How to Use Web Browser Security to Surf the Internet Safer

Web Browser Security Help You Stay Safe

Your web browser has tools and built-in security that can help you stay safe from malware, attacks, phishing and all the problems that can come from the Internet. I’ll go through each of the three popular browsers so you can see how to access the security settings. I’ll also make recommendations so you’ll know what security you gain with your choices.

There are tradeoffs when it comes to browser security. High levels of control and safety mean less convenience for the user. It’s a personal decision how much inconvenience you are willing to put up with for security’s sake. In our experience, people who have been infected by malware from the internet find it such a hassle and expense to deal with that the inconvenience of browser security becomes a minor price to pay for prevention.

A few notes:

  1. The change that will affect your browsing experience the most will be if you elect to disable JavaScript (described below). It’s helpful for security purposes to do so, but will make many websites virtually unusable and you’ll have to specify those trusted sites as exceptions to have the sites operate properly (if possible).
  2. The most critical thing to do to keep browsing safe is to keep your browser updated.
  3. These suggestions are in addition to your (updated) anti-virus and in no way replace that tool.


In Chrome, you’ll find this icon  in the upper right corner, just below the X to close the window. On the drop-down list, click the “Settings” menu selection. At the bottom of the page, click on “Show Advanced Settings” to see more options.

Other than the specific selections discussed below, you can use the (Recommended) suggestions from Google.

  • If you have a Gmail account, you can have it automatically synced to your browser. When you do that, however; Google stores passwords, personal information, and autofill data on their servers. For maximum browser security, disconnect your Gmail account from your browser.
  • Click to “Enable phishing and malware protection”.
  • If you click on “Use a prediction service to help complete searches and URLS typed in the address bar”, realize every search you make will be sent to Google. It’s safer not to enable this setting.
  • Just below the Privacy Heading, there is a Content Settings button. On that screen, the safer choices are:
  •      Keep local data only until I quit my browser
  •      Block third-party cookies and site data
  •      Do not allow any site to run JavaScript. Java Script is known to have security vulnerabilities that many hackers use to gain access to your computer. You can specify sites you know are safe, if you wish, with the “Manage Exceptions” button. Remember this change will affect how many websites display.


In Firefox, you access browser security and other settings using the Firefox drop down button  found on the upper left side of the screen. Select the “Options” menu selection and then select “Options” again.

Under the “Content” button:

  • Block pop-up windows
  • If you want maximum browser security, do not enable JavaScript. Note: This will affect how many, if not most, websites function. This security measure is problematic with Firefox since you can’t specify exceptions where JavaScript is allowed.

Under the “Privacy” button:

  • Tell sites you do not want to be tracked

Under “History”, tell Firefox to “Use custom settings for history”.

  • Then, deselect “Remember my browsing and download history”, “Remember search and form history”, and say “Never” at “Accept third-party cookies”.
  • At the “Keep until:” selection, choose “I close Firefox”.
  • Select “Clear history when Firefox closes”.

Under “Security”, make sure you select “Warn me when sites try to install add-ons”, “Block reported attack sites”, and “Block reported web forgeries”.

Under “Passwords”, make sure “Remember passwords for sites” is not selected.

  • Don’t use the “Sync” button to set up Firefox sync. If you do, they store your passwords, log-ins and personal information on their servers. It’s safer not to let them have that information.

Under the “Advanced” button, there are tabs. On the “Update” tab, make sure automatic updates are turned on so you’ll have the latest browser security-related changes.

  • It’s a good idea to also select “Automatically Update: Search Engines”

On the “Encryption” tab, make sure “Use SSL3.0” and “Use TLS 1.0” are selected. These are security protocols.

Microsoft Internet Explorer

To access browser security controls in Internet Explorer, click on the “Tools” button   in the upper right hand corner, just below the X to close the window. Select “Internet Options”.Then, scroll down until you see the “Security” choices. Start by making sure the following are selected:

On the “General” tab, select “Delete browsing history on exit”.

On the “Security” tab, select each of the zones and specify the security level you want. “Medium-high” or higher.

  • Still on the “Security” tab, select “Custom Level”, scroll down until you see “Scripting” with “Active Scripting” under it, and click on “Disable” to disable JavaScript. This will keep you from being a victim of the security weaknesses of JavaScript but will significantly change what you see on your websites. If you need significant protection, however, disabling JavaScript may be worth it.

On the “Privacy” tab, under “Select a setting for the internet zone”, choose Medium High or higher.

  • Still on the “Privacy” tab, choose to never allow websites to request your location.
  • Just below that, turn on the Pop-up blocker.

On the “Content” tab; click on the “Settings” button in the AutoComplete section. Turn off AutoComplete for “Forms” and “User Names”.

On the “Advanced” tab; start by clicking on the “Restore advanced settings” button if you are unsure whether original settings have been changed.

  • Then, scroll down until you see the “Security” choices. Start by making sure the following are selected:
  •      “Do not save encrypted pages to disk.”
  •      “Empty Temporary Internet Files when browser is closed”. This prevents IE from saving your login and password information and other personal data.

Back up on the “Tools” button, there is a “Safety” option. Select “Tracking Protection”. There, you can create a customized list of websites you do not want to be able to track your browsing activity. Alternatively, you can select “Get a Tracking Protection List online” to see a list of already-created lists you can download.

If you would like to have the NoCo Technology Solutions blog delivered each month to your email inbox, sign up here.

Alesa Locklear provides content marketing, such as blogs and e-newsletters, to companies wanting to stay in touch with prospects and customers. She can be reached at

Copyright © *2013* NoCo Technology Solutions, All rights reserved.
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You Have a Backup of Your Data: Right?

Most everyone answers yes to the backup question,

yet companies experience backup problems and data loss at a surprising rate. Sometimes it’s just a particular database or file they can’t restore, but we get calls from companies that have experienced catastrophic server failure and are utterly panicked to discover they don’t have a restorable backup.
How does this situation occur? Even companies managed and staffed by smart, capable people can find themselves dealing with backup problems and data loss. Some of the reasons we’ve seen include:

  • There was a change in staff, and the new employee didn’t get the backup steps exactly right or wasn’t trained adequately.
  • Even though backup procedures were followed precisely and consistently, the backup equipment failed to create a recoverable backup and the company couldn’t tell there was a problem.
  • The system wasn’t documented completely and steps started being left out over time.
  • And here’s the main reason that data loss occurs: No one tried to restore from the backup so they had no way of knowing whether the data was recoverable or not. In other words, unless you test the backup by restoring some or all the data, you can’t tell whether you are backed up or not.

So, the purpose of data backup is really data recovery. That’s the end result of good data backup. Your backup system needs the right solution and consistent testing to make sure you are getting recoverable data.

Recommended Backup Approach

Here at NoCo Technology Solutions, we recommend a 3, 2, 1 approach to data backup.

  1. The 3 stands for 3 types of backups for your data. You may have an external hard drive with a copy of your data on it, a tape backup system, and another online backup. You then have 3 different backups, all using different media—an excellent system.
  2. The 2 stands for 2 locations. You do not want all your data and backups in the same physical location. That location is subject to the same disastrous events; whether it’s the smoke alarm going off and the sprinklers ruining equipment; to fire, flood, or tornado. You need a copy of your data offsite for true security.
  3. The 1 stands for 1 backup stored online. This completely separate backup is a great idea and definitely provides extra security; it just may not be financially feasible for some companies. Online storage costs can be high but if you can afford it, by all means do it. If you do, you’ll be the company that gets back up and running when a city-wide disaster strikes and can make the difference on whether your company is still in business a year later.

Statistics About Backups

While the following list of statistics about U.S. companies and backup failure are seen frequently on the internet, their original sources can’t be found. Their current accuracy is questionable but their message is clear: Create a plan and procedures so your business always has a current, recoverable backup available no matter what disaster occurs.

  • 25% of all PC users suffer from data loss each year. (Gartner)
  • 94% of companies suffering from a catastrophic data loss do not survive. 43% never reopen and 51% close within two years. (University of Texas Study)
  • 93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster. 50% of businesses that found themselves without data management for this same time period filed for bankruptcy immediately. (National Archives & Records Administration in Washington)
  • 77% of those companies who do test their tape backups found back-up failures. (Boston Computing Network, Data Loss Statistics)
  • 96% of all business workstations are not being backed up. (Contingency Planning and Strategic Research Corporation)
  • Every week 140,000 hard drives crash in the United States. (Mozy Online Backup)
  • 50% of all tape backups fail to restore. (Gartner)

Alesa Locklear provides content marketing; such as blogs, e-newsletters, and website content to companies wanting to stay in touch with prospects and customers. She can be reached at

Copyright © *2013* NoCo Technology Solutions, All rights reserved.

Posted in IT Best Practices, Network Administration | Comments Off on You Have a Backup of Your Data: Right?

Cloud Computing Security

While cloud computing can provide benefits to many organizations, including having 24/7 and remote access to your software and/or data, there are cloud computing security risks to your business, also. If you are aware of cloud computing security risks, though, you can evaluate their impact on your business and, sometimes, take steps to reduce them.

There are obvious risks, like your internet access going down; or hosting problems, where problems at the cloud host’s location prevent you from accessing an important application. But there are less obvious risks, also. Here are

10 Cloud Computing Security Risks that Might Affect Your Business:

1. If you have a conflict with your cloud host (also called cloud service provider), and they are a large company, such as Google or Microsoft, you cannot hope to win. They simply have the legal team, the time, and the money to outlast your budget.

2. If you choose a regional or local host for your cloud computing, you need to make sure the contract specifies both the amount of notice you get if the host company is going out of business, and what happens to your data in the event they close their doors.

3. If you take credit cards in your business, you need to be Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant. Cloud computing security is specifically required by the PCI Security Standards Council. Here is an Information Supplement that explains the Data Security Standards for cloud computing.

4. If your company has a dispute with a cloud service provider, any legal action will be under the laws of the state where the data is located. Not the state where your company is located, nor the state where the cloud host company is located: it isn’t intuitive, but the data’s storage location determines jurisdiction.

5. If the cloud computing security of your online service provider is compromised, it’s highly unlikely you will get any kind of reimbursement. Cloud computing contracts don’t include provisions for reimbursing you for breached security. Even with Cyber Insurance (which is available and provides some protection), it is very difficult to prove the value of your data, and therefore get any kind of payment.

6. Legal issues about who actually owns data that is stored in the cloud can come up. If a cloud host has your data on their site; uses it for a purpose of their own, such as combing through it for information they can use in their marketing; then they have possession of the data and have used it for their benefit. That’s pretty legally compelling when it comes to defining the ‘owner’ of the data.

7. Would you ever know if your cloud host accessed your data? As long as they don’t damage or delete it, probably not. Some influential people in the world of computing feel like cloud computing is a large experiment with small businesses being the guinea pig.

8. Various laws apply to cloud computing; some federal, some state. This patchwork of laws is changing rapidly and creates cloud computing security risk. The changes in these laws are trending toward more judicial access. In other words, governments are allowing law enforcement to require cloud hosting companies to provide access to the information they store, especially email information. Sometimes law enforcement and government agencies don’t even need a warrant to request and get information.

9. If you use software on the cloud, the software company may not want to retain past years’ data as long as you want them to do so (your data is taking up room on their server). Make sure the contract specifies the length of time they’ll retain your data and you are comfortable with that timeframe.

10. If you use an online backup solution, you have more cloud computing security if you encrypt your data at your location; then send it over the internet to your online backup provider. You never want to send un-encrypted data over the web.

If you would like to have the NoCo Technology Solutions blog delivered each month to your email inbox, sign up here.

Alesa Locklear provides content marketing, such as blogs and e-newsletters, to companies wanting to stay in touch with prospects and customers. She can be reached at

Copyright © *2013* NoCo Technology Solutions, All rights reserved.

Posted in Cloud Computing, IT and Network Security | Comments Off on Cloud Computing Security

Technology Plans: Future Priorities

We’re in the final stretch on the Technology Plans series! You’ve looked at the state of your current equipment, analyzed some common issues you may be experiencing and are ready for the last step. So, let’s talk about the future.

What are your future plans?

  • Will you be adding new employees to your network?
  • Implementing new software or a different version of your operating system?
  • Going to the cloud for some of your software needs?

We’ll take each of these issues in turn. (We’ll be using some technical terms in our discussion. If you would like a definition, click on the word and jump to the Glossary at the end.)

Adding new employees to your network can cause significant changes in the performance of your system and needs to be considered in your Technology Plans. We’ve talked about network traffic in a previous blog and the significant difference even one person can make on a network that is already handling maximum traffic. If you have enough bandwidth to handle the additional load, however; you probably won’t see much difference in network speed and performance.

Implementing new software or a new operating system can create higher demands for IT resources, also. All software publishes System Requirements. At the least, these requirements tell you how much RAM (Random Access Memory) and hard drive space you need, along with the speed and type of CPU required. Software applications may also specify the version of operating system you need to run the software. Some software will list minimum and optimal specifications.

Note: Minimum specifications may not provide acceptable performance.

System Requirements refer to the amount of resources a particular software application or operating system needs to have available for its use only. In other words, those resources are in addition to the resources used by other software.

Let’s look at an example using RAM, a key component to system performance. Say you currently use Windows XP as your operating system (OS) on a workstation. As you can see below, XP requires only 64 megabytes (MB) of RAM.

System Requirements

Windows XP System Requirements

If you implement Windows 8, however, you’ll need to have 1 or 2 gigabytes (GB) of RAM. A gigabyte of RAM is 1024 megabytes, so that’s a significant increase. You’ll need to check on whether you have enough RAM for all your applications plus your new operating system.

System Requirements

Windows 8 System Requirements

Note: A new version of a software application might not work with a significantly older operating system.

Besides RAM, you’ll need to look at your CPU or processor, hard disk space and other system requirements to determine if your system is adequate. If not, the operating system or applications, and often both, will not function properly.

Note: One additional wrinkle—there may be System Requirements specified for both the server and any workstation that will be used for the application. Both machines will need to be checked to determine whether they meet the System Requirements and upgraded as needed.

Going to the cloud  may affect your technology plans since it can mean there are less demands on your server. Most businesses who are on the cloud have a hybrid system, where they access some applications through the internet (a type of cloud computing called SaaS or Software as a Service), and other applications are kept on their in-house server. This means that your in-house server only needs to meet the System Requirements of the software loaded on it. When it comes time to replace your server, you may be able to operate with a less robust, and therefore less expensive machine.

Note: The System Requirements for cloud applications include the needed bandwidth. If your system has any less speed, you’ll notice delays, drops, and other problems.

Technology Plans & Priorities

At this point, you’ve looked at all aspects of your system. Your Technology Plans may have quite a list of changes you’d like to make to your system to get optimum performance. How do you decide what to do first?

  1. The first priority is always Protection. Protecting your system from outside threats, such as viruses and other malware is critical. But Protection also means protecting your data from loss, so your backup solution is the highest priority, also. So, anything that affects your system’s protected status needs to be at the top of the Action Items in your Technology Plans.
  2. The second priority is Performance. Performance refers to the speed and reliability of your network. Network slowdowns, crashes, and downtime all translate into actual dollars wasted. Nearly always, it is more economical to fix and upgrade your system than pay your employees to wait on your network. Your business will benefit from the enhanced productivity and effectiveness a reliable, fast network brings.
  3. The third priority is Enhancement. Usually this is where a new software application or remote access will be prioritized. These elements enhance the productivity the technology brings to your business and gives the users, whether employees or customers, an effective and high-quality experience.

With these priorities in mind, you can complete your Technology Plans. The Technology Plans then helps you develop your IT budget; clarifies what you need IT providers to include in their bids and proposals; and gives you peace of mind about your system.

If you need help creating Technology Plans for your business, give NoCo Technology Solutions a call at 970-223-1885. We’ll be happy to help you.


Back to Top
Bandwidth refers to how fast data can move through your system. Bandwidth is determined by the type of cables used or the capabilities of your wireless network router.
Byte: Per, “a byte is a unit of measurement used to measure data. . . While the byte was originally designed to measure character data, it is now the fundamental unit of measurement of all data storage.” Megabytes (MB) and gigabytes (GB) both designate amounts of data.
CPU (Central Processing Unit), also known as “the processor”. System Requirements refer to the speed or the CPU, which is designated in gigahertz (GHz); and may include type of CPU, such as Pentium-Class.
Gigahertz (GHz) is a measure of speed. It usually refers to the processing speed of the CPU but may also refer to the speed of the RAM and other parts of the computer.
The Hard Drive is the storage component in your computer or network server. Storage is measured in bytes, such as megabytes or gigabytes.
RAM, or Random Access Memory, which is where software is loaded from the hard drive, is specified in gigabytes (GB) or megabytes (MB).
SaaS, or Software as a Service. SaaS means you pay usually a monthly fee to access a software program over the internet.

If you would like to have the NoCo Technology Solutions blog delivered each month to your email inbox, sign up here.

Alesa Locklear provides content marketing, such as blogs and e-newsletters, to companies wanting to stay in touch with prospects and customers. She can be reached at

Copyright © *2013* NoCo Technology Solutions, All rights reserved.

Posted in Information Technology Plan, IT Best Practices, Network Performance | Comments Off on Technology Plans: Future Priorities

Develop Your Information Technology Plan

How to Analyze Your Current Technology

As you develop your Technology Plan, analyzing your current technology situation helps you plan for the future. In our previous post, you took a snapshot of your current computer network and workstations. So, let’s look at what you found.

The model and age of the equipment Age matters since computer hard drives and other components will all eventually fail. The older your computer is, the more likely it is to experience a failure of some type. A percentage of hard drives fail every year for various reasons. (The failure rate can vary widely from less than 1% to 11% a year or more and it goes up as the equipment ages.) As the years go by, the percentages add up and the risk of failure increases.

This means you need to consider the risks of keeping your old network server and workstations in use. Any server older than 3 years is becoming more vulnerable to problems. While some machines can last much longer, it is impossible to predict. So, after 3 years, you should start thinking about the costs and benefits of replacing your old equipment.

The amount of unused disk space you have left You want to address this issue well before you completely run out of disk space. A rule of thumb is that performance of your CPU starts to degrade when your hard drive is 60% or more full. You also need enough space to effectively clean up your data before you move it to your new machine.

The status of your anti-virus software, making sure it’s up-to-date New viruses and malware are being developed all the time and keeping your anti-virus program current can’t be emphasized enough. If your anti-virus software is not updated, doing so should be the first priority in your Technology Plan.

A list of the operating system and programs on your server and information about their licenses If you should happen to have a computer crash, a complete list of programs and the license information is essential to a quick recovery. Reduce your downtime by having this information with your Technology Plan.

What firewall you are using including whether it is a physical device or a software firewall We recommend all our clients have a firewall, preferably a physical device. You can learn more about firewalls here. Firewalls are like insurance, they protect you for much less money than the disaster costs.

A check of your firewall and anti-virus logs to make sure you know what’s going on there Both of these systems record events so you can see what’s happening. It’s always a good idea for you or your IT company to keep up with these events to spot problems early. Any issues need to be addressed in your Technology Plan.

Specifics about your current backup solution and procedures A good recoverable backup is so critical to reducing risk for your company. A RAID system is part of the solution for many businesses.

What About Your Worries and Frustrations?

Technology is complex and there are many issues you could be experiencing that cause you frustration or worry. Below is a list of issues that we often find need attention:

Network traffic can build up and create many issues. Symptoms include delays opening and saving files, users being dropped from the network, network slowdowns and ‘downtime’. Adding new users and new software along with running out of space on your server hard drive can all help create network traffic problems. Addressing these problems should be part of your Technology Plan.

The right software for your current situation is important. Having to enter data in two different places, or your staff not having the information they need to make the sales and get their jobs done are signs you need to look at your software. A better solution will improve productivity and results.

Remote Access can be accomplished in multiple ways. You hear the most about cloud computing, where you access software and storage through the internet, but many companies aren’t comfortable with security and other issues with cloud computing. If the primary benefit you are looking for is remote access, another alternative is to use the internet to access your company’s in-house server. This type of remote access allows you the freedom to access your network and applications from any location and any time of day. This solution is usually less expensive, creates fewer risks, and can be set up with excellent security.

Updates are vital for your operating system, software, and device drivers, along with your anti-virus. The hackers are always finding new ways to exploit weaknesses in all operating systems and you are vulnerable if your systems are out-of-date. If you don’t update consistently, you can experience numerous symptoms; from slowdowns, to strange error messages, to constantly needing to repair equipment due to viruses.

Backups are really about recovering data. As part of your Technology Plan, make sure you can actually recover all your files by testing your backup solution. Companies lose data all the time, sometimes catastrophically, and most of them thought they had a backup. A University of Texas study reported that 94% of companies that experience a major data loss do not survive.

Internet Filtering is fast and simple with a few firewall settings. You can prevent employees from surfing to specified websites or groups of websites with internet filtering. No need to lose hours of employee time to shopping, illicit sites, and videos. If you have concerns about non-business internet use, include internet filtering in your Technology Plan.

Now that you have analyzed your current technology, you have identified problem areas and vulnerabilities. Your future plans are the last part of the technology plan you need to consider and we’ll talk about that next month.

If you would like to have the NoCo Technology Solutions blog delivered each month to your email inbox, sign up here.

Alesa Locklear provides content marketing, such as blogs and e-newsletters, to companies wanting to stay in touch with prospects and customers. She can be reached at

Copyright © *2013* NoCo Technology Solutions, All rights reserved.

Posted in Cloud Computing, Information Technology Plan, IT and Network Security, Network Performance | Comments Off on Develop Your Information Technology Plan

Why Do I Need An Information Technology Plan for My Business?

An Information Technology Plan Benefits You

An Information Technology Plan for your business can protect your investment, reduce unexpected expenses, and keep your systems operating at their best. With an Information Technology Plan in place, you can consider the capabilities and benefits you want to get from your technology investment with a cool head. If you try to make decisions about information technology during a moment when, for instance, your server has failed or your security is breached–moments known as ‘when your hair is on fire’–you’re likely to spend more and get less long-term value.

An Information Technology Plan helps create an accurate budget for the future, gives you time to choose the right solution for each issue, and reduces downtime. To begin creating your Technology Plan, you start with knowing where you are now.

Take Stock of the Present

Knowing the state of the technology you already own, and its condition, is the first step. If you put this profile information in a spreadsheet, you can just update it in future years. For your server, keep the following information in your profile:

  • The model and age of the equipment
  • The amount of disk space you have left
  • The status of your anti-virus software, making sure it’s up-to-date
  • A list of the operating system and programs loaded on your server and information about their licenses, making sure they’re current and noting when renewal is needed
  • What firewall you are using including whether it is a physical device or a software firewall
  • A check of your firewall and anti-virus logs to make sure you know what’s going on there
  • Specifics about your current backup solution and procedures

For your workstations, you’ll want to record:

  • The model and age of the equipment
  • The operating systems your workstations are running
  • If there’s anti-virus software on the workstations, note whether it’s current and the renewal date
  • Available disk space

Take Stock of Your Concerns

A very important part of developing an Information Technology Plan is noticing what is frustrating you and what is worrying you.


If you’re frustrated, it’s often about reduced productivity. Since IT is a tool for enhancing productivity, your frustrations are an important part of the analysis.
Notice what is challenging your, your co-workers’ and your office’s productivity:

  • Are there significant delays when you open or save a file?
  • Do users get “dropped” from the network or internet?
  • Are you losing employee work time to social media sites?
  • Do you have to enter the same information in more than one place?
  • Do outside employees complain because they don’t have access to necessary data when they are not in the office?
  • Have you lost data or files in the last year and had to re-enter that information?
  • Does your staff have the information they need to: get their jobs done? Make the sales? Keep the customer relationships thriving?


Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, what is worrying you? Anything that you are worrying about is a flag that something needs to be looked at. Here are some questions to help you get to the issues behind the worry. There are many other possibilities.

  • Did you lose some data last year?
  • Is your network slowing down?
  • Was your server “down” on multiple occasions?
  • Do your workstations seem to constantly need repair?
  • Do you wonder if your backup process is including all the necessary files?
  • Have you ever tested the backup by actually recovering files?
  • Is your server running out of room?
  • Are you seeing strange error messages?

Once your current situation is clearly understood and you have identified areas of concern, you are ready for the next step.

Next Month

We’ll talk about the future and your IT and how to continue with the next steps for creating an Information Technology Plan for your business.

If you would like to have the NoCo Technology Solutions blog delivered each month to your email inbox, sign up here.

Alesa Locklear provides content marketing, such as blogs and e-newsletters, to companies wanting to stay in touch with prospects and customers. She can be reached at

Copyright © *2013* NoCo Technology Solutions, All rights reserved.

Posted in Information Technology Plan, IT Best Practices, Network Performance | Comments Off on Why Do I Need An Information Technology Plan for My Business?

10 Things About Cloud Computing You Need to Know

The 10 questions and answers below will give you an overview of cloud computing, but when it comes to deciding whether to put your business applications or network on the cloud; you need more in-depth knowledge. NoCo Technology Solutions is hosting an educational webinar February 13 at 10:30 a.m. to provide that information so you’ll know how to make the right decision for your company.

  1. What is cloud computing? There are many definitions of cloud computing. The most basic description is that you use the Internet to access any or all of your data, your software, and your backups; maybe even your entire network.
  2. What if my Internet connection goes down? A reliable Internet connection is important to successfully using the cloud since you won’t be able to access your software or data when the Internet is down.
  3. Where is my data? Your data is stored on a hard drive, usually in a data center. The company you bought cloud services from may own the data center or they may be renting space at another company’s data center. Data centers are not always in the United States.
  4. How do I access the cloud? You go to a website and provide identification such as a username and password; then you have access to your cloud services, software, or data.
  5. Will I save money moving my business to the cloud? In some circumstances, companies can save considerable money being on the cloud. Those circumstances don’t apply to all businesses, though, and many companies don’t find any cost savings with cloud computing. The other benefits of cloud computing besides cost savings can be crucial, though. For you to successfully move to the cloud, it’s vital you understand all the benefits and how your business will gain from those benefits.
  6. Is my data really safe on the cloud? All the marketing hype says it is. But there are many situations and concerns you need to be aware of before you make your decision. Some cloud service providers have had security breaches. ‘Who owns the data?’ is a surprisingly complex issue. There are also legal and governmental actions related to the cloud you need to know about. There’s a lot for business owners and managers to consider before they make the decision to move to the cloud.
  7. Who is the best cloud services provider? There is not one best cloud services or solutions provider. You need someone knowledgeable to analyze your business’ particular situation—including what cloud benefits you need, what regulatory issues about the cloud affect you, your particular comfort level with various aspects of the cloud, and so on—before you choose a cloud services provider.
  8. Should every business be on the cloud? No! There are risks to being on the cloud and a business should move to the cloud only if the benefits outweigh those risks.
  9. How do I make the decision whether to move to the cloud? First, get educated so you can be sure you’re making the right move. Then, choose a cloud integrator that isn’t trying to sell you a one-cloud-solution-fits-all. You want an IT company that is both knowledgeable and has your best interests in mind.
  10. Where can I get more information? NoCo Technology Solutions is hosting an educational webinar February 13, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. MST about cloud computing. Alesa and Bill will discuss, in clear business language; the different types of cloud services; the benefits and risks of each of those types of services; and some of the regulatory and contract gotchas many people don’t realize are out there. We’ll help you determine whether the cloud is a good fit for your company and what to look for in a cloud services contract.

You’ll come out of the webinar with information you can use to determine whether you should consider the cloud for your company. Even if you are already using some cloud services, you’ll be more knowledgeable and understand more about your situation, your risks and how to reduce some of those risks.
Sign up here to join us Feb. 13th and learn how to make your decision about the cloud the right one for your company.

If you would like to have the NoCo Technology Solutions blog delivered each month to your email inbox, sign up here.

Alesa Locklear provides content marketing, such as blogs and e-newsletters, to companies wanting to stay in touch with prospects and customers. She can be reached at

Copyright © *2013* NoCo Technology Solutions, All rights reserved.

Posted in Cloud Computing | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on 10 Things About Cloud Computing You Need to Know

Do I Need to Store My Company’s Emails?

Email retention is an issue for all companies. While certain industries, such as medical and financial service providers, and publicly-traded companies, must comply with special regulations regarding electronic records, all companies need to consider a policy about retaining emails and other documents.

Here’s Why…

The vast majority of business correspondence is electronic. Contracts, discussions, complaints, websites, blogs—electronic records are used for everything. All of that information can play a part if your company is involved in a lawsuit.

While no one wants to think about being involved in a lawsuit, they happen frequently a Fulbright and Jaworski, LLC survey of US companies found 90% of them were involved in litigation. Though smaller companies are not typically involved in class action suits, for instance; they can find themselves defending against contract disputes, claims of hostile work environment, sexual harassment, and other types of legal action.

If your company is involved in a lawsuit, you will inevitably be required to produce records; including electronic records such as emails, digital images, text messages, instant messages and so on.
So, is the answer to store everything forever? Absolutely not! Email retention and electronic storage is expensive plus the biggest expense of a lawsuit is typically the time spent for attorneys to review documents.

If you have a reasonable Electronic Records Policy that limits the amount of time you retain documents and specifies which types of emails you will store, you’ve limited your storage needs and you’ve also limited the number of documents attorneys would need to review in a lawsuit.

What is an Electronic Records Policy?

An Electronic Records Policy needs to be understandable, specifically explained to employees, and should cover the following:

  • First, make sure the policy is clear about what type of emails, images, and topics are allowed and those that are prohibited for your business’ electronic correspondence. You might want to consider a filter to help prevent prohibited jokes, racial slurs, etc.
  • Be precise about what type of correspondence and documents must be retained.
  • Be specific about how long you retain each type of electronic record—perhaps 2 years for emails, 2 days for instant messages, for instance. Some companies make an exception for the CEO and keep those emails forever.
  • You should also require employees to store electronic communications on your server instead of on their individual workstation computers to make implementing these retention policies possible. If an email, for instance, is stored on a local drive, the assumption is that it can be altered and therefore isn’t valid.

Make sure your employees are educated about these policies. Having them sign a document agreeing to abide by the policies can save you from litigation. You need to specify how you will enforce the policies and the consequences if they’re violated.

How do I Keep Track of These Records?

While email retention and electronic record storage can sound a bit burdensome, there are numerous tools available to help you properly retain, delete, and protect your electronic records. Some archive managers to consider include Barracuda Networks©, GFI©, Quest© (which has been recently purchased by Dell Computers©), and Sonasoft©.

If you would like to have the NoCo Technology Solutions blog delivered each month to your email inbox, sign up here.

Alesa Locklear provides content marketing, such as blogs and e-newsletters, to companies wanting to stay in touch with prospects and customers. She can be reached at

Copyright © *2013* NoCo Technology Solutions, All rights reserved.

Posted in Email Retention, IT Best Practices | Comments Off on Do I Need to Store My Company’s Emails?

What Makes Network Security Vulnerable to Hacking Attacks?

Network security, even of large organizations, can get hacked or attacked. How does that happen? Do you wonder if your network or system is susceptible to attack? Is there anything you can do to prevent that from happening to your system?

There are many different kinds of attacks. Some hacking is focused on finding vulnerabilities in computer network security and exploiting that vulnerability to gain control or allow access to other damaging software code. Other attacks overwhelm a network’s ability to handle traffic by flooding it with data that leaves the network unable to function. Another type of attack focuses on simulating authorized user credentials and gaining access to the network’s data and information.

While hacking software may pursue a known target network, many times they will scan a range of IP addresses looking for any vulnerability. An IP address is a unique number that identifies each device that accesses the internet and is also used to identify all devices on a network. Every business has IP addresses assigned to all their network computers, printers, and other devices so you may find yourself attacked at random; simply because a device on your network had an IP address that was scanned and a vulnerability found by hackers.

Vulnerabilities may come from poor or improper configuration of a network; hardware or software flaws; or operational weaknesses.

So, to prevent attacks, you want to make sure:

  • Your network, firewall, and all your server setup are properly configured.
  • You keep your operating system and software properly maintained: that means all updates, patches and new versions are installed on a consistent, timely basis.

To learn more about firewalls, see the Frequently Asked Questions on the IT Network Service: Maintenance, Design and Installation page on our website.
NoCo Technology Solutions of Fort Collins has the expertise to make sure your network is configured properly and provides regular network maintenance service to help prevent attacks and keep your network secure. Call us at 970-223-1885 for a security analysis to check the state of your network’s security.

If you would like to have the NoCo Technology Solutions blog delivered each month to your email inbox, sign up here.

Alesa Locklear provides content marketing, such as blogs and e-newsletters, to companies wanting to stay in touch with prospects and customers. She can be reached at

Copyright © *2013* NoCo Technology Solutions, All rights reserved.

Posted in IT and Network Security, IT Best Practices | Comments Off on What Makes Network Security Vulnerable to Hacking Attacks?

Passwords: They Ain’t What They Used To Be ….

Nowadays, you have to have a password to access anything. From Facebook to your accounting software, we all access our websites, banks, and applications with passwords. How secure are they? Do they really protect us from criminals getting into our personal and business information?

It’s Harder to Get Real Protection

Getting real protection from a password isn’t as easy as it used to be. Everything related to computers keeps getting more sophisticated, and hacking software and the bad guys’ ability to figure out how to access our information gets more advanced all the time, too.

The first line of defense is the number of characters in your password. Have you noticed that many websites now require 6 or 8 digits? The more digits a password has, the harder it is for hackers to figure it out.

A hacker uses software that tries every possible combination of characters until it hits the right combination (it’s more complicated than that, but that’s the underlying idea). It used to be hackers could try thousands of combinations per second, now, 4 billion combinations per second is easily possible. Every added digit you put in your passwords makes it that much harder for them to figure it out.

How to Create Strong Passwords

To make your passwords as secure as possible, here are a few actions to take:

  • First, make all your passwords at least 8 characters, 12 is better, more than 12 characters is best (up to the maximum number allowed).
  • Second, use some capital letters and some lower case letters.
  • Third, use one or more punctuation or other symbols (spaces aren’t generally allowed).

Ideally, you would have a different username and password every time you need one, although that may not be very practical. It is NOT a good idea, though, to use the same one everywhere. At least have a more complicated, harder-to-crack password for your online bank or other financially-related passwords, and don’t use that same one in other, less secure places.

Password Vaults

Besides creating strong passwords, the trick is to remember them, of course. Help is available with a password ‘vault’, an application that creates strong random passwords and then stores, organizes, and manages them for you. Look at LastPass, KeePass, and 1Password.

If you’d like to learn more about passwords, see this LifeHacker article.

If you would like to have the NoCo Technology Solutions blog delivered each month to your email inbox, sign up here.

Alesa Locklear provides content marketing, such as blogs and e-newsletters, to companies wanting to stay in touch with prospects and customers. She can be reached at

Copyright © *2013* NoCo Technology Solutions, All rights reserved.

Posted in IT and Network Security, IT Best Practices, Passwords and Password Protection | Comments Off on Passwords: They Ain’t What They Used To Be ….