Network contingency plans!

Why is it important to have all your network and vendor information in one place for easy access?

This is known as a contingency plan or also referred to as a disaster recovery plan. In these types of plans a document or group of documents are designed to help a business designate a course of action for possible situations. A contingency plan can encompass many aspects of a business but in our business an IT based contingency plan will help direct end users to the correct solution. These directives, if properly organized, will help guide the end-user through the proper steps to troubleshoot the issue and get the proper department involved to implement a fix!

un-prepared

Since this plan involves the technical side of your business it should contain your network, vendor, and IT provider’s information. When constructing your IT contingency plan make sure to have a well-organized address book that contains your IT department’s information as well as any vendor phone numbers, email addresses, and points of contacts within. Other pertinent information that needs to be in this plan is your network information which includes items such as your WiFi name & password, User passwords (if desired), and if possible any website or domain info. The more details, the easier it will be for your IT provider to find a quick remedy to any of your problems!

Security and Your Home WiFi

WiFi-Security

Our technology is moving from those old dusty cables and wires to a more streamlined world of wireless convenience. With this merge of technologies comes a new realm of security issues and for some of us an overwhelming possibility of unwelcomed threats. We, as the next generation of end users, need to start protecting ourselves from these new threats and we need to start this process in the home. The main topic of this article is the understanding of wireless security and how we can better protect our digital assets. The wireless router seems to be one of the most overlooked aspects of our home network. We want to keep intruders off our PCs and other connected devices but we forget that they need to gain access to our network first. The Router, whether it be wireless or not, is the gatekeeper to our network and it needs to have strong passwords and advanced capabilities just like our computer. If your router is more than 5 years old, it is probably time to start saying your goodbyes. The advancements in wireless technology are moving faster than we can buy the equipment. Keeping an up to date router at the front of your network is like building a brand-new brick wall around your house. That brick wall will start to deteriorate after a while in the elements and must be fixed throughout the years. This also plays into an old router at the front of your network, it must be updated frequently but will eventually have to be replaced. With that said, the wireless signal that is broadcasted throughout both your home and your place of business is an open vulnerability to your network if it isn’t properly configured. Your wireless router needs to be capable of the latest wireless encryption types and have a strong password that is not easily guessed or easily hacked with a Brute-Force or Dictionary attack. We need to say no to simple passwords like “password” or “1234” and start using difficult passwords like “P@$$w0rd!@#$”. Other security measures that we can implement are the options to configure our routers to not display our SSIDs (wireless network name) or we can even narrow down our wireless network to allow access for our specific devices, known as MAC Address Filtering. These are all great implementations to further the security of our wireless networks. We have the power to proactively protect ourselves, it is just a matter of educating this new era of end users on the silent threats that we face every day.

Our IT Technician John shares his thoughts on keeping Active Directory tidy

Keeping Things Organized

When it comes to domains and organizations Active Directory is king. Active Directory is what organizes our Computers and Users within a domain and it authenticates and authorizes all devices and users to make them adhere to specified security policies. Active Directory is used mainly in corporate environments as a centralized location for credential/password management. It can also configure and control Domains and Trusts, Sites and Services, and is in essence the main authority in deciding how users and devices are identified. As Active Directory grows through the years some users and computers become old or unused and therefore still reside in Active Directory but are not actually being utilized. This isn’t as much of an issue for user accounts unless a John Smith quits and a new John Smith takes his place. This does however become a problem for new computers that need to be named the same thing. For example, if the marketing department gets rid of their old “Marketing-PC” and tries to replace it with a new “Marketing-PC” they will have to delete this entry from Active Directory beforehand so that there aren’t any conflictions. To proactively counter this issue a network admin should check often to make sure that Active Directory is clean and organized so that new user accounts or devices aren’t delayed in their deployment process because of basic housekeeping procedures. In my opinion, I would implement this clean-up procedure annually to not only make sure that Active Directory is organized but to also verify that it is functioning as required.