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Staff Security Training Tips: What You Get Is What You Click

Staff Security Training Tips: What You Get Is What You Click

Security Training for Your Employees is Critical in Times of Pandemic and Political Unrest

Do you have a “get this spam away from me” approach to digital communication management? It can be tempting to be strict, to set privacy and filtering settings at the max and limit online interactions from strangers. However, our email boxes often lead us to opportunities and relationships that will ensure future business success. With this in mind, we’d like to help you understand how staff security training allows you to keep your business open to outside communication while preventing a data breach.

Staff Security Training Secure Network Secure Server Grid

Digital Stranger Danger

Clicking on links is often something we do without thinking, so it’s important to provide staff security training that truly tests an employee’s impulsive online behaviors. Business owners can incorporate fraudulent link prevention strategies into routine security assessments, testing, and training by hiring a cybersecurity firm to randomly test users. This provides real data about user behavior in both the traditional office and in remote office settings.

Fake Link Identification and Education

Training your staff to know how to see a hacking attempt is considered a proactive cybersecurity strategy. Some business owners out there are comfortable with risk and choose a reactive strategy to security breaches.

Proactive Security

  • Backup and disaster recovery planning
  • Staff security training
  • Network assessments and testing

Reactive Security

  • Paying a ransomware fee to recover business data
  • Issuing a cyber incident alert after a breach
  • Testing backups and live system data for malware after a breach

If your goal is to prevent a security breach, then you need a proactive strategy, and this should entail staff security training.

Malicious Link Monitoring

To some business owners, a “bad” link is anything clicked that threatens privacy. In a world of email communication and marketing (often invited through a subscribe button), it’s best to train staff to recognize fake links, rather than to broadly and strictly limit communication to the outside world. However, robust endpoint security options might be your best option if you own highly sensitive data. You wouldn’t want a potential customer to end up in a spam folder, but you don’t want to risk losing compliance certifications, either. If you give your employees the tools and training needed to recognize hacking attempts, then you can safely do business online without the worries of ransomware.

URL Verification

Our top recommendation is to train your employees to observe all web addresses, or URLs. Phishing attempts often use recognized brands to trick you. With security training, your staff learns how to quickly recognize imitation URLs. Once you recognize the common patterns of cybercriminals, you can easily recognize links posing as legitimate companies. A URL might include an underscore or other symbol that doesn’t appear in the original web address.

Website verification falls into a spectrum of risk — like anything else in the world of cybersecurity. You might decide to train staff to be more aware of common edits hackers make to URLs. You might go further and train users how to right click on the address to gather more information about the hyperlink. You might use tighter measures in order to meeting compliance regulations for handling sensitive data:

  • Anti-phishing software
  • Virtual isolation protocols
  • Outsourced managed IT security

Education is readily available for your staff. The Phish Scale, developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), is an excellent example of free training available on their website.

Even the most careful clickers can fall into a hacker’s trap. This frequently happens when the name of a legitimate company is used as a malicious hyperlink.

Email Monitoring

How full is your “Junk Email” box? Smart mailboxes usually send suspicious, or unknown, emails to a junk folder. Some programs go one step further and prevent a user from opening a “junk” or “spam” email unless it it first moved to an inbox. Email monitoring software often comes with a free trial period, so you can gauge how effective the solution is at preventing security risks through a spam filter for incoming emails.

How can you prevent your staff from opening junk email? Phishing scams result in more than 90% of security breaches in some geographical areas, with around 3 out of every 4 American businesses falling prey to an email-based cyberattack.

Because of the prevalence of phishing attacks, email monitoring needs to include a human. Software is a step in the right direction, but staff security training makes your cybersecurity solution more effective. 

  • Employees gain email monitoring skills that complement antivirus and malware monitoring solutions
  • Employees learn how to identify the authenticity of websites and URLs, email addresses and emails, phone numbers and text messages, as well as other contact information sources that could be altered to trigger malicious attacks
  • Employees develop intuition for recognition of a cyberattack and learn how to launch a proactive security alert to coworkers 
  • Employees learn how to train and test one another, creating a self-monitoring environment conducive to productivity

Email boxes are a common information security risk for unauthorized access to company information, as well as personal information. View your mail server as a data security risk, and see your junk email folder as a soft problem-solving step toward more robust protection like full server monitoring intrinsic to a private cloud hosted environment.

Cyber threats are getting smarter and can take advantage of an operating system that needs to be patched or of a user mindlessly clicking on a “junk e mail” posing as a junk email. Small edits can help phishing attacks get through even the best software, and can trick even the most suspicious and judicious humans. If you need more robust technical support than your internal IT team can offer, then partner with a managed service provider (MSP) like EstesGroup for expertise when you need it.

IT Support and Staff Security Training Services for Your Business

EstesGroup is a leader in the fusion of cutting-edge enterprise resource planning (ERP), business software solutions, and human talent. If you are concerned about the rise in successful phishing attacks and other malicious cyberthreats, then you should sign up for a free technology assessment today. You are a short phone call away from knowing if you need a more advanced security audit or even a penetration test. For more security tips, please register for one of our virtual events. Do you have an immediate cybersecurity concern? Talk to an IT support specialist now.

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Understanding the Value of a Project Manager

Understanding the Value of a Project Manager

Project Management & the Future of Your Business

In the next 5 years almost 88 million people around the world will be working in Project Management. More importantly, project-oriented activity will have reached $20 trillion in value. With this many projects and this much value in play, the success and value of projects is a high priority. Yet many leaders don’t appreciate the value of using projects and see them as the exception to the normal business process. Why is this?

At a high-level there are two types of efforts a company undertakes:

1) Operations:

Running the organization

2) Projects:

Changing the organization

Project manager leading project management team

The first type of effort is day-to-day. It includes sales, customer service, finance, manufacturing, and IT. It focuses on efficiency, productivity, and speed. And that focus is mostly short-term. For success in operations the organization depends on command and control to get results.

The second type of effort is more about the future of the organization. It is about adaptation, innovation, transformation, and longer-term value. Its focus is medium to long-term. It is successful when it is led by entrepreneurship and collaboration.

Both efforts require teamwork, but one focuses on continually tuning the current environment and the other focuses on adapting to the future. And while Operations keeps the organization afloat, it is not able to alone ensure the survival of the organization. The reason is that change is permanent for most industries because of competition, government rules and disruption. More efficient Operations help but cannot create the cultural and operational changes necessary to stay relevant in the market. That’s why anticipating, managing, and driving strategic change has become a top priority.

So, if strategic Projects are essential how does an organization ensure that they are successful?

It’s no secret that less than 40% of most projects are successful. And everyone has a story of a failed project, right?

To avoid these failures, there are many things that can be done. One of the most important is to develop Project Management skills in the organization. And those skills need to be practiced by both Executive sponsors and the Project Manager(s). It is not enough to put someone in charge of a project, they need to be skilled and supported to ensure success. Then the organization gets the real benefits of project management.

And what are those benefits? I would offer that they always include these eight items:

Clear Ownership for Project Success

Team members of the project are working towards a common goal, but they focus primarily on their individual responsibilities. The Project Manager is always considering the overall project, the resources, the upcoming tasks, the costs, the risks, communication needs and schedule. They look above the day-to-day activities to see what is happening across the project and the future. This provides clear ownership and a chain of command for the organization.

Project Organizing and Planning

The Project Manager works with the team to create and track schedules and budgets for the project. They also provide clear direction and expectations for the project team, steering committee, and end-user involvement. The organization knows that someone is continually reviewing progress of the project so that issues can be addressed earlier and more efficiently.

Project Accountability

The project team makes commitments, and the project manager holds them accountable for those commitments usually on a weekly basis. The team knows they have to provide updates to the project manager on their progress. This protects the organization from delays, extra costs and missed steps.

Project Scope / Budget / Schedule / Resource Management

Every project has a risk of either expanding or contracting the scope of the effort which can lead to missed objectives. It also has a budget and a schedule that should be monitored continuously. The Project Manager guards the scope of the project and ensures that objectives are met within the parameters of time, cost and resources. They know the best methods for tracking each of these and reducing the risks entailed. The organization is better protected from wasted efforts and missed objectives which can cost thousands of dollars in rework when a Project Manager is at the helm.

Project Rigor

Projects are complex and expensive. A Project Manager has invested (and continues to invest) time in learning and applying best practices to each project. They bring prior project experience and skills that are not found in other members of the project team or sponsors. They know how to manage project risk, scope creep, and organizational politics. They understand project measurements like Earned Value, Cost Performance Index, Schedule Performance Index, Planned Value and the variances to track. Because of this, organizations reduce the risk of project failure when they have a competent and focused Project Manager involved.

Team Building

While accomplishing the objectives of the project is a priority, that happens best when the project team is working well together. Building relationships of trust and negotiating conflicts is part of the job of the Project Manager. They know the stress incurred during projects and help ensure a healthy working environment that engages and values everyone. Organizations improve the quality of the results when the Project Manager is building and supporting the team responsible for delivering the project.

Communications

Most projects have multiple stakeholders, a sponsor, a customer, internal/external resources, a steering committee, and vendors that must coordinate to accomplish the project objectives. Ensuring that these participants are informed and kept up to date is a key role of the Project Manager. They use email, phone calls, status meetings, Zoom-type meetings, text messages and one-on-one meetings to ensure that everyone is informed to perform. There is no one approach to communication and organizations benefit from the focused communication that a Project Manager brings to the table.

Change Management

Completing a project is only part of the success of a project. The other is that the end-customer needs to be prepared for the changes that the project brings. The ability to educate and prepare for change is more important than most realize. Many projects are successful on one hand yet fail because the organization never adopts the solution. A skilled Project Manager brings a change management strategy and rigor to the effort. They are working with the customers of the project to ensure that the solution is accepted, that customers are trained to use it and that there is ongoing support for the solution. Organizations that have a robust Change Management process led by the Project Manager increase the impact of the project on organizational performance.

Project Management Value Gears

About the Author

Rob McMillen is a Senior Project Manager with EstesGroup. He has worked in the manufacturing industry for over 30 years supporting multiple implementations of new ERP systems and leading projects. Because his mom was an English teacher, he grew up with a love of writing. Combined with his working experience, he has written articles for LinkedIn and User Groups, and has published numerous blog posts. He is also a co-author of a book on technology and working collaboratively. He currently lives in the DFW area.

Are you in need of a project manager?

Do you need help with planning your project or ensuring that your plans are successful? Having a good PM (project manager) is a win-win for your organization. EstesGroup consultants have the project management experience to keep you on time and within budget. Sure, you could post project management positions and hire to boost your internal resources. But think about this: our services have been trusted for nearly two decades by thousands upon thousands of people, and time is of the essence when approaching even the most simple project life cycle. Projects require both hard and soft technical skills, and even though each case is unique, our proven project management methodology will bring you the human talent necessary to optimize your business, saving you precious time. EstesGroup project management focuses on the people on your team. Let’s talk now to get your project good people, good methodology, and a good future.

Cloud Migrations: “Lift & Shift” vs. “Build-from-Scratch”

Cloud Migrations: “Lift & Shift” vs. “Build-from-Scratch”

EstesGroup is excited to announce that we are sponsoring Third Stage Consulting Group’s Digital Stratosphere event on February 8th – February 10th, 2022. 

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“Lift & Shift” vs. “Build-from-Scratch” Cloud Strategies

Our keynote presentation at Digital Stratosphere 2022 is based on conversations with our customers who are looking for the best way to move to the cloud from on-premise infrastructure or from a different cloud environment. We hope to help businesses struggling to understand their future in cloud-based deployments of their applications and data. With our years of experience assisting complex manufacturers and distributors with IT infrastructure and cloud migrations, EstesGroup builds the best custom private and hybrid cloud hosting solutions for any business ready to take on the challenge of implementing new technology.

Moving How, Moving Where?

Are you wondering how to move your data, your history, and your business applications to a cloud computing platform? Or, are you wondering how to move from one cloud to another? Any IT infrastructural shift you take results in what is known in the industry as a cloud migration. The options in choosing a cloud computing service model are varied. You have to factor everything in, from the timbre of your cloud adoption culture to the state of your computing resources.

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

In an IaaS environment, the customer procures resources from a cloud provider and is responsible for provisioning and configuring servers, and responsible for the installation, configuration and maintenance of the operating system and application layers. The provider maintains the underlying data center architecture and cloud infrastructure, and the customer assumes all subsequent duties. 

In an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) context, a customer purchases services from a cloud computing company, then uses these services to provision the necessary virtual machines to build out the cloud ecosystem.

Within this ecosystem, the customer would subsequently install the necessary operating systems, the database management systems and the ERP applications themselves. The customer is responsible not only for installation and configuration of their specific cloud ecosystem, but also for its ongoing maintenance and the maintenance of any third-party integrations.

As you can see, Infrastructure as a Service bears the most similarity to an on-premise data center in that it places the most responsibility for the management of the ecosystem on the customer, which would require the internal roles to administer the network, the database, and the application itself. But unlike on-premise installations, and their colocation counterparts, the resources benefit from the scalability of a cloud infrastructure, and are able to dial in their needs accordingly. 

Additionally, the customer would be responsible for constructing and managing any third-party integrations with the core enterprise systems in place. With this comes the cost benefits of a consumption-based model. From a control standpoint, customers benefit from the ability to define and manage their third-party integrations in a manner that is tailored to the needs of their organization.

Platform as a service (PaaS)

In a PaaS environment, the provider provisions and manages the underlying architecture, and this platform provides the foundation upon which customer applications are installed and operated. In an ERP context, a customer working with a managed hosting provider could provision virtual machines, install and configure the operating system and database management systems, and then install and configure the ERP system on the pre-established platform.

Cloud Migrations Estes Cloud Services

The maintenance of the platform is the responsibility of the provider, while the ongoing maintenance of the ERP solution may be the responsibility of the customer or the provider, depending on the relationship that has been established between them. As such, within the PaaS model variants exist which allow customers to control various elements of the cloud ecosystem while outsourcing other elements to the cloud provider. Depending on the support gradient, the provider may be responsible strictly for the management of the operating system and database, allowing the customer to control the installation and administration of the application.

In most enterprise system scenarios, the cloud provider will provide additional support, managing the application’s server-side administration, allowing the client to focus on the functional administration of the application, such as user access and permissions within the ERP system itself.

Depending on the capabilities of the cloud provider and the needs of the customer, the provider may also provide these functional needs. Additional administrative effort may similarly be divided across third-party applications that are integrated with the primary system. Given the different tiers of service, providers can tailor their pricing models to meet the specific needs of the specific customer.

In terms of scalability, the cloud provider addresses resource expansion and retraction needs, should they arise. This flexibility is often defined in the agreements themselves. In terms of seasonal usage changes, for instance, the costing implications of cyclical resource changes can be managed in a manner similar to an IaaS model.

Software as a service (SaaS)

In a SaaS environment, the customer consumes the application directly from the software vendor in most cases unless the SaaS code has been sub-licensed to others. The application is deployed to a cloud environment, and the provider is entirely responsible for the management of the entire cloud ecosystem.

In an ERP context, a customer could purchase a monthly license (usually based on “seats”) to a cloud-based ERP system and interact with the system through a web-enabled client, like a browser window. The customer never experiences the underlying infrastructure, or even the underlying application server itself, but only interacts with the application on a client basis.

Enterprise systems built upon a SaaS platform tend to have limited customization capabilities when compared to their on-premise counterparts. The emphasis here is on configurability in the place of customizability, with a customer bending its processes to fit within the parameters of the system configuration. Some customers benefit from a subscription-based model that bundles the cost of the application licensure and its underlying infrastructure into a single monthly cost.

Whose operating system are you sitting on? The most public of cloud-native platforms, SaaS applications provide a public cloud service. Amazon Web Services might come to mind as an everyday example of public cloud environments. An off-premises data center processes your business interactions in a park-like setting, with communication coming and going from businesses that are operating in the same cloud environment, which is supported by a large, and often global, corporation.

Types of Cloud Service are as Varied as Cloud Service Models

The choices are divergent, as are their implications to the implementing organization. Once a service model has been chosen, the implementation strategy can have a significant impact on the project’s timeline, budget, and scope.

That is to say, migrating to the cloud is not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and most companies migrating to the cloud normally face a choice between two options. On the one hand, they can opt to lift their existing on-premise platform and shift it wholesale to a cloud instantiation. On the other, they can choose to rebuild and reconfigure the new cloud platform from the ground up. The differences between the two approaches are significant, and a company should carefully consider the implications when approaching a cloud migration.

Cloud Migrations and Digital Transformation: Rations and Reasons

Reasons for cloud migrations are also nuanced. Companies tend to focus on security and compliance, flexibility and adaptability, and pricing when planning for a move to PaaS, IaaS, or SaaS.

Digital Stratosphere is the perfect cloud-based realm to explore your business strategies. Digital Stratosphere is a free virtual event designed for organizations about to embark on any digital strategy or transformation initiatives. Cloud migrations are the ultimate transformation for companies of all sizes and in all industries, and Third Stage Consulting Group’s online events provide the space to freely explore future possibilities.

Please fill out the form below if you’d like to see what cloud migrations look like in our EstesCloud private & hybrid cloud hosting environment.