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Cloud Services

Need Better IT Security? Managed Security Service Providers are the Answer

By | Cloud Services, Data Security, Email Security, Managed Security

Meeting your business objectives is virtually impossible without a well-developed information security program. With businesses of every size and industry facing threats on a daily basis, comprehensive data security is now a primary need. However, many businesses don’t dedicate the personnel, time, or resources to maintain something that is always evolving. How can you address the constant barrage of hackers, malware, and phishing attacks and still stay in business?

The Importance of Managed Security

Cyberthreats are on the rise, and the technology used to launch these virtual offensives only gets more sophisticated with each attack. If you happen to have an experienced IT specialist at your disposable, you are one of the lucky few. Many small businesses lack the resources necessary to employ an IT professional, and even those businesses with full IT departments struggle to keep pace with cyberthreats. A Managed Security Service Provider, or MSSP, can offer premium IT services that are provided by highly-trained cybersecurity experts. Every aspect of data security for your business is covered, while an MSSP tackles cyberthreats so you can get back to running your business.

IT Departments Are Overwhelmed

It’s tough to admit when your professionals are stretched too thin, but outsourcing to a knowledgeable MSSP can offer relief to your entire organization. There’s no doubt that your IT personnel feel stress when a fraudulent email is opened and results in a system-wide crash, but all employees experience frustration when they can’t do their jobs. We work in a digital age that demands a reliable cybersecurity infrastructure. Even the best IT departments can lack the training and resources required to combat threats, and they are expected to simultaneously manage the daily upkeep of your business. IT security is more important than ever, making it crucial to control the many variables that exist.

An IT Strategy is a Necessity

Do you know when your basic programs need an upgrade? What are the proper security precautions for your eCommerce store? Are you in compliance with the latest regulations? These questions, and more, require up-to-date answers, and many businesses struggle to establish an IT strategy that covers all angles. An IT strategy should also create defense mechanisms within your systems that will alert you to data breaches. Faster responses save time and money, and although every breach can’t be prevented, hackers can be promptly stopped in their tracks. Not every strategy is going to look the same, and an MSSP can offer specialized solutions that fit your business objectives.

You Can’t Afford Regular Attacks

When considering an IT budget, many businesses don’t recognize the hidden costs that are inevitable. Breaches cost money, and frequent attacks will exhaust whatever budget resources you have established. Cutting costs where IT personnel and strategy is concerned will hurt you in the long run, putting your entire business at risk. You’ll spend more time on pursuing hackers and repairing the damage they have caused than you will on improving cybersecurity. An MSSP can greatly reduce costs by preventing breaches of sensitive information, and an agreement will usually offer a predictable monthly fee.

What Can thinkCSC Do for Your Business?

At thinkCSC, we take security seriously, and we want to give you the most control over your business with the necessary cybersecurity measures. Our determination to offer ourselves as an experienced MSSP has promoted the development of innovative levels of security monitoring for our clients. Massive cyberthreats are a normal part of doing business, but they are risks that can, and should, be addressed and abated. thinkCSC provides excellent levels of monitoring and detection designed to protect your data and keep your organization running smoothly.

At thinkCSC, cybersecurity is simply what we do. We can partner with you to develop a unique solution designed to fit your business model. Take the first step towards advanced cybersecurity practices and contact us today to learn more about our enhanced Managed Security options.

SMBs Have a Level Playing Field in Today’s IT Environment: Part 2

By | Business, Cloud Services, SMB

We’ve been exploring how IT is leveling the playing field for SMBs. SMBs can compete on nearly-equal footing with large enterprises – but whether this occurs or not depends entirely on whether SMB owners and leaders understand and capitalize on the areas in which technology is changing the way business is conducted: the cloud, mobility, and security.  In part two of this two-part series, we’ll explore the benefits of mobility and security for SMBs.

Mobility

One of the most unique changes in workforce management that are a consequence of new technologies is the ability of many workers to be freed from the confinement of centralized, communal space. More and more people can now work from home or from regional offices without a loss in productivity or being cut off from immediate communication.

The benefits of employing a mobile workforce are primarily centered on one or two factors: a desire by employees to reduce commute times and increase personal time (individually or with family), and the reduced costs realized by companies in terms of office space, IT infrastructures, prompt completion of goals for tasks that are time-specific, etc. Some managers are concerned about productivity when they cannot monitor employees personally and directly, but many employees work even better when they are trusted and feel empowered – and you can use performance metrics just as effectively for a remote workforce as for an on-site group.

Anything that increases employee satisfaction while lowering costs simultaneously should be given serious consideration, and larger enterprises are using mobility as a competitive advantage. SMBs can level the playing field with a comprehensive mobile device management plan that allows them to increase productivity, offer more mobility options, and compete for better talent.

Security

Security is the largest issue facing businesses in our current technological world. This is true especially for SMBs. For most companies in this category, security is a constant battle – or something left to chance. Unfortunately, many hackers are targeting SMBs, specifically because they are more vulnerable as a group. SMBs are often an easy target because security is not prioritized; as well, SMBs are a suitable testing ground for future attacks on larger, more lucrative corporations.

The simple fact of the matter is that you cannot leave security to chance. It must be given priority. For most SMBs, finding an established, effective partner is the best, simplest, most reassuring approach, but because today’s security solutions are affordable, customizable, and scalable, SMBs can obtain enterprise level protection that fits their budget constraints.

Understanding and implementing solid cloud, mobile, and security systems has the potential to even the playing field for SMBs. Successfully carrying out this integrated approach can help you grow beyond the traditional constraints of your industry, taking you to places you never imagined you could go. In these areas, thinkCSC has the expertise and experience to help your organization compete effectively in our evolving technological world.

SMBs Have a Level Playing Field in Today’s IT Environment: Part 1

By | BDR, Business, Cloud Services

In the world of technology, proactive adopters have a huge advantage over those who wait to implement a new technology until it has been fully tested. Proactively navigating the rapidly changing world of technology has historically been most difficult for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Due to the traditional cost and complexity of technology, these businesses have struggled with early adoption of cutting-edge technologies. This has allowed larger companies to dominate the first wave of benefits from emerging innovation, while smaller companies have played catch-up – or even settled for second-generation systems on a regularly revolving schedule as first-generation systems are developed.

Now, due to a much more robust, competitive market within technological innovation, as well as the ability to partner with experts in the effort to implement and stay on top of new systems, SMBs can compete on nearly-equal footing with large enterprises. Whether this occurs or not depends entirely on whether SMB owners and leaders understand and capitalize on the three areas in which technology is changing the way business is conducted: the cloud, mobility, and security. In part one of this two-part series, we’ll explore the benefits of cloud services for SMBs.

Everything as a Service: Doing Business in the Cloud

The central benefit of using cloud services is cost-effectiveness. It is the relatively low cost of cloud-based datastorage, cloud-based applications and software, and cloud-based security measures that truly level the playing field for SMBs.  Implementing cloud-based services can minimize the economic impact to your IT budget by guaranteeing a predictable monthly cost and uptime for your IT environment. A managed service provider (MSP) converts your organization’s IT spend from a capital expenditure to a predictable and manageable monthly operating expense, much like a utility. 

Cloud services can be tailored to specific requirements, especially where compliance may be an issue – and more and more, compliance is an issue affecting businesses of all sizes:

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), healthcare-related compliance requirements to protect patient data
  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), credit card industry compliance requirements to protect consumers
  • Sarbanes–Oxley (SOX), governmental compliance regulations to ensure the reliability of financial reporting by public companies and their accounting firms
  • The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) governs compliance for banks and banking industry organizations

While compliance is something larger enterprises implement as a matter of course, smaller businesses may only begin to consider these requirements as they grow (or after they’re fined for non-compliance).  When choosing cloud services, security is one of the most important considerations. You need to know where your data is stored and who has access to it, accounting for both digital security and physical security. An IT partner who focuses on maximizing the benefits of your cloud services, which scale to your need. If you store highly-sensitive or valuable information, this option is a much better fit than the public cloud and the only option for businesses of any size who require secure operations.

Understanding and implementing solid cloud, mobile, and security systems has the potential to even the playing field for SMBs. Successfully carrying out this integrated approach can help you grow beyond the traditional constraints of your industry, taking you to places you never imagined you could go. In these areas, thinkCSC has the expertise and experience to help your organization compete effectively in our evolving technological world.

IT Security, Strategy, and Infrastructure – A Look Ahead

By | Cloud Services, Data Security, Managed IT Services

the-future

For most organizations, preventing, detecting, and overcoming cyber threats will become a necessary factor in every business function. With billions of devices connecting to and sending data through the cloud, viable artificial intelligence becoming a reality, and businesses relying on APIs to deliver better customer experiences, security will take a front seat in every business decision. Here’s a look ahead:

Internet of Everything

By 2020, it’s predicted that there will be billions of devices, appliances, cars, and other objects connected to the internet, speeding data around the world at a rapid pace. This phenomenon is referred to as the Internet of Things, or IoT. No industry will be left untouched by IoT, from agriculture and healthcare to manufacturing and government. Gartner estimates that there will be 25 billion of these smart devices – smart cars, smoke detectors, thermostats, industrial robots, traffic lights, medical devices (many implanted), public transportation, and refrigerators – communicating personal data to and through the cloud. Everything we do, from stopping at the store on the way home from work, to managing our health, will be facilitated by IoT. For businesses that will be developing or selling smart devices, the most critical component of the process will be maintaining the highest possible level of security to protect the data that will be continuously transmitting back and forth. This means not only developing products with built-in security but also ensuring that the gateways that connect the devices are equally secure.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is the development of machines and robots with the humanlike capability of making decisions and handling tasks typically performed by humans. While advancements in AI have been occurring for the past few decades, it’s never been more ubiquitous. Scientists predict that artificial intelligence will not only make the world safer, by providing robots that can act as first responders during crises, but that the ability of humanized computers to learn more quickly how to save us from climate change, poverty, and other global challenges will increase exponentially. AI will likely even improve the lives and longevity of humans, as implants and other medical uses of AI become more prevalent. As with IoT, AI must be developed with the idea of security in mind. We don’t need a team of robots who can be hacked and controlled by cyber criminals. At the same time, artificial intelligence may take center stage in improving cyber security.

 

API Management

According to Forrester Research, companies will spend more than $3 billion on API development by 2020. An API – application program interface – allows your customers to access specific data or interface with specific components of your website. A doctor’s office might use an API to allow patients to schedule appointments online; a social media company might use APIs to access Twitter to generate monthly reports. All of this back-channel communication is crucial to delivering the best experience to your customers, regardless of industry, but it also highlights the importance of implementing serious, multi-layer security and detection to protect your organization and your data.

An Ongoing War on Cyber Threats

For most organizations, preventing, detecting, and overcoming cyber threats will become a necessary factor in every business function, and IoT, AI, and APIs will only make security more necessary. Yet even without these technological developments, the security of every organization is continually threatened. From email security to the physical security of structures, cyber threats are a growing risk. It will continue to be an ongoing battle, in which new security protocols are developed and cyber criminals become more sophisticated in their ability to circumnavigate these safeguards. The human element – employee training, limited access, strict and enforced policies – will play an essential role in the success or failure of these efforts.

At thinkCSC, we believe that in order to achieve maximum success, regardless of the size or type of organization, you must make IT an integral part of your overall business strategy and partner with IT professionals who not only understand how to leverage technology to your advantage but who are also committed to understanding your business goals and aligning your IT strategy to them. We pride ourselves on having the best business-savvy technical experts in the industry. If you would like to learn how to create an IT security strategy aligned with your organizational goalscontact thinkCSC for more information.

Do You Know Where Your Cloud Is?

By | Cloud Services

ball-862127_640So much of what an organization does now is cloud-based, from the applications and programs your employees use to perform their work to the tools and resources you use to collaborate and communicate. And because so much more of what we do happens in the cloud, choosing the right cloud service provider is essential. Consider these factors when choosing your cloud service provider:

Where Will Your Data Be Stored?

Knowing where your data will be stored is crucial. Some cloud service providers are resellers who simply white label another provider’s services as their own and have virtually no control over where the data is stored. And you want to know where your data is being stored, because if it’s being stored in another country, your access and security may be compromised. Ask potential cloud service providers for the locations of their data centers.

How Will You Be Charged for Cloud Services?

Will you have predictable charges that allow you to plan for the future? Does your cloud service provider give you the flexibility of scale, so that as your organization grows, changes, or requires less space, you can quickly adjust? Ask potential cloud service providers about flexibility and scalability.

How Reliable Is Your Cloud Provider’s Infrastructure?

One of the reasons businesses are shifting to cloud-based services is to take advantage of the cost savings realized when someone else is responsible for maintaining the server infrastructure and equipment. However, downtime can be costly, whether your organization is responsible for repairs or not. Ask potential cloud providers about the state of their equipment and about the experience of the engineers operating the servers.

Who Owns Your Data in the Cloud?

When you store your data in the cloud, do you still “own” your data, or does the provider have the right to use it, even in a derivative form? And how secure is your stored data? When choosing a cloud service provider, be sure you understand their policies concerning the use of your data and who might have access to it. Seek a provider whose policies align with your security requirements and comfort level.

How Secure Is Your Data?

Maintaining compliance with a variety of directives is one of the biggest concerns with cloud-based business operations. From HIPAA to Sarbanes-Oxley, security is an essential consideration when choosing a cloud service provider. Ask potential cloud providers how they manage security and whether or not they can comply with regulatory, industry, and corporate security policies.

Cloud-based everything is the future. It is a cost-effective path toward faster growth, more flexibility, and improved collaboration. Having a true partner in your cloud service provider is essential. At thinkCSC, we manufacture and support our own cloud services. Because we own our own cloud, we can be very nimble when it comes to customizing solutions for your IT needs. Learn more.

Take a Page from the Boy Scouts Be Prepared

By | Cloud Services

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There are a lot of factors that go into making a successful business, but the number-one factor is having the ability to remain open and operational despite any disruptions. Keeping your business operational so that you can serve your customers – providing that business continuity – would be simple if not for the what-ifs. And it’s because of the what-ifs that the Boy Scout’s motto, Be Prepared, will serve you well.

  • What if there is an earthquake, tornado, hurricane, or other natural disaster that either destroys your building or makes it impossible for you to work from that location?
  • What if a fire consumes your building, or a flood or water leak makes it unusable for a time?
  • What if a vandal breaks into your building and destroys your equipment?
  • What if, despite your best efforts to prevent such a scenario, an employee opens an unknown email attachment and delivers a virus to your entire network?

Can You Navigate Potential Disruptions?

Your customers can’t afford to care about those catastrophes that may affect your business; if they can’t still be served, they are likely to find somewhere else to go. And being prepared doesn’t just mean readying your business for the big disasters; you may experience the minor inconvenience of a single-day power outage that occurs when a road worker accidentally cuts through a buried utility line. For your organization to succeed despite the “what-ifs,” you need to have a business continuity plan.

  • If your building is destroyed or inaccessible, do you have a location from which you can work and handle customer needs?
  • If your equipment is damaged or infected with a virus, do you have your information backed up offsite that you can access from anywhere?
  • If your network goes down, can your employees continue working by accessing your offsite backup?
  • If the phone lines go down, do you have a plan in place to still receive calls from customers?

Disaster Recovery: Rebuilding After a Crisis

Your business continuity plan is designed to keep you operational in the moments during and after an unplanned disruption has occurred. It may include protocols, such as everyone works from home, or key personnel meet at an alternate worksite to keep the business operational during a disruption. But that can only work if a part of your business continuity plan includes disaster recovery.

Disaster recovery is the rebuilding of your network, system, data, and infrastructure after the disruption is over – and it ensures that you have the data you need to remain operational in the short term. Disaster recovery planning should include:

  • Automated backups of critical files to an offsite location
  • Access to offsite information from any location
  • The ability to work from virtual machines on an alternate server
  • File- and image-based backups
  • System monitoring
  • A team of expert engineers at your disposal to help you recover when the worst happens

Be Prepared

Don’t wait for a catastrophic event to remind you of the importance of being able to continue serving your customers. Having a plan for remaining operational, that includes backing up your data and protecting your files, is critical to plan for before disruptions occur. By the time disaster strikes, it will be too late. Ask thinkCSC to help you develop a disaster recovery plan that keeps your business running in the most difficult situations. Contact us to learn how.

Cloud Security Needs to Be a Priority Focus

By | Cloud Services

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It’s inevitable that more and more operations are shifting to the cloud for data storage and network security. It’s efficient, cost-effective, and makes it much easier to employ a mobile workforce. But if you don’t know where your data is being stored or who owns it, your shift to the cloud can be fraught with risks.

Ensuring Cloud Security

The best way to ensure cloud security is to know where your data is and who has access to it. And in choosing a cloud service provider, the following factors should be considered:

  • Access to your data. Your cloud service provider should have adequate network availability to ensure you have access to your data in the cloud regardless of when or how often you need it. While not truly a security issue, if you can’t access your data, it’s no different than a denial of service, a cyber-attack, or a data breach.
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR): Your cloud service provider should make backup and disaster recovery processes their highest priority. As a business leader, you need to have confidence in knowing that your business operations will continue even if there is a disaster – either at your location or at the location of your cloud services provider. Protecting your data is a full-time job.
  • Complete transparency. The cloud services provider with whom you choose to work should become a partner in your business continuity, working diligently with you to ensure your IT goals are met and taking the time to understand your specific needs, security requirements, and constraints.
  • Proactive security. Your cloud service provider should offer aggressive, proactive security by providing enterprise threat detection, which screens potential threats before they become a risk to your business by blocking malicious connections, blocking threats by malicious domains, and detecting and blocking threats from any compromised device.

thinkCSC has not only invested in owning its own cloud but has developed partnerships to enhance security and services that ensure our clients:

  • Avoid revenue losses from downtime
  • Enjoy the ability to predictably plan business development with an OPEX approach to IT
  • Enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing their proprietary information remains private, secure, and in the U.S.
  • Are compliant with regulatory, industry, and corporate requirements

Every business has data in the cloud. To ensure your cloud security, contact us today.

Secure Mobility Is the Key to Productivity

By | Cloud Services | No Comments

file0001376718168There is nothing like a sunny summer day to remind you of why you enjoy the flexibility of being able to manage your business away from the office.

Today’s technologies make it easier to work anywhere, but if you operate a corporate or government entity, it’s not enough to just consider convenience; you have to consider security too.

Having secure, adaptable tools that allow you and your team to work from anywhere can improve productivity, help you attract new talent and ensure that the work of your business is complete, even when the pleasant weather is luring you away from your desk. thinkCSC offers a variety of tools designed to increase your freedom without sacrificing security.

Cloud Services: Anywhere Can Be Your Office

Put mobility in the hands of your team without risking your data. From hosted email that you can access from anywhere and any device to mobile device management that ensures a successful BYOD program, thinkCSC cloud services provide your organization with the necessary protection to let you offer flexible work programs with peace of mind.

VoIP FollowMe: Receive Phone Calls Wherever You Are, Provide Better Service

VoIP is more than just a phone system. thinkCSC’s hosted VoIP is a complete customer service system as well:

  • Assign dial-in codes that put clients in touch with your on-call team.
  • Set up calls so that voicemail is delivered anywhere that is convenient, from your cell phone to your laptop.
  • Maintain consistency across multiple locations, by having a single number with assigned extensions that reach your team members wherever they choose to have the calls delivered.
  • Manage calls and voicemails without sacrificing security.

SyncedTool: Collaborate Securely and Access Documents from Any Device

Most organizations recognize the benefits of using collaboration tools, and Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (EFSS) is becoming the norm. Even with the newest updates to Dropbox that allow you to share read-only versions of documents, the risk of relying on such a solution is extremely high. thinkCSC’s  EFSS, SyncedTool, offers enterprise-grade security as a foundation to the document-sharing-and-collaboration solution, and it’s all housed on a private cloud that we manage for you.

Lync:

To take mobility to new heights, thinkCSC has introduced Microsoft Lync to its collaboration offerings. Lync incorporates all of your communication tools and enables you to communicate with your staff over a secure connection from wherever you are.

Don’t stare out your office window and let summer pass you by. Escape and enjoy – and let your staff do the same – without losing productivity or sacrificing security. thinkCSC mobility tools give you the solutions you need to be flexible.

thinkCSC Adds Microsoft Lync to Collaboration Offerings

By | Cloud Services | No Comments

thinkcsc-lyncAt thinkCSC, we are always on the lookout for ways we can help our clients work more efficiently and cost-effectively, which is why we are excited to announce the addition of Microsoft Lync to our collaboration offerings.

Lync 2013 is currently available to those that are using CSCloud Hosting Services. CSCloud Hosted subscribers who have agreed to use Lync services will have full access to Lync 2013 for Windows or Lync 2011 for Mac. If you do not have Lync currently installed on your system, thinkCSC can provide you access to the full client experience.

The benefits of Lync are considerable:

1. Significant Increases in Productivity

Microsoft Lync, in combination with thinkCSC’s other hosted services, change the way businesses of all sizes communicate and interact. It is a true game changer, incorporating a variety of multimedia communications into a single tool that enhances productivity.

2. Global Connectivity

This software enables you to communicate with other staff members over a secure Internet connection from anywhere in the world:

  • Instant Message (IM) your colleagues over a safe and encrypted connection.
  • Integrate the software with your email account and Microsoft Outlook, the Outlook Web App, and SharePoint.
  • Voice Chat with one or more colleagues for quick conference calls to those who have a microphone.
  • Video Chat with one or more colleagues for quick face to face meetings for those who have webcams.
  • Share all or part of your desktop or share documents with your colleagues so you can easily collaborate, get help with a problem, regardless of where your colleague works.
  • Set up meetings and conference calls using Lync’s built-in meeting features.
  • Communicate with people outside of your organization using Skype.
  • Control Your Presence. Your presence tells others your real-time availability. Lync automatically sets your presence based on your activity and your Microsoft Outlook calendar.

3. Cost Savings

One of the most significant benefits of Lync is its ability to allow businesses with offices in different parts of the country or world to collaborate effectively without the need for face-to-face meetings, reducing travel costs and increasing productivity significantly.

Lync is truly a global communications solution, allowing secure communications with employees, vendors and partners.

If you’re interested in CSCloud Hosting Services or learning more about what Microsoft Lync can do for you, contact our team today.

New Storage Technologies Take Center Stage

By | Cloud Services

thinkCSC-NimbleFrom filing cabinets to wireless hard drives, file or data storage has always been a key consideration for any organization. Adequate, reliable storage is a critical means of protecting your data and that of your customers. As well, your choice of data storage directly impacts server and application performance, making storage a critical component of your IT infrastructure.

The storage industry is in the midst of its largest transition in more than 20 years. Solid state storage (also referred to as flash storage) is becoming standard in most new laptops and tablets. Established storage companies are racing to integrate flash storage into their legacy devices, and new storage companies are emerging with new designs for flash. These new storage technologies introduce staggering benefits: power, density and incredible speed improvements

thinkCSC has recently partnered with one of the most successful pioneering storage companies: Nimble Storage. Nimble has developed a unique way of optimizing the best of both disk and flash storage options into a simple, easy-to-use storage solution, creating a “Hybrid Storage” technology that we believe will provide a significant advantage to our clients.

Nimble vs. Traditional Storage: Performance

  • Nimble’s file system provides 50 times more performance than the traditional disk equivalent.
  • Hybrid storage offers speeds that rival flash performance but at disk prices.

Nimble vs. Traditional Storage: Simplicity

  • Nimble Storage setup takes less than an hour, and storage management is a breeze. We can add more storage in just a few minutes.
  • With Nimble’s cloud-based InfoSight, our storage array is monitored by Nimble support in real-time.
  • Using the InfoSight portal, we are able to track usage and performance data over time, providing you with much more transparency and information than with traditional storage methods.

Nimble vs. Traditional Storage: Data Protection and Security

  • Nimble offers near-instant data protection and data recovery with its built-in snapshots. Snapping data every 15 minutes with several months of retention gives us a very simple, yet complete protection strategy with very little space utilization. In the event of data loss, entire volumes or individual files can be recovered.
  • Since snapshots and replication are included for free, we can easily add an offsite array for offsite date retention and disaster recovery.
  • Nimble’s snaps require less space and provide extended retention capabilities without impacting performance, thereby offering a huge improvement over traditional storage technology.

If you’re interested in seeing how Nimble can save your business time and money while providing better data security and protection, contact our team today for a demo.