • Versioning saves you time & money.
    Never waste time searching for the latest version when you could be working. SharePoint automatically keeps a version history of all documents and data in the system. Have you ever accidentally deleted part of a project? With SharePoint, you’ll stay stress-free because you can revert projects to an earlier draft at any time.
  • Easy to use.
    Role-based access keeps your team on task. User permissions allow you to decide who sees what and can be edited at any point. With 7+ compliance standards met out-of-the-box, SharePoint makes it easy to get your intranet started. Plus, designated users can have access to modify the site and further encrypt sensitive data.
  • Unmatched reliability.
    Not only is SharePoint user-friendly, but it also boasts a financially-backed 99.9% SLA (Service Level Agreement). This means users are guaranteed reliability and quick uptime from their intranets. Also, Microsoft takes several security measures to ensure user data protection, which includes: data encryption, regular backups, customer-selected regional data location, identity protection, not disclosing data center locations, and signing the Data Protection Agreement.
  • Stay ALERT!
    Keep your teams informed on the latest project developments. SharePoint lets business leaders manage alerts for their employees. And with the right user permissions, end-users can handle their own. Set alerts for calendar events, new uploads, document/data modification, and more.

Customizing with Care

At amshot, our team has extensive experience in creating and deploying SharePoint intranet sites. Even more, our software development team can customize it to suit your needs. We will build it to your specifications, down to fonts, colors, photos, permissions, and the widgets that are included on the site.

Microsoft SharePoint is a great tool to manage your company’s workflow and streamline collaboration. It can increase productivity and eliminate clutter in project management. To learn more about how amshot helps you put SharePoint into action, contact us for a free consultation.

Can Lawyers Handle the Truth?

Forget the filing cabinets and invest in the benefits and innovations in legal technology

 

Technology is changing the culture of the legal system. Before a reliable alternative was available, lawyers were toting around bags filled with hundreds of sheets of paper— but with the customizable software and accessible technology available today, it is time for the legal industry to upgrade their technology.

As masters of IT and software development, we like to understand all things tech, and our clients in the legal industry have allowed us to gain valuable insight about attorney’s technology needs. We know that protecting your documents, communicating via secure channels, and tracking billables in an easy, manageable way are all important aspects of your profession. Let’s talk about how amshot can streamline your legal workflow.

EVIDENTIARY SUPPORT

Technology has increased productivity in the workplace, and that applies to law firms, courthouses, and cubicles too. In the recent past, legal technology has replaced the filing cabinets filled to the brim with paper and provided a way to simplify the life of a lawyer. Here are just a few more advantages to utilizing technology in the legal industry.

  • Ditch the bulky briefcase. When you utilize digital case management software and data storage services, there is no need to dig through filing cabinets to find that one document you had in your hand the other day…
  • In the business of billables. Keeping track of all the time and energy put into a case can be difficult on a spreadsheet. amshot specializes in custom software to save you time and keep your billables error-free.
  • No eavesdropping. Speaking with your clients in secure channels is a crucial part of the legal industry. Upgrade your whispered asides to secure communication and document sharing 24/7.
  • Discovery made simple. Leading up to a trial, lawyers handle tons of documents and read countless amounts of relevant information. Instead of sifting through stacks of paper, how about a custom-built database where everything is a simple search away?
  • Minimize malpractice. Most legal malpractice claims are due to errors that could be solved by simply using technology. Digital docket management, data back-ups, document security, and software that handles all mathematical calculations are all easier than trying to follow a paper trail to prove due diligence.
  • Free time. This is a concept that most lawyers are unfamiliar with, but the benefits are obvious. Instead of spending time doing tasks that legal tech could do in seconds, new-found time provides the ability to achieve efficiencies and promote professional development around the office.

SETTING A PRECEDENT

While the law might not change on a daily basis, technology does. At amshot, we are always up-to-date on the latest and greatest in legal technology to make sure our clients only operate with the best tech available. Some things come and go, but here are a few trends we will be watching this year.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI will have the ability to assist with things such as contextual analysis, predicting legal outcomes, proactive analysis of data that will lead to litigation prevention, and contract/legal document analysis. Although AI could significantly help your law firm, it has been reported that around 66% of law firms do not use it. It is normal to have your guard up when it comes to new technological advances, but AI is looking very promising.
  • Legal Project Management Software: With the rise of formal legal operations within corporations, legal processes need to be considered business processes. Legal project management software provides one place for all cases and teams. This software will give you the ability to talk to teammates, mark tasks and deadlines, and keep organized—losing the paper and pen method and saving a lot of time.
  • Unified Platforms: In the past, the best-of-breed e-discovery approach was the popular system. However, this trend will start to vanish in the future. Unified platforms are more efficient, more productive, less costly, and less risky.

It’s time to hop on the technology train, lawyers. The benefits of a technology upgrade would impact your day-to-day routine as well as your bottom line. If your firm is interested to see what legal technology could do for your office, see what amshot can do to help by scheduling a free consultation.

The Internet of (all) Things?

IoT leaks top the list of cyber threats to small- and medium-sized businesses in 2018

 

Technology is more accessible than ever and can control everything from your business transactions to the lighting in your home, but all of this interconnectivity comes with a risk. Hackers are becoming bolder by the day, and they don’t discriminate who they are attacking based on the size, industry, or location. The only thing they care about is the Internet of Things (IoT)—a term that encompasses all devices and objects that are connected to the internet—and the plethora of digital intelligence it contains.

As a managed IT service provider, amshot takes pride in protecting our clients from hackers. In the past, we have blogged about the necessity of cybersecurity and some steps that can be taken to protect your business data, but today we’re breaking down the single largest threat to small- and medium-sized businesses in 2018.

CONNECTING THE DEVICES

We mentioned that the Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the billions of devices worldwide that are connected to the   internet,but let’s explore the scope of this definition and what an IoT leak could mean for a business.

There is no limit to what could be considered a part of the IoT because any object that can be connected to the internet is considered an IoT device. Here are a few examples of commonly used personal IoT devices: GPS, pacemakers, web cameras, Amazon’s Echo, and home security systems. With wireless networks and cheap processors readily available, the digital and physical worlds continue to mesh. The IoT is already huge, and getting bigger, but why should you care?

An IoT leak could be disastrous for any business. Since these devices, especially in businesses, are interconnected and share data amongst themselves, access to one would mean easy access to any affiliated devices. Furthermore, once inside an IoT device, hackers can easily install malware and take control of the entire system.

No matter the type of breach, the financial costs are high and reputation impacts are long-lasting to any business. The best way to stay ahead of these cyber threats is to be aware of how they can occur and take steps to protect your business. Don’t worry, we will walk you through both.

WORLDWIDE WEB OF HACKERS

The internet has provided us with live updates, real-time data collection, immediate international communication, instant access to a multitude of information, and hackers. Many small- to medium-sized businesses have trouble seeing themselves as a target to these cyber criminals, thinking, what could they possibly want from me?—but that’s precisely what makes them easy targets.

While the Internet of Things was initially most appealing to business and manufacturing with its machine-to-machine (M2M) applications, nowadays, IoT devices are being used in almost every industry. However, these devices lack built-in security and can leave a digital backdoor open. Hackers prey on IoT devices because they can locate them through automated programs and can usually gain access by using default admin credentials.

To deter these types of cyber attacks, we recommend a few things.

  1. Change the password(s) on any new devices immediately after setup.
  2. Make sure all admin and user settings are updated and that no default credentials can be used.
  3. Finally, if you would like a second opinion on your cybersecurity, contact us to arrange a free consultation.

Bytes Over Barrels: Cybersecurity in Oil and Gas

Cybersecurity in the Oil & Gas Industry

 

With hackers becoming bolder and more destructive, many industries have taken steps to better secure their business information. However, the oil and gas industry remains arguably the most vulnerable to cyber attacks—or at least one of the most heavily targeted. Granted, this industry has not experienced a crippling data breach yet, but that does not mean they are not at risk. As the industry becomes increasingly digital and interconnected, the need for strong cybersecurity also grows.

amshot has a specialized focus on managed IT services and software development for the oil and gas industry. Our extensive knowledge of this industry has led to the development of a unique and effective approach. In this week’s blog, we’ll share our breakdown of cybersecurity in the oil and gas industry and why it’s crucial for businesses to be prepared.

THE RIPPLE EFFECT

In the past, the remote operations and intricate data structures provided a natural defense against cyber attacks. When cyberterrorism was the ultimate goal, there was a general consensus that hackers weren’t targeting oil and gas data. However, hackers are constantly evolving, and so are their strategies. Today, many hackers are profit-focused with strategies like disrupting operations, espionage, and stealing sensitive field data.

The oil and gas industry can be slow to adopt technological advancement. In fact, many companies are utilizing outdated software and systems leaving them vulnerable to attack— even though one of the unique aspects of the oil and gas industry is the potential magnitude of a data breach. Imagine a hacker was able to access operational technology for wells. With that data, an entire company could be shut down, and a breach of operational technology would have a ripple effect throughout the industry. The scariest part? A study was conducted to evaluate how the industry is addressing security risks to operational technology and an average of 46 percent of cyber attacks went undetected.

MISSION IMPENETRABLE

It’s no longer a question of if a data breach will occur in oil and gas, it’s simply a matter of when. Significant technology developments have been made to increase efficiency in operations, data collection, and exploration. Now, these advancements provide companies with the time to focus on protecting their assets. Cybersecurity has been put on a backburner for the oil and gas industry, but it’s time to make it a priority—and amshot can help.

A comprehensive cybersecurity plan begins with assessing the risks and vulnerabilities of your company. Then, potential risks can be prioritized and crisis management plans created. While these initial steps allow you to prepare responses for a data breach, consulting with IT professionals is a necessity in this industry. The interconnectedness of industry practices requires network security, data encryption, and vigilant monitoring. By establishing a data breach response plan and secure IT practices, the risk of cyber attacks is significantly reduced.

If your company does not utilize managed IT services, schedule a free consultation with amshot and discover how our specialized approach to oil and gas cybersecurity can help you.

 

Breach Don’t Kill My Vibe

In our last blog, we mentioned how important encryption has become in protecting your company from hackers, but what happens when you suffer a data breach? More importantly, why should you take it seriously? As a full-service IT provider, amshot knows how serious data breaches are and how to protect your business from hackers, so we’ve put together a cheat sheet on data breaches and why they matter.

BREACHING THE SUBJECT

A data breach occurs when a third party exploits a company’s cybersecurity weaknesses to access to company information. Nowadays, even the smallest businesses work online to some extent, leaving them more susceptible to hackers seeking everything from employee information to financial records and intellectual property. Whether your company is completely digitized or only uses computers to log sales information, you are vulnerable to a data breach.

BIG IMPACTS

To some, the idea of a stranger accessing their business data is no big deal because they “don’t have anything THAT important online”—but data breaches of any kind can have a big impact. For example, data breaches typically affect the reputation of a company. Why? If you ordered something online your information was stolen in the process, you probably wouldn’t shop on that website anymore. A data breach can make any credible establishment seem unreliable and deter potential customers, even if the breach is contained.

However, a company’s reputation isn’t the only way data breaches can impact business. Customer information is just one example of data that can be accessed. Hackers look for any data that could be valuable to them, like financial information and intellectual property. With financial information, hackers can drain a bank account or crash a website. If intellectual property is stolen, a hacker would have access to ideas, proposals, designs, and reports that could set you back further than any other type of breach.

THE BEST DEFENSE

Every business is at risk for a data breach and the consequences can be severe, but amshot believes the best defense is a good offense. The first thing any business needs to do is assess their vulnerability. Certain industries are more susceptible than others—for example, healthcare is the most targeted industry—but establishing your company’s risk will determine how much time, effort, and money you should allocate to cybersecurity. From there, look at your business data and assess your need for external help. We all like to be hands-on in a crisis, but when it comes to IT and cybersecurity, sometimes it’s best to rely on professionals.

amshot provides managed IT services—including protection against data breaches—for businesses in a multitude of industries. If you think your company could benefit from beefing up your cybersecurity, reach out to consult@amshot.com to schedule your free consultation.

 

Encrypting is the Key to (Secure) Success

The threat of a digital security breach has never been more prevalent, and encryption is one of the best ways to defend your data from hackers. When it comes to protecting your growing business, having a secure network ensures the safety of servers and databases, but encryption protects the data within your network. Business data is shared across devices, web browsers, often the cloud, providing a multitude of opportunities for hackers. While data encryption is not an impenetrable defense (as demonstrated in The Imitation Game), it renders the data useless to any third party and has been widely successful in deterring hackers. Since the smallest vulnerability can lead to the compromisation of an entire network, having reliable IT and secure data management is crucial to a company’s success. Keep reading for a crash course on encryption and why it’s so important in this day and age.

CRYPTOGRAPHY TO ENCRYPTION

Data encryption has been a standard practice for hundreds of years, and prior to the digital era, was synonymous with cryptography. Cryptography (also referred to as cryptoanalysis) is the study of writing and solving codes. The earliest use of cryptography has been traced back to ancient Egypt and was a very popular method of military communication in WWII. Once computer technology became available, encryption developed its own definition within the field of cryptography as a practice that utilized computer-generated algorithms in the writing and solving of codes. Today, data encryption is one of the most effective tools against security breaches and can be applied to data, email, and even devices.

ENCRYPTION 101

The purpose of encrypting your data is to make information accessible to authorized users and useless to any unauthorized users. In the encryption process, computers and algorithms convert data into an unreadable code that can only be deciphered with the encryption key. An encryption key is crucial in this process as it translates the data from plain text to code and vice versa. Without the key, any data retrieved by hackers becomes obsolete. There are many types of encryption and various algorithms used, but the use of these practices will depend on the data being encoded. For example, encrypting a server would require a strong encryption and could maybe even several rounds of encryption. Deciphering that data would be a lengthy process to decipher, which is appropriate for information accessed infrequently. Understanding the basics of encryption will only help any consulting or training required to secure your company’s data.

WHY ENCRYPT?

The threat of a security breach has never been more imminent. Today, no one thinks twice about sharing information across devices, accounts, or browsers, but the increased connectivity also increases your data’s vulnerability. Not only does encrypting your data provide a significant deterrent to hackers, but it also protects the growth of your business. Whether the data are on devices, servers, emails, or the cloud, encryption is the best defense available.

Combating these potential hackers is a significant part of the Managed IT Services we provide to our clients. Ready to get your business on track? Send us an email at consult@amshot.com and let’s set up a free consultation.

The Supported Ascent: Cybersecurity and Data Management For The Growing Business

A small business seeking growth has a lot to consider. Obtaining and managing data now can affect decades of market presence, and swift management can mean meeting goals in months instead of years, but as with any organism, a business is at its most vulnerable when it is in its earliest stages. Security breaches are only becoming more common, and it is easy for a single software vulnerability or user error to compromise entire systems. That’s why reliable IT support, secure data management, and strong IT training for staff are essentials for directing growth and protecting company data regardless of company size or structure.  

 

The Techno-Interpreter 

What are your hardware and software needs? What software packages work best for your budget and goals? What specially designed applications could increase productivity and enrich user experiences? How do you gather and apply user and market data to direct company growth? Where are your vulnerabilities within your desktop ecosystem and IoT (Internet of Things) devices? How do you ensure that essential company data isn’t lost? These can be daunting questions that are relatively simple ones to experienced IT personnel, and lead us into our next point: 

 

Knowing Yourself Through Client Data 

This one is no secret: In many ways, applying gathered consumer data is the only real way to keep your feet planted in a chaotic, competitive environment. But what information matters? How do you gather only the important pieces in a sea of endless data? Specialized software allows you to identify trends, demographics, and observable curves in the market and apply them to your goals. Predictive analysis is an art that, when finely honed, can make an estimated guess into a confident statement that ensures success.  

 

A Watchful Eye 

Software vulnerabilities are always a concern, but user error is almost a certainty at one point or another. While you may trust your employees, nobody is exempt from making mistakes 100% of the time. Because everything is connected, one click on a phishing e-mail or the use of a less-than-savory external application can compromise your entire infrastructure. That’s where attentive administration and software procurement is key. Augment this with IT training for staff and you significantly lower your risk of technological catastrophe.   

 

Back It Up 

So let’s say the worst case scenario happens and your data is lost. This can happen either by cyber attacks or physical destruction of on-site storage systems by something such as natural disaster. This is where data backup services such as Datto save the day. Keeping your data in the cloud allows it to flow efficiently and securely throughout your company. 

Succinctly, the companies of tomorrow are being built today, and without harnessing new standards and technologies they will likely be overshadowed by their peers who have, and also are at increasing risk of digital breaches from outdated hardware, software, and practices. At amshot, we work with businesses who are ready to grow – that means providing technology training, developing software and applications, managing IT services, and more. Questions, concerns, or big dreams for your company’s data? Schedule a free consultation by emailing consult@amshot.com or calling us at (405) 418-6282. 

Avoiding the Perils of a Bad Backup Plan

One of the world’s largest source-code hubs, GitLab, has spent years building a business that not only caters to small and medium-sized businesses, but also marquee clients including IBM, NASA and Macy’s. In February, however, this powerhouse company almost lost its long list of clients due to a temporary, accidental data loss and a backup failure that took their services offline for several hours.

Fortunately, GitLab was able to correct the problem in a few hours, and in doing so, save many of its customer accounts. This incident could have been avoided with a robust disaster plan and a system that embraces Intelligent Business Continuity (IBC). The IBC standard – along with minimal downtime, cloud protection, redundancy for image-based backups, and minimal risk of corrupted backups or data loss  – is one of the main reasons we choose to partner with Datto when building solutions and data backup plans for our clients.

As GitLab’s experience shows, traditional backup methods, such as tape, disk or online only, are no longer sufficient for most business owners. These methods are unable to recover data quickly, have slower backup speeds, and often store files in only one location, raising the risk for potential theft as well as the consequences of losing data if those files become corrupted. An IBC solution, on the other hand, is a higher standard that ensures data protection, continuity, data security, and instant recovery, all of which help to mitigate downtime.

Here are some good questions to ask when selecting a backup solution for your data.

What risks do traditional methods present? Traditional backup systems carry a high risk of failure due to manual administration. In fact, 58% of downtime is a result of human error.

What common issues does a business face with data backup? Some of the usual backup concerns include accuracy, backup and retrieval times, encryption capability and data security.

What are the advantages of using an IBC data backup solution over traditional methods? There are many advantages to adopting a system with IBC, including a higher level of encryption and data redundancy in several locations and a fully automated backup process, meaning that very little manual management is required. This method also helps businesses avoid risk of downtime from local disasters, as backups are stored in multiple locations on both the local device and the secure cloud.

Why is it important for business owners to find the best backup system? Customer data has become one of the most important assets a business can have, regardless of size. Whether it’s customer names and addresses or confidential files, it is essential that electronic information is stored securely and backed up often.

At Amshot, we realize how vital data is to our clients’ daily operations, which is why we only select the best solutions. If you would like to learn more about our partnership with Datto or are interested in discussing the best solutions for your company’s data backup systems and disaster planning, contact us at 405-418-6282 or consult@amshot.com.

IT Security

Business Leaders’ Guide to Avoiding Hacks

It seems these days that hacker is a job title with a bright future. Take a few extra clicks through the web and you’re bound to read either a story about hacking or the actual information that has been hacked – emails, business financials, personal info, or even your grandma’s secret fruitcake recipe.

In 2017, businesses must go on the defensive to protect their intellectual property, customer data and revenue in an online world which has more and more troublemakers squeezing through the cracks.

And let’s be clear it’s not just governments and corporate giants which are the targets. Businesses on Main Street are too. Small and medium sized businesses, often with not a lot of IT or security resources are becoming juicy targets for the hacking bad guys. According to new data from Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report: “Last year, phishing campaigns targeted small businesses (PDF) 43 percent of the time. That’s up 9 percent over 2014 and a stark contrast to the mere 18 percent of attacks that focused on small businesses in 2011 … Symantec’s report reveals a 55 percent increase from 2014 to 2015 in the amount of spear-phishing campaigns that target employees of a business of any size.” (Source) In 2014, Russian hackers (those guys are popular) grabbed customer information from more than 400,000 business websites, getting away with more than 2 billion passwords. And they haven’t slowed down. (Source)

Here are some steps that any business can take in order to make themselves a little less vulnerable against anyone prowling around the web. Remember, the best offense is a good defense.

  1. Define the boundaries for your employees: A few bad clicks on phishing emails or strange web downloads are dangerous moves which could turn your company’s online security into swiss cheese. Educating your employees and creating acceptable use policies for what they should and shouldn’t do on the internet can make a big difference in whether a company network becomes a secret home to malware. Keeping them up with the latest threats will raise everyone’s radar.
  2.  Control the admin keys: Even a small organization can create a hierarchy for who has administrative access to the company’s server, email dashboard and enterprise software. Allowing all employees admin access can create a stew of changes, which can often be traced back to employee making something work for them on their device. “Security policies and mechanisms must be put in place for company data access from personal devices,” said P.J. Gupta, a mobile security expert and the founder and CEO of iPlum to BusinessNewsDaily.com. “Tight control on who has the privileges to run which enterprise apps from which devices helps minimize the risk of data loss or corruption.” (source)
  3.  Treat email differently: Many of the most notorious hacks of the past few years came from people sharing a lot of information in the body of unsecured and non-encrypted emails. If a business is worried about what is being sent over the email transom internally, then training can come first, but an encrypted email service might be next. Services are available which will warn an employee if they are sharing sensitive information like a credit card number or an attachment of client contact information.
  4. Double-check Who’s Logging In: If you are worried someone is going to break down your door, sometimes the best solution is to just have two locks instead of one. Adding an extra step can frustrate and dissuade a bad guy just enough to make them give up and find an easier victim. On the digital side of a business, that more and more often means the addition of Two Factor Authentication. You are seeing this on everything from your bank to your favorite social media platform. Two Factor Authentication means that a password isn’t enough to get you to your data. These extra steps can include a secret piece of knowledge – i.e., “Mother’s maiden name” – or a fingerprint, voice password or PIN.
  5. Verify unusual requests with a real person: Bad guys have begun impersonating employees e-mail addresses to request that co-workers transfer funds to external accounts. This can result in losses of tens of thousands of dollars. If a request for external payment seems unusual, verify with your co-worker via phone or face-to-face.

Those are just a few simple steps a business can take to keep their cybersecurity guard up going into 2017. For more information or assistance contact Amshot at 405-896-8152 or consult@amshot.com.

Amshot Protecting Against Hackes