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ByDaniel Gottilla

Information Technology and Company Reputation

Company reputation is one of those make-or-break deals in today’s business climate. Companies like Zappos, which thrives on good word-of-mouth, have put the spotlight on the importance of customer service and online image in building a successful business.

However, company reputation isn’t just about good customer service. Company reputation goes beyond making a customer feel good to making sure your customers never realize that you put time, effort, and money into making the entire interaction positive.

For example, few customers think about the amount of capacity planning their financial may or may not have considered before going live with online banking. They don’t care how many other customers are using the billpay system at the same time as them, and they don’t care how much it costs you to create a secure network. What they care about is getting their financial information in real time and not being bothered by an overloaded system.

In this way, information technology is a lot like a building’s foundation. Few people know just how much architectural planning goes into creating the foundation for their home; all they know is that they want the house to remain solid even when earthquakes, mudslides, and regular wear and tear make their mark.

That’s why any negative feedback from consumers on the state of your IT system can be catastrophic to your business. This doesn’t just mean that you have to protect against an attack that threatens your customer data or safety; it also means you have to have a strong infrastructure that is able to make everything appear effortless and easy.

For many companies, this means you need a greater focus on capacity planning and IT vulnerability management. IT planning is, after all, the real scene-behind-the-scenes of any good company that operates online or utilizes a large database of customer information. Whether you need to build a new IT backbone from the ground-up, or you simply want to reassess your foundation and fill in the cracks, you, too, can benefit from a good company reputation.

ByDaniel Gottilla

Information Technology: Why Hire a Third Party

As more and more people become computer-savvy and companies open up IT departments to handle information and technology needs, the idea of hiring a third party may seem like an expense you simply don’t need. However, there are benefits to a third party IT professional beyond the obvious.

Vulnerability programs can slow your system down. Your employees and customers need to use your network every day in order to make purchases and get the job done. Vulnerability assessments and security scans can take up some of that precious bandwidth and make your system slow down. A third party IT firm can run their programs during non-office hours without placing a burden on your employees.

When it comes to knowledge, sharing is key. One of the primary benefits of an IT firm is that the professionals have worked with dozens of firms in the same industry as yours. While a reputable firm would never share sensitive information, they may have insight into best practices and new technologies that may or may not have worked for another company.

Distance provides clarity. In the bustle of day-to-day activities, an on-site IT department or professional might prioritize tasks according to a skewed system. After all, your employees have their own to-do lists and tasks to be completed, and they may not have the “bigger picture” in mind. When you work with an outside IT firm, you can create your own list of priorities and act accordingly. This will ensure that the most important (and foundation-building) tasks get done first.

It doesn’t matter whether your company is considering information technology risks for the first time or if you’ve been in the business of IT safety for years; looking for a third party IT provider is a great step. Save time, save money, and save the headache of IT disasters to come by outsourcing all your IT needs.

ByDaniel Gottilla

Financial Institutions and Vulnerability Management

If you’re in the business of money, vulnerability management should be on your list of priorities. In addition to security risks that change as often as the market, there are also considerations in federal regulations regarding customer data safety, as well.

There are a number of components of a good vulnerability management plan, including everything from finding weaknesses to making sure employee compliance is at its height. Some of the major components include:

  • Policies and Procedures: How does your company define rights and responsibilities for employee device use, user identity, and server access? How accessible and enforced is this information?

  • Baseline and Assessment: Where are your biggest weaknesses – in the system or in employee use? Have you run a vulnerability assessment, and what are the findings?

  • Priorities: Now that you know where your vulnerabilities lie, how important are they? What needs to be addressed immediately, and what can be put off until the budget allows?

  • Solutions: Most companies fail the biggest in this category of vulnerability management: follow-through. Knowing where your weaknesses lie will only help you strengthen your infrastructure if you do something about them.

  • Regular Maintenance: For financial institutions, this step is key. Information regulations are always changing, and in order to avoid liability and maintain a good name in the industry, you have to put data security at the top of your list.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the market for a vulnerability management review or if you’re considering it for the first time – you can benefit from the services of an IT consulting firm that specializes in your industry.

ByDaniel Gottilla

Managing and Staffing an IT Team

Managing an IT team and creating one are two very different, yet crucial, aspects of a company’s IT infrastructure. In order to maintain the integrity of a team, you must demonstrate effective management techniques while respecting the knowledge and skill of every member.

The following are successful tips on how to manage an IT team:

  • Maintain professionalism: Make sure they know that they were chosen for this particular job for a reason.
  • Keep them educated: They are specialized members of this team for a reason, and extended knowledge will help your security system as well as their professional advancements.
  • Allow independence: Though they work as a team, individualism brings forth effective solutions and ideas.
  • Stay informed on the team’s progress: Management requires involvement; use your credentials to assist any way that you can.

Staffing an IT team requires utilizing management skills as well, only rather than managing a team, you are organizing one. You need to find out what kind of team will best suit your company regarding your IT infrastructure.

Traits that are essential for every IT team include:

  • Creativity
  • Productivity
  • Resourcefulness
  • Trustworthiness

Building a system that safely secures the backbone to any business – their network – requires essential knowledge and trust. The information that this team is exposed to is confidential and critical; a wrong employee could be a bigger threat than any security breach or disaster.

These are the reasons why managing an IT team is such an imperative task. Essential skills go into IT management which is why a manager’s involvement is critical when implementing attributes in a business’ IT infrastructure.

ByDaniel Gottilla

Should I Outsource My Disaster Recovery Needs?

Imagine a world where you can design a recovery plan, inform an outsider of your needs and requirements, and have that ideal plan successfully implemented within your business without the hassle of training time…

A good disaster recovery plan will include extensive personnel training, data backup, insurance problem contronl, and vulnerability metrics – among other things. This is an overwhelming amount of work that requires time, money, and employees to accomplish.

That is why outsourcing has become a popular tactic used by many businesses to find staff that will successfully fill this essential task.

The process of outsourcing diaster recovery needs is actually different from hiring employees, because you are looking to hire a specified group who specializes in disaster recovery (and in many cases, a group that has successfully worked together before or an IT consultant who can work on a very temporary basis). This process is all used through something that works similar to employment agencies called “Staff Finders.”

It works as easily as informing “Staff Finders” of what it is you need, and they will take care of the rest for you. These types of agencies refer to a database that views a surplus of qualified candidates that would best suit your company’s disaster recovery needs. This saves you and your employees the time of training and effectively implements a recovery plan by IT specialists educated in this process.

Outsourcing for a disaster recovery plan seems like an ideal solution for all of your IT security needs. This process executes the purpose of all of Guidance Consulting’s services by allowing businesses to focus on their reputable nature of doing what it is they do best.

ByDaniel Gottilla

Vulnerability Metrics, Simplified

In its most basic form, vulnerability metrics is a set of values assigned to networks and applications. However,  in order to use it to prevent an IT disaster, you need to know how to use those metrics effectively. Vulnerability metrics are best used when applied to determine how at risk a business is from a network threat as well as how great of an impact that threat will be.

Imagine the following scenario:

You suspect theft from within your company. What kind of measures would you take to catch the thief, prevent it from happening again, and regain whatever it is that has been affected?  What actvities can be set aside while you focus on this task, and  what simply cannot be sacrificed at this time?

Vulnerability metrics is basically the network of professionals behind the hero in an action-packed thriller movie. While the hero is responsible for going out there and getting things done, he can’t do it without someone he trusts processing his information, warning him of risks, and providing a sounding board for making the right decisions.

In the same way, without the metrics allowing you to compare and identify your most important threats, you not only leave your network exposed and defenseless, but it will be difficult to recuperate from the threat and you would not know how to prevent it from happening again. After all, you have to keep that hero alive and working.

There is a weakness to every organization, it is finding it and controlling it that is the true task. Once you are aware of your company’s weakness, you can understand the affects of it and learn how to prevent it.

Though it is easy to obtain vulnerability metrics, implementing them is a harder task if you are not properly trained. A well-qualified employee or an IT consultant has been trained to use the metrics system specifically for your business and your bottom line. With the correct training, vulnerability metrics can be an essential service in protection your business.

ByDaniel Gottilla

IT Professionals: Why You Need Task Automation and Corrective Processing Skills

With the IT market booming like no other industry in the world, the skills needed to administer task automation and corrective processing will help professionals of all shapes and sizes move ahead.

Task automation is the process that requires the creation of scripts and simplifies interactive tasks created by programs. Corrective processing (the more complicated of the two) requires more attention and detail. Though it is more complex, corrective processing is used almost everywhere. It is what seems to be the logic behind the IT industry.

If you have the skills and knowledge to perform both of these tasks, then your future in the IT industry may be very profitable and successful. At almost any job in the world, you want to be the one that knows most and best. Obtaining the knowledge of task automation and corrective processing can put you ahead in the IT field by just having a thirst to learn more.

Part of staying on top of these types of skills requires you to undergo regular training and education. When you work with an IT firm like Guidance Consulting, many of these skill-building exercises are built in to your placement process. This equals good news for both professionals and companies looking to hire you: the most highly-trained IT professionals will get better results.

ByDaniel Gottilla

IT Career Planning

Despite a rough economy, choosing a career in the IT field has never been a better idea. Not only is the field poised to grow over the next decade, but there are more options than ever before in temporary, part-time, or even overseas placement.

Whether you are starting out straight from college, or you have years of experience in the field, there are opportunities in information technology that will keep you operating at your best.

For College Graduates

One of the key components that college recruiters root into the brains of students is: NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK. It is all about who you know. Get your name out there by interning, volunteering, and working on related school projects. This will often help down the road when you are hunting for you suitable career.

You might also want to consider working with an IT staffing company to help build experience and diversify your resume. Because jobs are offered on a temporary and part-time basis, you can grow your skills and undergo training as you work out in the field.

For Experienced Professionals

Internet employment agencies have become a new wave for companies pursuing new faces because they broadly cover individuals rather than focusing on one group or area. These types of agencies also offer greater competition, and it is convenient to update your portfolio/profile as you expand your experience and skills.

Companies like Guidance Consulting also provide a helpful tool to use for IT information of any kind, including employment opportunities as well as “how-to” steps toward fulfilling IT needs in any industry. Because you are working with an established firm, you also get to make contacts with a wide network of individuals and professionals in information technology.

ByDaniel Gottilla

Understanding Security Breaches

An important part of a disaster recovery system is preparing for security breaches. A security breach is any intentional act on a network of any kind. Even though a company might survive a breach and successfully retrieve its ‘stolen’ information, the biggest problem of the entire disaster is that this information is no longer secure. In this case, the use of recovery tools is simply not enough to regain client’s trust – or even meet all federal guidelines.

This incident is similar to that of identity theft. The results can be disastrous to an individual regarding credit, stolen money, and the hassle of resolving it all. The same goes for a company. If this situation were to occur, a company’s reputation would be on the line as well as the threat of their security system.

So, how can you prevent this from happening again? How can you recover from the damage?

In order to secure companies after a major disaster like this, it’s best to first secure the software and hardware of the network. Make certain that all non-vulnerable areas (such as firewalls and verification servers) are secure. Secondly, make certain to involve an IT specialist. Although you are dealing with machinery and technology, specialized human monitoring could be the key to preventing these disasters from occuring again.

At the end of the day, the most important part of a company is its INFORMATION. That is the answer, nothing else. Without it there would be no profit, no clientele, no business. We use technology to protect technology but that is simply not enough. Without the proper specialist to operate the security system, resources are vulnerable and recovery tools are useless.

ByDaniel Gottilla

How to Outsmart Hackers

Hackers are a form of intelligent disease geared toward businesses. When it comes to IT infrastructure, the only way to outsmart hackers is to think like them. This is vital information to keep in mind while developing an IT team. Hackers may use any aspect of business vulnerability in order to gain a connection to the desired information. Social engineering is also a key method for these threatening individuals because of the information that they can potentially obtain.

If an IT team successfully secures a company’s system, than breaching into that network becomes more difficult for a hacker; unfortunately, these individuals are specialized in manipulating people to get the information they want. This is known as social engineering.

Techniques of social engineering to be aware of are:

  • Smooth-talking or flattering potential information holders
  • Suspiciously gaining trust
  • Manipulating employees to learn information on system operations
  • Impersonating authoritative personnel via phone or e-mail

Though these are difficult traits to identify, suspicious individuals asking for access to e-mail accounts or password changes (or any other task that should be operated by a system administrator) should be taken into consideration as a potential hacker. Simple solutions toward avoiding hackers include educating employees about hackers and their methods, securing private information by informing only qualified personnel, and implementing procedures for password protection that ensures no outside party gains access to it.

If employees are not properly trained to avoid a violation from a hacker, than the company becomes more vulnerable to these threatening individuals. Thinking like a hacker can result in keeping your business vulnerable and securing its most vital information.