Do You Have IT? Information technology that is.

Information technology (IT), it can be your company’s secret weapon or your greatest downfall – depending on how you leverage your IT.

Chamber member Allen Technology Advising is helping businesses ensure that their IT is up to speed. We sat down with President and Founder Ben Allen to learn more about the company and the importance of IT for any business, no matter the size.

Taking Care of Business: Tell me briefly about the work of Allen Technology Advising and how the company got started?

Ben Allen: I started Allen Technology Advising in 1998 after choosing to leave Price Waterhouse because I wanted to help small businesses leverage technology solutions custom tailored to their unique needs.

TCB: IT is such a crucial part for businesses of any size. What advice do you give businesses who might not have a ton of resources to invest in IT?

BA: Businesses need a strong technology direction. This means a stable and secure foundation along with the right software and training. My one “trick” when working with a business is to find the leaders in their industry and discover which software programs they are using. Software is the key to being more productive and saving money with technology.

TCB: In a digital age where cybersecurity has become a real threat for businesses how do companies protect themselves through their IT software?

BA: Cybersecurity is the biggest challenge every IT provider is facing right now. Enormous work needs to be done regularly to try and minimize the risk a company has by simply being on the Internet. We employ six techniques to protect our clients:

1) NexGen Security Appliances – Once called a firewall, this type of security appliance is different. For example, it can block dangerous sites when you accidentally click a bogus link in an email.

2) End Point Protection – Don’t call this antivirus because it isn’t. This type of security software also blocks malware, spyware, ransomware, key loggers and Trojans.

3) Antispam – Every email should go through a filter that helps minimize the number of emails you receive that ask you to click on a link or open an attachment. It also limits the amount of time you spend looking at ads when you’re trying to get off work early to spend time with family.

4) Network Protection – One example of this is having an internal wireless network for computers that are properly protected and a separate wireless network for guests and cell phones. Cell phones, such as iPhones and Androids, are getting infected by viruses that can attack other devices on the network.

5) Password Management Software – Chances are that 70 percent of the passwords you use are all the same exact password. There are huge security issues associated with this, but here’s the reason you should invest in a password management software: It will save you at least 30 minutes per month per person because it will memorize a website, username and password so that when you go to Amazon on your phone it puts in all of this information for you.

6) End-User Training – This is the most important of all security techniques because this is how breaches generally occur: You receive an email stating that you have a bill that is attached. Reading further, if you do not pay said bill within seven days the person who sent it to you will sue you. Do you open it? Not if you have been well-trained.

TCB: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your business?

BA: The biggest lesson that I have learned in business is to get all of the right people in all of the right seats of the bus, meaning incredible staff with unmatched skills focusing only on tasks true to their own passions.

TCB: Why do you love doing business in Colorado?   

The reason I love doing business in Colorado is because of the appreciation we have for a work/life balance. If you provide great service it is easy to connect with clients and become friends outside of work.

Laura James is the marketing and communications coordinator for the Denver Metro Chamber.