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Protecting Your Assets

Managing risk and protecting company assets are changing in today’s business environment. Is your business effective and secure?

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Photo: istockphoto.com

Protecting electronic assets

The protection of electronic data has been top of mind in the media, as more companies continue to expand their reliance on computer technology and Internet use for business operations.

“The biggest security threat is the unauthorized use of data, and not necessarily from the lack of adequate security resources,” says Daryl Thomas, vice president of BlackBird, a wholly owned subsidiary of HonBlue and a locally owned and operated Managed Service Provider (MSP) focusing on IT services to small- and medium-sized Hawaii businesses.

“We’re seeing problems from the lack of a company security policy,” Thomas says. “A $59 firewall is likely not enough to protect valuable company data, but neither is a $10,000 IT security system with no enforcement guidelines.”

“We see ourselves in a business-to-business relationship with our clients, not a vendor supplying products. Increasingly, we need to be their outsourced IT department and trusted advisor.”

Daryl Thomas, vice president of BlackBird

In the last 18 months, as companies have continued to recover from the recent recession, Thomas has seen a rise in the fallout from the lack of such a policy. Especially vulnerable are small businesses facing staff reduction. Security breaches, such as a data leak to a competitor, reveal gaps in their IT security policy on how to disengage former employees from e-mail, server file access, and how to deal with company data moved to portable devices, such as laptops, Smart Phones and tablets, among other access issues, he explains.

Thomas, a 16-year veteran of information technology services, emphasizes that current security technology exists, including firewalls, anti-virus, IP (intrusion prevention), VPN (virtual private networks), Spyware prevention, Web content filtering and anti-Spam, to ensure a safe and a clean electronic business communication environment for businesses. BlackBird’s OnIT Security, which is one facet of its IT services that ensures business continuity for its clients, integrates these multiple levels of protection under a unified threat management “umbrella” in a single appliance for its clients.

“The big void has been the lack of a defined internal policy that spells out who has access to information, what is acceptable Internet use by employees, what controls are needed to limit vendor use of information, and how long data must be kept, among other procedures and guidelines,” says Thomas. “We can work with business owners to help them define such a policy, because many of them often don’t know what is needed or what questions to ask.”

“We work as a partner with businesses as a one-stop shop in managing the life history of their critical documents.”

Chris Harris, general manager of Access Information Management

“Emerging technologies, such as cloud computing, social media marketing and expanded data mobility with handheld devices, such as Smart Phones, already have and will pose additional new security threats to a company’s IT system,” Thomas says.

Recognizing that network threats will continue to increase and proliferate, BlackBird has the taken the approach of being a “virtual CIO (Chief Information Officer)” for its clients. “We see ourselves in a business-to-business relationship with our clients, not a vendor supplying products. Increasingly, we need to be their outsourced IT department and trusted advisor,” says Thomas. Focusing on small and medium businesses, many without a dedicated IT department, BlackBird can accommodate clients who need outsourced IT support or an IT department. It sets up a customized IT plan backed by monthly reports, and can assist with upgrades of network architecture, hardware and software.

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