Why OC and Los Angeles Law Firms Are Going To The Cloud

It’s inevitable that law firms (or any business for that matter) are going to have to eventually do a network upgrade at some point. We’re all a part of the same cycle – your network is old and outdated, you refresh, you use it for a few years, it gets old and outdated again, you refresh, you use it for a few years… It’s an endless cycle.

For some firms, this cycle works. Typically they are firms that are able to very accurately forecast their annual business caseload and revenue and have a very clear idea of where the firm will be in a few years and what they will need.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for most firms. Most law firms we run into don’t know if they will land a big case in the future, which will require extra employees and additional resources from the network. Or they aren’t sure how the firm would handle another economic downturn and if there would even be a budget for a refresh. Or they don’t have a clear plan for how to grow with the changing times and implement things such as BYOD, remote workers or how to respond to the ever-increasing security threats.

Luckily, law firms now have another option to consider when they are faced with an upgrade: cloud computing.

Why Cloud Computing For Law Firms Works

No More Network Upgrades: As suggested above, you don’t have to do network upgrades anymore if you move to the cloud. There are no more servers and no more upgrades to an onsite network because now all of the computing is done offsite in a incredibly secure and compliant data center that is constantly being upgraded and updated. Law firms now have an incredibly predictable cost for IT every month and are able to take advantage of backend hardware and software upgrades without having to shell out the cash for it every time.

Scalability: Cloud is based on the pay-per-use model. You only pay for the resources you need and use, and it is simple to scale this up and down depending on number of employees, amount of network “power” needed, how much data you have, etc. Think of it like your utilities and electricity bill.

Flexibility: I like to say that Cloud computing is agnostic, meaning that it doesn’t care if you want to work on a PC, Mac, tablet, or smart phone. It’s the exact same desktop with the exact same applications and data no matter what device you prefer to work on. Not only does cloud not care what you work on, but it also doesn’t care where you work. No longer are you tied to the office, but now you can access your entire network (applications, files, email, everything!) anywhere you get an Internet connection, like at home, a coffee shop, on the road, courtroom, hotel on the beach in Costa Rica, your neediest client’s office, bar down the street, cousin Joey’s house…you get the idea.

The are numerous other benefits to cloud computing, such as built-in disaster recovery, easily customizable platform, and drastically reduced maintenance, and I encourage you to learn more on our cloud computing page.

If you’re interested in seeing how cloud computing could work in your law firm, get a free Cloud Readiness Assessment from WAMS. We’ll do a network health check to see what’s going on with your current network, show you a cost comparison for your specific on-site network vs. cloud, and then provide you with an action plan if you decide to move to cloud computing. Sign up for yours today here!

What The Olympics Can Teach Us About IT Security While Traveling

The Olympics is one of the most popular and well-known sporting events in the world, and the 2014 Olympic Winter Games are well underway. This round, they are in Sochi, Russia and like every other event, there have been various organizational issues to deal with. Unlike the last Olympics however, one of those issues is the risk of hacking of mobile devices and computers.

Hacking at the Winter Olympics 2014

Well before the Olympics even started in Russia, the Russian government said that they will be surveilling phone and computer communications. Many scoffed at this, writing off the government as being overly ambitious and boasting about a nearly impossible task. The thing is, the Internet in Russia may not be as secure as many believe, being full of hackers. At least according to a report aired on NBC shortly before the games started.

In the report, reporter Richard Engel took new, never opened laptops and mobile devices to Russia and used them. He found that within 24 hours, all of the devices had been hacked, exposing the data stored within.

In part of the segment, Engel and a security expert go to a local coffee shop in Moscow and search for Sochi on a mobile device. Almost immediately the device is hacked and malicious software downloaded. Engel notes that the hackers have access to data on the phone along with the ability to record phone calls.

In a follow-up segment, Engel explains a bit more about the laptop issues. When he boots one up and connects to the Internet, hackers are almost immediately snooping around the information, transferring from the machine to the networks. Within a couple of hours, he received a personalized email from a hacker welcoming him to Russia and providing him with some links to interesting websites. Clicking on the link allowed the hackers to access his machine.

One issue is that it hasn’t been stated in any reports whether the Russian government is behind this, or if it’s hackers out to steal information. While you can be sure that the Russians are monitoring communication during the Winter Olympics, it is highly likely that they are not the ones installing malware on phones, rather it’s probably organized crime rings or individual hackers.

I’m not at Sochi, so why do I care?

As a business owner half the world away, you may be wondering why this news is so important to you or why you should care. Take a look at any tech-oriented blog or news channel and you will quickly see that the number of attacks on devices, including malware, phishing, spam, etc. is on the rise. It’s now likely a matter of when you will be hacked, not if.

Combine this with the fact that many businesses are going global or doing business with other companies at a big distance. This has caused many people to go mobile and the tools that have allowed this are laptops and smart devices. Because so many people are now working on a laptop, phone or tablet, these devices have become big targets. The main reason for this is that many people simply don’t take the same safety precautions they take while on the office or even the home computer.

Hackers know this, so logically they have started going after the easier targets. The news reports concerning Russia highlight this issue and is a warning business owners around the world should be aware of, especially if they are going to be traveling with computers or phones that have sensitive information stored within.

That being said, there are a number of tips you can employ to ensure your data is secure when you go mobile. Here are six:

1. Use cloud services wherever possible

Cloud storage services can be incredibly helpful when traveling. They often require a password to access and are usually more secure than most personal and even some business devices. If you are traveling to an area where you are unsure of the security of the Internet or your devices, you could put your most important data in a trusted cloud storage solution.

This is also a good idea because if your device gets stolen, the data is in the cloud and is recoverable. If you have data just stored locally on your hard drive, and your device is stolen, there is a good chance it’s gone forever. For enhanced security, be sure to use a different password for every service.

2. Back up your data before leaving

Speaking of losing data, it is advisable to do a full system backup of all the devices you are taking with you before you leave. This will ensure that if something does happen while you are away, you have a backup of recent data that is recoverable.

3. Secure and update all of your devices

One of the best ways to ensure that your data is secure is to update all of your devices. This means ensuring that the operating systems are up-to-date and any security updates are also installed.

Also, ensure that the programs installed on the devices are updated. This includes the apps on your phone, including the ones that you don’t use.

You should also secure your devices by not only having an antivirus and malware scanner, but also requiring a password to access your device.

4. Watch where you connect

These days, Internet connections are almost everywhere. In many public spaces like airports, coffee shops, restaurants, etc., many of the connections are open or free to connect to and don’t require a password.

While this may seem great, hackers are known to watch these networks and even hack them, gaining access to every bit of information that goes in and out of the network. When you are traveling, try avoiding connecting to these networks if you can. If you really have to, then be sure not to download anything or log into any accounts that hold private data.

5. Know the risks of where you are going

Before you leave, do a quick search for known Internet security issues in the area you will be visiting. If you find any news or posts about threats you can then take the appropriate steps to secure your system ahead of time.

6. If in doubt, leave it at home

In the NBC report, Engle finishes by telling viewers that if they are at all unsure about the security of their devices or are worried about their data, they should leave the device at home or delete the data before going. This is a good piece of advice and maybe instead of deleting data completely, you could move it to a storage device like an external hard drive that you leave behind.

If you are looking to learn more about ensuring the security of your devices while you are away from the office contact us today. We have solutions to help!

WAMS, Inc. Named to CRN’s Managed Service Provider 500 List!

Company Recognized for Forward-Thinking Approach to Meeting the Needs of Today’s IT Channel

Brea, CA, February 19, 2014 – WAMS, Inc., the premier provider of IT support and solutions since 1974, today announced it has been named to CRN’s Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list as one of the  MSP Pioneer 250. The annual list recognizes the top technology providers and consultants in North America whose cutting-edge approach to managed services puts end-user customers in the best position to improve efficiencies, cut costs and speed time to market for their own products and services.

In today’s world of computing power, end users are barraged by options. CRN, the leading media outlet for vendors and solution providers attempting to understand sales and service channels, selected the top MSPs in order to bring clarity to the decision-making process.

This year, CRN’s MSP500 is broken down into three groups highlighting the MSP Elite 150, who are large data center-focused solution providers with a strong mix of on-premise professional services as well as  off-premise services; the MSP Pioneer 250, who have a business model heavily weighted toward managed services focused on the small- and midsize-business market; and the MSP Hosting Service Provider 100, who own and operate their own data centers, providing a wide array of subscription-based outsourced services.

The WAMS managed IT services offering, ManagedCARE, takes complete ownership of the technology you choose to have managed for one monthly price. Because managed IT service packages are all inclusive, you know your costs in advance and there are no surprises. ManagedCARE also allows WAMS to take a proactive approach to managing your IT. Instead of reacting to issues, WAMS is able to be alerted and fix the problem before users experience any downtime.

“The managed services landscape continues to evolve rapidly as organizations are discovering they can impact both bottom-line and top-line growth,” said Robert Faletra, CEO, The Channel Company. “When it comes to strong managed services and off-premise solutions, these companies are the industry’s proven leaders, showing just how they can change the game for their customers and we congratulate them on their success.”

“We are very proud to be on this list of prestigious and exemplary managed service providers,” said Kevin Haight, General Manager, WAMS, Inc. “We continue to grow year after year thanks to our loyal clients and our team’s commitment to providing the best possible IT services out there. We look forward to years of continuing to provide our clients with IT solutions to help them grow their own businesses.”

Coverage of the MSP500 will be featured in the February/March issue of CRN, and online at www.CRN.com, 

About WAMS, Inc.

WAMS, Inc. has been providing law firms and businesses with comprehensive, high-quality IT/computer consulting and support solutions since 1974. Our legacy of superior quality and service continues today as we design, install and maintain a vast network of both on-site and cloud based computer systems specifically tailored for each unique law firm, legal department and business client. We offer a variety of services, including our low-cost ManagedCARE offerings, our hosted WAMS Cloud Connect platform, or you may select what individual services you need from our IT menu. Learn more at www.wamsinc.com. 

About the Channel Company

The Channel Company is the sales channel community’s trusted authority for growth and innovation, with established brands including CRN, XChange Events, IPED and SharedVue. For more than three decades, we have leveraged our proven and leading-edge platforms to deliver prescriptive sales and marketing solutions for the technology sales channel. The Channel Company provides Communication, Recruitment, Engagement, Enablement, Demand Generation and Intelligence services to drive technology partnerships. Learn more at www.thechannelcompany.com.

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What Is Business Blogging?

Modern marketing has become an almost wholly digital affair, with companies relying on their website and social media profiles as a main marketing platform. This is all created in response to the fact that many customers expect companies to be online. While there are many ways to increase your online presence and business value, one of the best for many businesses is through a blog.

Define business blogging

When we talk about blogging, most people ask two questions: “What is blogging?” and “Is business blogging any different from personal blogging?”

A blog, a portmanteau of Web log, is usually a page on a website where authors post written articles. The content, usually called a post, can be incredibly varied, from along the lines of a journal style to breaking news or even thoughts and opinions to open up debate.

Business blogging is the act of creating content that is related to your business. The topics are usually narrowed down to relate to the products or services you provide. For example, you are reading this post on our blog, which largely focuses on technology in business. The vast majority of business blogs are not profit oriented (the company isn’t out to make money directly from their blog articles) and is usually a part of their marketing plan.

Why do businesses blog?

There are 3 main reasons many businesses blog:

1. A blog can increase traffic to your website

One common complaint many business owners have about their website traffic, or the number of people who visit their site, is that it is lower than expected. There can be many reasons behind this, the most common being that the content on the website is static. Think about when it the last time you updated your whole site was.

Even if your site effectively explains what your business does, search engines generally look kindly on websites that are active. It is incredibly hard to keep re-writing your website, so one of the best ways to fix this is by blogging. When you create a new blog post, a new page on your website is usually indexed – added to the site structure, kind of like the index at the back of textbooks. This activity tells search engines that your website is active. Active websites will usually show higher in search results.

Blog articles are also great to share on social media services. By sharing content with your existing customers, there is an increased chance of your name and profile being seen by people who aren’t your customer yet but could be in the future.

If you have more people seeing your content in different places – search results, social media, etc. – you should see an increase in overall traffic to your website.

2. A blog is a great way to show your expertise

Think about the last time you needed to purchase a new item, say a computer. Did you pick the first shop you saw, then walk in and purchase a computer? Chances are high that you didn’t. Most people research companies and retailers who have a good rating or who come across as an expert and purchase from them.

As many people do this research online, it can be a challenge to establish your company as the expert in your field. Your blog can be the perfect tool to establish your company as a go-to expert. If you answer common questions and provide tips, there is a higher chance that your articles will be regarded as helpful and having potential customers contact you. What this means for you is an increased chance of conversion.

3. Blog articles have a positive long-term effect

When you search on the Internet you will often find a number of blog posts at the top, with some maybe even being from the last year or so. A well crafted blog post will often see a wealth of interest within the first few days of posting largely because of sharing via social media services and users who have subscribed to your posts.

If your posts get a fair number of shares, comments, etc., there is a good chance that search engines will begin to show it higher in results. What this means for you is that the post will continue to be seen in results for a of couple weeks to months or more, depending on keywords, etc. This translates to longer visibility and a higher chance of traffic and leads in the future.

Of course, not every post will be a smash hit and bring leads pouring in, but an active blog that produces good content could prove to be of great value to your business. It will take time, but most bloggers do see increased payoffs.

WEBINAR: Testing Your Luck When It Comes To Your IT Network?

A lot of firms we meet seem to be crossing their fingers when it comes to three major pieces of their network: security, data backups, and the reliability of their actual equipment.

Do you wake up every morning just hoping and praying that there are no computer glitches or server crashes today? Do you have doubts that your network could actually be 100% back up and running QUICKLY in the event of a minor or major disaster? Do you hold your breath that you won’t be like the firms you hear stories about where they lost massive amounts of data to a silent piece of malware?

With this being the month of St. Patrick’s Day, WAMS has decided to address these three “luck-testing” IT network issues and show you how you can be confident that your firm’s network is protected no matter the threat. You may have been lucky enough to avoid major incidents in the past, but this doesn’t mean that you are not at risk! Join WAMS Wednesday, March 17th at 11:00 AM for this free webinar.

When: Wednesday, March 19 at 11:00 AM

Register: www.wamsinc.com/luck

What The Olympics & Technology Have in Common

The opening night for the Sochi 2014 Olympics is tonight, and in the midst of all of the hullabaloo and pride for each person’s country, I’m starting to see a few parallels between the world sport festivities and the industry that I work in, technology. Now I know that you’re thinking, “come on…really??” But let me explain…

Athletes train day in and day out

Olympic athletes like Shaun White and Lolo Jones eat, drink and sleep their sport. All day every day, they are training to become the best that they can be. Our remote monitoring services is like that. 24x7x365, we watch over your IT network to make it faster, stronger and safe from threats.

National Pride & Unity

There’s something about the Olympics that really brings together a nation and unites countrymen that at other times may be at odds. Now, I’m not saying that technology brings your employees closer together in a lovey-dove-y sort of way, but you sure as heck can bet that a good IT network allows users to collaborate and work together in ways we couldn’t just a few years ago. Just look at the cloud and the way that it enables us to work together no matter where we’re located!

Security Threats

The news has been filled with pre-Olympic jitters over the safety of this year’s games. From terrorist attacks to Putin’s promises for no-danger zones, these games certainly have everyone on edge and little scared. This year also will be an incredibly dangerous year for IT. Hackers promise to take advantage of any networks still using XP or Office 2003 when Microsoft ends support on April 8, 2014. If you are still using any of these, PLEASE contact us ASAP so that we can get you off of these.

Fierce Competition

The Olympic Games bring the world’s best athletes together in an aggressive match for medals. It’s extremely competitive! All of us at WAMS are competitive, too. We are serious about being the best at what we do and set high goals for ourselves to serve our clients to the best of our ability. We think we’ve got the gold medal!

Rethink Remote Access

People everywhere around the world got a real shock last week when remote access specialist LogMeIn got rid of its free alternative and asked users to man up and pay for the paid version.

While the majority of professional users remain undeterred, those using LogMeIn for ad-hoc purposes found themselves asking if there were comparable alternatives to consider.

Unfortunately, the answer seems to be “no”.

LogMeIn’s proprietary protocol with network address translation (NAT) traversal does a good job of getting through firewalls on Internet connected systems using secure sockets layer (SSL) encrypted connections. Mobile clients are available for iOS and Android devices, as is remote printing support and file sharing. LogMeIn thus became an easy choice for people needing a quick solution, often for ad-hoc scenarios where a permanent virtual private network (VPN) would either be too much work or not possible.

However, most professionals in the legal, medical, and financial industries saw the security risks involved with allowing users to use LogMeIn and never even allowed it in the first place.

So what are some other options for remote access?

TeamViewer

TeamViewer is easy to install, seems to be able to get through even the tightest corporate firewalls and has all the features required for full remote access, including audio, file transfers, remote printing as well as meetings and collaboration.

Like LogMeIn, TeamViewer works well over residential broadband and overall, is very easy to live with.

So why isn’t everyone using TeamViewer? The price. TeamViewer is free for non-commercial use, but business customers are expected to fork out holy moly amounts ranging from $849 for the cheapest version and going to $3200 for the three-session corporate variant. Needless to say, that kind of pricing puts TeamViewer out of reach for many small business operators.

TeamViewer is a good product that would be even better if the commercial pricing was dropped to sensible levels. If you don’t need it for business purposes, by all means, TeamViewer is the way to go to replace LogMeIn Free.

Remote Desktop Connection and Virtual Network Computing

If you can open up firewall ports and run new-ish versions of Windows on both network ends, Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) may be a workable solution.

The Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) built into Windows – there’s a free downloadable one for Mac OS X too – offer a good, feature-rich remote access experience with sound. RDC adjusts itself to the bandwidth available, cutting down on desktop eye candy and colour depth to match the capacity of the network connection. Generally it works fine, even over your average residential broadband service.

On the downside, there is a fair bit more to tweak with RDC. You may need to consider firewall reconfiguration, client settings, maybe even tunnelling all the traffic over a VPN so you don’t need to sleep with one eye on the intrusion detection system and user authentication.

Either way, RDC is ahead of Apple’s remote access solution which, while updated for the latest Mavericks operating system, misses out on important features such as sound and NAT pass-through.

Apple has decided to go with the open source Virtual Network Computing or VNC for building its remote access solution, and it comes with pros and cons.

Pros include several clients and servers (free and paid) with decent feature sets. However, the features lag behind other remote access solutions, with several deficiencies in the areas of graphics and audio handling.

Again, you’ll be looking at securing the connection, firewall configuration and other tweaks that’ll likely eat into any savings you thought you were banking from avoiding paying for a LogMeIn license.

Remote Access Via Cloud

Most professionals will agree that the only way to truly gain remote access securely and with good speed, graphics and function is to go to the cloud.

With WAMS Cloud Connect, all of your data, applications, backups, files, folders, etc. are all stored off-site in a secure data center. All you need to access all of it is an Internet connection. Once you log in from anywhere and on any device (Mac, PC, tablet, smartphone), a virtual desktop is displayed with your entire “computer” sitting right in front of you.

Think of this scenario…

10:28 AM Attorney, Ms. Sue Me, logs into her PC in the office and opens a matter in ProLaw for a case she’s working on and makes a few additions.

12:43 AM Ms. Me is in a meeting with the client and is presenting the same file to them on her iPad. The client has a change, which Ms. Me emails to the paralegal to do. Paralegal is at lunch, but pops it up on her Android phone as she’s waiting for her salad and makes the change.

2:22 PM Ms. Me submits her time and billing for the month on her iPhone while sipping a coffee at a coffee shop and sends it remotely to print at the administrator’s printer. Within minutes, the administrator receives the time entries and processes the invoices for the client.

2:56 PM Ms. Me’s iPhone dies in the middle of a Candy Crush break and she hasn’t finished her all of time entries. Ms. Me gets extremely frustrated and calls the WAMS live-answer help desk. “Easy Peasy,” they say. “Just log in anywhere with any device.”

3:41 PM Ms. Me is at her home office on her Mac, logs into her cloud, and the exact same desktop with the exact same screen that she was working on at the coffee shop on her phone pops up, and she finishes her time in minutes.

If you’re curious about Cloud Computing for your firm, please visit our WAMS Cloud Connect page on our website or get a free Cloud Readiness Assessment by filling out the form at the top right of this page!