2020 vision: Are you secure? Do you have a workplace of the future?

As the New Year approaches, it’s a good reminder to think about how technology may impact your business operations. Beyond the end of Microsoft’s Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 support, security threats remain at the heart of most of the changes.

“Whether it’s your wireless printer, voice over IP phone system, multi-function device copier, desktop, laptop, mobile device, network or servers, an organization’s entire threat surface needs to be serviced, protected and monitored holistically,” says Eric Thal, sales manager at Blue Technologies.

Smart Business spoke with Thal about business technology trends and what they may mean for the future of your operations.

What’s going on with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008?

After January 2020, Microsoft will no longer be updating, supporting, or providing bug fixes and patches to the operating systems Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008. Companies are upgrading slowly, but many organizations are still running more than half of their environment on one of those two platforms. Make this a priority now so you are ready for the changes in 2020.

You mentioned cyber threats to phones and copiers. How vulnerable are those?

All the technology used today represents a company’s threat surface. Bad actors typically take the path of least resistance, and it can be easier to hack into a network through a printer or a phone system than a password-protected, highly encrypted server. Anything that’s connected to the network, and certainly anything that’s wireless, needs to be properly managed, secured and segmented. Also, if the organization has poor, acceptable usage or password policies, such as using the same passwords for multiple devices, not changing them often enough or not putting much thought into the password itself, a hacker can gain access.

Unfortunately, in today’s world, it’s often not a question of if; it’s a question of when. That’s why all organizations should be following a well-established, trusted framework for maintaining and monitoring the integrity of their environment — not only for security’s sake but also to ensure a legally defensible position when a breach does occur.

What are other trends related to IT security?

More small and mid-sized businesses are opting for mobile device management, whether they’re issued by corporate or are personal devices. With these tools, an organization can containerize the corporate data securely, so that if something happens — a device is lost or an employee leaves — the information can be located, remotely locked and wiped. This technology, traditionally used by large enterprises, has moved down market and is being adopted across many organizations of different sizes.

Also, the basic email protection that comes with Microsoft Office 365 is not typically enough for organizations, especially if they have regulatory concerns or compliance needs. Enhanced email security may be the way to go. With that, more organizations need an added layer of security and require two-factor authentication for their workforce. For example, an authentication app on a cellphone is paired with a password.

With the rise of ransomware, backup needs to be taken seriously. Because once an organization pays, it’s more likely to be targeted again. A fully tested, disaster recovery plan helps with business continuity in the event of a power outage, weather event or some other emergency. Businesses should keep cloud backups of critical information off-site and gapped appropriately from their existing networks. Every business needs cloud backup and should only put it in an enterprise-grade data center, which has the appropriate certifications, replications and backups and is multisite for geographic redundancy.

How can managed IT help companies in many of these areas?

Between staying abreast of the latest software and ensuring the organization’s threat surface is effectively managed and protected, it’s a lot to keep up on. Managed IT can help organizations service and support all of their technology, securely, so the company and its employees can focus on its core business.

After all, technology is integral to the business world already and likely to grow even more so in 2020 and beyond.

Insights Technology is brought to you by Blue Technologies Inc.