It’s official! We’re in the heart of hurricane season, and as Hurricane Katia makes her way across the Atlantic, and as individuals and businesses pick up the pieces from damage caused by Hurricane Irene, I thought it important to discuss why a data backup strategy is an important piece of your disaster recovery plan. As many along the north eastern coast learned last weekend, hurricanes are quite unpredictable by nature and you really just never know what threat a storm may pose so it’s best to stay prepared.
As we discussed a two weeks ago at Cracking the Code: Business Technology, safeguarding your business from a data disaster should not be considered optional for any business owner. In fact, the safety of company data is a very important aspect of risk management for your company and is equally important as auto or liability insurance. If your business experiences a flood, a fire, or a hurricane and you lose important company data, there is no insurance policy that will save you. At that moment having your data will be all that matters.
Given this reality, I wish to drive home the point by sharing a few chilling statistics regarding data loss. Chew on these numbers for a moment:
Despite the fact that both the cost of storage and data backup solutions have come down considerably in cost, suprisingly small business owners cite cost as the number one reason for not having a data backup solution in place. Personally, I think there is a strong misconception that data backup is expensive. Not only is data backup inexpensive, but it can also be quite easy to setup and configure. So how do you safeguard yourself? Let’s make it really simple.
Ideally, you should have 3 copies of your data. The original, an onsite backup, and an offsite backup. Additionally, your backup solution should be automatic and require as little ongoing management and manual involvement as possible. Setting it and forgetting is the name of the game, however you should make sure the software you have notifies you in the event that a backup fails.
Your onsite backup solution will vary depending on whether you have a central server in your place of business where all your data is stored or if your data resides on decentralized laptops and workstations. In the case of a central server you should probably utilize an external hard drive to back your data up. Even though your server may be equipped with a tape backup, we generally advise against using tapes. Tapes not only require the manual intervention to change them, restoring data from tapes can be prone to error. Having an onsite backup has the advantage of being much quicker to restore from in the event that an important file goes deleted or if you need to recover your data in its entirety.
In addition to your onsite backup, we strongly advise an offsite (or cloud) backup. Why? In the event you get hit with a physical disaster, an onsite backup could be destroyed along with your original. An offsite backup is also the recommend option for scenarios where your company data is decentralized on different workstations and laptops.
There are numerous online backup services that provide secure and continuous methods for storing a copy of your data offsite. We have personally worked with quite a few, and a quick Google search will reveal some of the main players in the industry such as Backblaze, Mozy Pro, Carbonite and others.
If you have a large amount of data, it may not be feasible to upload all this data within a reasonable timeframe to your offsite provider. To minimize the chance that you experience a data disaster prior to all your data being uploaded, you may wish to ‘seed’ your data backup. Seeding simply means sending a copy of your data directly to the online data backup provider to be the initial set against which future backups are done. Make sure to check if your desired online backup provider offers this option.
My advice, take data backup seriously, put a solution in place and use it. You never know when a disaster may strike, so make sure your data backup is not an afterthought. If you need help selecting and implementing a data backup strategy, please feel free to give us a call.
Welcome to the second and final installment of my two part post about password management. Let me prepare you now; this post may get a bit technical because I want to make sure you understand the need for strong passwords, and understand why and how your password may be vulnerable. Worry not, I’ll be sure to include links to additional information if you’re interested in learning more. Let’s get to it.
What Makes a Password Strong?
The very short answer to this question is length (no pun intended). Traditionally we’ve operated under the assumption that more complex password are more secure, but given the way most password cracking tools work what really matters is length not complexity. The reason for this is that “bay guys” aren’t sitting around guessing what your password is, they’re most likely using a tool that simply tests all the possible combinations of letters, numbers and symbols in a given length which means the longer the password the exponentially longer it will take to guess the correct combination. For a more detailed and technical explanation please listen to Security Now! Episode 303: Password Haystacks.
What this means, is that you want your password to be as long as possible but not necessarily so complex that you can’t remember it. Now there are some general rules:
How to Make a Strong, Easy to Remember Password?
Keeping in mind that what matters most is length, your main goal is to devise a scheme where you can create a long and easy to remember password with only just enough complexity.
My recommendation is that you devise a phrase that you will easily remember and modify it slightly for each system you use the password for.
Example: Let’s say you started your first job on April 24, 1998 then you might create a scheme that will use this information to generate a strong, unique password like:
“I started working @ gmail.com on 4/24/98″ (without the quotes even though you could use the quotation marks as well) for your Gmail account and “I started working @ wellsfargo.com on April 24 98″ for your online banking.
The first password is 40 characters in length and is just as strong as “C@&yP6l@fW!4^rf$k@QFLCV5#24MM#58LLh1G&85″ which is also 40 characters in length but as you can see the first one is MUCH easier to remember.
Keep in mind that not all services will allow you to create such a long password. Some websites or systems limit you to only twelve (12) characters or less which means that you need more variability. In these cases make sure you have at the very least one (1) uppercase letter, lowercase letter, number and symbol. Using the same example as above you may have gMail@042496 as your password or something similar. This way you’ll only have to remember your special date (only something you would know) and the website you’re logging into. The key is to develop a formula, once you memorize the formula you won’t have to remember individual passwords.
So now we’ve discussed using a password manager to generate and store the many passwords you have to use everyday and we’ve also discussed creating your own personal, unique formula for generating secure passwords when it’s inconvenient to use a password manager (to log into a computer or application for example). The main points to keep in mind are:
Disclaimer: Please do not use the exact schemes described in this post. They’re provided just as an example of how you can use your own personal information to generate easy to remember secure passwords.
GRC Password Haystack – See how longer passwords are generally better and that complexity is less important.
XKCD: Password Strength – A fun comic strip on this very subject and inspired by the above link.
@delancyhill: Follow #crackingthecode Mission Possible business tech tips today w/@excelsiusgurus,w/@invizio,w/@delancyhill, w/@sflabizjournal, w/@GT_Law
August 18, 2011, 8:15 am
@invizio: We’re in the building. About to kick off our workshop at #crackingthecode.
August 18, 2011, 9:37 am
@RegalSpri: Top online collaboration platforms: Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365, Zoho Apps #crackingthecode
August 18, 2011, 10:18 am
@YPNMiami: Top online collaboration platforms: Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365, Zoho Apps #crackingthecode
August 18, 2011, 10:18 am
@invizio: We’re having a great time here at #crackingthecode
August 18, 2011, 10:59 am
@invizio: Touching on how you can get Internet while on the go #mobility #crackingthecode
August 18, 2011, 12:05 pm
Despite a few stubborn sun showers that blanketed the morning sky, the Cracking the Code: Business Technology half day seminar got off to a brisk start at Jungle Island as attendees streamed into the event to learn about current trends and best practices in business technology, how to go virtual, and how disaster proof their business. With opening remarks from the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce President, Bill Diggs, and an introductory address from seminar host Kevin V. Michael, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of managed IT services company Invizio, the stage was set for yet another engaging and interactive Business Empowerment Networking Series.
Title sponsor representative Sandy Sloane of Comcast Business Class took the stage to introduce a few of their services to the audience of entrepreneurs, business owners, tech enthusiasts and the like, after which the first workshop topic of the day was led by Kyle Hurst, Co-Founder of Invizio. Mr. Hurst discussed the importance of data backup as a key component of disaster recovery and preparedness. Stressing that all business owners should have 3 copies of their data, Kyle provided tangible strategies that business owners should employ to protect themselves.
In an economy where every company is being asked to do more with less, Kevin V. Michael followed with the workshop topic on “Communication and Collaboration Technologies of Tomorrow” and outlined the importance of online collaboration platforms like Google Apps, Office 365, and also discussed the growing trend of online meetings and videoconferencing for business use. Attendees took the time to share their experiences using these various tools, and before long it was clear that everyone was happy to weigh in on the discussion.
Next, Mico Yuk, CEO of Benchmarkers, took the stage to share her real world experiences in scaling and streamlining the processes of her Business Intelligence consulting firm. Engaging the crowd with her stories of, let’s just say, eventful online meetings, Ms. Yuk focused in on the effective use of time in a small business and demonstrated how business owners could leverage technology to improve the time spent building their capability in each functional area of their business.
Coming on the heels of Mico Yuk, Kevin V. Michael kicked off the second half of the workshop session by introducing the topic of cloud computing. Kevin keenly described what cloud computing involved and discussed software-as-service tools for accounting, project management and other tools with which the audience should make themselves familiar. Mr. Michael outlined the use of infrastructure-as-service as a viable technology for reducing capital investment in technology hardware and informed the audience of how to incorporate all the solutions discussed to create a business that has the freedom of being virtual. Closing out the workshop, Kyle Hurst took to the task of explaining various options that the busy professional has at their disposal for Internet connectivity while on the go.
After a decadent lunch, Greenberg Traurig super lawyer and managing shareholder, Jaret Davis, CEO and founder of law firm delancyhill, Marlon Hill, CEO of Benchmarkers Business Intelligence, Mico Yuk, and Co-Founder of managed IT services company Invizio, Kyle Hurst, took the stage to engage in an interactive panel discussion best practices in business technology. Trading ideas on the importance of making sure that organizations are psychologically prepared for the change that new technology represents, each panelist shared experiences from their own organizations.
Kevin V. Michael of Invizio and Jessica Geter of the MDCC wrapped the Cracking the Code: Business Technology by graciously thanking the audience for coming and encouraging them to “Crack the Code” by fearlessly implementing technology into their business practices. Attendees then lined up to give video testimonials of what they liked and learned at the seminar. Video clips of the event are available upon request.
Did you attend Cracking the Code?
We’d love to hear your thoughts! Give us your feedback on the event! http://www.invizio.com/ctcfeedback/
The “cloud” is all the buzz in the technology world this year, but what is “the cloud” all about? Co-founders of South Florida IT services company Invizio welcome South Florida Caribbean News readers to discuss the basics of cloud computing as they relate to small business in this first installment of a video series focused on cloud computing.