January 2011
In this issue
Buyer Beware
Better Business Intelligence
Cut Down on Spam
IT Security Policy
Business Continuity TIp
IT Security Policy:
A Must Have

by Blake Britton,
Vice President of Axxys Technologies, Inc.
I know we all feel that we do our best when it comes to securing both the physical and tangible assets of our businesses. Most companies feel that by simply locking doors, controlling who has keys and alarm codes, changing passwords, and engaging in other basic security measures they are doing their best to protect the business. I am not a physical security officer, or loss prevention specialist, but I do know about "basic" IT policy and how it can help your business protect its "information" assets.

So here are the questions of the day: Does your company have an enforceable IT security policy? Who is directly responsible for the management and enforcement of this policy? How often is this policy reviewed and updated?

These are all very serious questions that every business must answer. In a lot of cases the "information" businesses possess is one of their most valuable assets.

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Business Continuity Tip

Reap the benefits.

We talk about the importance of creating a comprehensive and actionable recovery plan. It will come as no surprise, that most plans are built with the worst-case-scenario in mind. But the reality is that most business interruptions are not major "smoking hole" events. Employee illness, transit strikes, religious holidays or even scheduled events like the recent G20 in Toronto are just a few examples of the many things that can keep people out of work throughout the year.

A comprehensive recovery plan takes these "minor" interruptions into account. For example, if you have a large group of employees out of town for a tradeshow, who will function as their backup? What's the impact on your customers? How will external audiences be notified? What's the procedure for handling increased workload? Is your current process efficient? You back up your data every night, but have you made the same accommodations for your people?  A robust recovery plan will help you address these concerns throughout the year.


Just for Laughs



Quote of the Month

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.

Bill Vaughn


1661 Capitol Way, Suite 102
Bismarck, ND 58501
Phone: 701-250-9400



Welcome to 2011 and Happy New Year!

Wow! Where did 2010 go? If you are like me, the year just seemed to speed by and was over before I knew it.

The beginning of the year coincides with many entities beginning their fiscal year. Now is a good time to evaluate your IT budget for the year, review your equipment replacement schedule and to review any new IT initiatives that may be on your “radar” for 2011. A good rule of thumb for equipment replacement is to schedule desktops and notebooks for a 3-4 year replacement, and servers for a 5-6 year replacement. Networking equipment should be scheduled to be re-evaluated every 4-5 years. Networking equipment may not need to be replaced every 5 years, but technology keeps advancing and you need to re-evaluate.

We have been receiving many questions lately about upgrading to Microsoft Office 2010. Office 2010 has many new features than enable interaction with Exchange Servers and SharePoint portals in a richer and deeper way. If you analyze a lot of data with Excel, Excel 2010 has a few new features including Sparklines and Excel PowerPivot to help you connect to your data easier. In the past Excel was a tool just for spreadsheets, but can now function as a powerful instrument used to view your data stored in databases.

This time of year is also a good time to review your disaster recovery plans. Disasters and interruptions to your business can come in many forms, as talked about in the Business Continuity Tip in this newsletter. If you think back to last year and the horrible ice storms in southwest ND, losing power for an extended period is a very real possibility and is certainly a disruption of your business. Let us know if you would like assistance in assessing your risks and developing a disaster recovery plan. It is never too late to get started.

Until next time, take care and have a prosperous 2011!

Chris Brown, Vice President, NRG Technology Services

Buyer Beware
Don't Expect Consumer-Grade Technology to Meet Your Business-Class Needs
used with permission from the Cisco Small Business Website
  • When you walk into a business meeting, do you wear pajamas?

  • Do you let your children manage the accounts receivable for your office?

  • When you buy business technology, do you choose products designed for home use?

The pricing on consumer-grade technology is tempting. But the lower price can end up costing your business dearly, in both productivity and cash.

Ways to Save Time and Money, by Not Going Home
"While you may be saving money now, you're spending more in the long run," says Austin Smith, founder of Digital Son, a Cisco Registered Partner. "One of the worst things that a small business could do would be to go to a retail establishment and purchase home gear for their business. Home equipment is just not designed to provide feature sets that businesses need."

Cisco customers report that products that are designed for doing business are worth the price premium in at least four ways, because they enable them to:

1. Integrate Business Technologies
Combining the technologies that a business uses makes processes more efficient. Work gets done better, and faster.

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3 Essential Steps to Better Business Intelligence
used with permission from the Microsoft Small Business website


Companies today have too much information. What companies don't have enough of is intelligence - and no, we're not talking about your staff. Business intelligence refers to the insights you discover when you turn all that data into something that your employees can use to make smart business decisions.

Business leaders and managers at all levels are bombarded with data from accounting systems, CRM, ERP and other business applications. Much of this information comes in the form of reports, which can be difficult to read and understand, or charts, which often lack necessary background detail.

Here are three essential steps to turning all those reams and megabytes of information into vital business insights - business intelligence.

1. Remove the clutter
Knowledge may be power, but information overload can weaken even the best of us. The first step in combating this common problem is to determine what information is important and to whom. Every role has different information requirements. Salespeople require customer information. The finance team requires financial information. Manufacturing requires production data.

There is some overlap. For example, manufacturing might require information on upcoming large orders to plan appropriately for production.

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It's Time to Cut Down on Spam
used with permission from Symantec

It’s no secret that spammers count on current events to hoodwink email users. In recent years, everything from the Beijing Olympics to the presidential campaign of Barack Obama to the Oscar ceremonies has provided fodder for their scams. But with the economy in a tailspin, spammers are redoubling their efforts. Continue reading to learn about the latest email threats and what you can do to slow down and effectively block them.

Beware of ‘economic spam’
As economic concerns mount across the globe and media coverage of the downturn intensifies, it’s clear that more and more spammers view “economic spam” as a useful vehicle. According to a recent Symantec State of Spam Report, emails with subject lines such as “HURRY! I found you a new job” and “Global job vacancy - apply now” are becoming increasingly common.

With more people looking for employment, some spammers have even resorted to using the rejection letter to dupe users. As the March 2009 State of Spam Report explained:

“In the particular spam message observed, the messages states that ‘Unfortunately we have to inform you that your qualifications and experience does not fit the position you applied for.’ The URL links in the spam message point back to a legitimate site of a particular company or recruitment firm. The spam message indicates that ‘We have attached a copy of your application you sent for us.’ If human curiosity prevails and the recipient opens the attachment, the user’s system becomes the subject of an attack from the Hacktool. Spammer malicious virus. Hack-tool. Spammer is a program that hackers use to attack mail boxes by flooding them with email.”

Messages that purport to be from the Internal Revenue Service are another common ploy of spammers to gain personal information, especially Tax Day in April.

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