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Charlotte IT Services

neteffect technologies provides reliable, practical, and effective IT services to local, regional, and national businesses based out of the Charlotte, NC area. Our capabilities include:

Whether you need a team to provide ongoing IT support or a skilled set of hands on a one-time IT project, our professional, knowledgeable technology experts are available to assist your business promptly and efficiently. Learn more about us.

Let’s get started on finding solutions to your IT challenges. Talk with one of our IT experts about how neteffect technologies can transform your organization by calling 704-688-7170. Allow us to use our proven methodologies to find solutions tailored to fit your business’s needs. Our focus is using technology to increase bottom line.

Why Your Last-Generation Firewall Can’t Keep Pace With This-Generation Threats

Written by neteffect technologies. Posted in ContentMX

The Internet of Things connects everything from pacemakers to ceiling fans. While the IoT—and other trends like BYOD — offers new, exciting opportunities for businesses and consumers, it also opens up new portals for cyber attacks.

It goes without saying then, that this new generation of threats can’t be countered with last generation security technology. Next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) have emerged in response.

Network Security Environments Have Evolved

Once upon a time, companies owned and authorized all devices connected to their networks. But with the advent of BYOD, employees began connecting their personal devices to company networks. Without IT oversight, managing the security implications became challenging — especially when devices are ‘jailbroken’ to upload unauthorized apps or otherwise compromised. Many companies still struggle with safe, effective BYOD implementations.

Now that IoT devices are everywhere, there’s virtually no limit to the number of devices connecting to each other and business networks. Gartner estimates that by 2020, 25 billion connected “things” will be used worldwide — more than three times the people on Earth.

New IoT Challenges Demand New Security Solutions

The business potential of IoT is huge. But with so many new entry points for networks, a security platform that provides full visibility, rock solid data and network protection; plus, unfettered performance to the professionals and consumers that rely on these devices to do their jobs — even protect property and human safety — is critical.

Last-generation firewalls aren’t up to the job for several reasons, most notably:

They’re not designed to protect against content and connection-based threats.

They put a drag on network performance, because they weren’t designed for heavy, IoT-generated traffic demands.

They lack the comprehensive, unified security required to monitor, share and respond to fast-changing threat intelligence in real time — increasing the chance that suspicious behaviors and potential threats will fall under the radar screen as IT struggles to piece together information from separate security applications.

Next Generation Firewalls Are The Answer

A fully integrated solution, a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW) doesn’t have these limitations. Instead, it delivers all the security capabilities necessary to address modern threats in one powerful, centrally managed solution. This includes application inspection and control, website filtering, DPI (deep packet inspection) firewalls and intrusion prevention, to name a few.

The biggest advantage to all of this is 360-degree visibility of network traffic — which makes it easier to identify small threats before they snowball and flag unusual behaviors — both critical to improving data and network security along with incident response.

Not All NGFWs Are Created Equal

It’s important to keep in mind; however; that NGFWs vary from vendor to vendor in performance and security effectiveness. At neteffect technologies, we recommend going with an NGFW that’s been independently endorsed — such as the one offered by our partner, Fortinet.

Fortinet’s NGFW has been validated for performance and security effectiveness by NSS Labs, Virus Bulletin and AV Comparatives. A managed IT services provider in the Charlotte metropolitan area, we can offer you the benefits of Fortinet’s best-in-class NGFW to address this-generation threats. Contact us to learn more.

Unified Communications: Google Hangouts vs. Skype for Business

Written by neteffect technologies. Posted in ContentMX

As presented in previous articles, Skype for Business is a rebranded version of Lync, Microsoft’s business communication tool. It was launched in mid 2015 by Microsoft, and is full of enterprise Unified Communication features, with great tools for company collaboration. But Skype for Business is by no means perfect (although Microsoft is always making changes to enhance the product and correct any issues), and there are other alternatives out there to achieve some of the UC benefits Skype for Business brings.  It is argued that Skype for Business works best for most businesses due to unifying with other Microsoft products that people are accustomed to and business are already using, such as Outlook and Office programs. But not all businesses rely on the Microsoft platform. Today we look at Google Hangouts and compare it Skype for Business.

What is Google Hangouts?

Everyone is familiar with Google.  So much so, it has become a verb in our vernacular… you need to know something, just google it! But what exactly is Google Hangouts? At it’s most basic level, it’s a communication platform developed by Google which includes instant messaging, video chat, SMS and VOIP features. It replaces three messaging products that Google had implemented previously with its services:Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, and Hangouts, a video chat system present within Google+. Google has declared that Hangouts is designed to be “the future” of its telephony product.

For some businesses, Google Hangouts can be deployed as a cost-effective UC platform and allows for collaboration. Employees can interact with their co-workers and customers using video, voice or text. They can also reduce travel expenses if using Hangout’s face-to-face functionality for online meetings and conferences.

For businesses that conduct online seminars/live webinars, Hangouts has a feature called “Google Hangouts on Air,” which enables Google+ users to stream video calls live via YouTube. And with its integration with Google Voice, Hangouts offer users with the capability to call domestic phone numbers from their computing devices.

Where Skype for Business Prevails – Office 365 Integration!

While Google has arguably one of the strongest brand names for consumers of all time, Microsoft has no doubt historically dominated IT operations for businesses. And it’s this history that pushes the benefits of Skype for Business to the forefront.  Because so many businesses are engrained with Microsoft, whether because they run their operating system, or use their Office suite, introducing Skype for Business into organizations is easy, both for deployment and for end user acceptance.

Additionally,Skype for Business offers an abundance of features that boost productivity and encourage collaboration. For instance, up to 250 people can join an impromptu Skype conference. Plus, Skype’s price tag is among the most affordable in the industry. Skype operates on all devices, from your desktop to your smartphones, making it easy for users to link up and communicate with each other and helping each other stay on top of their business, ideas, projects, and more.

Skype for Business is easy to install and the learning curve is minimal since it integrates so well with Office 365 and products that everyone is familiar with when it comes to its operation. The whole idea behind Skype for Business and Office 365 is to ensure your communications don’t operate in silos, truly embracing the Unified Communications philosophy. With VoIP and Call Center software companies, such as AltiGen, working with Microsoft, UC with Skype for Business and Office 365 are taken to the next level by offering the ability to integrate your existing phone system, make PSTN calls, and more.

Learn more about AltiGen MaxUC by downloading our data sheet here.

Creating a Cyber-Safe School District in 8 Basic Steps

Written by neteffect technologies. Posted in ContentMX

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data-security-strategies-1.jpg

With summer in full swing, it’s a good time for k12 school districts to reassess cybersecurity strategies and map out steps for keeping students and teachers safe from cybercrime in the upcoming school year.

How aware is your school district of the latest cyber threats, and what are your plans to mitigate them?

Digital Technology Brings Opportunities, Risks

As K-12 educators continue to seek out opportunities for richer, more personalized education experiences, digital technology becomes more embedded in the classroom. From mobile devices and wireless science tools to BYOD policies, these trends are focused on helping teach students develop 21st century skills.

Digital tools aren’t only used in the classroom. Student records, state assessments, parent communication — more and more aspects of K-12 education are going digital.

But these advances also create new challenges, especially as school districts struggle to balance budgets. Much of the outdated IT infrastructure wasn’t built to address modern cybersecurity threats, putting student and staff data (even safety) at risk.

Cyber Criminals Study Potential Targets

Cybercriminals have grown much more sophisticated over the last decade. By doing their homework, they identify targets that are both easier to breach and can provide more abundant personally identifiable information that’s valuable on the dark market. School districts can easily become low-hanging fruit, especially when they lack the in-house expertise to protect their information.

Eight Steps for Preventing, Detecting and Mitigating Risks

Monitor outbound traffic and data flow. Implement a data-loss prevention policy and ensure the security systems of your network, hosts and devices are configured properly.

Encrypt all sensitive data. Infosec professionals have adopted the mindset that a data breach is not a matter of “if” but “when” — and encryption is the easiest way to ensure data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands in the event of a breach.

Secure all devices. Every mobile device connected to the network provides a potential entry point into the network and must be secured. This also means carefully weighing the risks before implementing a BYOD policy.

Filter web traffic. This not only helps comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act and helps keep out distractions such as social media, but can also prevent malware attacks.

Educate staff. Train teachers and administrators about the implications of data breaches as well as teach them basic cybersecurity hygiene.

Educate students. Students may be savvy enough to break into the school’s network or teacher’s grade book, but they may not understand how those actions puts the entire school district at risk.

Maintain the infrastructure. Ensure all your systems are upgraded and patched regularly.

Enroll outside help. Most school districts don’t have the in-house expertise to keep abreast with the threats and best practices. Hire outside experts — and make funding for IT infrastructure a priority.

A partner of Fortinet, neteffect technologies offers the services, technology and K-12 education experience to help you balance innovation and cyber risk. Our experts specialize in managed IT services and security solutions that leverage Fortinet’s innovative, high-performing network security platform.

Keeping College Campuses Open, Connected And Cyber Secure

Written by neteffect technologies. Posted in ContentMX

As campus computer labs with all devices bolted to workstations become a thing of the past, students and faculty have more freedom than ever to transport their devices of choice to wherever they’re most comfortable working—both on campus and off.

But with so much technology plugging into and out of campus networks, the possibility of a security breach becomes inevitable. Institutions of higher learning are paying attention: EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit promoting the safe and effective use of technology on campus, named information security their #1 priority in 2016 after ranking it tenth last year.

College Campuses Are Prime Targets Of Cyber Attack

College campuses are now the third most targeted institutions for cyber attack, behind only healthcare and retail organizations. It should be no surprise: College campuses house extensive financial data on students, faculty and the university itself; in addition to sensitive research data, health records and information on university affiliates.

Protecting the security and integrity of all this information and campus technology is critical; but it can’t be at the expense of open collaboration and connectedness. To find the right balance, we recommend the steps that follow.

1. Inventory All Data Across All Systems And Networks

In order to protect sensitive data, it is important to know where it all lives. Whether in the cloud, on a piece of hardware, on mobile devices or in emails, the IT security team needs to know where it is.

2. Centralize Security Management

On sprawling campuses with countless mobile attack vectors, a comprehensive security strategy with full visibility of network environments from the cloud to the perimeter to all endpoints is critical. The strategy is best managed from a single, centralized platform that enables security teams to quickly detect, respond and remediate threats before they turn into big problems that run up operational costs and tie up IT resources.

3. Develop An Open Security Platform To Minimize Harms

There are plenty of tools and products available to manage security that work exceptionally well on their own, but are incompatible with other systems. For this reason, it is absolutely crucial to develop an open security platform wherein products and services that detect and respond to security risks can communicate with each other and share real time threat intelligence easily. This is the idea behind the new “security fabric” developed by our partner, global cybersecurity technology leader, Fortinet.

4. Make Students And Staff More Cyber Aware

It only takes one infected device to cause a major security breach. All the infrastructure and protocols in the world won’t stop threats if students and staff don’t know how to prevent and report them. Comprehensive cybersecurity training should occur at orientation for students and annually for staff to ensure the whole community is invested in protecting data.

Delegate Cybersecurity To Experts

Creating and deploying a robust security platform can be daunting—especially when it’s not your core competency.  With our extensive experience delivering and managing security solutions for higher education, neteffect technologies can keep campus data and systems secure so you can stay focused on keeping an open, connected learning environment.

Get Ready for Application-Layer DDoS Attacks

Written by neteffect technologies. Posted in ContentMX

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DDoS.png

For years, businesses offering Internet services have had to deal with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. That threat has gotten worse.

How do DDOS attacks work? Put simply, they overwhelm services with traffic, making it impossible to address legitimate service requests, and leaving an unfavorable impression on customers who can’t get what they want. Who do customers blame, for example, if they can’t pay bills online because the bill paying service’s website is offline? Not the DDoS attack. They don’t even know about it. They blame the billing service.

Why Signature-based Defense Tactics Don’t Work

Various forms of defense have arisen in response. Most work by looking for some relatively simple signature, such as the specific IP addresses of attacking botnets.

Lately, however, attackers are defeating this kind of defense with specific, precision-targeted attacks. By focusing on layer seven (the application layer) of the standard OSI network model, they can hammer a site with service requests that appear to be legitimate, but aren’t. And because they’re harder to recognize, they’re also harder to stop.

This can be devastating — especially when it brings a business’s online operations to a standstill.

Consider a recent case cited by Imperva, in which more than 163,000 layer seven attacks per seconds were observed, consuming 8.7 Gb/second of bandwidth — shutting out customers entirely for the duration of the attack. Such attacks can, in theory, be sustained for days or even weeks, bringing Internet-facing services to a halt the entire time.

How Do You Fight DDOS Attacks At Every Layer?

At neteffect, a leading Charlotte-based IT service specialist, we’ve been tracking attacks of this sort for some time and have partnerships with top-tier security providers offering technology that responds effectively.

One of these partners is Fortinet, provider of the FortiDDOS solution which can recognize and block DDOS attacks at every layer — three, four and seven. This is possible because FortiDDOS is both faster and smarter than competing offerings, thanks to custom ASICs that assess incoming traffic at a packet level, then figure out what it’s trying to accomplish.

This means that instead of simply looking at where attacks originate, FortiDDOS also recognizes threat behavior. For example, it can determine if traffic is going to overwhelm the crucial link between an application and a customer information database to bring down the whole service — and after identifying the threat as a layer seven DDOS attack — stop the attack.

The whole process is extraordinarily fast, because the analysis is performed by optimized hardware (custom ASICs) and orchestrated via predefined policies that typically don’t require real-time human authorization. The upshot is that however powerful a layer seven DDOS attack may be, it gets very little time to impact business — so little time, in fact, customers may not even notice.

Of course, it’s also true that because FortiDDOS is relatively advanced, not all organizations have the in-house expertise to deploy and integrate it effectively. A partner of Fortinet, neteffect can help you defend against DDOS attacks of all types, including the application layer, by leveraging Fortinet FortiDDoS technology to work for you.

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