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thinkCSC Leadership Series

Make Your Employees Your First Line of Cybersecurity Defense

By | Communication Security, Data Security, Managed IT Services, thinkCSC Leadership Series

One of the most common misconceptions about cybersecurity is that small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) don’t need to worry about cyber-threats or attacks. This simply is untrue. Over the last few years, more than 70 percent of the organizations that have lost money to cyber-crime have been SMBs. Make no mistake: Small businesses are a big target. There are many reasons for this, but one of the most prominent causes is a lack of training and awareness among employees. People are the biggest threat to an organization’s security. But you can make your people your first line of defense.

Who?

Every person – from the President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board to the custodians, cashiers, and administrators – should receive cybersecurity training and be held accountable for following all security policies. It is important to note that almost half of the losses associated with cyber-crime have been attributed to insider fraud and carelessness.

Given how widespread the usage is of personal devices among employees, on and off company premises, BYOD security policies must be addressed, as well. This is particularly true when employees use personal devices to conduct company business – including accessing work email accounts. Any device that connects, even sporadically, to company systems and accesses business data can be targeted by cyber-criminals and should be subject to specific security requirements.

Why?

Employees need to understand not only what the risks are but why training is so critical. Most millennials and post-millennials are well-versed in the use of technology, but even the savviest tech user is easily tricked by ransomware. And most people are unaware of the extent of cyber-attacks in today’s business world.

What?  

Employees cannot avoid nor help address what they do not understand and recognize. Whether the potential risks are phishing emails, malware, ransomware, out-of-date software, or the use of unapproved applications, employees must be taught to recognize and report suspicious activity, to avoid clicking on links and opening attachments, to think before clicking. Threats are far more likely to be handled properly and avoided altogether when employees are routinely trained. Thus, it is critical to make cybersecurity training an integral part of the onboarding process, as well as an ongoing practice  throughout their employment. This training should include the basics of current threats and information regarding emerging threats.

How?

The following elements should be a part of both initial and ongoing training:

  • Common Threats Employees must understand and be able to recognize signs of common threats. At the very least, these warnings should be written down and displayed in visible locations in every department. Download our email security guide to get started (PDF).
  • Communication Employees need to feel encouraged to speak up and speak out if they suspect an issue. They need to feel empowered to take time away from normal business long enough to address concerns with a supervisor, manager, or managed services partner.
  • Prevention Rules Employees need clear guidelines regarding the sites from which they can or cannot access information, as well as guidelines detailing what may or may not be installed on their company computers and devices. They need simple instructions about what attachments should not be opened and which links should not be clicked. They should be required to report any solicitations or non-work-related messages from unrecognized sources. Finally, companies should use high spam-recognition standards to minimize threats that otherwise would require skilled employee intervention.
  • Password Standards One of the most frustrating aspects of our modern technological world is the need for multiple passwords on multiple devices and accounts, especially the frequent changing of passwords for the same accounts. While biometric capability may soon relieve some of this frustration, insisting on strong passwords, multifactor authentication, and password security is essential.

None of these measures are terribly difficult; none of them are particularly time-consuming; none of them are overly-burdensome; all of them are critical. Given the rise in cyber-attacks over the last decade and, especially, the recent, coordinated, worldwide ransomware attack, not providing cybersecurity training to employees is not an option for any company that wants to survive and flourish. Of all expenditures that do not generate revenue directly, this is one of the most fundamental and unavoidable. It cannot be ignored.

While thinkCSC believes that employees will always be the first line of defense against ransomware attacks, the only real solution is for leaders of all organizations and businesses of all sizes to invest in stronger IT security that includes offsite backup and recovery. These protections, combined with ongoing staff training, strict security policies, and constant vigilance, are an absolute necessity in today’s cyber-environment.

For new customers interested in information on obtaining our services, please contact us at sales@thinkcsc.com.

thinkCSC Leadership Series: Columbus Ranks High for Millennials

By | thinkCSC Leadership Series

columbus-898928_640I’ve written before about what a great place Ohio is to do business, and we’re delighted that Columbus was named as one of the top 7 Intelligent Cities of 2015, but as the leader of a business that relies on innovation, the latest accolade for Columbus is truly worth celebrating.

In September 2015, Money named the top five cities for millennials, and once again, Columbus made the cut. Money focused on cities where:

  • Job growth is above average
  • The cost of living (food, rent, and other necessities) is affordable
  • The concentrations of grocery stores, pharmacies, laundromats, and other amenities is high
  • Loads of fun bars, restaurants, and leisure activities are offered

Coming in just behind Austin and Atlanta, Columbus is the only Midwest town to be listed. Also on the list were Tucson and Seattle. More than a fourth of Columbus residents belong to the millennial generation; Money contributes the attraction for this demographic in part to our great parks, sports, food, and public transportation. I would like to think that the draw is also because of the great companies and schools we have in the Columbus area. Downtown Columbus is becoming a tech and creative cluster, with more than 1,800 jobs projected to be added. Ohio University and Columbus State University are working together to provide more affordable education options, which will help more students obtain the higher education they need.

One of the main drivers behind the success of Columbus on all fronts is Columbus 2020. Columbus 2020 is the economic development organization serving the Columbus Region, which encompasses 11 counties. The organization works with state and local partners to achieve economic growth. As Kenny McDonald, Columbus 2020 CEO, explains, “The Columbus region has a diverse, growing economy and population base. Growth is poised to continue due to a young, educated workforce, aggressive economic-development efforts and geographic and institutional advantages.”

thinkCSC is a proud investor in Columbus 2020 and believes in the 2020 initiative. We are committed to the idea that Columbus is the best place to do business and that business owners, entrepreneurs, and millennials will thrive in our city. We appreciate having the opportunity to share our Columbus stories with those businesses considering a move to Columbus. Learn more about Columbus 2020.

thinkCSC Leadership Series: Columbus Is an Intelligent Place to Do Business

By | thinkCSC Leadership Series | No Comments

by Tom Hastings

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I’ve mentioned before how strongly I feel that Ohio is a great place to do business, so it’s really no surprise that – for the third consecutive year –  Columbus has been named as one of the “Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2015” by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF). The ICF recognized Columbus for its efforts on several fronts, including:

  • Having the “highest concentration of Fortune 1000 companies in America”
  • The excellent research facilities of Ohio State University (OSU) and Battelle
  • The city’s efforts to tackle the challenges of a higher-than-average low-income population
  • The city’s investment in advanced broadband access
  • The regional economic partnership between Columbus and Dublin (a former Top7 Intelligent Community)

The ICF also recognized the efforts of the Central Ohio Compact in their efforts to make higher education more affordable and accessible, as well as Rev1Ventures (formerly: TechColumbus) for its efforts in fostering business startups. Mayor Coleman was applauded for his efforts to revitalize East Franklinton. All of these efforts have had measurable payoffs, and Columbus has seen a decade of growth in skilled manufacturing.

The selection of the Top7 Intelligent Cities is a 10-month process that begins with nominations of cities around the world. Those nominations are narrowed down to 21 finalist cities, and to reach the top seven cities, those finalists provide detailed data that is analyzed and scored by an independent research firm.

This year’s theme was “The Revolutionary Community.” I find this to be an apt description of Columbus, and one all business leaders can take direction from. We must be flexible, forward-thinking, and willing to embrace the way technology will impact our future growth and economy. Columbus was recognized for “programs aimed at increasing collaboration among government, education, business and institutions.” Increased collaboration and an effort to improve the entire community (not just the bottom line) is something every business leader should add to his or her agenda. In the end, we all benefit from the effort to be better together.

Columbus is now in the running to be named the 2015 Intelligent Community of the Year. The announcement will be made in June at the Intelligent Community Forum’s Annual Summit in Toronto.

Watch the video and learn more about the Top7 Intelligent Communities.

Leadership Series: Community Properties of Ohio and CPO Impact

By | thinkCSC Leadership Series | No Comments

by Tom Hastings

CPO ImpactCommunity Properties of Ohio  (CPO) was initially formed to manage the Community Properties Initiative in Franklin County, managing a $100-million budget and endeavoring to rehabilitate neighborhoods and provide affordable housing for low-income residents of Franklin County, giving them the opportunity to acquire housing, become more stable, and contribute to the success of the community.

What Is CPO?

Community Properties of Ohio are the property management affiliate of Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing (OCCH). Working with OCCH, CPO has led the rehab efforts that provide improved residential opportunities in seven urban neighborhoods around The Ohio State University and Near East Side areas. CPO partners with OCCH in a variety of capacities to ensure affordable housing for Columbus and for Franklin County.

How CPO Benefits Columbus: CPO Impact

CPO works to provide affordable housing, but their mission is to “move residents beyond poverty.” To further their goal, CPO created CPO Impact, a nonprofit foundation established to work in partnership with the United Way of Central Ohio and other foundations.

CPO Impact Corporation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit affiliate of the OCCH and CPO. The primary mission of CPO Impact is to develop initiatives that increase the success of CPO residents. Their key objectives include increasing stability and safety, helping residents move beyond poverty, and providing support for CPO resident children.

Why I Believe in Supporting CPO Impact

Having the safety and security of a home is vital – not just for the people in need but for the entire community as a whole. A community is only as strong as its residents, and one of the ways to strengthen a community is to address the challenges facing the most marginalized members. I urge you to do what you can to support the efforts of the CPO and CPO Impact.

To learn more about how to support CPO Impact, visit www.cpoms.org.

 

Leadership Series: EO Columbus

By | thinkCSC Leadership Series | No Comments

by Tom Hastings

eoI have been a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Columbus chapter since 2004 and have held various positions in the organization, including President. EO helps entrepreneurs achieve their personal and business goals by providing peer-to-peer learning opportunities and experiences as well as connections to experts in every industry. What I admire most about the organization, however, is its focus on encouraging entrepreneurs to be active members of their communities.

What Is EO?

Founded in 1987, EO is a global organization for entrepreneurs, providing support to and connection for individuals who have the desire to not only develop themselves and their businesses but also to become better partners and leaders in their communities. The members of EO are part of a growing global network that supports entrepreneurs and business owners in more than 46 countries through 143 local chapters.

The EO Difference

EO chapters like EO Columbus provide members with local resources to support business growth, including educational events, networking and mentorship. EO also strengthens the global business landscape by partnering with local businesses, thereby encouraging job growth.

They have programs to support upcoming entrepreneurs:

  • The Global Student Entrepreneur Awards program recognizes undergraduate students who own and run businesses while attending a college or university.
  • The Accelerator Program provides business owners with the tools, knowledge and skills to grow their businesses.

Why I Believe in Being a Part of EO

No business can be successful if the community in which the business operates is not also successful. From supporting budding entrepreneurs to encouraging community leadership, EO is an organization designed to help business leaders thrive locally and globally.

To learn more about how to become a member, visit the Columbus chapter of Entrepreneur’s Organization.

The Arts Have a Direct Impact on Economic Development

By | thinkCSC Leadership Series | No Comments

by Tom Hastings

gcac finalWhen we think about economic development, the first thing that often comes to mind is the efforts made to create and the retain jobs and talent in a community. Measures to improve education and training, as well as government intervention to reduce property taxes and stimulate economic growth, are regularly employed as means to advance economic development. As important, however, is the advancement of the arts in communities, including Columbus, which has proven to be a prevailing factor in economic development. Overwhelming evidence suggests that communities who invest in the arts are promoting economic growth for their citizens.

The Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) advocates for the advancement of the arts and culture in the Columbus, Ohio region. As the importance of sustained job growth becomes more apparent, so does the need for efforts to cultivate a flourishing arts community. The GCAC provides mounting evidence that the arts impact our community in a number of different ways, including the attraction and retention of talent and increased tourism and convention business. The impact to economic development is profound: the Columbus region realizes $226 million in economic activity and 8,500 jobs as a result of the arts.

Economic development can’t be measured merely in short-term dollars and cents. Genuine, sustained economic development is achieved over a period of time, and the arts are an important part of that effort. While local and federal government programs may stimulate development, organizations like the GCAC are what make the community attractive to the talent we’re trying to retain and attract that will help Columbus prosper. Our community will benefit the most – economically and culturally – from the ongoing sponsorship of the arts by local business leaders and individuals. thinkCSC is proud to support the efforts of the Greater Columbus Arts Council.

5 Tech Trends Every Business Should Consider in 2014

By | thinkCSC Leadership Series

trendsMost businesses are still in the process of evaluating how IT will fit into their strategic plan this year. As we work with clients to develop strategies that provide cost-effective, efficient solutions, we have recognized a number of tech trends that will impact most commercial, government and educational institutions.

Today’s tech trends are often tomorrow’s best practices, so knowing how to embrace these trends and take advantage of the leverage they provide is essential to the continued success of your business. Investing in these technologies can often free your organization from monotonous obligations, allowing you to focus on growth, knowing that security and productivity are under control.

Here are five tech trends every organization should be implementing:

Voice Communications:  VoIP vs. Hosted PBX

There are fundamental differences between VoIP and Hosted PBX phone solutions. Yes, both VoIP and Hosted PBX offer mass customization, cost savings, global distribution, centralized messaging, customized caller-ID and the ability to connect virtual offices – unlike conventional phone systems. However, some phone providers market VoIP as a SIP trunk to a client’s existing digital phone system. This is NOT a VOIP phone system. Although the client is leveraging the internet for voice communications, they are still dependent on the limitations of their digital phone system. Furthermore, an “on-premise” VOIP phone system, that uses traditional phone lines or even SIP, is not a Hosted PBX. A Hosted PBX solution has no need for an “on-premise” VoIP phone system. With a hosted PBX solution, your phone system is 100% in the cloud, which allows for greater flexibility and customization versus an “on-premise” VoIP solution.

Secure and FAST Data Storage

Storage is a critical component of your IT infrastructure, and the newest storage technologies offer benefits that every organization can leverage from: power, density and incredible speed. thinkCSC offers Nimble Storage solutions that not only offer a more cost-effective way to achieve these benefits but also provide an unparalleled level of security, as well as rapid backup and recovery for your data.

BYOD

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a trend no business can ignore, and those who do often run the risk of data and security breaches. BYOD already exists in one form or another for most businesses, so developing protocols to ensure safety, confidentiality and best practices is paramount.

Cloud Computing

Cloud adoption has moved beyond that of a mere trend and into common practice, but a planned approach to cloud computing is necessary. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work, but the benefits of cloud computing can improve security, productivity and efficiency.

Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (EFSS)

EFSS is a powerful way to foster collaboration and improve efficiency, but it presents a number of challenges to businesses. While it’s tempting to use content solutions like DropBox for file sharing, the risk to your business in doing so is often too high, since you have no control over changes to the documents and no ability to recover lost documents.

SyncedTool not only makes it possible to collaborate efficiently, with multiple users being able to access the same document at the same time, but also offers comprehensive security solutions, including:

  • The ability to remotely wipe an employee’s device if needed, to protect your data
  • The ability to control who has access to which documents as well as the ability to restrict levels of access
  • The ability to rapidly remove access to files once an employee leaves the company
  • Secure, local hosting of your documents and files, making backup and recovery a non-issue

SyncedTool is a more robust system that gives you the power of efficient, cost-effective collaboration without the security and productivity risk of consumer-based document sharing tools like DropBox.

These tech trends are powerful tools worth considering for your organization. If you’re interested in learning more, contact us.

Ohio: A Great State to Do Business

By | thinkCSC Leadership Series | No Comments

by Tom Hastings

OhioOhio has once again been represented as one of the best states to do business, according to Site Selection magazine, and is now ranked as the fourth best state in 2013. Corporate site selector surveys account for 50 percent of the ranking; the remaining percentage is based on criteria that includes competitiveness rank, qualified projects and firms’ state tax burden. Columbus has also been recognized by Forbes as one of the best cities for tech jobs and one of the best cities for working mothers. Ohio was even named the best state for banking in 2012 by Money Rates.

That’s quite a résumé. But why is Ohio such a great state in which to do business?

As a business owner and long-time resident of the state, I believe a combination of factors make Ohio a great state for business development. Not only do the state and city leaders work tirelessly to create opportunity, support businesses and encourage our talented graduates to stay in Ohio after they graduate, but there is a singular focus on innovation in Ohio.

Ohio is the home of two of the world’s greatest innovators, Orville and Wilbur Wright, who owned and operated a bicycle repair shop in Dayton while they endeavored to build a flying machine. And since their time, Ohio has continued to emphasize technology, innovation and smart growth. In a PR Newswire article, the Ohio Business Development Coalition and former Governor Ted Strickland cite a number of advances in education, technology and the state tax structure that account for Ohio’s successful business climate.

Businesses enjoy other advantages in Ohio. The state is centrally located, having access to the greater percentage of the U.S. population; given the abundance academic institutions, the state touts a large talent pool from which to draw; the aforementioned business-friendly tax environment gives businesses a distinct advantage; and the community offers a great deal of support. And did I mention that the quality of life in Ohio is phenomenal?

Whether you are just beginning to build your business or have already established a successful business in Ohio, you already know the truth: Ohio is a good place for business.

I Know I Can Makes a Difference for Columbus

By | Community Involvement, thinkCSC Leadership Series | No Comments

by Tom Hastings

iknowicanA few weeks ago, I visited a local elementary school and spent time reading to a second-grade class. The book I read to them was entitled “I Know I Can,” published by the Columbus organization by the same name, I Know I Can (IKIC). Reading to elementary kids is the one IKIC initiative targeting younger students; business leaders from around Columbus visit elementary schools to read the I Know I Can book and plant the seed in young minds that they can be whatever they want to be, but they have to work at it to succeed. It is an important program, because it gives young students the opportunity to see people in a variety of different jobs, which inspires them to think of what they could do with their own futures. I’m proud that thinkCSC is one of the supporting businesses working with the organization.

What Is I Know I Can?

I Know I Can is on a mission to inspire, enable and support Columbus students to complete a college education. IKIC works primarily with middle school and high school students. As students enter college, I Know I Can continues to work with them, trying to ensure that they will not only achieve success in the first year of college but that they will see it through until graduation. IKIC works diligently with the students to help them build social and academic capital and an ongoing system of support that will make them more successful.

The I Know I Can Difference

This year is I Know I Can’s 25th anniversary. It is the longest-serving Columbus-based student support organization. Over the past 25 years, IKIC has given Columbus students more than $24 million in grants. In the last eight years, they’ve achieved a 20-percent increase in first-year retention. I Know I Can believes that by supporting the family, they can support college dreams. For the last several years, I Know I Can has granted a Founders Scholarship. This scholarship, up to $10,000 per year for four years. Curretly, IKIC has 40 Founders’ Scholars, all are enrolled full-time.

Why thinkCSC Supports I Know I Can

Members of the business community provide the model for young students to feed their dreams, and with more than 50,000 students being served by the small staff of I Know I Can, business leaders can volunteer to help in a number of capacities, including providing financial support.

The reason thinkCSC supports I Know I Can is simple: it’s the right thing – and the smart thing – to do. Columbus is stronger when its students are well educated. Businesses need a strong pool of talent from which to build and grow, and I Know I Can is helping to ensure the future of Columbus with their efforts, keeping our community globally competitive.

Columbus 2020: Investing in the Future of Columbus

By | Community Involvement, thinkCSC Leadership Series | No Comments

columbusPublic and private enterprises in the Columbus region are funding a non-profit economic growth initiative known as Columbus 2020. Columbus 2020 organizers are using the combined strengths of these government & business investors to significantly increase per capita income and employment by attracting major employers to the region while retaining and developing existing companies.

Columbus 2020 investors see the value of 2020’s mission and want to help it succeed. The idea is that by bringing more businesses to Columbus, the local economy will grow stronger – everybody wins. The companies involved are putting this investment forward knowing that there is no guarantee that the initiative will succeed, but this is a great symbol of leadership. As a leader, you know what the right thing is to do, you believe in it and you hope it turns out for the best – and the expectations are that it will.

thinkCSC is a proud investor in the 2020 mission, and while Columbus 2020 asks for a five-year commitment, it is not binding. However, an economic development initiative such as this – which is to market Columbus and persuade entrepreneurs of the value of moving or starting their businesses here – it makes sense to invest for the long haul. Such a venture does not happen over night; it takes time.

Columbus has been ranked by Forbes as one of the best places for business and careers. IBM, having closed the deal on the acquisition of Sterling Commerce, is creating approximately 500 high-tech jobs over the next three years. These types of stories are becoming more common, and much of this can be attributed to the efforts of Columbus 2020. New projects are regularly being considered for the Columbus region.

Am I worried that Columbus 2020 will bring in more competition in addition to jobs and prosperity? Of course, I think about remaining competitive. But as a business leader, I know in my heart that if my business and my people are strong, and if our services are relevant, we will realize more in terms of opportunity than we lose with additional competition.

thinkCSC believes in the Columbus 2020 initiative and we appreciate having the opportunity to share our Columbus stories with those businesses considering a move to Columbus. Investing in Columbus 2020 is good for the community and for thinkCSC it is smart business.

Image via: Columbus 2020