Cyber Security for Small Business

  8/7/17    Posted in Business Consulting IT Consulting Microsoft Partner Network Security
VALiNTRY Security Consulting Services

Protecting your Small Business from Cyber Attacks

What would happen if a hacker launched a cyber attack against your business? The answer is all dependent upon your security. Taking the necessary precautions to protect your business is crucial and the VALiNTRY team is here to help.

Over 40% of cyber attacks target small businesses. Hackers don’t always like to go after the big fish in these situations. Most larger organizations understand the importance of investing in cyber security, so their wall of protection is more advanced and acts as a deterrent. Small businesses are actually drawing additional attention from cyber criminals because many times they don’t have the same level of security that a larger firm can afford. Cyber security is a practice that requires consistency, which can be difficult when human interaction is involved.

Your business has exactly what hackers want, employee and customer payment information. If your system isn’t secure, cyber criminals can easily gain access to everything from credit card information to social security numbers. Every business is at risk, but smaller organizations are usually the most vulnerable.

The top 7 security threats to small businesses

Microsoft Security Response Center conducted research on recent cyber attacks which concluded that the average time for infection or exploitation of an unpatched node on a compromised network is as little as 90 seconds.

Although it may be easier for larger organizations to bounce back from data breaches, small to midsize businesses don’t always have the same resources. This means that it is important to protect your organization, employees and your business with the proper IT security.

Some of the top threats include:

  • Growth of mobile malware: It is now easier for criminals to develop and deploy malware onto mobile devices. Businesses routinely use mobile devices, which makes them an easy target for hackers.
  • Data theft from Internet of Things (IoT) devices: Apps connected to the internet with no security makes this specific type of cybercrime easy. Negligence over security measures increases the chance of lawsuits against manufacturers.
  • Extortion attacks from stolen data: Recent successes from extortion efforts has increased the likelihood of additional threats of data details being publicized.
  • Ransomware on the internet: Poorly secured IoT devices are often targeted by hackers who place ransomware on them. These attacks are becoming more advanced, many times completely locking out users.
  • Hacker mercenaries: The dark market attracts many people including mercenaries that understand they can sell access to hacked systems to multiple parties. Often times they resell information stolen by others and post it on sites, this data can be sold and resold.
  • Stolen data aggregation: Many times, hackers will aggregate data from smaller businesses to increase its value. Since these companies are easily targeted, they continue to be hit.
  • Your employees: From making poor password choices to bringing their own devices to work, your employees could be inadvertently exposing you to an increased risk.

Unaware employees, increased security risks for small businesses

Many times, employees don’t understand the security risk that they pose to the organization. At a recent Microsoft Partner Conference, Brad Smith, Chief Legal Officer, said that there is always one employee that is going to click. Despite how careful and diligent your employees may be, this statement is very true. Some employee threat risks that are becoming increasingly concerning include:

  • Passwords: Taking the easy route with passwords increases the risk of a security breach
  • Phishing scams: By unknowingly clicking on a link, opening a document or downloading a file, malware could be introduced to your system.
  • Mobile Devices: Having no security plan or MDM policy in place within your organization means that many times employees will bring their own devices to work which can increase the risk of a breach.
  • Physical Threats: Leaving devices unattended and accessible or writing down passwords can increase the risk of a breach.

When it comes to security, employee education is key and it all begins with Penetration Testing. Penetration testing, also known as a Pen Test, helps to identify vulnerabilities and evaluate the security of an organizations IT infrastructure. From operating systems and services to application flaws and improver configurations, this test helps to exploit risky end user behavior.

Pen test are usually executed by using automated or manual technologies to intentionally compromise an organizations servers, network devices, end points, applications and wireless networks. These technologies successfully exploit risk areas and testers attempt to use the compromised system to launch subsequent exploits. This entails trying to gain access to higher levels of security clearance and other information from privilege escalation.

Once this data has been collected, IT and network system managers help evaluate the information and help train the businesses employees or how to reduce vulnerability risks.

Pen Testing allows an organization to:

  • Manage vulnerabilities
  • Avoid network downtime
  • Meet regular requirements
  • Avoid fines
  • Preserve image
  • Retain customer loyalty

Your business has the option of hiring a pen tester to test your network or purchase penetration software. These analysis’ should be conducted consistently and whenever:

  • New applications or network infrastructure is added
  • Upgrades or modifications are applied
  • New office locations are created
  • Security patches are applied
  • End user policies are modified

There are three types of tests that can be conducted, comprehensive, application and wireless.

  1. Comprehensive penetration tests simulate a situation where an attacker is trying to gain access to assets by exploiting security weaknesses that exist across multiple systems.
  2. Application penetration test, evaluates an organizations custom web applications including antivirus, embedded applications and games.
  3. Wireless penetration tests involve security evaluations of standard corporate WiFi networks to assess the need of specific wireless solutions.

 

Do you need VALiNTRY’s Security Experts to Help your Small Business? Contact us today to learn more.

VALiNTRY Joins the Microsoft Partner Network

  7/14/17    Posted in .NET Business Consulting IT Consulting Microsoft Partner Network News
VALiNTRY is a Microsoft Partner Application Development partner

We have recently earned membership in the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN), which means great news for us and even better news for our growing client base.

The benefits of working with a Microsoft Partner Network Member

What does this partnership mean?

This new affiliation will help blend our unique portfolio of client counseling expertise with Microsoft’s array of advanced creative and support products and services.

An exclusive seal of approval, joining the ranks of the MPN, allows us to help clients gain access to exclusive offerings, reduce costs and generate a consistent revenue stream. Our new designation ensures that we receive the latest technical training, get insight into product usage and more to help our customers. Through this partnership, we can provide our customers additional promotions, discounts and special offers to increase their efficiency and productivity.

Enhanced capabilities of Microsoft Partners

The IT realm is in a constant state of evolution, meaning business’ require expertise to stay on trend with the latest offerings and technology. Take for example, modernizing legacy applications. Over 70% of a typical business’ global transactions run on legacy applications. Most large organizations are in various phases of migrating off of these platforms. From proprietary nature to total cost of ownership (TCO), there are various reasons for the transition and VALiNTRY is here to help.

Due to the wide range of technologies necessary to build modern web and mobile applications, there is a steep learning curve for legacy application developers. Our team of consultants have the experience and capabilities to eliminate this curve and help organizations successfully navigate this migration.

VALiNTRY is a Microsoft Partner with Microsoft Stack expertise

Business operations are becoming more complex and identifying the right software solutions can be confusing. We understand the benefits of the Microsoft Stack for your business since it is the most unique and comprehensive software. It is necessary for successful app development and IT Operations.

Cloud computing allows people to access applications downloaded on a computer or server through the internet. The cloud allows for flexibility, disaster recovery, automatic software updates and more. If not done properly, a migration can present many IT issues, but the experts at VALiNTRY are here to help.

Here’s how the cloud can help your business:
  • Automatic software updates: Servers are hosted off-premise and suppliers maintain and complete regular software updates.
  • Capital-expenditure free: Cloud computing eliminates the high cost of hardware.
  • Document control: Over 70% of workers collaborate with others in different time zones which can cause many complications. Ensure documents are controlled and eliminate conflicting titles, file content and formats.
  • Security: If the event arises that a laptop is at risk, cloud computing provides increased security. Data is stored in the cloud, so it can be accessed despite what may happen with your computer.
  • Competitiveness: Gain access to enterprise class technology. Pay as you go services and cloud business applications ensure that smaller businesses can compete with larger organizations.
  • Flexibility: For fluctuating bandwidth issues, cloud capacity can be scaled through remote servers.
  • Disaster recovery: Smaller businesses may lack the capital and expertise to invest in robust disaster recovery. These organizations are two times more likely to than larger companies to implement cloud based backup and recovery solutions to save time and avoid a large up-front investment.

What can Azure do for my business?

Azure is a quickly growing group of integrated cloud services used to build, deploy and manage applications through a group of global network datacenters. Azure focuses on privacy, security and compliance, protecting your most valuable assets.

Providing a consistent portal experience, Azure leverages highly integrated cloud services so you can quickly develop, deploy and manage apps.

From initial concepts and designs to launch and maintenance, our experts will enhance your existing software applications to help your operations run as smoothly as possible.

Business operations continue to get more complex and choosing the right software solutions can be complicated. Improve your apps an increase speed of delivery with the right application development. Centered around Azure, Dynamics 365 and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Microsoft Stack is the future of app dev and IT operations.

These set of sub systems are used to create one, unified platform to accomplish a specific set of goals that meet your needs. These systems are able to be run by multiple vendors and linked by other programs as well.

As a Microsoft Partner, we are able to provide users at your organization with a customized set of software. Designed to specifically work in unison without creating any types of conflict that may arise when developers are not working together to define the end users’ primary needs.

With a strong familiarity with Microsoft’s options, our consulting team recommends integrating these into your system. Microsoft’s ever-evolving offerings ensure user’s needs are met.

Each organization has unique needs specific to their industry and stack components are dependent upon those needs. Although, there are general elements that our team recommends most businesses add in the design and implementation of their systems, these include:

 

  • Visual Studio: This is used to develop programs for Windows, websites and a wide range of other web applications. Microsoft’s vision for this is to be a one stop solution for hosting IDEs. From database development with SQL Server Data Tools to using Xamarin to write Android and iPad apps, it provides an advanced user experience for developers. Due to the available coding options, Visual Studio is ideal for any type of necessary debugging.
  • .NET: This tool enables coders to use coding in different languages and is used by millions across the world. This flexibility helps developers with function that include security, memory management and more. To address the concerns regarding the security Microsoft has initiated many improvements to the original versions.
  • C#: is a programming language developed by Microsoft to work within .NET. Recent iterations of the language are viewed as a rugged and general purposed programming language. This is always evolving to meet user’s needs and hardware changes.
  • SQL Server: This database management system is designed to easily allow access to data that is requested by other users. It allows other applications to access data from anywhere. This data keeper offers strong computing power which can embed .NET codes as stored procedures, functions and aggregates without sacrificing performance. Like other types of software, SQL Server is available in different versions to meet industry-specific needs. Our consultants work with organizations to develop customized system packages to meet their specific requirements.
  • Angular JavaScript (angular .js): Used to refine web application platforms and developed by Google, this is useful for accessing webpages frequently used by different mobile platforms. Search engine algorithms will penalize businesses for lack of compatibility and Angular JavaScript can help to counteract this. Our experts recognize that clients have the same types of issues as employees and are required to access data from different locations with different devices.
  • Azure: This is Microsoft’s cloud product that is dedicated to making it easier to develop and scale applications and services faster and at a lower cost. It’s many built in features and services allows designers to develop apps faster than competing products. Our consultants recommend using Azure because it supports technologies used by most IT professionals.
  • Windows Server: This cloud-based data center, used through Azure, has shown that it provides an elevated level of security. The incidence of malware and other malicious attacks is minimal and Microsoft has taken steps to ensure their platform can deflect emerging risks. A component of the Azure IaaS platform, the previous version can be hosted locally and on legacy servers.
  • Team Foundation Server (TFS): TFS is designed to allow source code management through a project’s lifecycle. Microsoft designed TFS to work in unison with Visual Studio and it enables teams to manage projects while seamlessly delivering enhancements to software.
  • Dynamics CRM: Microsoft encourages that this customer relationship management software product be paired with Dynamics CSM with its .NET framework to optimize effectiveness. Frequently used in sales environments, this software is easily adaptable to meet the needs of service divisions as well as operations, financials, service automation and marketing.
  • Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains / Dynamics 365: A well accepted business financial management application, it is particularly adaptable to be used by mid-sized organizations. It is used as an integral part of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform and handles financial accounting, balance sheets, general ledgers and financial reporting. The latest version of this software is expected to further enhance the usefulness of the application.

Why User Experience (UX) Matters

Becoming a member of the MPN also has its benefits when designing the proper user experience (UX). At the core of successfully designing a platform is UX.

UX deals with how a person feels when interacting with a digital product. It encompasses many factors, dictated by both designers and developers that are dependent upon user preference and environmental factors. These factors include accessibility, design, aesthetics, usability, utility, ergonomics and more. Usability is a key component of the user experience and deals with the effectiveness of a side and how user friendly it is.

Think about it, it doesn’t matter what your app or site looks like if users don’t understand how to interact with it. UX is extremely important for every digital product especially for complex sites and applications, retail and online sales, start up sites and businesses, small budget projects and projects or sites that are expected to last for a considerable amount of time.

Users must be able to easily navigate the site to understand how to use it. If it isn’t easy to navigate, users may be hesitant to return. An interaction rich experience will driver users back to your site.

Working on the Microsoft Stack allows our consultants to ensure that your company’s unique needs are met quickly and easily. Our AppDev team are experts at requirement gathering, project leadership, SCRUM/AGILE and Waterfall methodologies, having successfully led multi-million dollar software development projects. Adept at the Microsoft .NET language and associated libraries of code, our team of consultant are ready to lead your next software development project.

Discussing your options early

Mistakes can be extremely costly no matter what size your business is. Developing and implementing software that doesn’t meet the needs your organization’s needs allows for less productivity within the workplace. Contacting our consultants early within the process eliminates the risk of possible mistakes. When choosing between enhancing an existing software application that you’re running or rewriting the software, our team is well-versed in both realms. From initial concepts and designs to launch maintenance and even resale, we are here to help.

As a member of the MPN, our consultants explore all available options prior to making your customized recommendations. Depending on your organizations current and future needs, our trusted experts will guide you every step of the way to ensure enhanced efficiency and productivity.

How this helps your business

Although VALiNTRY already provides clients with high level consulting and support within the Microsoft space, benefits of partnering with our organization include receiving:

  • Dependable outcomes
  • Cost efficient ways to adapt forms and host applications
  • Quick results
  • Enhanced application functionality
  • Guidance on maintaining highly scalable framework
  • Insight into the latest technology

Doing Business in a World with Fake News and Alternative Facts

  5/3/17    Posted in Business Consulting IT Consulting News
VALiNTRY's VALUES combat dishonesty and build trust

As America rewrites its political playbook, we are alternately bemused and alarmed by the way in which phrases like Fake News and Alternative Facts have jumped into our jargon. And by the widespread acceptance they are gaining,

Savvy business leaders have long noted that the idea of telling the same mistaken story over and over will make it so or manipulating facts to fit a particular position aren’t confined to the political arena.

Bernie Madoff peddled fake news.  Brian Williams altered facts as he wrote and spoke about his journalistic exploits.  Their transgressions were high profile and captured national attention, but represent only the tip of the fact-fudging iceberg that drifts through the corporate environment, mostly relating to the educational accomplishments of individuals.  Consider these examples:

  • Sandra Baldwin, former president and chairman of the U. S. Olympic Committee. According to a New York Times report she claimed for years to hold a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado and a doctorate from Arizona State. When a student was assigned to interview her for an alumni publication, it turned out her bachelor’s came from Arizona State after she had studied only three years at Colorado, and she never got around to finishing her doctoral dissertation.
  • One of Yahoo’s past CEOs, Scott Thompson, provided a resume when appointed in January, 2012 that showed degrees in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College. A hedge fund shareholder investigated Thompson’s background and found he had a degree only in accounting – not computer science.  By May, 2012, Thompson was gone.
  • In 2007, 28 years after MIT had appointed Marilee Jones its dean of admissions, the venerable institution discovered that not only had she not earned the undergraduate or master’s degrees she had claimed, but never received any college degree at all. Jones admitted the deception and resigned, explaining that she “did not have the courage” to correct her resume when she applied for the job she held for nearly three decades.

The business world takes very seriously false claims of educational achievement, even though there seems to be little evidence, as is the case of Marilee Jones, that lack of any degree is an automatic deterrent to success.  Rather, the instances uncovered suggested, as the hedge fund manager who blew the whistle on Yahoo’s CEO Scott wrote Yahoo’s Board, that claiming credentials relevant to one’s position “1) undermines his credibility as a technology expert and 2) reflects poorly on the character of the CEO who has been tasked with leading Yahoo! at this critical juncture.”

Each incident of this kind requires thought and action from the employee involved and from the management structure – from Board member to immediate supervisors – as to the resolution that best serves the individual and the organization.  The literature is replete with instances where a management or Board decided to keep a key employee even after word of resume inflation had become public. Jeffery Papows, for example, president of IBM’s Lotus, fibbed about his academic and military background.  He claimed to have been a military pilot but was actually an air traffic controller. He said he was a Captain in the Marines when military records showed he was a Second Lieutenant. He cited a doctorate from Pepperdine that had really been issued by an unaccredited correspondence school, according to reporting by ZDNet.  He kept his job, though later resigned after being named in a sexual discrimination complaint.  Other CEOs and key employees have remained in their positions successfully, with some foregoing bonuses or making payments to the employer as punishment.

Like MIT, which took 28 years to verify resume claims, time is challenge for businesses of all types in assuring prospective employees are who and what they claim.  A CareerBuilder survey of 2,188 human resource professionals found that more and more people are lying on their resumes today. It’s not hard to identify some of the exaggerations, like the candidate who claimed 25 years’ experience at age 32 or who filed two applications for the same position, listing different work histories on each.  But other, especially older claims, are hard to verify and chew up large blocks of time, which is why some errors and more inflations slip through.

VALiNTRY Values

This is where the inverted organization structure of VALiNTRY – putting others before ourselves – becomes important.  Our goal is to be counted among those companies that put their customers first by empowering their front-line employees to deliver extraordinary service and unparalleled experience.  It may be why, because we are focused on your field, there may be both financial and security value in drawing from employment or staffing candidates whose aspirations and experience we can match closely with your current needs and longer range plans.

People service ranks high among VALiNTRY’s Values – we don’t deal in cookie cutters or cattle calls – we are dedicated to enriching and serving our clients, our employees and one another.  We were founded in 2013 by staffing industry veterans to provide consulting services throughout the United States.  VALiNTRY’s 100% U. S. based recruitment team is changing the game in IT, Healthcare, Marketing, Finance/Accounting and CPA contracting and consulting.   We’ve been living our dedication in a way that has led to our growth to three offices, in Orlando, Nashville and Dallas, staffed by members of a single team sharing the same values, vision, and real life experience.

Here is how we state our core values, each preceded by the typographical sign that reflects our commitment to placing our clients and consultants/contractors before ourselves, with management at the bottom of the priority list:

 

  • People Service – enriching and serving our clients, our employees and one another.
  • Accountability – being accountable and responsible to commitments and results.
  • Teamwork – working together to support our team for the greater good.
  • Honesty and Integrity – doing the right things the right way.
  • Innovation — pushing beyond our comfort zones to seek new solutions for ourselves/clients.
  • Transparency – always sharing the “why” and the ”outcomes” of things we do.

 

If our VALUES align with yours, we’d like to talk to you. Call VALiNTRY now at 800-360-1407 or contact us here.

Why You Should Learn to Code Java

  1/5/16    Posted in IT Consulting Java Job Search Advice
Java is the number 1 choice for developers

Starting to learn to code can open up a plethora of job opportunities, but it’s not always easy to just learn to code. The first choice a person needs to make is to determine which language they want to learn to code in. Some, like Java, are incredibly well-known and can be an asset on a resume while others are lesser-known and may not make a difference between otherwise comparable applicants. Before a person decides to learn to code with Java, they might want to take a look into why this is a popular language and why the outlook for Java developer jobs is good. Then, they’ll want to think about how they’re going to learn to code and start looking at the job opportunities that might be available to them once they have mastered the language. It’s not going to be fast to do, but it is something just about anyone can accomplish to help them reach their goals. Read More

Is Java Here to Stay?

  12/30/15    Posted in IT Consulting Java
Oracle's Java Logo with a coffee cup

Is Java Here to Stay?

In the past few years Java developer jobs have skyrocketed in demand. There are more developers employed now than ever before. This might seem since less than a year ago many experts said that Java would no longer be relevant in a short amount of time. Much of the negative assessment concerning this general-purpose language was spurred on by the purchase of Sun Microsystems by Oracle. Sun has been a very successful software firm since its release of the Java language in nineteen ninety-five. Since its release this language has evolved into to one of the most used languages used on the web. But why is Java so popular and why will it continue to be relevant in the coming years?

Read More

The Top 5 Reasons Why .NET Caught On and Still Thrives

  12/23/15    Posted in .NET IT Consulting
The Logo for the Microsoft .NET (dot NET) framework

When Microsoft first announced its .NET platform around the turn of the millennium, it met with plenty of skepticism. Java, then still owned by its creator Sun Microsystems, was already well entrenched in the enterprise space, leaving many to wonder if a company that was becoming best known for holding onto its territory was still capable of new conquests. Read More

How to Get the IT Job You Want

  10/21/15    Posted in IT Consulting Job Search Advice
A job seeker is using an iPAD to look for a new job

If you are interested in entering the IT industry, chances are you are fairly concerned not about if, but how you are going to get a job. The industry is often flooded with people looking for jobs, due to the current intense interest in the field. The good news is that jobs are becoming more diverse and specialized every day, so more opportunities are becoming available. Read More

Is Your Business Poised to Take Advantage of Future Technology Trends?

  3/22/15    Posted in Business Consulting IT Consulting

Emerging markets, combined with revolutionary changes in technology, dictate significant changes in marketing strategies become the norm, rather than the exception, in the future. Digitalization does, and will increasingly, guide the direction and scope of change. To garner a better understanding of the forces at play, 75 CIOs from the Dallas / Fort Worth region recently attended a Gartner conference to explore the issues facing IT and operations professionals. Along with the metroplex area CIOs, Valintry’s VP of Business Development for the Southwest, Chris Blair, was also in attendance to stay abreast of what Gartner terms the “Next Digital Nexus.” Read More

Tips for Choosing an IT Consulting Firm

  3/1/15    Posted in IT Consulting

In today’s world, any and everything you want to find can be found on the Internet. Small businesses are taking advantage of that left and right and using their websites to help them build a strong customer base. No matter what type of business, you are in; you are always going to need help at one time or another. When it comes to It Consulting, many business owners find that the best way to get that help is by hiring temporary staff services to help them with their problems and then letting them go on their way. Read More