When we think about economic development, the first thing that often comes to mind is the efforts made to create and the retain jobs and talent in a community. Measures to improve education and training, as well as government intervention to reduce property taxes and stimulate economic growth, are regularly employed as means to advance economic development. As important, however, is the advancement of the arts in communities, including Columbus, which has proven to be a prevailing factor in economic development. Overwhelming evidence suggests that communities who invest in the arts are promoting economic growth for their citizens.
The Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) advocates for the advancement of the arts and culture in the Columbus, Ohio region. As the importance of sustained job growth becomes more apparent, so does the need for efforts to cultivate a flourishing arts community. The GCAC provides mounting evidence that the arts impact our community in a number of different ways, including the attraction and retention of talent and increased tourism and convention business. The impact to economic development is profound: the Columbus region realizes $226 million in economic activity and 8,500 jobs as a result of the arts.
Economic development can't be measured merely in short-term dollars and cents. Genuine, sustained economic development is achieved over a period of time, and the arts are an important part of that effort. While local and federal government programs may stimulate development, organizations like the GCAC are what make the community attractive to the talent we're trying to retain and attract that will help Columbus prosper. Our community will benefit the most - economically and culturally - from the ongoing sponsorship of the arts by local business leaders and individuals. thinkCSC is proud to support the efforts of the Greater Columbus Arts Council.
Most businesses are still in the process of evaluating how IT will fit into their strategic plan this year. As we work with clients to develop strategies that provide cost-effective, efficient solutions, we have recognized a number of tech trends that will impact most commercial, government and educational institutions.
Today's tech trends are often tomorrow's best practices, so knowing how to embrace these trends and take advantage of the leverage they provide is essential to the continued success of your business. Investing in these technologies can often free your organization from monotonous obligations, allowing you to focus on growth, knowing that security and productivity are under control.
Here are five tech trends every organization should be implementing:
Voice Communications: VoIP vs. Hosted PBX
There are fundamental differences between VoIP and Hosted PBX phone solutions. Yes, both VoIP and Hosted PBX offer mass customization, cost savings, global distribution, centralized messaging, customized caller-ID and the ability to connect virtual offices - unlike conventional phone systems. However, some phone providers market VoIP as a SIP trunk to a client’s existing digital phone system. This is NOT a VOIP phone system. Although the client is leveraging the internet for voice communications, they are still dependent on the limitations of their digital phone system. Furthermore, an "on-premise" VOIP phone system, that uses traditional phone lines or even SIP, is not a Hosted PBX. A Hosted PBX solution has no need for an "on-premise" VoIP phone system. With a hosted PBX solution, your phone system is 100% in the cloud, which allows for greater flexibility and customization versus an "on-premise" VoIP solution.
Secure and FAST Data Storage
Storage is a critical component of your IT infrastructure, and the newest storage technologies offer benefits that every organization can leverage from: power, density and incredible speed. thinkCSC offers Nimble Storage solutions that not only offer a more cost-effective way to achieve these benefits but also provide an unparalleled level of security, as well as rapid backup and recovery for your data.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a trend no business can ignore, and those who do often run the risk of data and security breaches. BYOD already exists in one form or another for most businesses, so developing protocols to ensure safety, confidentiality and best practices is paramount.
Cloud adoption has moved beyond that of a mere trend and into common practice, but a planned approach to cloud computing is necessary. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work, but the benefits of cloud computing can improve security, productivity and efficiency.
Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (EFSS)
EFSS is a powerful way to foster collaboration and improve efficiency, but it presents a number of challenges to businesses. While it's tempting to use content solutions like DropBox for file sharing, the risk to your business in doing so is often too high, since you have no control over changes to the documents and no ability to recover lost documents.
SyncedTool not only makes it possible to collaborate efficiently, with multiple users being able to access the same document at the same time, but also offers comprehensive security solutions, including:
- The ability to remotely wipe an employee's device if needed, to protect your data
- The ability to control who has access to which documents as well as the ability to restrict levels of access
- The ability to rapidly remove access to files once an employee leaves the company
- Secure, local hosting of your documents and files, making backup and recovery a non-issue
SyncedTool is a more robust system that gives you the power of efficient, cost-effective collaboration without the security and productivity risk of consumer-based document sharing tools like DropBox.
From filing cabinets to wireless hard drives, file or data storage has always been a key consideration for any organization. Adequate, reliable storage is a critical means of protecting your data and that of your customers. As well, your choice of data storage directly impacts server and application performance, making storage a critical component of your IT infrastructure.
The storage industry is in the midst of its largest transition in more than 20 years. Solid state storage (also referred to as flash storage) is becoming standard in most new laptops and tablets. Established storage companies are racing to integrate flash storage into their legacy devices, and new storage companies are emerging with new designs for flash. These new technologies introduce staggering benefits: power, density and incredible speed improvements
thinkCSC has recently partnered with one of the most successful pioneering storage companies: Nimble Storage. Nimble has developed a unique way of optimizing the best of both disk and flash storage options into a simple, easy-to-use storage solution, creating a "Hybrid Storage" technology that we believe will provide a significant advantage to our clients.
Nimble vs. Traditional Storage: Performance
- Nimble's file system provides 50 times more performance than the traditional disk equivalent.
- Hybrid storage offers speeds that rival flash performance but at disk prices.
Nimble vs. Traditional Storage: Simplicity
- Nimble Storage setup takes less than an hour, and storage management is a breeze. We can add more storage in just a few minutes.
- With Nimble's cloud-based InfoSight, our storage array is monitored by Nimble support in real-time.
- Using the InfoSight portal, we are able to track usage and performance data over time, providing you with much more transparency and information than with traditional storage methods.
Nimble vs. Traditional Storage: Data Protection and Security
- Nimble offers near-instant data protection and data recovery with its built-in snapshots. Snapping data every 15 minutes with several months of retention gives us a very simple, yet complete protection strategy with very little space utilization. In the event of data loss, entire volumes or individual files can be recovered.
- Since snapshots and replication are included for free, we can easily add an offsite array for offsite date retention and disaster recovery.
- Nimble's snaps require less space and provide extended retention capabilities without impacting performance, thereby offering a huge improvement over traditional storage technology.
We have received several reports from clients who are receiving suspicious emails from Xerox WorkCentre, whether or not they actually use the device.
If you receive a message with “Scanned Image from a Xerox WorkCentre” as a subject and a zip file as an attachment, DO NOT OPEN IT FOR ANY REASON.
As a general practice, no company or device (copier, fax machine, scanner) will ever send you a zip file. You may receive zip files from individuals, but companies and services will not typically send zip files; always proceed with caution.
The Service Desk is always available to answer questions if someone is unsure of a file or attachment. Please contact us if you have opened the email or receive suspicious emails in the future.
One of the great wonders about this festive time of year, regardless of which holiday people celebrate, is that it brings out the very best in virtually everyone. From shoveling a neighbor’s driveway to sponsoring a family in need, we all tend to be our most altruistic selves during this time of year.
It is also during the holidays that we have the chance to demonstrate gratitude and recognize what is really important to us. It’s not how many packages we have under our trees that matters, but instead, how we can make a difference. At thinkCSC, we endeavor to maintain that Christmas spirit all year, and we are grateful to all of you who help us do that. We wish you all a very happy holiday season.
While there may be a number of technical and administrative hurdles preventing you from getting work done, during this time of year, inclement weather and a variety of holiday disruptions make doing so even more difficult.
thinkCSC offers a variety of solutions to help you foster productivity during the holidays while allowing employees to work from home. And we can help you protect your data at the same time.
Not only will you be able to minimize security risks, fostering a remote workforce can reduce risk of personal injury due to hazardous commutes and can keep your team members happy through the holidays. All of this can be realized without sacrificing your business. The goals of implementing a successful remote workforce program should include security, ease of use and flexibility.
Improve Security with Controlled Access
When you allow staff to work from home, one of the biggest concerns you'll have to address is information security. From ensuring your secure data doesn't land in the wrong hands to keeping relevant data with the appropriate employees, SyncedTool is a cloud-based solution that allows you to control who can access what files. This tool even provides a remote wipe option in case an employee opts to take a permanent vacation.
Make Working Off-Site Simple and Seamless with Remote Desktop and VoIP
When an employee logs in from home, regardless of the device they are using, it should be a seamless experience. The employee should be able to have exactly the same data set at home as they would at work. A remote desktop allows your employee to have access to everything he or she would have at the office, without the company's security being compromised. VoIP allows any customer to call your employee's extension and have it ring through to their cell phone wherever they are.
Improving Worker Flexibility Is Good for Business
Bob Schulz, a professor at the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business, co-authored a book on the benefits of what Canadians refer to as teleworking. "It makes a lot of sense for not only corporate productivity but also reducing emissions, reducing accidents and also improving productivity. It really is difficult from an analytical perspective to see why companies aren't encouraging more telework," explains Schulz. Ensuring business as usual during the winter months can be one of the most pressing issues this time of year for any organization; however, allowing your employees to work from home and providing the means to ensure the successful launch of a remote workforce is a viable answer to this often bitter-cold challenge. And freeing your employees from the chains of a cubicle can improve productivity, loyalty and service.
When implementing a flexible work arrangement, whether this includes your whole staff or a single employee, the most important factors to address are the security of your data and the seamlessness of the experience. thinkCSC's cloud solutions, including SyncedTool and Remote Desktop as well as VoIP, will help you develop flexible work policies that offer measurable benefit to the company without the risk to your data or your employees.
What is it about November that makes most of us feel that, even with the extra hour at the end of Daylight Savings Time, we still do not have enough time in a day to do all of the things we want or need to do?
Perhaps it is the Halloween sugar rush that propels us into this festive month, forcing us to lose track of time. November is also the month whenmen grow beards simply because they can, and writers endeavor to complete a novel by cramming 50,000 words into one month. Football almost gets lost in the shuffle!
No matter what fills our November calendars, most of us take a moment to reflect on the past year, realizing all the reasons for which we have to be grateful. Here at CSC, we have had a pretty fabulous 2013. We are exceptionally grateful for the continued support of our clients and partners; we are fortunate to be part of the Columbus community.
Whether you have opted to adopt a slightly shaggier look this month, or you are making an effort to overcome writer's block, we are grateful for your continued patronage.
Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!
thinkCSC is urging all VoIP users to take precautions when receiving voicemail to email services, as thinkCSC has identified a new security risk targeting VoIP users. The attack sends a voicemail to email with a .zip or .exe attachment that, when opened, can infect the user’s system and network.
The voicemail to email message will look like it comes from your messaging system but will be from an unknown number. thinkCSC urges VoIP users to proceed with caution when receiving a message from an unknown number. Do not open any .zip or .exe files. Legitimate voicemail to email message formats are .wav or ,mp3 files; if you receive any other type of file, you should assume it is a fake voicemail to email message.
These harmful messages are typically from numbers using non-existent area codes. A listing of all U.S. and Canadian area codes can be found here.
What To Do If You Have Received a Fake Voicemail to Email Message on Your VoIP Service:
- Do not open any message that is not in .wav or .mp3 format
- If you receive a message with a .exe or .zip file attached, DO NOT open it
- If you believe your system has already been compromised, or if you have already opened the file, contact thinkCSC right away.
If you have any questions or believe you have been a target of this threat, please contact our team at your earliest convenience.
Ohio has once again been represented as one of the best states to do business, according to Site Selection magazine, and is now ranked as the fourth best state in 2013. Corporate site selector surveys account for 50 percent of the ranking; the remaining percentage is based on criteria that includes competitiveness rank, qualified projects and firms' state tax burden. Columbus has also been recognized by Forbes as one of thebest cities for tech jobs and one of the best cities for working mothers. Ohio was even named the best state for banking in 2012 by Money Rates.
That's quite a résumé. But why is Ohio such a great state in which to do business?
As a business owner and long-time resident of the state, I believe a combination of factors make Ohio a great state for business development. Not only do the state and city leaders work tirelessly to create opportunity, support businesses and encourage our talented graduates to stay in Ohio after they graduate, but there is a singular focus on innovation in Ohio.
Ohio is the home of two of the world's greatest innovators, Orville and Wilbur Wright, who owned and operated a bicycle repair shop in Dayton while they endeavored to build a flying machine. And since their time, Ohio has continued to emphasize technology, innovation and smart growth. In a PR Newswire article, the Ohio Business Development Coalition and former Governor Ted Strickland cite a number of advances in education, technology and the state tax structure that account for Ohio's successful business climate.
Businesses enjoy other advantages in Ohio. The state is centrally located, having access to the greater percentage of the U.S. population; given the abundance academic institutions, the state touts a large talent pool from which to draw; the aforementioned business-friendly tax environment gives businesses a distinct advantage; and the community offers a great deal of support. And did I mention that the quality of life in Ohio is phenomenal?
Whether you are just beginning to build your business or have already established a successful business in Ohio, you already know the truth: Ohio is a good place for business.
Zero-Day attacks targeting Windows users has been detected by Microsoft and is already affecting people in Asia an the Middle East. It is expected to spread to the U.S. and Europe very quickly. This vulnerability enters your system when you open a .TIFF file and allows the attacker (potentially on a remotely hosted computer) to gain administrative access to your system and network.
It is imperative that you refrain from opening any questionable .TIFF file, as the messages are often constructed to make the user believe they are coming from a trusted choice.
While Microsoft is working to develop a patch to protect users, at this time, current antivirus and firewall solutions are unable to prevent infection. Most vulnerable are Microsoft Office users who are running Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008. Microsoft Office 2003 through Office 2010 are impacted in this zero-day attack.
If you have any questions or believe you have been a target of this threat, please contact our team at your earliest convenience.
We are receiving a number of reports from clients that the latest OS X Mavericks updates are creating major compatibility, hardware driver, file sharing and printing compatibility issues, as well as other problems. We recommend that you refrain from installing OS X Mavericks until you check with us in order to avoid downtime. Apple is providing OS X Mavericks under the normal updates section with no cost associated with the update.
Because of the issues we’re seeing, we believe the wisest approach is to contact our tech team first and make sure you will not experience any of the compatibility issues being reported. If you have already run the update and you’re experiencing problems, please let us know. If you have any questions or need assistance with your OS X Mavericks update, please contact our team at your earliest convenience.
Windows XP, like the dinosaur, the Dodo Bird, and the Sabre Tooth Tiger before it, will be extinct by next April. There is no saving it – it’s doomed to be another relic in a museum. Because Microsoft support for Windows XP will end in April 2014.
Software can be a lot like a comfortable pair of boots. You like how it looks and feels. It’s comfortable. And because of that, you may hesitate to upgrade when you should. But like those broken-in, worn-out boots that leave you with at least a bruised ego, choosing not to upgrade your software can leave you with much more painful damage. Regardless of which platform you choose, upgrading your Windows operating system is crucial if you want to receive Microsoft support and protect your business systems from vulnerability. The risks of using extinct, unsupported software include:
- Potential security breaches
- Reduced functionality
- Incompatibility with other programs
- Increased downtime
For those businesses in which the computer is a way to track invoices, send a few emails and occasionally update a website, Windows 7 may be the preferred choice. Windows 7 allows for a variety of customizations to the look and feel of your computer yet remains a basic tool for one-clicking your way to the programs and files you use most often.
For those businesses with a mobile workforce, and for those who work as much from a tablet or phone as they do a desktop or laptop, Windows 8 is designed to be a mobile-friendly operating system. Windows 8 is for people who embrace change and already spend more time using touchscreens than they do typing.
Recently, several of our clients have been exposed to a new variant of malware which is becoming known as Crypto Locker. Antivirus vendors are working
diligently to combat the virus. However, it is still possible for the malware to infect the machine even if it has current, up-to-date antivirus
Crypto Locker specifically targets Word, Excel, PDF and possibly other file types. It encrypts the files and makes them unusable. Typically, a single machine (or more) on a network becomes infected. The malware proceeds to modify all of the specific files on that machine, as well as any files that machine has access to on its network, including mapped drives to shared servers. One infected machine can quickly spread, making nearly all company files stored on the network unusable.
On the machine that is actually infected, you will likely see a pop-up called CryptoLocker stating that your files have been encrypted and try to ransom you to pay hundreds of dollars to have them unencrypted.
thinkCSC would advise you to not pay them any money or give them any information.
It is unlikely that paying them will result in fixing your issue and this will likely result in fraud and other problems. It is important that these issues be reported as quickly as possible. The infected machine should be shut down and removed from the network.
On machines that are uninfected but trying to access files that have been changed by Crypto Locker, you may receive errors like ‘File is not in a recognizable format,’ ‘<Filename> cannot be opened because it is an unsupported filetype or has been damaged,’ and other variations of those messages.
The fix? In most cases, there is not one. The only tried and true solution, until Antivirus vendors are able to adapt, is to restore from backups. If you
have an antiquated or untested backup system, possibly including tape backups, this could become quite problematic and lead to extensive downtime.
There are several lessons to learn from this. First, it is important to have a strong, automated backup solution that runs on a regular basis. Second, that backup solution should have monitoring and be tested on a regular basis. Third, point in time and time to restore need to be taken very seriously. If you only backup once day, you will likely lose an entire day or more of data should you need to restore. Time to restore is another important consideration. If you have to bring in tapes from offsite and then perform a restore, it will take longer before you and your data will be on working terms again. Fourth, it is always important to have currently licensed, updated Antivirus. This is a first line of defense and not a perfect solution that will stop 100% of all threats, so it is also important to have a complete protection system including email security, strong firewall, antivirus, and a comprehensive automated backup solution and patch management.
Students returned to school in Ohio last month, and with their return, administrators are challenged to not only deliver a quality education but also to meet new mandates that require technology to be incorporated into the educational experience. By the 2014-2015 school year students will be required to complete their final exams using a computer-based testing system rather than the old bubble-answer-sheet multiple-choice exams.
Technology requirements are already written into the new education standards. And while the goals of the Ohio Department of Education are laudable, implementing the new requirements has proved to be both costly and difficult for school administrators. Sourcing equipment at a reasonable cost, updating infrastructure to handle the influx of users and handling the issue of security, both on campus and off, with devices that travel to and from school has made back-to-school time more difficult.
Even when school districts are large enough to employ their own IT staffs, the burden of managing student technology needs can be overwhelming. thinkCSC has partnered with a number of school districts in Ohio to extend the ability of their existing IT staffs, to handle the growing tech demands Ohio schools are facing and will continue to face. In addition to sourcing equipment at the most competitive prices, thinkCSC offers a warranty service for schools that removes the burden of repair and replacement issues, by offering a warranty service that costs less than the manufacturer warranty and includes pick up and repair services.
As schools face looming deadline requiring them to provide computer-based testing to all students in order to meet the latest round of Ohio tech mandates, the challenge will be to do so without sacrificing the quality of the education or spending more than the school budget can endure. thinkCSC is a successful Ohio education partner and can help Ohio schools meet the challenges of the new tech mandates more effectively, providing solutions that enhance the experience for students and teachers while removing the burden from the shoulders of administrators.
Contact us today for more information.
thinkCSC has partnered with Anchor, combining thinkCSC’s powerful hosting and managed services with Anchor's sync, sharing and collaboration platform to give partners unprecedented collaboration on a secure, locally hosted network. SyncedTool provides a distinctive and secure way for you to do business. Implementing SyncedTool will allow businesses to eliminate the need for VPNs and FTPs, which can represent a significant cost savings.
SyncedTool is a true business solution.
Dropbox vs. SyncedTool: Collaboration
SyncedTool gives employees the ability to collaborate on documents, as files can be opened and revised simultaneously from multiple sites. It is a powerful and secure collaboration tool. Dropbox will recognize only one version of a file; therefore, there are no shared files, and employees working on identical files run the risk of overwriting one another’s versions.
Dropbox vs. SyncedTool: File Access
Many companies have moved their files to the cloud or are giving serious thought to making the transition to a cloud-based collaboration solution. Whereas in the past most companies have relied on local file servers to store and revise documents, this method has proven over time to be inefficient. Yet another drawback presented by local file servers is that, while users can access a file server via a virtual private network (VPN) or using file transfer protocol (FTP), there is no offline access. This prevents mobile access and forces users to email themselves files, which presents both a security risk and a risk that the most current version of the document is not available to the entire team. Furthermore, users provided with access to the file server may also have access to your system. Utilizing local file servers is not only inefficient; it is an insecure way of doing business.
Dropbox vs. SyncedTool: Security
SyncedTool can be scaled to the number of users who are required to work internally. If you have 50 internal employees and only 15 need to work offline, then you only need to have 15 users added to the service. Employees and guest users can be added as needed; however, you maintain control over what documents may be accessed by each user. When employees leave your company, access may be restricted as necessary. With SyncedTool, you can remove employee accounts from the system and remotely wipe file access from computers and handheld devices.
Google Drive and Dropbox provide ways to improve file access and efficiency, but they do not provide network security, nor do they allow users to work on the same file simultaneously. With these solutions, a stranger hosts your data, and everyone uses the same encryption key. There is no way to track employee data usage or document access, and there is no revision history.
Dropbox vs. SyncedTool: Secure Hosting
External hosting also means that your information will be stored on a remote, third-party server, without the benefit of local administration. And should the remote server go down, your documents go with it. There is no integration with your business environment or applications. Ultimately, these external hosting services control your data (deleting revisions and files without your consent) and provide no true means of backing up or restoring your files. These hosting services are consumer solutions, not business solutions.
One of the primary benefits of SyncedTool is that if you do have an issue, you can call thinkCSC. A stranger isn’t hosting your data anymore, a neighbor is. Other offsite data hosting services may be free, but in the end, you get what you pay for. SyncedTool is an investment worth considering to empower your teams for better collaboration without sacrificing security and compliance. When choosing between Dropbox and SyncedTool, there is only one choice.