An ounce of prevention for the healthcare industry

Security assessments for hospitals, clinics, and practices

0116-securityCyber criminals are increasingly targeting the $3 trillion U.S. healthcare industry. Unfortunately, many hospitals, clinics and practices still rely on aging computer systems that lack the latest security features.

Last year, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center became the poster child for vulnerability when a malware attack resulted in a $17,000 ransom being paid to hackers in order to regain control of their systems.

Phishing scams are also on the rise, putting billing information, social security numbers, birth dates, policy numbers, and diagnosis codes at risk. That data can be used to forge fake IDs to buy medical equipment or prescription drugs that can be resold. Taken a step further, it can be used to file phony claims with insurers.

To make matters worse, medical identity theft isn’t as easily detected as fraudulent credit card transactions, which are often flagged and canceled by banks before a cardholder is even aware of the incident.

We have to assume that cybercrime isn’t going away anytime soon, but Zones can help you with a number of tools that improve the safety, compliancy, and security of your systems. Continue reading

Getting to the core of Microsoft’s new licensing model

Navigating the move from per-processor to per-core licensing

new-microsoft-logoWith the arrival of Windows Server 2016, customers can soon be running a cloud optimized operating system that supports current workloads, and offers new technologies to simplify the transition to cloud computing.

In addition to the many networking, compute and storage advances included in Windows Server 2016, Microsoft is also transitioning from per-processor to per-core licensing.

Moving Windows Server and Microsoft System Center 2016 to per-core licensing aligns the servers to a common and consistent licensing denomination that is already a standard measure for capacity across environments: cores. This also brings Windows Server into alignment with the per-core licensing model that applies to Microsoft’s SQL Server 2016 and Azure products.

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Zones acquires nfrastructure

On October 21, we announced our acquisition of nfrastructure Technologies, a provider of core-to-edge technical and managed services.

By acquiring nfrastructure, we’re extending our robust solutions and services capabilities. As a wholly-owned subsidiary of Zones, nfrastructure will expand globally and nationally, significantly enhancing its product fulfillment and technical capabilities.

“Acquiring nfrastructure accelerates Zones’ evolution as a services-led solutions provider with deep customer relationships and global capabilities,” said Firoz Lalji, chairman, president and CEO of Zones. “We welcome nfrastructure’s talented team to our organization. With similar cultures squarely focused on delivering a positive customer experience, we’re well-aligned to seize growth in the market.”

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Doing mobility right

Planning for an efficient, effective mobile infrastructure

Mobility Blog ArtToday – whether by accident or design – virtually every business relies on mobile technology to get through the workday.

From a small business owner’s smartphone, to a retail associate’s line-busting mobile point-of-sale device, to a web-enabled delivery truck, mobile technology is changing how and where work gets done. But making sure all of those devices deliver the expected return on investment is no accident. It takes sound planning and design, backed by coordinated implementation and management, to do business mobility right.

The Zones mobility practice is committed to helping customers take business mobility from ad hoc to advanced. It begins with solution architects, systems engineers and product specialists assessing an organization’s business needs and existing mobile infrastructure.

Often – and sometimes at surprisingly large organizations – the team will find that the mobile “strategy” in place is a loosely assembled bring-your-own-device (BYOD) scenario, with the organization perhaps picking up the carrier bill for employees. While such a system may keep people connected, it’s probably costing more than it should, and it does little to keep their devices – or the organization – protected.

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Understanding the software-defined data center

Virtualize the infrastructure to transform your business

0116-securityUntil about the year 2000, each server in a data center ran a single application. While this approach ensured application performance, as processing capability increased, it often left a lot of a server’s processing power sitting idle much of the time. This one application per server approach also uses up a lot of real estate in the data center, not to mention the attendant power and cooling costs.

Taking advantage of available excess capacity, software engineers adapted a concept from the world of supercomputers that provides a layer of abstraction between the hardware and the applications running on it. This allows for a single physical server to be divided into multiple “virtual” servers or virtual machines. This virtualization allows administrators to run multiple applications on a single physical server, recapturing underutilized processing capacity and reducing the data center footprint. It also allowed multiple virtual servers across multiple physical servers to be viewed, managed, and utilized as pooled resources.

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Who’s watching over your data?

data-securityTrouble may be lurking in your network

Data breaches are on the rise. According to a recent Ponemon Group/IBM study, the average cost of a data breach was nearly $3.79 million in 2015, and that amount is predicted to increase exponentially in the foreseeable future.

In the past year, we witnessed major commercial and government organizations receiving alarming cybersecurity breaches and attacks. Well-known organizations such as Home Depot, T-Mobile/ Experian, Ashley Madison, Sony Pictures, Anthem, Premera Blue Cross, the Democratic National Committee, and the Federal Government’s Office of Personnel Management experienced cybersecurity issues. Even the IRS wasn’t safe from attack. Despite the fact that these organizations had specialized degrees of preparedness and cyber protection in place, they still fell victim. Continue reading

UC systems are connecting the increasingly disconnected workforce

8-12-16_UC-Blog-graphic_800pxFor more than a decade, unified communications (UC) technologies from industry leaders like Cisco and Avaya have been helping businesses collaborate remotely while reducing telecom and infrastructure costs by merging voice and data into a single network.

Today’s on-premises and cloud-based UC platforms take savings and efficiency to a higher level, going beyond voice, email, web chat and instant messaging to include multimedia collaboration capabilities as well. Best of all, the cost of endpoint technology is coming down, enabling small and medium size businesses to deploy sophisticated UC systems more affordably than ever. Continue reading

Modernize your business with Zones Azure Complete

Zones-Azure_Complete-infographicPlanning and implementing a cloud computing platform can be complex and time consuming. Zones Azure Complete accelerates the adoption of your cloud computing platform, and allows you to discover new ways of optimizing the performance of your Azure environment.

Through a wide array of services to support your organization’s cloud-based functions, Zones Azure Complete provides help to enhance the utility and management of Azure in your organization.

Zones Azure Complete delivers best-in-class technologies and proven methodologies for thorough assessment, thoughtful design, seamless implementation, and consistent management of the Azure cloud platform. It’s an all-inclusive program that goes beyond cloud subscriptions to include reliable ongoing services for your cloud environment.

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Planning for unplanned outages

It takes vigilance to keep the data center up and running

5-23-16_UPS_hero_325x429The Ponemon Institute’s 2016 Cost of Data Center Outages study shows that the cost of unplanned data center outages is rising fast. Sponsored by Emerson Network Power, the report finds that the average cost of a data center outage has increased from $505,502 in 2010 to $740,367 today. That’s a 38 percent rise in just five years!

Other key findings include:

  • Downtime costs for the most data center-dependent businesses are rising faster than average.
  • Maximum downtime costs for 2016 are $2,409,991.
  • Maximum downtime costs increased 32 percent since 2013 and 81 percent since 2010.
  • UPS system failure continues to be the number one cause of unplanned data center outages, accounting for one-quarter of all such events.

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Fight ransomware. Or pay the price.

Healthcare organizations increasingly dealing with advanced threats

Print2016 has seen a spike in reported ransomware attacks in the healthcare industry. Because these attacks prevent access to patient record systems, their impact extends beyond simply doing business; they represent a threat to the delivery of care.

In February, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center announced that it had paid a $17,000 ransom to restore files encrypted by a ransomware attack. The good news is that HPMC was able to restore the data and return to normal operations relatively quickly. The bad news is that it could happen again without a comprehensive plan in place.

Just a month later, Methodist Hospital in Kentucky was crippled by a Locky crypto-ransomware attack that sent the hospital into an “Internal State of Emergency.” The Locky malware entered the network through a spam email attachment and spread across the network, infecting multiple systems. While the 4-bitcoin ransom (about $1,600) was modest, the damage done by five days of interrupted hospital operations was not. In the end, Methodist Hospital did not pay the ransom, and was able to recover by activating its backup system.

To fight – or more importantly prevent – such attacks, Cisco offers a range of security solutions including its subscription-based Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) suite that protects your endpoints, your network, and your email and web traffic. Managed through a web-based management console, AMP can be deployed on a variety of platforms to safeguard your data and your systems proactively. Continue reading