Most business leaders we develop partnerships with are new to the concept of proactive IT. They’ve usually had some experience with the hourly IT support company (i.e. reactive IT). A big part of our job is to educate leaders on the results of proactive IT and then, to deliver an IT support model that helps their company grow and succeed.
At Smart Dolphins we have a team dedicated to proactive IT…our Dolphin Defenders. They drive the proactive IT work that is often neglected by other IT support companies. They are the “boots on the ground” that bring to life our unique approach to IT. Their porpoise is to:
- Develop best IT practices
- Defend networks against unnecessary risk
- Develop and implement new technology
Ian Bird and Andrew Rivett make up our Dolphin Defender Team.
Andrew Rivett: Andrew has been with Smart Dolphins for 4 years. Andrew spent his early Dolphin years on the support desk and just recently transitioned into his new role. Previously focused on reactive work, Andrew now gets to focus all of his time on implementing IT solutions that drive our customer’s growth.
Ian Bird: Ian joined the POD just under a year ago with an impressive background in computer science and IT support. Like Andrew, he’s passionate about proactive IT and focuses much of his time addressing technical inefficiencies that prevent IT problems and headaches!
If you think your Vancouver Island organization could benefit from a Dolphin Defender, please contact us to arrange a network assessment.
While enterprises have had Chief Information Officers (CIO) for decades, the Virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) is fairly new for small to medium-sized organizations. For organizations with less than 15 employees, the cost of employing a dedicated CIO is too much to justify. That’s where we come in. Smart Dolphins becomes your IT department, and our vCIO is your IT consultant.
“Think of a VCIO not so much as a technician but as a trusted IT consultant, who has years of experience, aligning business objectives with IT Systems.”
The role of the vCIO became permanent at Smart Dolphins following our switch away from reactive IT support to managed IT services in 2010. The VCIO works closely with the leaders in a company, helping them to plan, budget and strategize their IT with the overall goal of aligning IT with business goals.
Here’s a list of our vCIOs core duties:
- Create and present budgets (short and long term expenses)
- Quote hardware and software
- Identify and propose projects
- Create a strategic technology plan and design
- Hold annual technology reviews
- Consult and onboard new customers
Smart Dolphins employs two full-time, vCIOs, Joe Payne and Ty Hedden.
Joe Payne: Joe has been with Smart Dolphins for over 10 years. Joe maintains an intimate understanding of our customers and their needs, and uses that understanding to guide and plan their technology decisions. From what types of workstations and software licensing best serves a customer’s needs, to planning entire server and network replacements, with Joe’s expertise you’ll have someone managing your technology for today and into the future.
Ty Hedden: After 7 years as a Smart Dolphins Network Admin, Ty became a VCIO in 2015. Ty’s focus is on proactive maintenance and risk management. Ty is also a cybersecurity advocate and he frequently gives talks on safe computing to members of Vancouver Island business community.
If you think your Vancouver Island organization could benefit from the results of having a VCIO, please contact us to arrange a network assessment.
If you’re anything like me, you tap a lot of keys in a day. I estimate I type for 403,653,395 hours in a year. If I were able to improve my typing speed by just 5%, I’d save like a few hundred hours a year. Math.
But have you ever tried some of those typing tutor things? BORING!
It’s time to race! If you’re anything like me, competition brings the best (worst) out of you. Hop on www.typeracer.com. Typeracer is a great, simple website where you can race other users at typing a short blob of text. The interface looks like:
Just beware that it is kind of addicting!
Ransomware is generally defined as malicious software that infects your computer and denies you access to your computer or files until you pay a ransom. Millions of ransomware infections are reported every year. Organizations today, require a multifaceted IT security program that is regularly evaluated and re-adjusted.
Smart Dolphins manages the IT networks of over 50 businesses, the majority of which are small businesses with limited resources for network security. Our challenge was to deploy an automatic multi-layered security solution across a large group of companies.
The first layer of our security approach includes these six essentials:
• Strong gateway security (firewall and routers designed to protect against ransomware)
• End-point anti-virus and anti-ransomware group policy settings
• Anti-malware DNS services
• Regular software patches and OS updates
• Rock solid backup and disaster recovery system
• Ongoing user security training
In early 2016, we added another layer of defense against ransomware. We now leverage the power of Microsoft’s File Server Resources Manager (FRSM) to detect ransomware at work and stop its spread through network server shares. FSRM accomplishes this by stopping all server shares when it notices suspicious file access, thus stopping the ransomware from further encrypting file resources on the network. It also notifies us that an active infection has been found. By minimizing the damage ransomware can do, and ensuring that we become aware of infection promptly, business impact and recovery time can be greatly reduced.
While adding FSRM as a protective layer is a routine security measure, what is noteworthy is the automated, scalable way in which we have applied it. Without automation, we could not deploy it across our entire customer base and keep it up-to-date as new threats emerge.
Since the implementation of these various layers of network security we have not had one threat across our entire customer base. Our approach to network security is proactive, as is our approach to all aspects of IT. We don’t wait around for problems, but instead we have configured our computer solutions and network operations to greatly reduce problems before they happen.
If you are concerned about your organization’s network security, contact us to set-up a free security and backup audit.
It’s October, Cyber Security Awareness Month so we thought we’d share a security tip. Facebook accounts get hacked everyday. Secure your Facebook with Two Factor Authentication.
Here’s how to enable Facebook’s built-in authenticator:
- Login and click on account settings
- Select security
- Edit login approvals
- Select require a security code to access my account from unknown browsers
- Click the get started button
- Select the phone type, then click continue
- Follow the instructions in the pop up window to turn on security codes, then click continue
- Type the code that is generated into the window to finish the activation process
Now nobody can log in to your Facebook without access to your mobile phone, which would mean they need to physically have your phone, know your phone’s passcode, and your Facebook email/username and password to hack it.
Interested in learning more security tips from the POD? Join us for lunch next Thursday. Visit our events page for more details.
Christmas. Birthdays. Blue moons. These things don’t come around all the time. Career opportunities at the best dang company to work for on Quadra street (hint: Smart Dolphins), they also don’t come around all the time.
We have just started our hunt for our next Dolphin (hint: employee) and we need your help to spread the word.
We’re looking for a well-disguised geek. In other words, we need someone who has the super powers of a geek, but isn’t outwardly an obvious geek in the stereotypical sense. We want someone who LOVES TECHNOLOGY AND PEOPLE and loves helping them to behave well together. Read all of the details on this career opportunity on our careers page.
Our recruitment process is a little different than many companies. We like to start by having an interested Dolphin-to-be apply online and then by actually coming down to our office to have an informal meet and greet.
Hopefully that is a good balance of enough information to allow you to help and not too much information that you stopped reading three paragraphs ago ;). Thanks in advance for your help with our Dolphin-hunt! And I’m sure the person we choose will end up thanking you if they feel like Ty Hedden:
Ultimately, working for Smart Dolphins means being able to do all the geeky things I would be doing at home anyway. It means getting paid to be myself and do what I love every day.
P.S. With this expansion in our Dolphin resources, we’re looking again to expand our client base. Can you think of a company that could use us? How about a professional (say a lawyer or accountant) that has had technology problems recently? Connect us and do us all a favour!
Busy but want to get an article read? Need to do some multi-tasking while staying productive? Have an article read aloud to you with SpeakIt! for Chrome.
Simply install, highlight the text that you want read on any web page, right click and choose SpeakIt! You can even pause playback.
To change SpeakIt! settings, right click on the SpeakIt! icon and select options. Set your default text to speech engine, volume, speed of playback, etc.
Now, get back to work!
Have you ever been browsing for online purchases and wondered if you’re getting the best price possible? Double-check that price using CamelCamelCamel.com first. Just follow these simple steps:
- Install the browser add-on for CamelCamelCamel from this page: http://camelcamelcamel.com/camelizer
- Browse to the page for your desired product (works best with Amazon.com).
- Click on the Camelizer icon () to see a graph of the price history. You can even set an email price alert based on the highest price you’d be willing to pay. If the icon is not in colour then there is no information for that specific product or website you are using.
Lifehacker fans #1 price tracking tool. Go save some $$$!
Kaspersky Labs recently reported a 17.7% global increase in ransomware between April 2015 and March 2016. This steady spread and rapid evolution of ransomware means businesses today require a multi-layered approach to IT security.
What security essentials does your organization have in place?
Weak IT security increases your organizations’ network to risks which can result in:
- Downtime (lost business, frustration and stress);
- Costly, disaster recovery plans;
- Lost customers or valuable employees due to IT hassles;
- Data loss;
- Breach of privacy and;
Managed service providers can help organizations prevent ransomware. But it’s equally important that businesses and their employees remain educated on what to look out for in a ransomware attack.
Nearly all organizations benefit greatly from today’s technology. Getting to tomorrow’s technology is a huge challenge and is becoming extremely complex. The speed of change continues to accelerate while our options widen.
IDC expects a 11 per cent shift of budget dollars in Canada toward cloud technologies by the end of 2016. Further, the launch of Canadian Microsoft data-centres earlier this year will inevitably drive more Canadian businesses to the Microsoft cloud.
While the trend toward adopting emerging technologies is clear, many Vancouver Island business executives that we meet with struggle to understand how they can best align their business goals with specific technologies that will boost their productivity. Our experience resonates with another study by IDC that reports that only 17 per cent of Canadian firms consider the digital transformation as a key part of their business strategy.
Have cloud services been adopted in operations or your IT plan? Are you aware that cloud computing may lower the cost of your IT? What is the opportunity cost of ineffectively integrating future technologies?
Reconsider your approach to IT! Contact Smart Dolphins to arrange a complimentary IT assessment.
Did you miss our Cloud Computing Lunch & Learn? Read the slides here.