The Meridian Blog: Tech News, Tips & More for SMB and Enterprise Environments

Robert Bruce

Robert Bruce

Recent Posts

HIPAA Misconception – Risk Analysis vs Compliance

Robert Bruce

Posted by Robert Bruce
Tue, Jun 30, 2015

What you don’t know about HIPAA can hurt you. Ignorance and misinformation are no excuse when it comes to the law. 

The 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) applies to a large number of organizations, including many small health care providers in the Washington, DC area. Because HIPAA is such a wide reaching act, affecting medical providers as well as their business associates, it is important to get the facts straight. Non-compliance is a serious matter, and companies have been fined who had no idea they were in violation of the law.

Keep reading to learn more about:

  • The difference between compliance and risk analysis
  • Risk analysis facts and myths
  • And more
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Who Needs to be HIPAA Compliant?

Robert Bruce

Posted by Robert Bruce
Wed, Jun 24, 2015

The common misconception that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is just for medical companies is one that could have serious consequences, especially for a small-to-midsized business (SMB).

The act has official rules that specify required compliance by covered entities (CE), which are: healthcare providers, health plans, or healthcare clearinghouses, and business associates — that is, any company that comes in contact with electronic protected health information (e-PHI). According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, all of these are considered covered entities and must comply with HIPAA encryption requirements to protect the privacy and security of protected health information.

Keep reading to learn more about:

  1. Who needs to be HIPAA compliant
  2. Why being compliant is a necessity
  3. PHI implications
  4. And more
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What DC SMBs Need to Know About Encrypting Ransomware and Malware

Robert Bruce

Posted by Robert Bruce
Tue, Jun 23, 2015

That insidious ransomware CryptoLocker that we blogged about a year ago is still here, and it is mutating into variants with names like Crowti, Cryptowall, CryptoLocker 2.0, and many others.

Ransomware — in case you’ve forgotten — is a nasty piece of malware that seizes your computer, encrypts all the data on it, and demands a payment to release it. New versions of this malicious virus are even attacking online gamers as they play popular games like Call of Duty, Minecraft, Assassin’s Creed and others. This attack on gamers may not directly affect SMBs, but it demonstrates the persistence and evolution of ransomware as cybercriminals look for new victims, and many are SMBs.

Keep reading to learn more about:

  1. Common targets
  2. Tactics
  3. Security
  4. And more
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What DC Businesses Need to Know About Open Source Software and FOSS Compliance

Robert Bruce

Posted by Robert Bruce
Wed, Jun 17, 2015

What started as a fringe movement among software developers has turned into a widespread practice.

In yesterday's blog post, I described open source software and the key role it has played in the development of the Internet and information technology (IT) as we know it today. We explored the ways in which it differs from proprietary software, as well as licensing and compliance requirements for both.

Many organizations now include open source software as part of their IT strategy. According to a recent Gartner Survey, over half of the companies surveyed use open source software. In an even more recent survey by Black Duck Software, this figure was reported as 78 percent. Many application development and software firms utilize open source as a development and distribution tool, as well as using it for their own product platforms.

With the widespread adoption of open source software, it has become imperative to adhere to proper governance and compliance guidelines. Using external code — such as open source — to build new applications, products, and services could result in technical and security risks to a company’s entire network operating environment. 

Continue reading to learn more about:

  1. Licensing open source software
  2. FOSS compliance
  3. Risks
  4. Why you need a policy
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Open Source Software: What is it, where did it come from & who uses it?

Robert Bruce

Posted by Robert Bruce
Tue, Jun 16, 2015

The term “open source” gets tossed around a lot — but, what exactly does it mean, and does it matter to businesses in the Washington DC area?

Today, the phrase usually refers to open source software, whose source code is available for modification or enhancement by anyone. Before the phrase became widely adopted, developers and producers used a variety of other terms to describe this sort of platform or software. The now popular term open source gained hold with the rise of the Internet, but the concept pre-dates the Digital Age.

In this blog, I'll explain and discuss the following topics related to open source:

  1. How the concept began in the automobile industry 
  2. The impact of the Internet 
  3. Its role in the development of IT 
  4. Why it's commonly used today
  5. And more
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What DC Businesses Should Know About Mini PCs and Micro Computers

Robert Bruce

Posted by Robert Bruce
Wed, Jun 10, 2015

In business, sometimes good things come in small packages. The desktop (literal not virtual) is a valuable piece of real estate — especially in the DC area, where office space typically comes with a high price tag — and anything that can expand its usable space is worth a look.

One way is to get a bigger desk. Another, more practical solution is to replace that cumbersome desktop computer with something that has a smaller footprint. That could be a laptop computer, an all-in-one PC, or a third option that is gaining in popularity - a mini desktop PC.

They're not for everyone, and there are pros and cons. But, mini PCs can fill some niche business needs, and in some cases may even suffice for all your computing needs. 

Mini desktops come from a variety of manufacturers, including Apple, Dell, Google, Asus, and HP, just to name a few. Small, compact desktop PCs are generally not as quick as full-sized desktop computers, but they make up for that by taking up less space, a trait that’s valuable for those with cluttered desks, or cramped workspaces. Since real estate and rent values in the DC area are so high, this may be an appealing option for many local businesses. While not as powerful as large desktops, most mini PCs can keep pace with, and even surpass, the performance of most laptops.

Read on for the PROs and CONs of mini PC's and micro computers, as well as the bottom line: are they a fit for DC businesses, or not?

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5 Information Security Trends DC SMBs Need to Know About

Robert Bruce

Posted by Robert Bruce
Wed, Jun 03, 2015

Cybercrime is on the rise, and small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs) are increasingly becoming victims of data theft. There are several reasons why cyber crooks, hackers, activists, and even terrorists are focusing on smaller enterprises. Large enterprises generally employ more extensive and sophisticated security systems that monitor everything traveling across their networks. The Cisco Security Capabilities Benchmark Study, included in the Cisco 2015 Annual Security Report found that organizations with 500 employees or more are “more likely to have highly sophisticated security postures,” compared to smaller enterprises included in the study.

Read on to learn more about:

  1. IT security trends
  2. Hidden vulnerabilities within your organization
  3. How can you address such vulnerabilities
  4. And more
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The Cloud Forecast for SMBs is (Mostly) Sunny

Robert Bruce

Posted by Robert Bruce
Thu, May 28, 2015

When the Pew Research Center issued a report on the future of the Internet and cloud computing in 2010, it speculated on what cloud computing might look like in 2020. Since we're about half way there so let’s see how those predictions turned out.

Here is an excerpt from the report:

“A solid majority of technology experts and stakeholders participating in the fourth Future of the Internet survey expect that by 2020 most people will access software applications online and share and access information through the use of remote server networks, rather than depending primarily on tools and information housed on their individual, personal computers. They say that cloud computing will become more dominant than the desktop in the next decade. In other words, most users will perform most computing and communicating activities through connections to servers operated by outside firms.”

The future has arrived at least five years early because the Internet of 2015 looks a lot like the one predicted for 2020. In fact, smart phones and tablets, the most prevalent cloud-based tools we have, surpassed desktops over a year ago, according to this news report.

Read on to learn about:

  1. The most influential driving forces of this rapid growth
  2. Big benefits for small businesses who adopt the cloud
  3. Cloud computing concerns those SMBs must address
  4. And more
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Is Windows 10 Right for Your Small- to Mid-Sized Business?

Robert Bruce

Posted by Robert Bruce
Tue, May 26, 2015

When Windows 8 was introduced in 2012, it was a radical departure from its predecessor Windows 7. The familiar Start Menu on Windows 7 — a fixture on the Windows operating system for over 20 years — was replaced with a Live Tile user interface called Metro UI. Many users either didn’t want to learn the new Windows interface or, more commonly, didn't have touch screen devices to make the most of it.

Although touch screens dominate among smart phones and tablets, the majority of desktop computers still have keyboards and mice. And — according to analytics specialist Net Applications — 53 percent of desktops employ Windows 7, while only 12 percent use Windows 8 or 8.1. That wasn't what Microsoft had in mind when it launched Windows 8 just three years after it introduced Windows 7 in 2009.

Now comes the announced debut of Windows 10 (there is, and will be, no Windows 9) sometime this summer between late July and mid-September. Although it has many new features, Windows 10 is in some ways a hybrid of Windows 7 and 8, in that is has both a Start Menu feature and Live Tiles. This feature makes it easier to launch apps, find and manage settings, and reduces training time and costs for businesses.

So what does the Windows 10 launch mean for your small- to mid-sized business? Keep reading to learn about the important factors to consider, including: 
  1. Transition costs and usability
  2. Hardware requirements
  3. Continuity
  4. Security
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Windows 10 – The Old OS Gets More Than a Facelift

Robert Bruce

Posted by Robert Bruce
Fri, May 22, 2015

Microsoft announced that Windows 10, its latest and last numbered version of the iconic Windows operating system, will launch this summer in 190 countries and 111 languages. No specific date has yet been set, but an estimated timeline for the actual release of this hotly-anticipated new platform is mid- July for equipment manufacturers and late August to mid-September for consumers. The impact of Windows 10 is expected to be big, both for individuals and businesses. The Windows OS has been with us since 1985, and is currently installed on over 90% of the world’s desktop computers.

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News, best practices and more to help you get the most out of your office technology. Whether you're an SMB owner who wears a lot of hats, or an enterprise IT director, facilities manager or just someone who wants to work smarter — this blog has the resources you need to maximize the business impact of all your tech investments. Be sure to subscribe to receive email updates about new posts!

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