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Monday, June 6, 2011

Encrypt your Disk Drives for Free!

If you transport backup disks or USB memory sticks your data is at risk of being lost or stolen. You may also be breaking the law.

I transport backup disks between data centers. The disks are encrypted using TrueCrypt. When an encrypted disk is connected to a computer running TrueCrypt and the proper password is entered it's just like any other disk on the computer. When the drive is disconnected it can be taken off-site. It's contents are safe. To access the data on another computer, download the software, type the proper password and the data is available again.

TrueCrypt is free open-source disk encryption software. Visit the website. Download the software. If you like it, use it. If you use it; donate a few bucks to keep it going and recomend it to others.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Got Anti-Virus and a Firewall - think you're safe?

We haven't had a virus on a computer in our organization for years. We test and apply the latest security patches. Our Anti-Virus software is installed on every computer. Permissions are set to prevent users from doing anything damaging. Corporate policy states that users can't do the dangerous things that we don't want them to do. And the policies are enforced. Our staff are aware and constantly informed of the evils of software piracy, the dangers of viruses, and so on. They are also taught what to do if they find a breach of policy or detect a virus.

The good news is that our crew is probably better than most. We have a corporate atmosphere that fosters honesty, integrity, and a team atmosphere. The bad news is that a notebook computer was infected by a virus. It happened away from the corporate office and the computer was not connected to our networks. The user notified us immediately. They powered off the machine immediately. They didn't do a nice clean shutdown, they just powered it off. This was all good news for us as well. Our techies, found and cleaned the virus and that was the end of the incident. The virus never got any further.

As a manager, I had several questions and concerns. The big question was how did the virus get past our safeguards? The probability that the user was doing something they shouldn't was honestly the least of my concerns. Our anti-virus software was up-to-date and all safeguards were in place and functioning. I know that even the best anti-virus software can't catch everything. There are new viruses every day and variants of old ones designed to avoid detection. I understand this, but the virus we found was not new.

We did some digging and found the answer. As it turns out, the protection we have would have detected the virus if certain features were turned on. This was a surprise. Several features that you would expect to be on, are off by default! We reviewed all of the settings and made changes to harden the system even further.

We dodged a bullet this time, but hopefully others will benefit from our experience. You may have everything you need for excellent protection. Be sure to check your settings! You may need to turn on more features than you are currently using. It will take a bit of time and cost a bit. All necessary when you consider the alternative.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Techies Will Be Techies

The old adage "Boys will be boys" should be replaced with "Techies will be techies". Managing a highly skilled technical staff presents interesting challenges. The more brilliant the thinkers, the more difficult they are to manage. Perhaps managing in the traditional sense isn't practical. We don't want to impede their creativity, but we still need to get these people to do what we ask. Perhaps we must compromise. I maintain that a truly brilliant techie can outperform others in their area of expertise overwhelmingly. Letting their minds wander part of the time does not detract from their productivity. It in fact increases it. The harder they work, the harder they need to play.

A techie's idea of having fun is different than what others would consider fun. Oddly, what they do for fun is the same thing they do for work. The big difference is in who they're working for. For work they may write a computer program to solve a business problem. For fun, they might write a computer program just to try a new technology.

So where is there a problem? Techie's love to play pranks!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Proof of Delivery Problems?

A Proof of Delivery or POD is a receipt showing the date and place of delivery to the consignee, and the signature of the person receiving the shipment. Why is a POD important? Without a POD, the consignee can dispute the delivery and refuse payment. Without a POD there is little or no recourse. I have seen instances where Proof of Delivery was disputed years after the delivery had been made. This was done under the guise of an audit. PODs for a number of shipments, supposedly chosen at random and POD were requested. If the PODs were not provided, the consignee intended to take a credit for the shipments in question. I witnessed a dispute involving several full truck loads of merchandise. I've heard similar stories from other manufacturers.

I hear of losses from POD related issues again and again. The problem costs companies substantial sums. Eliminating this problem, or even significantly reducing it can have a big impact on the bottom line.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Internet Explorer 9 Has Been Released - Does This Affect You?

First let me say that after an initial look at IE9 I must say it looks good, very good in fact. Click here to read a review of IE9.

Should you install it on your computer? Should you deploy it to all of the computers in your office? The answer to these questions will vary and also depends on which version of the Windows operating system you are currently using.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Welcome to Technology for Managers

After the initial success of my blog Technology for Mortals it became apparent that there was a need for articles written from the business owner or managers perspective. This will be the home for such articles. If you are already a subscriber to Technology for Mortals or Technology for Techies, thank you for visiting. I hope you will benefit from the content here as well. This blog will contain material written from the perspective of a business owner or manager. I may at times post similar content to my other blogs. If I do, the content will be modified to reflect the perspective of the intended audience.

Again, thank you for visiting the Technology for Managers blog and Welcome!