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Since the Internet places our public and private sector resources on the same global network as those that seek to harm us, we are always open to an attack.

By Andrew Serwin

It is not the norm for corporations to be the focal point of a war fought between nation states, but today’s threats place us in exactly that situation. The reason these threats implicate both the public and private sector is that the cyber-domain is under attack by an organized public/private sector threat, and until we recognize that fact and address it, we will continue to fail to protect it.

The truth is that unless corporate America—the private sector–works with the public sector, we may not be able to stop a cyber-event that could be as destructive as Pearl Harbor or 9/11.

The Internet as we know it started as a public sector project that quickly morphed into what it is today: a large, interconnected network that never turns off and connects an unimaginable number of different devices in the public and private sectors, including those that control our financial system, critical infrastructure, and a variety of other devices in different industries.

These devices are central to our everyday existence, particularly when one includes mobile devices and the ever-increasing number of networked control devices. Since this always-on world of connectivity places the public and private sector resources of the United States on the same global network as those of nations and others that seek to do us harm, you cannot “raise the drawbridge” against cyber-attacks. If you are part of the cyber-domain, you are constantly open to a potential attack.

Organized groups are always trying to find and exploit an information imbalance (one side of a conflict has superior information regarding the weaknesses of the other) and create an asymmetric threat. If that superior information relates to the weakness of another party, it can be used to create an asymmetric threat, which targets and exploits another’s weaknesses.

The best example of this contrasts 9/11 with Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor involved an organized, but symmetric threat. It was the Japanese military attacking another nation state’s military. And while Japan exploited an information imbalance, it was a fight between combatants with roughly equal resources.

For 9/11, Al Qaeda did not need an organized military. It simply needed utility knives, training and, most importantly, information about how our system of air travel worked. By creating this information imbalance, they were able to perpetrate a devastating asymmetric attack on the United States.

The lesson of 9/11 was not lost on the public sector, which realized the nature of the threat and took steps to address it. Consider recent Executive Orders, the words of General Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency, and a recent speech by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

In 2005, President Bush issued Executive Order 13388, “Further Strengthening the Sharing of Terrorism Information to Protect Americans”, with the goal of sharing information about terrorism among key stakeholders in the public and private sector. In 2010, President Obama reaffirmed the need for public sector and private sector cooperation and information sharing with Executive Order 13549, “Classified National Security Information Program for State, Local, Tribal, and Private Sector Entities.”

In a recent presentation, Secretary Panetta illustrated the true nature of the threat: state-sponsored activity that is increasing in intensity and has the potential to disrupt our way of life. “A cyber-attack perpetrated by nation states or violent extremist groups could be as destructive as the terrorist attack on 9/11,” and Panetta also believed that “such a destructive cyber-terrorist attack could virtually paralyze the nation.” Panetta continued, “We know of specific instances where intruders have successfully gained access to these control systems,” and “We also know they are seeking to create advanced tools to attack those systems and cause panic, destruction and even loss of life.”

The critical point is that the examples Secretary Panetta uses are not attacks on the Department of Defense or other public sector resources. They are attacks on the financial institutions and energy sector by the government resources of another nation state.

This threat is not limited to the financial and energy industries. Terrorists can attempt to hack a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) device that controls a water supply? Or they can try to disrupt the medical services in a large area by attacking the systems of a large hospital chain or major health insurer. The threats are nearly endless and span a multitude of businesses.

In sum, we face a new, more diffused threat: organized well-funded attacks by entities that are state sponsored or part of organized crime networks. These actors seek to create information advantages that can be turned into asymmetric threats, and these threats are a clear and present danger to our society.

The only chance the private sector has to combat these threats is to organize itself and utilize technology tools to address these concerns. It also includes the doctrine of Information Superiority and increased information sharing.

Andrew Serwin is the chair of the Privacy Security and Information Management Practice at law firm Foley & Lardner LLP and the executive director of the Lares Institute.

a41cMobileGeneral_Feb13_BHow many times have you been in a meeting only to have a participant’s phone ring or vibrate? This is a common occurrence and to many, this is the type of interruption that drives them nuts. While smartphones have changed our lives, mostly for the better, there are still times when we don’t seem to follow common ‘mobile etiquette’, leading to others perceiving us as rude.

Here’s six cell phone etiquette tips you should practice to ensure you show respect to your peers, and people around you while on your phone.

  1. Watch what you snap – Almost every phone has a camera these days, and we can’t help but take pictures of nearly everything. While it is convenient to take pictures with your phone, there are times when it’s not a good idea, such as in a meeting, for example. In general, if you are supposed to be paying attention to something, don’t take pictures.
  2. Indoor voices – It’s not uncommon to hear someone practically yelling into their phone on a busy street. This is often because they think that they can’t be heard by the person on the other end. The vast majority of modern phones have powerful enough microphones and noise cancelling technology to enable users to talk with an indoor voice, even while out on the busy street. If the person you’re talking to can’t hear you, try cupping your other hand over your mouth and directing the sound towards the phone.
  3. Darn you autocorrect! – Most phones use touchscreen keyboards as their input for text. This can be quite inaccurate, so OS developers created autocorrect, which usually picks the wrong word, leading to some potentially embarrassing situations. When typing on your phone, be sure to always read over what you have written before you hit send.
  4. Resist t
    he beep –
     One of the more annoying things about smartphones is that every time a notification sounds people rush to check it. This can be seen as rude, especially if when you are talking with a customer your phone goes off and you cut off from them to check it. It’s a surefire way to lose the sale! When you’re in meetings, or talking with customers/employees, ignore your phone until you are free to answer/check. If you are expecting an important call, excuse yourself before turning your attention to your phone..
  5. Pick the right notifications – Your phone has numerous notification levels. You can set the phone to vibrate, ring, or for lights to flash, etc. If you are in a meeting, it’s best to set your phone on silent, as even vibrate is enough to distract these days. Really, the only time your phone should be on ring is when you have it in your pocket, or are in a loud location and unlikely to hear it.
  6. Turn it off every now and then – smartphones bring the ability to be always connected, which can be both good and bad. Sometimes being constantly connected leads to higher stress, and increased work hours at the expense of your personal life. You shouldn’t be too afraid of spending a bit of time away from your phone every now and then. Just be sure to let people know that you won’t be answering calls or texts.

Polite use of your smartphone will go a long way toward ensuring you are seen as a person that others want to do business with. What are your etiquette rules in regards to phone use? Let us know.

If you would like to learn more about how to leverage smartphones in your business, please contact us today.

 

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org.

 

Security_Feb13_BFor many, social media is a deeply ingrained part of daily life. For companies it’s become an integral part of their marketing and communications strategy. Because of this, the security of these services is something users expect. 99% of the time. However, there are breaches that can cause trouble for users.

It only took one month for the first major security breach of a social network, and this time it happened to Twitter. On the first of February, Twitter announced on their blog that slightly over 250,000 accounts had been compromised.

At this time, Twitter doesn’t know who is responsible for the attack but according to the blog post they know that, “The attackers may have had access to limited user information – usernames, email addresses, session tokens and encrypted/salted versions of passwords.”

Yes, the hackers did get access to passwords, although the company noted that they got the ‘encrypted/salted’ versions, this means they didn’t actually get the passwords themselves. To get the account passwords they would have to decrypt the information first, something many hacker’s don’t bother with.

What does this mean for my company? If you or your company has a Twitter account, you would have already have received an email if your account was breached. While 250,000 sounds like a high number, keep in mind that there are over 72 million active accounts (users who post more than once a week).

While this is a drop in the proverbial bucket, it’s still a security threat that you should act upon. At the very least you should take steps to change your password. You can do this by logging into Twitter and pressing the cog in the top right of the tool bar. Select Settings followed by Password. Enter your current password, followed by a new password and verify it. Press Save changes and you are done.

It is a good idea to pick a completely new password, one with numbers, letters and if possible special characters like !, $ or ^. At the very least, it should be different from any other passwords you use.

Looking to learn more about the security breach or if Twitter is right for your business? Give us a shout, we’d be happy to talk social media with you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org.

Testimonials

RMS is not your average IT Support group. Over the years Georgia Reproductive Specialists has worked with RMS, I have come to see them as our IT partners. Rather than simply wiring, repairing and servicing our equipment, they have come to understand our business and how their IT expertise can enhance our medical practice. “ Their monitoring and proactive service has kept our network running efficiently without unexpected downtime. We are most grateful for their knowledge and professionalism and most definitely feel they are part of our team. Dr. Mark Perloe, Ga. Reproductive Specialists
We have been working with RMS for close to four years. As a small engineering firm we really depend on RMS to provide a quick turnaround on network related issues as well as assist us with any hardware problems. The have always provided us with outstanding service. They are able to resolve most issues remotely; however, when on site service is needed they are quick to respond. Their technicians are very professional and all have a very good understanding of the nature of our operations. We kind of feel like they are a part of the team. Scott Slay, Warren Environment, Inc.
I have used RMS to support two technology start-ups over the past ten years.  I have always received great service, and the hardware that we have purchased from RMS has consistently been spot-on.  I highly recommend RMS to anyone looking to partially or (as we do) completely outsource the IT function in a growing business.  Also, the quality of the hardware seems to be superior to other major providers’ solutions, especially when combined with the local support provided by RMS.  Randy, thanks for your years of support to my companies Dave Kelly, AnalyticsIQ
I can’t tell you enough how exceptional your team is!!  Jonathon and Randy have been very instrumental in keeping me up and going whenever I have computer or cell phone issues. In fact, on more than one occasion, they have been my life line! Both of these guys are ALWAYS professional, eager to help and posses the quality of patience!  I am not very savvy when it comes to troubleshooting, so they graciously meet me at my level of understanding and we work through the problem. Every issue has been resolved in a timely manner and I always learn something new! So thankful we have RMS!!!! Kevin Truesdale, Freshens
Atlanta Pediatric Surgery has been in relationship with RMS and Associates since the late 90’s. We initially sought their help in choosing a software package for a small medical office. Over the years we have grown and changed, and RMS has always been available with their expert advice and service. Having remote support now is a wonderful addition to our technical support system. We forever rely on their speedy response to all of our challenges, be they softwear, hardware, technical advice and very professional and practical solutions to the issue of the moment. In addition to the professionalism and efficiency that we have come to trust, all of the personnel at RMS are just wonderful folks! It has continued to be a pleasure doing business with them for close to a decade. Nancy Schnabel, Atlanta Pediatrics
The RMSCare Platinum service was perfect for our business.  We are a staffing company focused our people and customers. I used to have all my employees call me before calling technical support and I still couldn’t stop unnecessary bills.  Now I don’t have to worry about getting a huge bill when one of my employees has a technical issue. Von Fassnacht, HotelPro Staffing
I have been with Georgia Reproductive Specialists for the past five years. Since then, I have had the pleasure to work with RMS. We have developed a fantastic working relationship. They are all a great group and are extremely professional, courteous, prompt and ontop of everything, friendly. Whenever I run into a computer issue that I cannot handle, they are there to fix it or guide me through. There turnaround time is outstanding. I have truly been very lucky to have them on board with our practice. Liliana Pena, GRS
I can speak about RMS from the user end angle. As a department head, I have had the flexibility to work with RMS at almost every level of service you provide. I have nothing but great things to say about RMS and the people within the organization. Jerry Godoy, HTH Building Services
“RMS has a wide range of knowledge. They help fix network issues as well as answer question about software and email. They offer excellent service. A real person answers the phone every time I call. They know how urgent IT issues are for a business and they follow up to make sure the problem is fixed.” Dave Schmidt, Florida Bath
I have been with GPM for almost 21 years and I believe we have used RMS for at least 15 plus years.  We love RMS and could not operate without them.  Everyone there is great to work with. Ginger Fowler, Georgia Probation Management
Working with RMS makes dealing with technical issues very easy. The team is so helpful and is always respectful of those that are not very tech savvy. We have come a long way from when we first started with RMS. We aren’t an average salon since we have 5 locations and a call center, but over the years they now have a great understanding of our business needs and are a huge asset for us. Amber Cooper, Bob Steele Salon
It has been a pleasure working with RMS. Even tho’ we’re not “a big fish” in their pond, the care they have shown us over the years would say otherwise. We are grateful for their wise counsel and their eagerness to service….they have served us well.” Gloria Lewis, CPA

Testimonials

RMS has provided us with a network that allows us to provide a timely response to customer inquiries, keeps our employees productive, and keeps our operations running smoothly. Whenever we need service, we can count on a prompt response and a knowledgeable and courteous staff. Margaret Dobbins, Paul Robinson Inc.
We love working with RMS. They have been wonderful since day one. They treat us like family and in fact have us pretty spoiled. They give us all the extra care attention we look forward to. Shana Taylor, New Millenneum OB/GYN
My experiences with RMS have been nothing but positive. Always there when you need them, respond quickly, resolves every issue that has been submitted in a timely manner and willing to take on any challenge. Mike Coates, Combined Investigators
When we hired RMS we handed them a list of problems and deficiencies with our IT system.  Within a short time they were all solved and today our system is running better than ever with virtually no problems. Bill Tabor, Combined Investigators
I am not sure if you recall but you and your team have served as my IT resource since 1991, the year you opened RMS. I realized the other day that I had never expressed to you my appreciation for the value all of you have brought to my business over the past 17 years. If I am counting correctly my current system is the 4th network you have installed for me. It is probably approaching time for another. In each instance the new system was installed with virtually no down time. After installation the “tweaking” of the system was to a minimum. You assessed our needs and the system you installed accomplished for us what you represented it would accomplish. All of those are important to my staff and me. In the early years I gave smaller IT projects to other companies. I never found the level of service provided measured up to RMS. RMS personnel have always been prompt, professional and on top of the game. Thank you for a job, many jobs well done! Wayne Lester, CPA
I am a customer; been one since 1992. Randy Rowe knows me; as do the experts who answer the phone and give advice. I probably have dealt with Randy Voige most of the time. That is not to say anything less about his colleagues.  I like them all. Everybody is an expert – and that is why I continue to phone. I am not a big/important customer. My payments would not keep you in stamp money. But RMS shows me the same care and respect as anybody who calls and says, I’ve got a problem. Jack Carew
RMS has provided Georgia Probation Management with outstanding support for all of our IT needs since 1995. When they introduced their RMSCare Platinum program in 2006, we jumped at the chance to proactively maintain and monitor our hardware. RMS takes care of watching our servers and applying all the patches and security updates. The uptime of our servers and network has increased dramatically with the attention these guys pay to preventing problems and solving them while they don’t impact our users. With 10 locations and over 75 users, downtime costs us a lot. If a piece of equipment should break down, RMS will get us back up and running for only the costs of any parts used. This helps us budget our IT costs. I would hate to go back to the days of ‘no one watching the shop’ not knowing the status of our equipment and data backups. Steve Page, Ga. Probation Management
We came to RMS Associates services originally through Veracor.  We’ve worked with Veracor as an associate office here in Dothan since about 2010.  RMS handles all of our IT issues and has implemented security measures and Cloud backup among other things.  They have been incredibly helpful with troubleshooting issues as they arise.  I call them when my boss or I have anything we can’t handle or when the technical parts are beyond our expertise.  Often they can suggest a fix right away, they also remotely access our computers to figure out what’s going on.  Only rarely have we actually had to schedule a time to have them work on our computers for an extended period.  They are user friendly people and have helped us with on the spot fixes more often than having to wait for someone to remote in to fix a problem.  I am very much more flexible than my boss is.  He relies on his computer, whether it’s by phone or on a laptop away from the office, so he hasn’t got the time to wait on a solution.  RMS has been very responsive to him and it does make my life easier since we are a two person office.  I have worked with at least 3 or 4 of the gentlemen at RMS and think ver… Martha Compton, AdvisorySouth
RMS has been responsible for the design, implementation, and support of our computer network for the past ten years. RMS has become a valued business partner through honesty and commitment to fast, reliable service. I highly recommend RMS for all of your computing needs. David Johnson, S & S Cafeterias
RMS has provided Cotton & Welsh with excellent IT services for 8-10 years.  Prior to that time we struggled with various IT options – none of which was a success.   The entire RMS staff has helped us through the years with numerous projects – a move and a new set up, web site development, multiple PCs and laptops for various salesmen, all with different needs.  The level of the service has always been excellent; problems were resolved efficiently; and the recommendations have always been correct.  Most importantly in the fast paced work environment of today, RMS responds extremely promptly even for small problems (which at the time seem huge) and gets the issue resolved.   We like their prompt and efficient service and like them personally as well – a great group of people Carolyn Cotton, Cotton & Welsh, Inc.
“RMS set up and serviced computer networks at two companies which I have or had ownership. I have been extremely pleased with RMS. They are professionals. They conduct themselves and their business in a professional manner. They are always looking out for their Customers. I do not believe RMS would recommend any expenditure for equipment nor systems that did not have every expectation of suiting the need and have an adequate payback on the investment. I particularly appreciate their ability to solve problems remotely and on-the-spot without waiting for call backs. I truly rely on RMS to be my IT experts and they have never let me down.” Wayne Wilkes, Tile & Stone Express
I can’t say why we chose RMS to start.  But I would argue the reason we keep RMS is the fast and effective service we receive.  Personally, I have had some quirky issues pop up and I just take a screen shot and email it.  I have to write that my laptop runs well all the time.  I can tell when something has happened over night, be it an update or maintenance.  I know RMS is not sitting and waiting for a call.  RMS is proactively keeping my computer up and running. I can’t say what makes RMS different because I have no comparison to make.  But if I were to compare RMS to other professional services, the quality of the service, urgency to resolve issues, and communicate, and high level of advice makes RMS top notch.  I would recommend RMS to anyone. It feels like I am gushing a bit.  But, RMS works.  It gets the job done so I can get my job done.  I know members of my team have emailed service requests and have returned to applaud the professionalism of the RMS crew. Joe Sardina, Freshens
RMS Associates, Inc. has been our sole source provider for networking, phone system and automation equipment, installation, software and support for over fifteen years.  Through four complete new office location set-ups and numerous upgrades and expansions, Randy Rowe and his competent staff have met all of our needs in a timely, professional, and cost conscious manner. In our industry, success is based on reliable cost data, meeting deadlines and producing a quality product. RMS has become an indispensable member of our team as a trusted advisor in making equipment upgrade decisions, as well as providing continuous support for the maintenance of our data systems. Knowing that our data files are secure allows us to focus on the task of producing quality buildings and meeting deadlines. A shiver runs up my spine recalling the days when we tried to work through the latest “computer problem” on our own and agonizing over what equipment to buy that wouldn’t be obsolete the day after we wrote the check. RMS is on top of it and they keep us current – we value that service! Ken Blevins, K. Blevins Contracting

Testimonials

I can’t tell you why we chose RMS, but I can tell you what keeps us doing business with RMS is excellent customer service! Everyone is helpful. I have worked with Bob, and he has been not only able to solve all my IT issues, he is super kind. Denise Zander, Whitco Roofing
RMS was already in place when I took over this position with the company.They were a “life-saver” for sure, as the company never really had a knowledgeable IT company. RMS responds promptly and efficiently. Their staff is professional and effective. They come out on-site when needed or requested. They keep the company up-to-date. They recommend solutions. They educate the staff when a problem arises. Overall, great group of guys! Liz Sanders, Kwon Pediatric Dentistry
We have been a customer of RMS for a number of years. They are responsive to our needs and are customer service driven. I would recommend them to anyone. Joe Welsh, Cotton & Welsh
It is a great pleasure for me to write this letter to you today. There are many parts to any successful Organization, but for CPA firms today technology has to be one of the most important. Fortunately for us, your firm has represented us and our clients with unparalleled professionalism and technical expertise for over 10 years. One of my favorite things about RMS is the way that you help your client’s setup technology solutions that are “cutting edge”, but also provide great long term value. My partners and I always feel like you encourage us to spend enough money to get a high quality product that is built for long term productivity, but we never feel like we’ve over bought. That is a very difficult balance to find and your firm has managed it seamlessly for many years. Another thing that I can’t say enough about is your service. We always receive prompt and professional service from you and your staff whenever we need it. We will certainly continue relying on RMS for all of our technology needs and perhaps more importantly we will continue referring you to our clients for their needs. Jeff Stephens, CPA
We have worked with RMS Associates, Inc. for more than 10 years. Their service is prompt, professional and friendly with a willingness to go the extra mile for the client. RMS does a great job of managing client expectations and providing accurate and reliable quotes for service. As a recent subscriber to RMSCare Platinum, we have found this service to be a valuable asset for our business. It is a pleasure to work with RMS and we highly recommend their services. Shelly Pickerel, Evers & Fox, CPA
We like being able to concentrate on our wholesale distribution business and leave IT to the experts at RMS. Bottom line-WE TRUST RMS. Donna Walker, Marvin L. Walker & Associates
I have been acquainted with RMS Associates, Inc. for six (6) months as a new addition in the accounting department at White Hawk, Inc.  I have worked in construction accounting over twenty (20) years.  I have dealt with various IT companies and the time you spend calling them and waiting for someone to call you back. No company that I have been associated with over the years has responded to the IT needs at White Hawk, Inc. the way that RMS responds.  I highly recommend the benefits of the RMSCare Platinum customer package.   They understand the urgency of having our  immediate IT issues and on-going maintenance handled efficiently, timely and with reasonable costs.  This allows us to focus on our business knowing that they are taking care of their business.   We appreciate and salute Randy Rowe and their entire staff for the outstanding service they consistently give. Debra Stewart, White Hawk, Inc.
RMS offers our practice sound and responsible advice, and at a fair price. We consider RMS our IT partner. They know our business and computer needs and are relied on as a solution provider to GRS. Because RMS has little to no turnover with its technical support staff, RMS has an “institutional knowledge” of our practice that has resulted in observable efficiencies and cost savings. GRS’s record of “down” time is practically non-existent which speaks directly to the level of service provided by RMS. The online solution for reporting a problem works well and response times are consistently prompt.  Most issues can be resolved virtually but we have received excellent service when a tech is required onsite. Brenda Messick, Georgia Reproductive Specialists, LLC
I’m a Business Consultant for Freshens (my employer), my regions consists of some of the Northeast, part of the mid West, and the Dallas Fort Worth area. Some time ago Freshens made the needed decision to utilize RMS, and I have nothing to say but great things about RMS. The few times that I have called, the issues were resolved in a very reasonable time frame. If the issues weren’t going to be resolved right away, I was informed of when they would (I.E. Freshens server issues). Ed Zimmerman, Freshens
I am a remote employee for Freshens (headquarters is in Atlanta and I work from Baltimore).  For this reason I am very appreciative of the support that I receive when there are log in issues either from my home due to Microsoft Exchange failures, password reset issues or when I am on the road.  RMS is my IT “security blanket”. Laurie Lavietes, Freshens
We were looking for a cost-effective way to replace our in-house IT. RMS gave us options that made sense. They have given us ideas to strengthen our company and streamline our processes.  We let RMS handle everything from our servers, PC’s, smartphones and iPads – everything.  We are very thankful for finding RMS.  They were definitely the right choice for Whitco. Grant Whitney, Whitco Roofing
We’ve used RMS at our last 2 companies (Sigma Analytics and AnalyticsIQ).  Prior to that, we tried to manage our systems ourselves, and it was a disaster.  Using RMS has allowed us to concentrate on what we do best, while being assured that our critical computer systems and back-ups are being maintained professionally and correctly.  Without our data and systems management in place, we wouldn’t have a company! Gregg Weldon, AnalyticsIQ Inc.

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Contact Us:

RMS Associates, Inc.

1850 Lake Park Drive

Suite 200

Smyrna, GA 30080

tel 770-988-9640

fax 770-988-9695