Tips from a Network Security Engineer to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

If you’re a fan of the show The Walking Dead, you may already have an idea of what the world would be like in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Wars would be waged, families torn apart, and survivors forming factions in order to defend themselves by all means possible.

Sure, these shows may teach you what to do, and not do, if a zombie plague hits. But what are some real world survival strategies that would help you secure your home and prevent succumbing to deadly infection?

A Network Security Engineer to Your Rescue

A network security engineer works as a guardian for your business. And there are a few things you can learn from what they do and apply it to your own defenses. Here are some lifelong lessons on how to survive the next zombie apocalypse:

Don’t Go Down the Obvious Path

When conjuring up your zombie outbreak survival plan, what are some of the first places you’d stop at? Hint: don’t say your nearest grocery store.

It’s no given that people need food, water, and supplies to survive. But think about how many other people are likely to follow your exact logic of thinking. Zombie experts warn staying away from places like Walmart or any other big box stores.

When it comes to your network security, the same rules apply. Avoid sticking with out-of-the-box solutions and common security software that every other company uses. These types of software are likely to be easily infiltrated by hackers because of their weak security features. Instead, go for customized, comprehensive solutions that secure every possible endpoint – computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, everything.

Stay Aware of your Surroundings

In order to survive a zombie outbreak, you must stay focused and aware of your surroundings at all times. Zombie Research Society (ZRS) president Matt Mogk explains “Your survival plan in any disaster should be centered around surviving where you are. The grass is not greener on the other side in a zombie plague. If you think it’s really bad where you are, it’s worse somewhere else.”

As a business owner, you may not have time to watch every move your employees make. That’s where we step in. As your dedicated network security engineers, we engage in proactive network monitoring and 24/7 support to keep your systems up-and-running at all times. Our job is to act as your watch guard, keeping your surroundings secure from malicious threats.

Whether you’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse or simply trying to tie up any loose ends on your business network, the team at JMARK have your back. Let’s discuss your needs.

How Our IT Support Translates to Helping Charities

At JMARK, we do more than providing IT support. We strive to better the world we live in as individuals and as a company. We see volunteering and helping others as a true honor in being part of our community.

Our “People First. Technology Second” approach to business means we do more than just fix what’s broken; we care about helping our clients build a path for longevity so that they can have more opportunities for growth.

We work closely with several charities and nonprofit organizations simply because we feel passionate about investing our time in people.

Running a charity is no easy business. From choosing the right board members and raising enough funds to file paperwork and manage legal issues – there’s a lot of work that needs to get done.

Here’s why you need IT support delivered quickly and efficiently:

Proactive IT Support Means You Can Dedicate More Time to Your Cause

If you’re still running off the break-fix model of IT, your organization risks costly downtime whenever something in your systems breaks. You also have to consider the large CapEx (capital expenditures) brought on by replacing broken or outdated hardware every time your needs change.

With proactive, around-the-clock monitoring and support, your IT systems stay up-and-running. This means your nonprofit stays up-and-running too. Rather than reacting to problems after they’ve caused significant damage, you can address potential problems ahead of time.

Just as you would take proactive steps for your car maintenance (such as filling up gas, changing your oil, or replacing dirty transmission fluid), you need proactive IT support for a thriving organization.

With a dedicated team of engineers, project managers, and technicians carrying out regular checkups and maintenance on your network, your charity can focus on its goals.

Get in touch with the team at JMARK to find out more ways we can keep you accountable to your mission.

Top 3 Reasons the Right IT Support is a Game Changer for Businesses

Your IT support is probably sitting on the back burner of your neverending list of business concerns demanding your attention.

On top of hiring the right people, eliminating bottlenecks, improving work-life balance, and having to put out fires here and there – you probably don’t have the time in your day to think about your IT.

But technology is all around us, consuming every facet of both our personal and work lives. We must begin to consider how to use technology to drive business in new and innovative ways.

Rather than seeing your IT support as a crutch for your business, here are a few ways you can leverage the top game changers in IT as an invaluable business asset:

Automate or Go Home

Automated machines are becoming smarter than ever. Capable of learning, evolving, and responding to specific user needs, automated machines can transform your workflow.

By cutting down on manual, repetitive tasks such as data entry, filing, etc. – an automated workflow allows you to focus on the aspects of your job you actually care about.

The Growing Internet of Things (IoT)

The “internet of things” (IoT) has become an increasingly popular topic of discussion both in and out of the workplace. But what is it exactly, and why should you care about it? The IoT refers to the connecting of devices to the internet and/or each other.

Organizations of any field can benefit from inter-connected networks by allowing companies to make smarter products, enable smarter business operations, and even change their business model altogether.

For instance, Microsoft uses data-collecting software on what features of their products are being used so they can track which are less popular and focus on the ones that people care about.

Mobility Means Everything

Companies that haven’t encouraged mobile use at work are already falling behind. By giving your entire staff access to their everyday applications on their favorite mobile devices, employees will feel empowered, enabled, and overall happier.

Rethink your business strategy by enhancing your IT. With enhanced and modern technology at your fingertips, you’ll have fewer fires to put out and more time to run your business, manage employees, and achieve a happier work-life balance. Let’s have a conversation.

JMARK Business Solutions, Inc., announces the successful completion of its first Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 Type II audit

SOC II

JMARK Business Solutions, Inc., a leading provider of Technology Management services, announces the successful completion of its first Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 Type II audit, attesting to the design and effectiveness of its Security Controls

Springfield, MOJMARK, a leading provider of Technology Management services, announced the successful completion of its first Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 Type II audit. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has issued an Interpretation under AT Section 101 permitting service auditors to issue reports that are not specifically focused on internal controls over financial reporting. These reports are considered SOC 2 reports and focus on controls at a service organization relevant to Trust Services principles, such as security.

“JMARK’s focus on strong internal controls is evident in this report,” says Tim Roncevich, Partner at SSAE 16 Professionals. “The successful completion of this audit is a testament to JMARK’s integrity, accountability, and its commitment to its customers.”

The audit undergone by JMARK was conducted in accordance with the AICPA SOC reporting standards and was conducted by SSAE 16 Professionals, LLP, which is a full service accounting firm providing SOC 2 Type I and Type II audits. SSAE 16 Professionals evaluated JMARK’s design and operating effectiveness of internal security controls and processes related to the Security Trust Services Principle. The firm has found that JMARK has met or exceeded the expectations and is fully compliant to the standard.

“Completion of the SOC 2 Type II audit demonstrates the high value that we place on security,” says Todd Nielsen JMARK’s Chief Strategy Officer, who headed up the initiative. “A SOC 2 Type II audit shows our clients, especially those in the banking, healthcare, and hospitality verticals of our dedication to privacy and security. Clients can remain confident in JMARK’s operations, policies, and procedures to keep their data protected and private.”

About SOC 2 Reports

Completion of the SOC II Type 2 audit indicates that processes, procedures, and controls adopted by JMARK have been formally evaluated and tested by an independent accounting and auditing firm. The audit included the company’s controls related to the Trust Services Principles and Criteria of Security.

The SOC II certification is among the highest and most rigorous security achievements that can be achieved by any organization. It testifies of to the commitment to protecting JMARK’s client data and information systems.

A SOC 2 report falls under the AICPA AT 101 guidelines and can also be either a Type I or a Type II. Whereas SSAE 16 (SOC 1) reports are used for audits of controls that impact a user organization’s internal controls over financial reporting (ICFR), SOC 2 reports are intended service organizations whose services do not impact ICFR. The typical users of a SOC 2 report will include prospective clients of the service organization, management of the service organization, and independent auditors providing services to the user organizations. The SOC 2 audit covers operational and/or regulatory compliance controls and follows pre-defined Trust Services Principles and Criteria.

About JMARK

JMARK Business Solutions is an award winning global technology services company that has been in operation for more than 25 years. Not only are they a market leader, but they also specialize in various specific industry and technology verticals to directly benefit their clients. This market focus allows them to be highly specialized and educated in helping their clients to be successful. JMARK offers a full range of IT Solutions and Managed Services to serve any industry, anywhere in the country and even the world. JMARK is headquartered in Springfield, MO with offices in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Colorado.

About SSAE 16 Professionals, LLP

SSAE 16 Professionals, LLP is a leading firm specializing in SSAE 16 and SOC 2 audits and readiness assessments. Each of its professionals has over 10 years of relevant experience at “Big 4” and other large international or regional accounting firms. Each professional is certified as a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor), CIA (Certified Internal Auditor), CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), and/or MBA (Master of Business Administration). For more information, please visit www.SSAE16Professionals.com.

Learn more at JMARK.com and the JMARK IT Blog. Follow updates on Twitter and on Facebook.

Contact Info:

Name: Todd Nielsen
Organization: JMARK Business Solutions, Inc.
Address: 601 North National, Suite 102
Phone: 417-863-1700

A big thanks to the many people within JMARK that helped make this a reality.

 

JMARK is back in our headquarters at 601 North National Avenue

We are back home! A little over a month ago, we temporarily moved our JMARK headquarters due to flash flooding. We were blessed to have such community support as we responded to this natural disaster. A special thanks goes out to:JMARK Headquarters

  • Bixler
  • Enactus
  • Jordan Valley Community Health Center
  • Maid of Honor
  • Ollis/Akers/Arney
  • Pinegar Chevrolet Republic
  • Springnet

Throughout our temporary relocation, our goal was to ensure continuity in services for our clients. We are happy to say we achieved this with a sound disaster recovery plan, our amazing team and assistance from the community.

As of this morning, all of our Springfield employees are officially back at our JMARK headquarters at 601 North National Avenue. As always, if you need to reach your team, create a support ticket, call your team directly or visit us at JMARK.com.

Thank you again for everything!

jmark_logo_your_complete

 

Surviving the Storm

Surviving the Storm:
How your disaster recovery plan will determine if you sink or swim

 

According to reports:

  • More than 50% of businesses will permanently shut down as a result of a significant data loss related to a natural disaster.
  • Downtime will cost companies between $50,000 and $5,000,000 per event.
  • More than 60% of businesses don’t have a documented disaster recovery plan and 40% of the companies that had plans actually failed in the recovery process.[1]

jmark

In the technology sector, we are witness to hundreds of unfortunate situations that result in outcomes that can cripple the future of an organization. We know how important it is to have the right plans and the right solutions in place, and how important they are to the survival of a business. Nonetheless, when we put plans in place, we still hope we’ll never actually have to execute on a full business disaster recovery plan. On the night of March 13th, that all changed. The flash floods resulted in rising water which penetrated our buildings. We were helpless. Mother nature had reminded us who was in control.

While it is impossible for any plan to be perfect, we can speak from firsthand experience that a very thorough plan is mandatory for any organization to have a chance in being able to operate in an emergency situation. In our circumstance, we executed our plan at 9:07 PM and continued taking calls and supporting our clients, proudly we didn’t miss a single call or service request. There were many things that transpired throughout the evening that we did right and some things we can improve.

Communications

Beyond having a robust and documented plan (ours is 172 pages and growing…), the primary catalyst to a business recovery plan is communication. We have all come to rely on our mobile devices as a primary method for communicating. In our situation, we were fortunate that we didn’t lose cellular services, but we have witnessed disasters in Joplin and in Norman, Oklahoma where cellular services were either completely down or severely impacted. One of the first major components of our plan outlines all communication paths that may be necessary. This includes primary and alternate phone numbers, primary and secondary email addresses, emergency contacts and specific roles.

In addition to communication with your organization, getting communications to your customers and vendors is also very important. Our recovery plan has an outline of all key contacts to ensure we don’t have to search during a disaster. This includes our supplier vendors, utility and communication contacts, insurance contacts and policy numbers, building contacts and more. Also, as soon as reasonable, it’s important to get a message to your customers to let them know what is actually occurring. In all circumstances, be sure to be transparent. If you are going to be down, be honest about the status of services or products. If you are going to be in business, but with delays, share exactly that. Provide updates as appropriate throughout the process to ensure there is no misperceptions about what is going on. The last thing you want are rumors driving perceptions.

Plan ownership

Like all good plans or initiatives, there must be a responsible party (or parties). The responsible party should know the situation and be able to put the appropriate components of the plan into action. As the CEO, I often feel like I should be the person in charge in a situation like this. The reality that I learned is that I was dealing with too many immediate challenges to coordinate communications and plans for the next day. Having someone else responsible for the plan enabled myself and others the ability to focus on those immediate challenges. While I was dealing with people, emotions, emergency response professionals, and more, they were focused on communications, phone systems migrations, anticipation of what may or not be possible the next day and responding accordingly. This was critical to success for the next day.

floodingOffsite resources

Offsite resources are mandatory for both the technology and helpful for the people aspect of a successful recovery. In JMARK’s situation, we leverage an offsite datacenter facility to house many of our primary systems and connectivity. The degree in which your organization must sustain operations will determine the design of your infrastructure. If you must operate 24×7, then utilizing a datacenter with redundancies is a requirement. If you can tolerate a moderate amount of down time, offsite backups may be sufficient. However, your plan must include arrangements for your recovery mechanisms. This may include a standby system at a secondary location or the means to restore servers and workstations in a temporary cloud or secondary facility. There is obviously a cost analysis that should help drive these decisions.

Proper insurance coverage

Having the proper level of insurance coverage may seem like a given, but the only reason that JMARK had the proper coverage in place was because of the review we do with Ollis/Akers/Arney on an annual basis. This included the proper types of coverage at the proper levels for our current business. Having this in place truly provided piece of mind while we were dealing with the challenges of the night and the following week. We could move forward without concern that we were going to be able to get back on our feet.

Team & Culture

One of the most important mantras at JMARK, is “people first, technology second.” I can’t emphasis enough the significance of having the right team and culture to deal with adversity. There were many people within our organization that were up all night, dealing with many unpleasant areas, handling planning, communications, moving systems and dozens of other priorities. Without a true team of professionals that were focused on Jmark’s commitment and success, that evening would have been a disaster in more than one way.

On the note of people, training around the plan is required for the plan to be successful. Taking the time to share the details of the plan with the appropriate people in the organization is the only way the plan has value. In our case, we were fortunate because we had recently completed the internal review of our plan and determined how to store and distribute the plan in the various emergency scenarios.

Technology planning & recovery

Identifying the key components of technology, specific to your organization; and determining the available means of sustainability, recovery and the priority for each application is one of the fundamental portions of a healthy plan. Each of the applications used to run the organization should be prioritized and evaluated for the necessary uptime or recovery time. As an example, the order processing system would be critical, a Voice-Over-IP phone system is critical, but in most circumstances a system that only does accounts payable can be offline for a day or two. The priority management list will determine how to design the technology solution and in what order to recover each component. This is very helpful for an external IT Management company to fully understand the requirements of the business.

Cloud solutions have dominated the technology news sector recently. Many of these solutions have actually been around for many years. However, in the last few years the cloud enabling technology has matured and the cost of communications have become much more reasonable. It is because of this that almost all organizations can now justify the expense associated with an offsite solution of some type. Whether that is a secondary office, a redundant cloud based solution or fully operating from a data center, there is an option available to all organizations. Taking the time to evaluate your entire infrastructure, prioritize, deploy and test the technical design is the only way to ensure that your organization doesn’t end up on the wrong side of the statistic of those businesses who succeed or fail.

There are obviously many more items that should be considered and discussed for a business recovery plan to be complete. I hope you never have to deal with a disaster, but if you do, I hope you have a comprehensive plan to follow.

Thomas H. Douglas

President/CEO

JMARK Business Solutions, Inc.

[1] Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council’s 2014 Annual Report

We Can See Clearly Now

header-tech5

The rain is gone… for now…. and our work to return 601 North National to our hub of operations continues.  Since our update last week, we have spent a great deal of quality time with a variety of insurance adjusters!  Richard Ollis and his team from Ollis/Akers/Arney have helped coordinate all the entities involved and have made the process as painless as possible.

While our parking lot always has had a love-hate relationship with precipitation, the flash flood on Sunday, March 13 invaded our building for the first time. Most Springfield employees have been working remotely since then, however, that changed this morning as we opened shop temporarily in the Enactus building (former SIFE building near the Cracker Barrel on Glenstone) at 1959 East Kerr Street in Springfield.  As with our last transition, we believe our clients will not notice any interruption in service or response times (although you may notice a bit more background noise when calling in). Our other JMARK offices in Fayetteville and Tulsa have also stepped up to handle additional calls and tickets during the situation.

jmark_logo_your_completeWe cannot thank our clients and community enough for the outpouring of well wishes and offers of donated space, items and people.  It always has been a priority for JMARK to give back to our communities and once again that has been reciprocated in amazing ways. We have a long list of people and businesses that have helped a tremendous amount that we will share about very soon.

We anticipate it could be up to a month before we return to 601 North National in order to ensure the clean-up process is thoroughly completed, and while our carpet and a large portion of furniture and some equipment is replaced.  We will have limited staff at the National location in the interim, including our Bench team if you have a computer or other equipment that may need to be dropped off.

Our JMARK Team has been tested even more than usual on every single one of our core values (Honesty, Passion, Teamwork, Excellent, Accountability, Fun) over the past week, and we couldn’t be more proud of their dedication to JMARK and their focus on making sure our clients continue to get what they need. They worked incredibly hard to ensure calls were routed, tickets were managed, SLA’s were maintained and obviously the massive amount of work at the main office was being handled very well. We are very fortunate to have such an amazing and sharp Team.

Thank you for your support and patience as we have and will continue to handle this adjustment.

If you have any questions, including which location to come to, feel free to call us at (417) 863-1700 or email us at JMARK@jmark.com with the subject of “Flood”.

JMARK Flood – A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through ItIt is funny how things are sometimes pictured in the news and how rumors fly in the public eye, we saw things like:

  • “Flooding causes evacuation of JMARK.” Actually we couldn’t even get in the building until water receded in the late hours of Sunday night.
  • “I am standing here at JMARK in 3 feet of water.” That one was fun, since the water at the most was 3 or so inches inside.
  • “All the cars were destroyed.” Still waiting on the final assessment, but yes a large number of vehicles were destroyed, but not all. That’s OK, employees have cars and 98.2% of our tickets are solved remotely.

There was more, but we cherish and welcome anything we can hear so that we can get in front of it. We know there are concerns, so that is why we are trying to maintain communication with our clients and employees, as well as the media.

Here are a few concerns we heard that we want to address:

  1. Is client data secure? Abso-freaking-utely. SOC, change management, and security is being addressed throughout this recovery process. It is being addresses at beginning and not after. Our security and logging is tight and continues as status quo.
  2. Is JMARK going to have to get a new office? We really don’t know yet until final assessments are made by assessors and clean-up crews. Whether we move temporarily or continue working remotely does not really matter, what matters is that operations continue to function. Today I received so many emails that had absolutely nothing to do with the disaster recovery efforts. This was a sign to me that business as usual is happening.
  3. Is my project going to be delayed? If you have a project that is scheduled with JMARK, we are doing everything we can to make sure things are running as scheduled. This is not an after-thought. The biggest delay will happen if any equipment that was allocated to a project was damaged in the flood. We are working today and tomorrow to determine that with our assessor.
  4. Is service going to be delayed? So far we are not seeing any delays in service. We are working hard from every corner of JMARK to make sure clients are put first, even as recovery efforts are underway.
  5. Is JMARK data about our account damaged or lost? Not a single dot or tittle is lost or in jeopardy. Every core system is operational and working as expected.

We appreciate the well wishes, the patience, and all those supporting us. As a client though, please don’t ever feel like you come second to a disaster, that is just not the case. Let us know how we can serve you and if there are any concerns.

For questions related to the flood, please send an email to JMARK@jmark.com with the subject of “Flood.”

Thank you and please let us know if there is anything you want to hear about.

Warmly,
Todd Nielsen
Chief Strategy Officer
tnielsen@jmark.com

JMARK Floats on by The Flood

memeIt has been a pretty blessed 24 hours at JMARK. First we had this cool river suddenly appear all around the office. It was like we were in our own little island.

Then water seeped into our island, and ruined most of our furniture. Turns out it was more like a boat with a leak. But it’s like Christmas all over again, we now get new furniture.

Had a few computers get a little water damage, the employees were so sad to hear they would be getting new computers.

We decided that we should do something nice for our employees, so we let them all work from home.

There was so much excitement that we had a “party” at the office all night, the party spread to the people working from home too, how cool is that?

That wasn’t enough, so in the morning we decided to give a gift to our clients, hold time that increased by… zero percent, along with dedicated staff at their beck and call.

You want to know how we turned this lemon into lemonade? We planned for it. JMARK has developed a Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan as part of our SOC II audit, that is updated every 3 to 6 months. In that plan we detail out every scenario, configuration, procedures, people, vendors, contact information, and more… to guide us in any scenario.

Impact to the Operations

Everything is still secure, and our constant focus is still on our clients. We have to replace some equipment and furniture, but our planning and infrastructure make it easy for our employees to work from home, and of course our logging and security is still in place no matter where our employees work, so client security is always a priority.

What Controls are in Place

JMARK has a multitude of policies, processes, procedures, plans and controls in place to ensure that we maintain our business operations. Last night at 9:06 PM I sent an email out to our Executive Team, the Information Technology Steering and Security Committee, as well as a number of individuals that are dictated to be informed of the plan activation. This activation of the DR plan came after certain controls were triggered, which set in motion dozens of people working harmoniously to ensure the continuity of operations.

Anticipated Time Frame to When Normal Operations Resume

Our clients should not experience anything outside of their normal JMARK experience, other than maybe a cat or a dog in the background while on the phone with an employee working from home. I can’t lie and say everything will be perfect, but we are doing everything we can to keep it business as usual. Some clean-up work has to happen at our office and new furniture and other stuff procured. We do not know when this will all happen, but promise to continue to communicate and let everyone know how things are going. Tickets can continue to be put in the same they always have.

We are thankful that 100% of our employees are safe and accounted for. Thank you for the support, and please let us know how we can continue to server you better.

For questions related to the flood, please send an email to JMARK@jmark.com with the subject of “Flood.”

Todd Nielsen
Chief Strategy Officer
tnielsen@jmark.com

JMARK Achieves SOC II Type I Certification

SOC II I am proud today to announce that JMARK Business Solutions, Inc. has passed a SOC II Type I audit. This audit comes after lot of hard work by many dedicated individuals at JMARK. The SOC II audit shows our dedication and commitment to the privacy, confidentiality, and security of JMARK and its clients. SOC II addresses many areas of the company and testifies to the soundness and integrity of our: Infrastructure, Software Systems, People, Policies, Procedures, and Data.

What Does This Mean to JMARK Clients

A SOC II audit shows our dedication to the privacy and security of client systems and data. In this world of daily security incidents, few IT Service organization can show through independent analysis that their operations and procedures are aligned to keeping their clients data safe and private.

Completion of the SOC II Type I audit indicates that processes, procedures, and controls adopted by JMARK have been formally evaluated and tested by an independent accounting and auditing firm. The certification included the company’s controls related to the Trust Services Principles and Criteria of Security.

The SOC II certification is among the highest and most rigorous security achievements that can be achieved by any organization. It testifies of our commitment to protecting our client data and information systems.