Best Practices, Entrepreneurship, Technology

Security in the Age of Ransomware Webinar

Rocket IT

Nearly 77% of small businesses think they’re safe from cyber attacks, yet more than 40% have already been victims. Where is this disconnect, and how can you protect your organization?

In the new age of ransomware, security has to be a top priority for every level at your organization. Find out what you can do to decrease the risk of costly downtime and data loss due to a security breach.

Join Rocket IT vCIO Eric Henderson on July 27th, 2017, at 1:00 PM EST for our Security in the Age of Ransomware webinar.

Eric Henderson is the virtual CIO for Rocket IT, a technology company based out of Duluth, GA.  He received his B.S. in Management from Georgia Tech in 2003, and has worked in a variety of industries.  Eric serves on the National Board for 48in48, a nonprofit dedicated to creating websites for other nonprofit organizations, and on the Endowment Board for the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology. He is passionate about technology, leadership, and seeing people and their businesses thrive. 

Eric lives in Atlanta with his wife Heather, and their two sons, Thomas and Jonas. 





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NotPetya Ransomware Variant Targets Human Resources

Rocket IT

Another in a long string of recent cryptovirus attacks, a variant of the Petya ransomware known currently as “NotPetya” is striking HR departments around the globe. Currently disguised as an employee candidate email, malicious links in emails disguised as a Dropbox link to resumes and CVs are infecting computers and locking their files.

Instead of encrypting your files one-by-one like other cryptoviruses such as WannaCry, Petya and its variant operates by first encrypting your PC’s Master Boot Record which also contains your boot loader – special code that always runs before your operating system (OS). Once infected, your boot loader will load the ransomware instead of your OS.

What does it look like when you click on one of these corrupted links?

Users see a Stop Error screen (popularly known as the “Blue Screen of Death”), and their computer reboots into what appears to be the Check Disk screen. This is when the virus encrypts your PC’s Master File Table, which acts as the map to your stored files. Once this is encrypted, it makes it virtually impossible for your computer to locate a specific file.

After the ransomware is done with these processes, the ransom message appears. Unfortunately, NotPetya disables your ability to access the internet through this computer since at this point it has effectively placed itself between you and your OS. In order to pay the bitcoin ransom, you have to use another computer to do so in order to get the decryption key and save your files.

This is not the first time Petya has hit organizations; only now it’s using the EternalBlue Exploit recently patched in the latest Microsoft updates to spread from one PC to the rest of the network. There may be additional methods being used by this virus to infect whole networks that have not been determined yet.

Phishing attacks like NotPetya, WannaCry, and Locky have been so successful because of the social engineering aspect of the hackers’ strategy. Human Resources and recruiters receive unsolicited resumes on a regular basis, so an email like the ones that have been distributing the NotPetya malware don’t look innately suspicious.

Be cautious of unexpected emails with links or attachments. As long as it continues to pay, phishers will continue finding new ways to deliver this ransomware to end users.

Interested in more information on ransomware and how to protect your organization? Check out these additional articles below.

What is Ransomware?
How to Tell If an Email is Valid
Upsurge in Phishing Activities: Don’t Take the Bait!
Protecting Yourself from Phishing Attacks



About the Author-

Jason Hand loves making music, serving his church and getting people excited about technology tools. He currently lives in Georgia with wife and two adopted sons.  Jason is the Systems Administrator at Rocket IT.


Inefficiency is the enemy of a profitable, thriving business. What would a 2.5% increase in utilization mean to your organization? Download our FREE whitepaper for five easy steps to increase employee productivity at no additional payroll cost.





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How to Tell If an Email is Valid

Rocket IT

With most business transactions taking place at least in part over email, phishers have gotten very sophisticated at mimicking typical emails users receive and tricking innocent end users into clicking on malicious links or opening corrupted files. So how do you tell if the email you just received is valid… Or a Trojan horse in disguise?

You’ve received an email, and something about it just seems phishy, but you’re not sure. And you don’t want to miss out on an important business opportunity.

The first thing you can do is check the email address of the sender. If the email says it’s from LinkedIn Customer Support, but the return address says, then it’s a safe bet you should send that email straight to your junk folder. Scammers like to use email addresses that appear similar to the original domain they’re impersonating, and they’re counting on you to skim and look over those details.

Next, check the validity of all the URLs they’ve included in the email WITHOUT clicking on them. If you hover your mouse over a URL, a preview link will appear above it. Does this link lead to a different site than the one they’ve presented in their text? Check each link individually since some hackers will use legitimate links mixed in with their phishing URLs to lure you into a false sense of security.

Is there an attachment included in the email? Without opening it, check the following: were you expecting this attachment? Is it from a trusted sender? Is it in a usual format you expect from that sender? It’s very common for phishers to spoof an actual email address from a trusted person (even within your own organization) and make it appear as if the email is really coming from that person, as well as enable the phisher to receive replies to that email as if they had access to the account they spoofed.

Best practices for email attachments are to follow up with the sender in a new email (okay), over the phone (better), or in person (best) to make sure the attachment is really from them. You should ideally never open an unexpected email attachment. If you absolutely must open an attachment against all advice (again, please don’t!), be sure that Macros are automatically disabled through all of your programs (Adobe Acrobat, Word, Excel, etc.). If an attachment prompts you to connect to outside links or run Macros, DO NOT GIVE IT PERMISSION TO DO SO. Enabling this in a file will allow it to connect to an outside server and run processes on your computer without your permission.

If you want to really get into the technical nitty gritty, you can check the header of an email to see if the message is being sent from someone on the same domain server as the sender. If a hacker is spoofing the email address, a clue could be hidden in the header information.

To check the header in Outlook 2016, 2013, or 2010, open the individual message in its own window and click on the File tab. From there, select Properties in the Info tab. The header information will appear in the Internet Headers box. Here’s how to open the same in Gmail.

The information in your header box is ordered by most recent action and later. So the information at the top will be from when you received it. To see where the email originated from, you’ll have to look at the earlier actions.

In the header information, scroll through to find Return-Path. This section should reveal the real reply email address of the sender. If an email is being spoofed, this address will be different from the original sender. Another clue to watch out for in your information can be found in the sending server’s domain name. If an email hops around multiple servers (which is common with legitimate emails as well), look at each Received: from function. The further into your header information you go, the more likely you are to catch the real domain address of the original sender. Seeing one email hop that matches, especially in the beginning, is not a good indicator that the email is valid, as spoofers can trick that function later on. You need to make sure each server hop resolves the sending server back to the purported sender’s domain.

For example, the email below appears to be coming from our Marketing Specialist, but when we go into the header, we can see that the email is really from our friends over at KnowBe4.

While checking into the header is definitely very cool, it’s mostly unnecessary since the other flags should let you know if the email is suspicious. When in doubt, ask your IT team!




About the Author – 

Steve Hopkins is a Support Professional and Team Lead at Rocket IT. Steve and his wife are growing their family through adoption. They have already adopted two sons. 


1200x627- vCIOHave you found that you need the expertise of a Chief Information Officer to help you make strategic decisions on how to leverage technology to meet your unique business goals, but aren’t ready to commit to hiring a full-time executive to fill that need? Learn about our virtual CIO services.






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Technology, Uncategorized

What is Ransomware?

Rocket IT

Ransomware is a specific type of malware or virus that locks users out of their own data by encrypting it… And then holding the decryption key hostage in exchange for a large sum of money, usually delivered via bitcoin because of its difficulty to track online.

These cryptoviruses (Locky, CryptoLocker, WannaCry, etc.) spread in a variety of ways, including (but not limited to) spam emails, malvertisements, and downloaders. But most ransomware attacks depend heavily on social engineering.

The human element is the easiest to exploit. Given time and resources, hackers can (and do) trick computers and spam filters. Some attacks take advantage of known vulnerabilities, like this one from Intel, to infect computer and networks, but many still rely on just one misguided click from an end user. And the strategies these criminals employ to trick you into being that user continue growing in sophistication, making them harder to spot.

Phishing attacks have significantly evolved from messages sent by foreign royalty in distress, and while you’ll still encounter the occasional blatant scam message rife with grammar mistakes and misspellings, the more recent ones could very easily appear to be someone in your contact book, sending an email they might normally send.

We’ve gone in-depth before once or twice about how you avoid falling for these phishing scams and becoming another victim, but here’s what happens when you do take the bait:


You’ve just opened an attachment you weren’t expecting from the accounting department at one of your vendor companies.

And nothing unusual happens… Or so it seems. Once a cryptovirus begins downloading itself, your computer might start running a little slower if you have limited bandwidth, but this is typically relatively imperceptible to your average person.

But the malware has already started its work on your computer.

Behind the scenes, the virus on your computer has started getting busy. It’s already contacted its home server and generated the cryptographic key that will hold your data.

Before you’re even aware it’s there, the ransomware has encrypted your files.

Once the virus has communicated with its base, it begins locking every file it can find with common file extensions like .doc, .xml, .jpg, and more. What’s worse? The encryption is so difficult to break, that it’s highly unlikely a third party will be able to unlock it anytime within the next, oh, hundred years or so. You’d have to know the exact method and algorithm the hackers used in order to crack it.

Now that your files are locked, you receive the ransom.

Anyone who’s watched a few episodes of Criminal Minds has an idea in mind of what a hostage situation is like. The phishers who have locked your files let you know exactly what they’ve done, and they name their price… Along with a deadline.

Typically, the hackers will give you a short deadline that will end with an increase in the cost of the ransom if you don’t pay it in time (and sometimes an increase in ransom even if you do). After a certain amount of time, they’ll say they don’t want to play ball anymore, and your files will stay locked.

At this point, you’re faced with a difficult choice.

If you aren’t running regular backups, you now have to choose between losing your data and paying the ransom. It’s easy to say you won’t negotiate with terrorists holding your company’s information hostage… Until you’re actually facing that data loss.

On top of that, every minute of unproductive downtime is costing your company even more in revenue (nearly $9,000 per minute, in fact).

Facing one of the newer viruses, like WannaCry? Then it gets worse.

Ransomware like WannaCry are virtual worms, and they can spread from one computer across an entire network in seconds. This is why it’s important to keep all of your important data and backups offsite and separate from the general network.


As experts work on disabling and blocking these threats, new ones are sure to roll out. Hackers will continue using ransomware as long as it pays… And boy, does it pay.

Be sure to think before you click. When you receive an email with an unexpected attachment or a suspicious link, be cautious. Follow up offline with the original sender. Make sure macros are disabled. Hover over a hyperlink without clicking to see if it’ll lead you where it says it will.

For business leaders, the best protection you can have against cryptoviruses and other malware is to educate your employees and make sure you have good backups running on a separate network. Not sure where to get started? We can help.




About the Author – 

Tyler Priest is the Junior Systems Administrator at Rocket IT. His first hobby turned into his career, and so now he’s looking for the next!. He likes to collect all kinds of music from vinyl to tapes and CDs. Tyler lives in Barrow County with his fiance and a menagerie of pets.



Inefficiency is the enemy of a profitable, thriving business. What would a 2.5% increase in utilization mean to your organization? Download our FREE whitepaper for five easy steps to increase employee productivity at no additional payroll cost.









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WannaCry Ransomware: The Biggest Ransomware Outbreak in History

Rocket IT

The newest ransomware threat sweeping the digital world, WannaCry (also known as WCry, Wana Decrypt0r, or WannaCrypt) is being hailed by security experts as “the biggest ransomware outbreak in history.” Over the weekend, WannaCry has infected organizations all over the world, such as FedEx, the United Kingdom’s National Health System hospitals, Nissan, and many more. That these are high-profile targets doesn’t mean, however, that small businesses have been exempt from the outbreak.

The WannaCry virus infects individual computers through corrupted email attachments and can spread to infect entire networks.  Like other ransomware, WannaCry encrypts data on your PC and offers to send you the decryption key at a price. Since this malware spreads so quickly, all it takes is one user clicking on one of these phishing email attachments to infect your entire network.

So what’s the best way to combat ransomware like WannaCry?

Make sure your firewall firmware is up to date and that your end users are educated on email attachment best practices and how to identify malicious links.

Do not open any unexpected email attachments, even if they come from a trusted source. Hackers can spoof legitimate email addresses and may appear as someone in your address book.

If you receive an unexpected attachment that you think may be important, create a new email to follow up with the individual from whom that attachment was sent. If you hit “Reply” to the original email containing the attachment, your response will go straight to the person who sent that original email, even if that person is not the actual owner of that email address.

How does this affect you? If you’re a Rocket IT client, we are carefully monitoring the situation, and our clients have been protected by our managed firewalls and spam filters. Investing in the right managed security services can save your organization from falling victim to the latest cryptovirus.

For companies that have been infected by ransomware, having good backups can save you from the tough choice between significant data loss and paying the fee demanded by the hackers who have encrypted your files.

We’re only in the second quarter of the Year of Ransomware. Take the proper precautions to educate your employees and protect your organization from becoming the next victim.

For up-to-date news on the WannaCry virus, follow KnowBe4’s real-time article.




About the Author-

Jason Hand loves making music, serving his church and getting people excited about technology tools. He currently lives in Georgia with wife and two adopted sons.  Jason is the Systems Administrator at Rocket IT.


Inefficiency is the enemy of a profitable, thriving business. What would a 2.5% increase in utilization mean to your organization? Download our FREE whitepaper for five easy steps to increase employee productivity at no additional payroll cost.





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From the Desk of the vCIO: How to Choose an Internet Service Provider (ISP)

Rocket IT

Setting up a new office, adding a secondary Internet connection, or replacing an expensive/poor ISP is a daunting task.  The variety of services, contract types, acronyms, and other traps in the buying process can be overwhelming and leave you stuck with a bad contract.

When selecting the right ISP for your organization, there are four basic questions you’ll need to answer. Let’s break down the various options to help you hone in on a provider:


Question 1 – What type of Internet Connection is even available to my building? – Fiber, Cable, T-1, Wireless?

Before we dive into the plethora of vendors, costs, and speeds, we need to determine what types of service can even be delivered to your building.  If your building is in a bustling office park, you can expect to have a wide range of choices.  If your building is in a rural location, you may be limited to only T-1’s or Wireless connections (we’ll talk about what that means to you in the next section). Do some research on what’s available in your area so you know what you have to choose from.

We can help with narrowing this down for you!  Give us a call.

Question 2 – How is the Internet Connection delivered to your building? – Fiber, Cable, T-1, or Wireless?

The biggest factor in cost, performance, and reliability in an Internet connection is the medium by which it is delivered to your building. Now that you know what’s available, here’s what the difference in those options means to you. You may have more than one available, so pick the best one for your needs and budget.

  • Fiber – highest cost, highest bandwidth, highest reliability. Recommended when the Internet connection is a critical part of your business.  Costs range between $600 and up.
  • Cable – recommended as a secondary connection. Low cost, high bandwidth, mediocre reliability.
  • T-1 – high cost, lowest bandwidth, highest reliability. An older technology at this point, and should only be used if no other reasonable options exist.
  • Wireless – moderately high cost, moderate bandwidth, ? reliability. In some areas, it’s possible to do point-to-point high-speed wireless signals.  Most appropriate when other technologies don’t exist.

Question 3- How much bandwidth do I need? 

The bandwidth is your pipeline, so it determines the speed of your connection. We measure that in megabits per second or Mbps. For an office staff relying heavily on the Internet, a rough rule of thumb is to expect that each employee will require 1 Mbps of bandwidth for a smooth experience.

  • Fiber’s bandwidth generally ranges between 10 and 2,000 Mbps.
  • Cable is generally 50-200 Mbps.
  • T-1’s are 1.5 Mbps each (which is why they are poor options, being so low!)
  • Wireless is in the 10-100 Mbps.

The more devices you have connected to your network, and the more active they are on it, the more bandwidth you’ll want. This isn’t just limited to your employees’ desktops anymore. This also includes smartphones, tablets, and anything else that communicates with the outside world. Also, if you work with large files, stream video or audio a lot, or use cloud services, then you’ll want more bandwidth available. When looking at what you’ll need, keep in mind that you won’t want to just focus on how much you download, but also on how much you upload.

Question 4 – Do you need phone service on your ISP connection?  Which type?

Nearly every ISP offers optionally-bundled phone services with their Internet Connection services.  These can often be secured at a reasonable cost alongside Internet.

If you do need Internet, you’ll need to know how many concurrent phone lines you require – what is the maximum number of users who will be on the phone with external parties at once?

You’ll also need to know what type of phone system you have. Your phone vendor can assist with this, and help you make the right decision for your organization.


Now that we know what the choices are, what type of connection, how much bandwidth is needed, and what type of phone service you need, we can now move to determining which provider is best for you.  Consider the following when making your final decision:

  • Peer Reviews of Provider – being saddled with a poor provider is an incredibly frustrating and time-consuming problem. Talk to your IT provider, business contacts, and neighbors in your building to learn how their experience has been with their ISP.
  • Up-front and Monthly Cost – how much will the bandwidth cost?
  • Do you need a secondary provider – Even fiber goes offline on occasion. Do you need a secondary connection via Cable?
  • Contract term – some providers require 3 year or 1 year contracts, while others are month-to-month.
  • Provisions for breaking the contract/moving – do you have options available for if you want to break the contract without a termination fee? What about if you move to an area that isn’t serviced by your ISP?




EH 2About the Author-

 Eric Henderson is Rocket IT’s virtual Chief Information Officer. He is also the tallest person at Rocket IT (by a fraction of an inch).



1200x627- vCIOHave you found that you need the expertise of a Chief Information Officer to help you make strategic decisions on how to leverage technology to meet your unique business goals, but aren’t ready to commit to hiring a full-time executive to fill that need? Learn about our virtual CIO services.





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Best Practices, Technology

Five Easy Steps to Capture Dead Time

Rocket IT

The average cost of unplanned downtime per minute in 2016 was nearly $9,000 per incident.

Your organization doesn’t have to eat the cost of dead time. Download our free whitepaper now to learn five easy steps you can take to capture dead time.

From more efficient integration to beating your inbox addiction, this paper gives you the tools to increase your company’s productivity by 2.5% at no additional payroll cost.




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Best Practices, Technology

The Reality of BYOD

Rocket IT

If there were a list of technology buzzwords in offices this year, “BYOD” would be near the top. The Bring Your Own Device craze is sweeping through workplaces all over the US.

It’s easy to get pulled along in the tide of popularity that BYOD is riding right now. On the surface, it appears to be more cost-effective for companies, and it gives the employees more control over what devices they use. And, since many end users prefer to use more of the latest technology for their own devices, companies get to reap the benefits of this without shouldering the full cost.

But beyond what’s already on the BYOD sales brochure, what is the reality of adopting a BYOD policy at your organization? Here are five things to consider before making that final decision.



BYOD isn’t limited to just smartphones; many organizations include laptops in this policy. When employees are providing their own laptops, they typically want to decide what devices and systems they’re going to be using… And that can raise compatibility issues. Will your CRM and other software systems run on every employee’s computer, using the same version and interface? If not, will additional training be required for different versions?

To avoid this issue, you can set technology standards and provide a list of approved devices for your employees, but end users tend to be less enthusiastic about the freedom of BYOD program when it comes with boundaries.


Lack of privacy

When using your work computer or work phone, there’s an understood (and oftentimes stated) agreement of acceptable use. For employers who allow use of personal devices for work activities, acceptable use becomes increasingly difficult to enforce and define. And for employees, keeping your personal files and data private can feel virtually impossible.

In addition to that challenge, BYOD creates an interesting new dilemma when employees leave the company. The device belongs to that employee, so now companies need to get their proprietary information and files off leaving employees’ phones and laptops, which can become difficult or awkward, depending on the situation.


Risk of involuntary disclosure

This is arguably a risk associated with any device containing confidential data that an employee can remove from the building, but with BYOD policies, organizations run a higher risk of involuntary/voluntary disclosure of their proprietary information. While your employees (hopefully) won’t run over to your competitor to share secure company information on their laptops, the data is more susceptible to theft by third parties. Many people don’t keep a lock on their personal devices, and if their laptop or phone is ever stolen, those thieves have access to company data as well as that belonging to the employee.

Organizations can curtail this risk by setting a policy that requires every employee keep a secure passcode lock on every device they use that stores or access secure company data.



We’ve posted before about the security risks of BYOD. Honestly, there can be a lot of them. Not only are you at risk of physical theft, any data kept on your employees’ devices are susceptible to digital theft. With enterprise equipment, you have standardized security software (antivirus, firewalls, etc.) that your employees may not use or may even disable on their own equipment.

In addition, while people tend to be more careful about their browsing habits and what links they click on when using a company-owned computer, they’re less suspicious of that attachment from Jim two houses over that is “guaranteed to make them fall down laughing!” than they are of misspelled links in their work inbox. And if their device with access to your servers and shared drives is compromised, that can easily spread to the rest of your organization… Or even your clients.

Before putting a BYOD program into practice, make sure you have security standards set that workers must meet in order to use their personal devices for work purposes.


Compliance issues

With security of your organizations’ data becoming harder to manage, so too does your compliance with state and federal regulations. When your business falls under compliance mandates, there are specific requirements regarding data protection and information security. When individuals own these devices, it’s difficult for the employer to monitor and ensure compliance.

You can audit the compliance and security of your office’s devices regularly and set standards for your employees to mitigate this risk, but telling individuals how they can or can’t use their own property rarely goes over well.

While a BYOD policy may cost less up front than the standard company-issue programs, the costs of noncompliance and risk of data loss can be significantly steeper than that initial investment.




About the Author- 

Erica Lee is the Assistant Service Manager at Rocket IT. Erica was an exchange student to Germany as a high school junior and, because of that experience, went on to earn Bachelor degrees in German and International Affairs from the University of Georgia.



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How Long Will This Server Last?
A Basic Guide to the Shelf-Life of Your Organization’s Hardware

Rocket IT

Technology equipment can be expensive, and many organizations try to get as much use out of their hardware as they can before replacing them, sometimes to their detriment. But how long should you really keep your equipment before the risk for failure and unplanned downtime becomes significant?

Here’s a basic guide to the lifespan of your equipment that you can follow when deciding what to upgrade and when. At Rocket IT, we recommend you replace your hardware in the lower end of the ranges given below to stay up and in the green. The closer to the end of the time range you go, the greater your risk of failure and data loss.


End User Equipment/Services:

Unless you really want to keep upgrading as new technology comes out, your laptop should remain functional for about three to five years with regular updates, patches, and upgrades.

The lifecycle of your monitors depends heavily on how often you use them and what kind you have. Your LCD monitor can last from 30,000 to 60,000 hours which will give you about ten to twenty years of use out of them if you use them around eight hours a day.

Docking Station (if laptop)
Docking stations don’t have moving parts, so they tend to last a long time. You’re more likely to need to upgrade your docking station because you’ve gotten a new laptop than you are because the old one ran through its shelf-life.

External Mouse/Keyboard
Quality really does matter with your external mouse and keyboard if you want them to last. Cheap ones’ performance can start to decline after just a year with average use. Quality ones can last for over three years. All of this varies with how often you use your mouse and keyboard and how rough you are with them when you do. About one to three years

Personal Printer
Most desktop laser printers have an expected lifetime of about five years. The life expectancy of your printer depends heavily on how much you use it and on the conditions in which you do. Desktop printers in a cool office are more likely to last longer than those that run in a hot warehouse, for example. The average inkjet printer has a life expectancy of about four years.

External hard drive
About 78% of drives last longer than four years. If you use your external drives regularly, they can last anywhere from one year to six. There are a lot of factors that can contribute to hard drive failure, so you should always be very careful to make sure you have backups (and sometimes redundancies).

Desk phone and headset
Desk phones can last a good long time, and their headsets will last as long as the batteries last (if they have batteries). Headset batteries should last maybe three years. Most VOIP phone systems are hosted solutions now, so there’s no associated hardware to replace for the system itself.


Company-Wide Equipment/Services:

The typical lifespan of your average server should be about three to five years, depending on how they’re used; however, you will want to pay close attention to the server’s software. When server software ages out, it becomes incredibly difficult to properly support and service the equipment itself. Pushing the longevity of your server makes you more susceptible to unplanned downtime and data loss.

For regularly used standing copiers, you can expect to get about five years of use out of them. For the high-end copier and less frequently used ones, you can often use them for up to seven to ten years.

Your typical firewall can last about five to eight years. Like a server, you will definitely want to replace it before waiting for it to fail.

Like firewalls, switches can last from about five to eight years.

Wireless Access Points
Again, these devices can remain effective for about five to eight years.

 (Uninterruptible Power Supplies) UPS Devices
A UPS provides emergency power to your equipment when the main input power fails and protects your equipment from power surges. The battery of a UPS device can last about three years. The device itself typically lasts about four to six.




MB About the Author-

 Michael Bearchell lives with his wife and three children in Gwinnett County. He is an Inside Support Technician at Rocket IT and has found out the hard way that it is tough being a New York sports fan in the south.


1200x627- vCIOHave you found that you need the expertise of a Chief Information Officer to help you make strategic decisions on how to leverage technology to meet your unique business goals, but aren’t ready to commit to hiring a full-time executive to fill that need? Learn about our virtual CIO services.




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Best Practices, Technology

How to Prepare for Working Outside the Country for the First Time

Rocket IT

Are you getting ready to travel outside the country? You’ve probably run down the typical checklist: give your itinerary to a trusted friend or family member so someone knows where you are, check in with your embassy, get your passport and (if necessary) visas up to date, stay hydrated, etc. But how can you make sure you’re ready to work and collaborate with your team stateside after you get off the plane?

Whether it’s your first time traveling to a foreign country for work or you’re just looking for a few new tips, here are five steps you should take before checking in for your flight.

Check your security

Are you confident in the security of your means of connecting to your home office when using potentially compromised public networks in a foreign country? Before you leave for your trip, set up a virtual private network (VPN) connection and test it from your home to make sure you can safely connect to secure information you may need abroad.

Ensure your phone will work

You don’t want to get to the hotel room and find that your phone doesn’t work at all where you are. Call your phone provider and activate an overseas plan. This is a good rule of thumb for all of the services you typically use locally and will need abroad, so be sure to call your bank to let them know when and where you’ll be traveling, as well.

Choose the devices you need to bring

Do you really need to bring that laptop? Laptops can be heavy, unwieldy, and are a huge target for theft. Can you get away with just a tablet and/or phone?

Make sure you have the right charger adapter for all your devices

As funny as it was when someone tried to plug an American hair dryer into a European plug in the movies, it’s not amusing when it’s you. Pick up a few adapters for your electronics. Depending on where you’re traveling and where you’re recharging, you may need a charger adapter that adjusts voltage. You can tell pretty quickly when a plug isn’t going to work, but it’s not as obvious right away when the voltage is too high. Check the voltage capacity of your devices before plugging them in so you don’t risk overheating them.

Set up contingencies

You’ve already contacted your embassy. Your spouse has your complete itinerary and flight information, and your banks and phone providers have set up your accounts for overseas service. But what about your work contingencies? Does your team have all the appropriate information they need in case you’re delayed or unavailable?

Before leaving for your trip, make sure your peers and reports have everything they need from you to make sure critical work gets done if you are out of pocket while abroad.

Wouldn’t it be easier if more things in business came with an actionable checklist? Your technology strategy should. How’s your IT plan and budget coming along? Do you think there’s room for improvement? We can give your leadership team a clear path forward for wise technology investment that supports your business goals.

Do you have any availability next week to discuss?



EH 2About the Author-

 Eric Henderson is Rocket IT’s virtual Chief Information Officer. He is also the tallest person at Rocket IT (by a fraction of an inch).



1200x627- vCIOHave you found that you need the expertise of a Chief Information Officer to help you make strategic decisions on how to leverage technology to meet your unique business goals, but aren’t ready to commit to hiring a full-time executive to fill that need? Learn about our virtual CIO services.





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