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Interview, re: SII Anniversary Part 4

Interview, re: SII Anniversary Part 4

Q: Tell us a little bit about the beginning of Sterling Ideas. What made you decide to start your own company, and what were some of the challenges at the very beginning? Charles: “I had been working in IT and IT support for quite a few years, and I had gotten to the point where I was doing consulting work for national and even international companies, which is very interesting work, but it does tend to necessitate travel. And I had reached a point where I didn’t want to be away from home that...

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Interview, re: SII Anniversary Part 3

Interview, re: SII Anniversary Part 3

Q: You were the employee to take Sterling Ideas out of one-man-band status. What was it like to enter into a company that had only ever had one employee? What kind of challenges did you face in adjusting into your position? Sterling: “This job was also my first real job. In college, I had random jobs over the years to make some money, but I’d never had a career. So really, I didn’t know what to expect. And the company didn’t know what to expect of me. There was a learning curve on both sides....

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Interview, re: SII Anniversary Part 2

Interview, re: SII Anniversary Part 2

Q: Tell us a little bit about how you met Charles and what your friendship was like at the very beginning. Todd: “Charles and I were both network technicians at an insurance company—that’s how we met. And in those jobs, we were pretty much working below our potentials. Not that we weren’t doing good and meaningful work, but we both had more experience than our jobs at that company required or necessitated. So we would spend our coffee breaks talking about working together or the potential of...

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Interview, re: SII Anniversary

Interview, re: SII Anniversary

Q: Tell us a little bit about Charles and his career before establishing Sterling Ideas. JoAnn: “Charlie’s always been a hard worker, and—certainly after the kids came along—he’s the kind of man who would do anything to provide and provide well. So he worked at some large corporations that definitely gave him great training, but because of his entrepreneurial bent, weren’t the best fit for him. He did everything from working the IT help desk to some side jobs, just fixing people’s personal...

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The SII Story

The SII Story

Charles and JoAnn Gardner incorporated Sterling Ideas Inc on June 30, 1999, but its real history started much earlier than that. Charles’s interest in computers began at an early age. His father taught him not to be afraid of taking something apart to look at it. Even as a preschooler, Charles would sit on his father’s lap and “help” take apart cameras, examine the pieces, and put them back together again. A few years later, his mother surprised him with his first computer, a TRS-80. Then,...

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Interview, re: Hurricane Prep

Interview, re: Hurricane Prep

Q: During the time you’ve been working at Sterling Ideas, multiple hurricanes have hit Florida, and just last summer, Hurricane Elsa crossed through the South and Central Florida area. What kind of technical concerns do hurricanes present to small and medium businesses? Sterling: “The technical concerns that accompany hurricanes are usually pretty similar to concerns that everyone has: flooding, loss of power, lightning. Those are the most concerning because these events can lead to physical...

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Hurricane Prep Checklist

Hurricane Prep Checklist

As we’ve talked about over the last couple of weeks, incidence response planning is extremely important for small and medium businesses, especially during this season when a hurricane or severe storm could hit with very little warning. This week, we want you to download this free Hurricane Prep Checklist, no strings attached or obligations. We care about your business, your safety, and your technology, so go through this checklist and evaluate how prepared you are for hurricane season. If you...

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Importance of Incidence Response

Importance of Incidence Response

Disasters happen. And they need to be planned for. Of course, right now our focus is hurricane preparation, but disaster can strike at any time, in many ways. Natural disasters like hurricanes, flooding, lightning strikes, and tornadoes need to be prepared for. However, theft, cyberattacks, loss of data, and many other adverse events also necessitate a disaster recovery plan. In today’s technology-driven world, incidence response is not optional. As much as we wish your business would never...

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Hurricane Season

Hurricane Season

Hurricane season is fast approaching for us here in Florida. From June to November, our state is especially prone to see tropical storms and hurricanes. This particular season presents a serious threat to small businesses, especially if a severe storm comes through the area. Unrelated to technology, there’s a threat to safety, a potential that your business will have to shut its doors for a period of time, and a possibility that other services you rely on will be unavailable. Between Charles,...

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SAQ: How can Technology Make my Business More Successful?

SAQ: How can Technology Make my Business More Successful?

We’re going to wrap up this month’s series of SAQs with, “How can technology make my business more successful?” You should be asking this question of your business regularly because you never want to miss out on an opportunity to make your business better. The main way technology can help your business be more successful is through boosting efficiency. Technology is convenient and automated and built to make your work more efficient. There are programs and software that can enhance workflow....

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SAQ: What Happens with my Tech if my Business Starts Growing?

SAQ: What Happens with my Tech if my Business Starts Growing?

This week, we’re asking, “What happens with my tech if my business starts growing?” We’ve seen it a million times: a small company tailors their technology system to run exactly what they need and nothing more. No extra capacity for more machines, no extra space for increased data storage, no room for infrastructure expansion short of a complete rebuild. And then they start to grow. Now, by no means am I diminishing the excitement and success of growth. Growing small businesses are the...

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SAQ: Who has Access to my Information?

SAQ: Who has Access to my Information?

This week, we’re talking about a very important and often overlooked aspect of small and medium-sized business security. We’re asking the question (as should you), “Who has access to my information?” With small- and medium-sized businesses, we often run into this problem: your employees have access to all of your information, or some people have access to too much information, or some people have access to not enough information. And sometimes, you don’t even know who has access to what....

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SAQ: How Integral is Technology to my Business?

SAQ: How Integral is Technology to my Business?

This month, we’ll be going through a series of “Should Ask Questions” (SAQs). These are questions that you should routinely ask of your own business. So, how integral is technology to your business? It’s important to ask this question for two reasons. First, if your company is heavily dependent on technology, you should be heavily investing in that technology. You should be evaluating the importance of technology to your business regularly; make big investments in aspects of your business that...

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Interview, re: Target Hack (Part II)

Interview, re: Target Hack (Part II)

Q: Can you speak to infrastructural security measures like network segmentation and how the actual construction of an IT system can lend to better or worse cybersecurity? Charles: “Absolutely. I remember when I was early in my career and just having a network was a really interesting thing. Having one flat network was fine. And that just isn’t the way it is today. Now, we know that building one flat network where everything is interconnected is very simple, but it doesn’t provide the kind of...

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Interview, re: Target Hack (Part II)

Interview, re: Target Hack (Part I)

Q: Can you tell us what you remember about when the Target hack occurred? As an IT professional, what was your reaction? As a consumer, what was your reaction? Charles: “I think I remember the first time I heard about it, and the big deal was that it was the largest breach yet, up to that point in time. That really got an awful lot of attention. It happened in a retail setting, where normal, everyday people were being affected. You know, it wasn’t government to government high crime; it really...

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Target Hack: What We Learned

Target Hack: What We Learned

Over the past two weeks, we’ve talked about 2013’s Target hack. If you haven’t read those blog posts, go check them out now! Today, we’re talking about what we’ve learned from the Target hack and how we apply it to our security measures. The first issue in this incident was the HVAC contractor losing login credentials to the hackers. This is why we protect passwords and login information so vigilantly. At Sterling Ideas, we provide our clients with password managers, we educate staff about...

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Target Hack: The Problem with Loose Security

Target Hack: The Problem with Loose Security

Last week, we talked about the infamous Target hack of 2013. If you haven’t read my previous blog post yet, do that now! It gives some context to what we’ll talk about today. We’re going to talk about 3 security issues that allowed this hack to be so detrimental, and buckle up, because only one of them is Target’s fault. First, hackers were able to steal login credentials from Fazio Mechanical Services (the HVAC company). Whether the hackers gained the credentials through phishing, brute force...

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Target Hack: What Happened?

Target Hack: What Happened?

In 2013, Target was the victim of a famous hacking incident. This month, we’re going to dive into what happened, why it happened, and what we learned from the incident. First, what exactly happened? Hackers gained access to Target’s servers via a third-party HVAC contractor, Fazio Mechanical Services. The perpetrators stole credentials from FMS and proceeded to access Target’s payment systems (to which the HVAC company had open access). The hackers, with full access to Target’s systems,...

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Interview, re: Evolution of Technology

Interview, re: Evolution of Technology

Q: This month, we’ve been focusing on the evolution of technology over time. What was the first piece of modern technology you ever owned, and how have you seen technology change since that time? Todd: “Oh man, I guess my first piece of modern technology would have been my first computer. I had an Amstrad 386sx. And I think the biggest change in the technology world has been performance and size. Technology has gotten smaller and more compact, and at the same time, faster and more powerful....

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Technology from President to President

Technology from President to President

On this coming Monday, we celebrate President’s Day! I thought it would be fun to look at how technology has changed from president to president. George Washington (1789-1797): In the late 1700’s, technology was mostly advanced mechanical tools. For reference, during Washington’s presidency, the cotton gin was patented by Eli Whitney. John Adams (1797-1801): The year 1800 marks the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. John Quincy Adams (1825-1829): The first American railroads were built....

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