Many of us start out new years with resolutions to get healthier. Whether it’s weight loss, smoking cessation or more exercise, we know it’s in our best interest to be healthy. Our IT systems are very similar in that when they are not healthy, they don’t perform up to their capabilities.
Staying ahead of threats to data, networks, and employee productivity is the main reason to make sure your IT systems are in tip-top shape. Here are 6 questions to ask yourself about the health of your technology.
IT Health FAQs
1. Is my current software compatible with current operating systems?
Often when one piece of your technology is no longer supported by the manufacturer, your existing line-of-business apps no longer run on the system. Microsoft has ended support of Windows 7 and Server 2008 this week, effective Jan. 14, 2020. If you are still using either of these products, don’t wait any longer to initiate your upgrade as you are at great risk for a breach without the protections formerly offered by Microsoft.
Although many businesses wait until software goes end-of-life to address compatibility, your managed services provider (MSP) can help you keep your software current and test new solutions to ensure they work together so you can maintain productivity seamlessly. Keeping your systems up to date also ensures that you will be compliant with any legal regulations regarding cybersecurity, like the Colorado Protections for Consumer Data Privacy Act that went into effect in 2018.
2. If I invest in new hardware, how long will it last?
The industry standard for replacing hardware is 3 years for laptops, 4 to 5 years for desktop computers and servers. Moving some or all of your IT operations to the Cloud alleviates the need to replace servers going forward. Cloud computing also makes server costs an operational expense as opposed to the capital expense of an on-premises server.
3. What actions can a business take on its own to maintain a “head-to-toe” healthy IT ecosystem?
Our top 3 recommendations are:
- Train employees about cybersecurity practices on an ongoing basis so they are always vigilant against cyberattacks.
- Make sure you are getting and installing all security patches and updates and discontinue using technology that is no longer supported by the vendor.
- Manage your data storage with a good data retention policy and backup old data in a location that is separate from your day-to-day operational data.
4. How often should my business get an IT check-up?
If you have never conducted an IT check-up, it’s long overdue. We recommend IT health evaluations occur every six months for most companies. If your business operates under heavy compliance regulations or is growing rapidly, it’s better to do quarterly assessments.
Recommended assessments include security audits, password policy review, identification of outdated systems, and strategic business reviews to ensure your technology is supporting your business objectives.
Having your cybersecurity solutions vetted by a third-party is also a very good practice especially if you are in the government, finance, or health care industries. Amnet maintains a list of trusted partners who conduct comprehensive penetration tests on IT systems.
5. How do I make sure my business is compliant with data laws?
Knowing what laws your business is subject to is the first step. The Colorado data privacy law does not exempt small businesses. Colorado’s requirements apply to every organization that “maintains, owns, or licenses personal identifying information” of Colorado residents. The regulation also has a broad definition of what constitutes “sensitive data,” so chances are high that your business needs another look at your cybersecurity solutions to make sure you are meeting the requirements.
6. Why should an SMB partner with Amnet for long-term IT resilience?
Since 1998, Amnet has stayed ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting best practices, researching leading-edge solutions, and proactively protecting Colorado businesses. Contact us to start the conversation about getting your IT environment healthy in 2020 – before outdated systems cause any harm.