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Network Attack! 5 Hacking Risks Your Business Needs to Prepare Against

14 million American businesses are currently operating at a high...

Network Attack! 5 Hacking Risks Your Business Needs to Prepare Against

14 million American businesses are currently operating at a high level of risk for a network attack.

Further, 60% of businesses that suffer a major hack or data breach will close their doors within six months of an attack.

Even if you think you have strong data and cybersecurity measures in place, you might be more vulnerable than you realize. This is because hackers and cyber threats are constantly evolving, and your current software and security measures may not be equipped to handle them. 

The first step to fending off a cyberattack is getting to know some of the most common threats to your business. 

Read on to learn about five hacking techniques, and what you can do to stop them.  

1. Phishing

First, let’s talk about perhaps the most common kind of security threat — the phishing attack. 

Many people fall for this because phishing emails are designed to look like “regular” emails from companies, nonprofits, and even individuals that you know or have communicated with in the past. 

Hackers disguise phishing emails to look legitimate, so that you won’t think twice about downloading an attachment or clicking on a link that actually infects or installs malicious software onto your computer network. 

Always instruct your team members to avoid checking personal email on work computers. Additionally, if they get an email in their work inbox that looks suspicious and includes links, tell them to hover their mouse over the link.

This will cause the address of the link to appear, and they can easily determine whether or not it’s a familiar, legitimate URL.

2. Malware Installation

Malware installation is another unsettlingly common kind of network attack. 

This is when hackers install unknown software on your network without your knowledge. Unfortunately, this software can easily replicate itself across multiple computers and networks, easily infecting your entire office and database at large. 

Sometimes, this malware can be attached to different file formats. It can also lurk inside some of the software, applications, and programs that you use in your office every day (known as a Trojan attack.) 

Malware is a common tactic used by hackers who are looking to install ransomware in your network. Essentially, cybercriminals will hold your data and other sensitive information “hostage” until you pay a fee for them to release it back to you. 

If you refuse to pay the fee, the hacker will continue to exploit your data and prevent your website from getting back online. 

3. SQL Injections

Especially if you use a large database on your website, you’re vulnerable to an SQL attack. 

Here, the hacker uses code to steal information from your database’s backend. This means that it’s not just your company data, but often your customers’ personal information, that ends up exposed in an SQL attack. 

In addition to stealing this data, this type of attack can also change, delete, and manipulate it.

4. DDOS Attacks

DDOS (denial-of-service/distributed denial-of-service) attacks are also common. 

Interestingly, the main goal of a DDOS attack isn’t usually to steal information. Instead, it’s about kicking your site offline, preventing you from updating your site of making sales. This makes it an especially popular network attack for shady competitors to use. 

DDOS attacks are also an effective way to “set the scene” for a larger cyber network attack. 

5. Password Hacks

One of the biggest network attack threats to watch out for is so simple that it’s often overlooked: the standard password hack. 

Sometimes, hackers can guess your passwords based on personal information they know or have stolen about you. They can also break into your network and steal unencrypted passwords. This is especially easy if you connect your work computer to public WiFi.

Take a look at this list of the most common passwords, and make some changes immediately if any of them look a bit too familiar. 

To come up with a stronger password, we suggest using capitalized and lower case letters, numbers, and even special characters. Also, never use the same password for more than one account. 

How to Prepare for Cyber Attack

We know that these threats can feel incredibly overwhelming, and the unfortunate reality is that hackers are constantly coming up with new ways to steal and monetize your data and personal information. 

That’s why it’s so important to be prepared. Especially because it takes an average of 191 days for a company to realize they’ve been hacked in some way, you need to do everything you can to be proactive. 

First, always update your software, Internet browsers, applications, and computer networks as soon as possible. Instruct your employees to avoid using public WiFi networks that don’t require a password. Institute a password policy where you change your own and tell employees to do the same about once every two weeks. 

Finally, consider working with a professional IT service that specializes in cybersecurity. They’ll be able to help you guard against attacks you didn’t even know existed, and they can use the latest tools to keep your data safe. 

They’ll also constantly back up your data and monitor your network for suspicious activity. This way, even if the worst happens, you’ll have a strong cyber attack response plan and data recovery solution in place. 

Don’t Fall Victim to a Network Attack

When was the last time you evaluated your current network and cybersecurity strategy?

Have you recently suffered a data breach, and want to know how you can recover your data and prevent these attacks from happening again in the future? 

Are you concerned that your data is far more vulnerable to some of the potential threats on this list than you realized? 

If so, now is the time to act to prevent and recover from a network attack of any form or scale. 

Learn more about the services we have to offer that help to keep your data safe, your website online, and your company’s reputation secure. Don’t let a hacker destroy the things you’ve worked for years to build in a matter of minutes. 

Instead, reach out to us today.

The Benefits of Cloud Computing: How the Cloud Can Improve Your Business

We're in the digital age, and technology is evolving at...

The Benefits of Cloud Computing: How the Cloud Can Improve Your Business

We’re in the digital age, and technology is evolving at rapid levels. 

One of the biggest advancement is the creation of cloud computing. We’re moving away from hardware and are doing more processes using cloud-based technology. 

This guide will teach you more about the benefits of cloud computing. 

The Benefits of Cloud Computing

The more you know about cloud computing, the easier it will be to implement it. By moving toward the cloud aggressively, your company will be better for it. 

These points illustrate exactly why this is a great move for you:

1. You Can Operate “Lighter” and More Seamlessly

When you’re using the cloud, you don’t have to worry about bogging down your machinery with lots of data. Instead, you will be able to get access to everything that you need by logging in online. 

This way, you don’t have to worry about running out of space on individual hard drives. You also won’t have to keep up with external hard drives and other forms of storage. 

Instead, your business will operate lighter and you’ll have the chance to streamline every process. 

2. The Software That You Use Will Be Newer, Faster, and More Responsive

Do away with the idea of buying a piece of software on a disc, installing it on an individual computer, and waiting for it to load. 

Instead, you can use Software as a Service (SaaS), which lets you always get access to the latest and most up to date platform. You won’t need to download anything onto your computer and will be able to get quicker responsiveness. 

When you’re using the newest software, you can always count on your company to be at its best and offer quality service to clients. 

3. It Lowers Your Overhead Costs

The key to any business is to minimize overhead costs and maximize profits. 

When you switch to the cloud, you’ll find that the overhead costs diminish. You won’t have to worry as much about buying hardware and connecting individual machinery, and will instead have access to every piece of data you need. 

You can use these expenses elsewhere, making your business more profitable and streamlined. 

4. You’ll Be Able to Access Your Data Remotely

Perhaps the most effective benefit of cloud computing is that you have access to the data no matter where you are. 

Imaging needing an important document while you’re on a plane and having an impromptu meeting with a potential business partner. When you have access to the cloud, your important data is always with you everywhere you go, and this grows the reach of what you can accomplish. 

5. It’s Easy to Strategically Plan and Scale Your Business

Using the cloud lets you put your business on track because you can see very matter in front of you. 

This makes it easier to scale the company and provides you an opportunity to cut out errors. It helps you to get your team on the same page as you scale. 

6. Using Cloud Computing Adds Continuity and Collaboration to Your Company

Cloud computing is amazing when it comes to collaboration. 

In a few quick seconds, you and your entire team get to communicate and share information. So many cloud-based platforms like Slack and GoToMeeting have sprung up over the years, and this has changed the way we conduct business. 

It allows entire businesses to run with several of its members working remotely. Since everyone has access to every piece of data on the cloud, you will also have continuity. This puts your brainstorming details in a single place and allows you to get ideas off the ground. 

7. Uptime Increases Exponentially

Maintaining uptime in your business is incredibly important. Your clients rely on you to be up and running, and maintaining uptime helps you communicate better internally as well. 

When you move toward the cloud, it’s a lot easier for you to keep upwards of 99.99% uptime. 

8. Embracing the Cloud Is Eco-Friendly

When you move toward the cloud, you reduce the amount of hardware that you use and paper that you waste. This alone makes cloud computing a great eco-friendly move for your business. 

Doing so helps you give back to the planet and reduce your footprint. This isn’t just a matter of goodwill, it is great PR that helps you align yourself with others that care about the environment. 

9. It’s Easier to Have Backups and You Will Secure Your Data

You don’t appreciate the importance of backups until you actually need them. When you’re locked into the cloud, you can always count on regular and consistent backups. 

This is excellent from a cybersecurity perspective as well. By keeping your data secure, you are better able to protect your intellectual property, along with private info on your employees and business contacts. 

Make sure you choose a backup service that uses high-grade encryption, so you can count on them to offer you the best security that your money can buy. 

Use Cloud Computing in Your Business

The benefits of cloud computing are immeasurable. When you use it to your advantage, you’ll get great results for your company. 

This is an area of technology that we are rapidly moving toward, so embracing it will keep your company ahead of the curve. Consider these tips so that you can begin taking steps that will help your business thrive each and every day. 

Be sure to contact us for all your IT and computing needs. 

An In-Depth Look at Cloud Computing Security

With the average data breach now costing companies around...

An In-Depth Look at Cloud Computing Security

With the average data breach now costing companies around $4 million, there are few businesses of any size that can withstand the cost. Without proper preparation, your business could go under with one minor data slippage. If you’re not prepared with cloud computing security, the convenience of cloud computing could cost more than it’s worth.

Here is everything you need to know about keeping your data safe when cloud computing.

Physical Locations Matter

While you might not think about a correlation between climate change and the security of your data, one surely exists. If your paper records were once subject to flooding, fire, or earthquakes, your servers and equipment are certainly equally fragile.

If you keep all of your data in one place, one act of god could end up deeply damaging your company. That’s why could computing has become so popular in recent years. If you have data stored on the cloud, it’s accessible from anywhere and protected against any problems that occur on your site.

If you have secure data that your customers or employees trust you with, hackers could be interested in getting ahold of it for profit. If it sits in one building, all it would take is leaving one wireless hub unsecured or for hackers to get credentials from a former employee. The most intermediate of hackers can pull off a data breach like this from a laptop connected to your system from outside in your parking lot.

If someone really wants to get in, all they have to do is find a way into your server room and start messing with your data. If they want to hook up directly to your servers, they’ll have access to your system in a matter of minutes.

While you can have safeguards in place to shut them out or shut down your system ASAP, if you don’t have backups, you’ll be stuck. Off-site storage or off-site backups protect you from this kind of breach.

Cloud Storage Uses Encryption

If you work at a small business and aren’t an expert in data, you might not know the simple encryption methods to protect your information. Without these measures in place, your data is sitting on machines waiting to be read. If you trust a cloud solution that doesn’t include encryption, you’re just sending your data to another place for it to get released to the wrong hands.

When data is encoded, there’s a special encryption key that’s meant for the owner of the data. If data gets hacked without the key, your hacker only gets a bunch of nonsense, not real information that makes any sense.

Who has access to the key really matters in this case. When the key is stored by the cloud service, it keeps those keys safe from falling into the wrong hands and tracks how often they’re used. Even if you have access to the key as the owner of the data, it’ll be protected and tracked by the company who stores your data.

Stay In Control

If you want to maintain control over your data, there are services that allow you to upload and download files. These companies use proprietary services to lend control to users while also maintaining a separate layer between potential hackers and your data. This ensures that encryption keys aren’t in the hands of users.

If you set limits to the functionality, you can eliminate the ability for the wrong people to start messing around with your files.

These services aren’t the end-all-be-all to keeping yourself safe from hacking, but they can help a lot. When you use these tools, there is always the possibility of the tools or apps getting hacked and your data could be released. When you are selecting your tool, make sure that you do your research to find a partner that use industry standards and best practices to ensure your data is safe.

Apps that say that information is encrypted from the moment it’s written are now flooding the market. These apps keep data encrypted as it’s transferred or stored in the cloud. Since the data stays connected to these apps, you can be sure that if it’s hijacked, it can’t be abused or used without your permission.

Combine the Best Features For the Most Protection

If you want to get the most out of cloud storage security, get a combination of the best features and combine your approach. Before you upload any data to the cloud, be sure that it’s encrypted. Use a piece of software on your end and keep control of the password.

When you want to get access to your file, you’ll have to download and decrypt it, but you can be sure that your data is protected.

With these extra steps, you’ll be sure that no one can take advantage of your data. However, it also limits how you can share your data and get the most out of sharing and searching with those cloud storage tools.

Cloud computing security comes with a lot of costs and benefits that need to be weighed at all times. If you want convenience, you often sacrifice some security. If you want security, you often sacrifice convenience.

Cloud Computing Security is Vital

If you’re using cloud computing, you need cloud computing security to go with it. Otherwise, you’ll lose out on the advantages that cloud computing is supposed to offer you and your business.

To have 360 degrees of security, follow our guide for securing your network.

Top 5 Cybersecurity Tips for Your Business

The cost of the average data breach has now reached nearly...

Top 5 Cybersecurity Tips for Your Business

The cost of the average data breach has now reached nearly $4 million. This means it’s now bad business to fail to run a tight ship in the realm of cybersecurity.

If you don’t follow some basic cybersecurity tips, you could be flushing profits down the drain for no good reason.

Here are five tips to abide by to keep your workplace secure and safe from hackers.

1. Control Your Passwords

One of the simplest ways to ensure that your systems and communications are secure is to have strong passwords at work. Your employees need to get trained on what makes a good password and to change them often.

If your employees use the same password for multiple things, you need to teach them how dangerous that is. Help encourage better passwords by requiring a certain number of special characters and numbers. That will make it harder for hackers to get into your system.

You also need to put a system in place that requires your employees to change their passwords every couple of months. By locking them out until they create a new password, you can force them to do so. Save old passwords so that they can’t get used again and you’ll soon see them using complex passwords for your system.

Implement two-factor authentication to make sure that your system is extra secure. The second authentication will require your employees to confirm who they are via a mobile device or another tool. You get a whole extra layer of security and make it exponentially harder for a hacker to get in.

2. Secure Your Wi-Fi

If you have a wi-fi network on site, it should be secure. Leaving it open, without any password required for access, leaves you vulnerable to hackers. Once someone logs in, all they need to do is dig for an unsecured connection to your servers to get access to everything.

Having secure wi-fi also keeps you from losing connectivity to any freeloading neighbors. A strong connection is hard to come by and if you’re sharing part of your signal to someone who has hitched a ride, it’ll slow you down.

If your wi-fi isn’t secure, someone could connect to you from your parking lot and start meddling with your system. If you can’t afford to store your server offsite or you have your employees adding information to it from offsite, you could be a sitting duck.

Make sure you’ve got a network monitor installed to ensure you know if anyone is connected who shouldn’t be.

3. Update Early and Often

One of the biggest reasons that people don’t update their computers is that they just don’t know the risks. If you have a workflow that you’ve spent time perfecting, why would you disrupt it so you can have the unknown benefits of some technical update?

The reason is that most of the updates that get pushed out by software companies have to do with security. When you see a security update and you don’t feel like you’re at risk, it’s hard to project that you might be at risk in the future.

By keeping a system that’s constantly updated, you can ensure that your site and your employees will be safe from getting hacked.

It’s a fact of life that employees do personal things on their work computers, from shopping online to posting on social media. Keep their personal information safe, as well as your company’s, by abiding by minimum cybersecurity standards and updating often.

4. Secure Your Workplace

You might think of threats as coming from online, via your wireless signal or from within your servers. But, an often overlooked security problem is the physical security of your offices. If someone can come in and have direct access to your server, they need just a few seconds to cause damage to your system.

Make sure you have secure locks that are only opened by security cards or by a passcode. Be sure that you don’t leave terminated employees with cards that still work. You should be able to clear them from your system at the push of a button.

You should also ensure that you don’t give access to anyone who doesn’t critically need it. Update your security list monthly so that no one who only needed access for a few days is permanently given access to your servers.

5. Consider Outsourcing

Most small businesses can only put a few of these items in place on their own without hiring someone full time to handle it all. However, the catch-22 is that some small businesses can’t always afford to hire someone new on a whim. It takes time to interview, train, and secure new staff.

As much of the latest growth in IT outsourcing now falls within the United States, there are now few ethical issues to outsourcing. If you can afford it, you might be able to get more bang for your buck than hiring someone full-time.

A full-time employee will cost you money in benefits, training, and insurance on top of their salary. An IT professional can cost you some serious money, so it’s important you consider all of the costs when deciding whether or not to outsource.

Cybersecurity Tips Should Be Taken Seriously

While it might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re securing your business, as more commerce moves online, this will only be more important.

By following some basic cybersecurity tips, you can make sure that you’re safe and secure and not risking profits with the sloppy management of data.

If you’re still not sure why you should be protecting your data, check out our latest guide to find out.

In-House vs Outsourced IT: Which is More Cost Effective?

While it might seem that outsourcing would mean losing...

In-House vs Outsourced IT: Which is More Cost Effective?

While it might seem that outsourcing would mean losing jobs in the US, the fastest growing region for outsourcing IT is in the United States. With the ethical concerns for outsourced IT solved, you need to face the real meat and potato issues when deciding which is more cost effective for your company. You might be surprised to find out that hiring the best people could be the best value for your business.

Here are five things to consider when considering this problem.

1. Consider Employee Costs

When you’re deciding between outsourced and in-house IT services, the first thing you’re going to think about is how much they cost. While you might consider the sticker price of managed services versus salary, there’s more to it than that.

Organizations who decide to outsource their IT services are saving more than just the cost of a salary.

You need to consider the additional costs that come with having employees on site versus when you pay to have a service provided. If you’re paying for employees, you’re paying for them on the days when they don’t feel productive. You’re paying for their sick days, their days off, and their vacation days.

You’ll also be responsible for other costs associated with them. You’ll have to provide office space, parking, and other amenities that any reasonable office worker could expect. You’ll pay for insurance, unemployment security, and for the work of your human resources staff to manage them.

You’ll also have to manage your budget against the quality of experience you want. The best workers cost you the highest wages. With outsourced IT, you get the same quality you can expect from a full-time worker with a broader skillset because of the resources their company has on hand.

2. Scale When You Need To

Every company struggles with growing pains. As a company gets bigger, so do its needs. When you’re serving more customers, you’ll need to provide the same quality of attention to detail as you grow.

This will mean that you’ll have to grow your staff to maintain that level of service. This is hard to do overnight when you’re managing a staff on-site. When you’ve outsourced your staff, all they need to do is call in some of their staff and you’ll scale up within a day.

Scaling down is also a reality for a lot of companies. When profits start to drop off, you can’t just let go of employees until things get better. The cost of training them and getting them up to speed costs you thousands that you can look forward to spending every time you need to hire new people.

With outsourced IT companies, you can change how much staff is dedicated to your project on a whim. If you expect a few lean months, you can cut a few people from your project. If you’re anticipating growth, you don’t have to train anyone new.

3. Get the Best in Security

With the average data breach now costing companies an average of nearly $4 million, there’s no way you can afford that loss, no matter how big you are. When you have dedicated IT staff working for you, you’ll have to have them constantly learning about changes to cybersecurity.

Every day, a new security breach is discovered, putting millions of users at risk. This is one of the reasons that systems need to be updated so often.

This means that you’ll have to have staff dedicated to updating your systems, learning all about new security issues, all while managing day-to-day needs. This can add up quickly and if you’re hiring, training, and managing that many people, you’ll also need staff to handle their needs.

You can’t afford to slip when it comes to cybersecurity, therefore you need to get the best of the best. In case of an emergency, a weather event, or a fire at your building, you need help getting your team back up and running again. If you have your systems and staff all on site, you could be in for trouble.

An outsourced IT staff will make sure that you’re backed up off-site and ready to refresh your system when the moment requires it.

4. Be Prepared For New Tech

In recent years, smart devices and IoT have revolutionized every single industry. The need to train and hire to fit your business to that new tech is a struggle for companies of every size.

Managed IT service providers have staff on hand solely dedicated to learning new technology and applying it for their customers. Rather than having to lose control of your systems while your staff updates or learns new skills, you can use new technology as soon as it’s applicable.

Managed IT providers hire only the best of the best. Their whole business model hinges on attracting the best talent in their area.

5. Learn From Other Companies

Because your managed IT provider works across several industries, you won’t fall into the traps that other companies in your industry might fall in to. While it might be standard to use a certain technology or a particular type of system, your managed IT provider can warn you if they’ve seen problems.

Your outsourced IT provider will have their finger on the pulse in a way that your on-site IT staff can’t. You’ll always be ahead of the curve with managed IT solutions.

Outsourced IT Can Bring You Up To Speed

If you’re struggling in a competitive market, outsourced IT will ensure that you can stay competitive. You’ll have access to the most important developments in tech while also having the staff to execute great work with these tools.

If IT tech support is your main need, check out our guide to find the best.

How to Find the Best IT Tech Support for Your Small Business

In 2017, global information technology was a...

How to Find the Best IT Tech Support for Your Small Business

In 2017, global information technology was a $4.5-trillion industry. The U.S. accounts for 31% of this. That makes the nation the world’s biggest tech market and also the biggest tech spender.

This massive IT-related spending shouldn’t come as a surprise though. For starters, the average American household alone owns about two dozen electronics. There’s also the fact that almost nine in every 10 Americans use the Internet.

The need for IT is even more important for businesses, small or big. After all, infotech has penetrated most modern business transactions.

So, what about tech support? Does your business need it?

The simple answer is that IT support can benefit all businesses, regardless of size. How much and what kind exactly – well, that depends on how big your organization is.

In this post, we’ll address all these concerns. Keep reading to learn what makes a support team the best for your business!

Determining between an In-House and an Outsourced Team

Factor in the type of business you run and the level of service you need. This’ll help you determine which one’s more practical – an in-house team or an outsourced service.

But let’s face it. Limited funding makes it difficult to add even more people to your payroll. Especially if you consider that IT specialists make an annual average of $54,926.

That said, you may be thinking to delegate IT support tasks to your current employees. You’re not alone – it’s become a common practice amongst smaller businesses.

If you do though, don’t expect the best results. In fact, what you should expect is a reduction in output and decreased productivity. After all, you’re placing more work on your people – work they may not even be fit for.

With outsourcing, you can choose the exact level of support you want to get. You can even dictate the exact services you expect them to deliver. You can also specify the number of hours you need them for, whether every week or every month.

That’s why the first step to choosing the best IT support is to figure out your business’ needs first. Create a list of IT activities you need professional help for. From here, you can better determine whether it’s best to outsource or hire an in-house tech.

A Quick Look at the Outsourced IT Support Segment

Granted, giant corporations rely on round-the-clock tech support. But did you know that many of them outsource their support staff? A 2017 report found large organizations now spend 8.7% of their IT budget on outsourcing.

That represents a 2.4% increase from the previous year’s IT outsourcing budget! But they’re not the only ones choosing this innovative support method.

Even smaller businesses now allot 7.8% (from 6.7% the previous year) of their IT budget towards outsourcing. The same goes true for midsize companies, raising their budget to 6.5% from 4.7%.

The Types and Levels of Information Tech Support

A major reason behind this growth is the extreme flexibility of such services. Some technicians work much like how pay-as-you-use services do. For instance, when you encounter technical issues, you can call them up and they’ll fix it for you.

There’s also specialized support for the most critical applications of your business. You can hire IT specialists with the sole purpose of handling disaster recovery (DR). In many cases, you can have these experts cover backup functions too.

On the other end of the spectrum is round-the-clock tech support. In this case, you have access to IT professionals 24/7. They monitor every aspect of your IT department every second, every single day.

In an ideal, financially-stable world, every business should consider 24/7 support. Unfortunately, we don’t live in one, so many businesses have budget constraints. That’s why many organizations prefer the flexibility of outsourced services.

The best tech help firm will let you dictate the specific levels of support you need. They will work with your budget and help you determine which areas you need the most help in.

Help with Moving to the Cloud

You know that moving to the cloud can save businesses loads on reduced overhead costs. How much exactly though?

To put things in perspective, the State of Wyoming saves about $2 million a year since it migrated to the cloud. Colorado also cut its expenses by $2.4 million after its email and other services went cloud-based.

These figures should already prompt you to take the same route to cloud computing. The thing is, you’d need experts to move your entire system there.

For starters, because they’re the best choice for the safest, fastest migration. Their knowledge allows them to make the move with the least risks for security issues. They’re also the safest choice to prevent potential massive data losses.

Besides, they have disaster recovery tools in the unlikely event something goes wrong.

Protection Against Security Breaches

Everyone – including individuals and smaller organizations – need to protect themselves from potential cyberattacks. That’s right – giant companies aren’t the only targets of such crimes. Data and network breaches can happen to anyone.

Consider this. We’re only in the third quarter of 2018, but 22 million sensitive records were already exposed.

What’s even worse is that a single cyberattack has led to 60% of small businesses closing up shop. We’re talking permanent closure here.

That’s why you need your IT support team to also specialize in cybersecurity. Luckily, you can outsource many of these services, including protection from the following:

  • Data breaches and theft
  • Phishing
  • Hacking
  • Malware
  • Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks
  • Advanced persistent threats (APTs)

With IT specialists on your team, you can prevent these attacks from forcing you to go out of business.

Don’t Risk Your Business and Your People – Get Tech Help Now

There’s no denying that budget plays a big role in your capability to take on a tech support team. But that shouldn’t force you to compromise many of your business’ applications. It’s far riskier (think $525,000 in cybersecurity damages) to have no IT specialist on board.

Besides, outsourcing already addresses all these cost-related worries. You can hire tech help on a project basis or only for a small monthly cost per employee. It’s all up to you and your business’ needs.

Want to further explore the world of information technology services? If so, then feel free to pay our blog a visit!

A Beginner’s Guide to Securing a Network for Your Business

Did you know that more than 5207 data breaches occurred...

A Beginner’s Guide to Securing a Network for Your Business

Did you know that more than 5207 data breaches occurred in 2017 and exposed over 7.89 billion records? Shocking, right? If you think 2017 was a nightmare for company owners and IT managers, hold on for dear life because cyber-threats loom large in 2018 and beyond.

Cisco, in its Cyber Security Report 2018, says that businesses should expect to face more self-propagating, network-based cyber-threats. If your company handles sensitive data, you’re probably wondering how you can safeguard the data from cyber-attacks. The answer is simple: Secure your business network. How can you do this? Well, follow these time-tested tips for securing a network.

Create a Cybersecurity Culture in Your Company

Start with Training

You can start by offering cybersecurity training to your employees. Proper training will ensure every employee in your company is aware of the potential threats they could face. They’ll avoid sharing passwords and using unsecured networks.

Your employees should be trained by a competent trainer with current training resources. Also, ensure the cybersecurity trainer uses real metrics that can be used to monitor employees’ behavior after the training.

Make sure Your Cybersecurity System Is Flexible and Self-improving

Did you know that more than 600 million “new” types of malware were registered in 2017? That means that more than 1.5 million new threats were released each day. These statistics suggest that hackers will continue developing new and more sophisticated malware that could be difficult to detect or prevent.

To be on the safe side, you should invest in a self-improving system or engage a reliable managed IT services provider. This will help you create a future-ready business network that can fight even the unforeseen threats.

Hide Your Service Set Identifier (SSID)

Do you have a wireless business network? If so, make sure your SSID is hidden or at least change its name. When changing your SSID name, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Don’t use your passwords as part of the SSID
  • Don’t embed your birth date or other personal information in the new SSID name
  • Don’t use tempting names like Top-secret or Click Here
  • Pick a network name that contains both letters and numbers
  • Make the new name as long as the maximum length allowed
  • Change your SSID at least once every month

You should also remember to save and confirm that the new network name is activated.

Disable File Sharing and Protect Your Portable Devices

Disable file or print sharing on all devices. You don’t need this feature on each device in your organization as it would increase vulnerabilities. If you don’t disable file and print sharing, you’ll be exposing your entire file system to everyone around you.

Employees’ laptops, cell phones, and other handled computer devices can also be used to siphon information from your network. For this reason, if there are any portable devices in your organization, they should have antispyware protection. Storing your portable devices in a secure, permanent storage fixture can also help to keep your network safe.

Low-Key Appearance

Do you run your own data center? If you do, ensure your server room doesn’t have symbols or names that reference “Data Center.” This will make it hard for malicious intruders to locate your data center. Also, try to keep the exterior of your data center as nondescript as possible. You should also ensure your server door has reliable locking systems or smart locks. It’s also essential to have strong security policies that set out who is allowed to access the data center and who’s not.

Get a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A VPN will secure your internet connection and provide privacy online. A VPN comes with a sophisticated technology that will protect your data, browsing history, communications, and sources of personal information. The virtual private network may also help your team to access business applications and services online safely.

Do your employees travel a lot or work mostly outside the office? Well, having a VPN will protect the company’s data when they’re using public Wi-Fi networks.

Track User Login Activity Is Essential When Securing a Network

Knowing when an employee logs in or off their devices or accounts will make it easy for you to pinpoint the source of a breach in case an unauthorized person compromises your network.

Tracking system activities also help you identify employees who have dangerous habits when using your business network. The tracking program you choose needs to keep track of who accesses a file, time of access, and how they used the data.

Don’t Reuse Passwords

Most business owners have one password, which they use to login to whatever account they create. Don’t make this mistake. Use different passwords. This way, if a hacker manages to gain access to the admin computer, he won’t be able to use the login credentials to access your servers or other networks.

When creating passwords, ensure they’re memorable, secure, and strong. If possible, each employee should set their accounts passwords.

Protect Your Server and Devices with an Antivirus

Protect your servers with a stable and reliable antivirus. Without an antivirus, you run the risk of having a virus spread from your files to your endpoints. It’s essential to check and ascertain that the antivirus you choose is tested and comes from a legit source.

Final Thoughts

Your smoothly-running business network could have a malware lying in the shadows, waiting for a loophole or a trigger. Take your time to test if your system is secure.

If it’s not, the tips highlighted above will help you on your journey to securing a network. Make sure you follow them to avoid hacks and data breaches.

If you have any questions or are in need of our managed IT services, you can contact us now.

Talkin’ Tech: The Best Answer to the Toughest Prospect Questions

As business professionals, we encounter sales situations...

Talkin’ Tech: The Best Answer to the Toughest Prospect Questions

As business professionals, we encounter sales situations on a daily basis that can add revenue to our business.  If you are a Sales Executive, CEO, Account Manager, or Customer Service Representative, you are probably answering questions that can put you above the competition and have an effect on closing a deal. 

Too many business professionals focus on WHAT they do, and not WHY they are in business.  Why your company is doing business is the biggest selling point to customers. Prospects don’t want to hear a laundry list of services they will receive.  They want to believe in your product and service and trust that this is the right decision that the corporation will make.  The reason why you are in business will align with what they customer wants.  Now, we all want additional revenue and margin so our why can’t be to make money.  Our why has to be deeper.  It has to come from the heart.  Here are some examples of some famous whys which was brought to light in the book, Start with Why, by Simon Sinek. 

Apple – Steve Jobs was in business to develop highly innovative products that revolutionized the marketplace and went above and beyond the status quo by thinking differently.  When he was asked to leave the company, Apple lost their why and they had to bring him back so they could refocus.

Starbucks – Howard Schultz wanted to develop the ultimate customer experience and create a “third point” between work and home where a consumer can go and spend their time in an environment that made them feel like they were in a corner café in Italy.  When he left, they lost their why and focused on revenue which pushed them over the edge and created too many stores.  He had to come back and retell their why story.

 So, here’s your task for the week, find your why. Think about why you do business and support it with what you do the next time a client asks these questions:

  • Why are you in the business?
  • Why should we choose you as our partner?
  • What makes you different from the competition?
  • What makes you better than XYZ Inc.?

Try to deliver a variation of these responses and wait for a reaction.  If you deliver it sincerely, I am sure there will be positive results.

Has your company identified its why? What did you learn in the process?   Drop me a note at rignas@itauthorities.com to share your thoughts.


Hi! I’m Ryan, Manager of Service Delivery. I’m here to answer your technology questions and help you grow and improve your business! I consult with customers like you every day, and they bring up really great questions that we see on a recurring basis. We hope that discussing these topics will give each of you a better understanding on how leveraging technology can add value to your business. I’m here to provide advice and guidance as needed. Happy Reading and thank you!

Talkin’ Tech: Four Lessons from Pulling Weeds: A Memoir

Grass grows extremely fast in the Florida summers due to...

Talkin’ Tech: Four Lessons from Pulling Weeds: A Memoir

Grass grows extremely fast in the Florida summers due to the constant sunshine mixed with spotty thunderstorms that provide just the right amount of water to feed the roots. Weeds grow even faster. I’m new to home ownership and have recently become highly OCD about the lawn. Having a nice lawn can show and tell a lot about a person and their families. I find it important to keep the yard clean, green, and weed free. I’ll tell you what though, weeds down here are a real terror. I recently spread fertilizer around my yard not knowing that it wasn’t the “weed eliminator” kind. What a waste! The struggle is real and constant. After dinner, I go out and pull weeds in the back lawn for a half hour or so, trying to get them from the roots (and often failing). I came to a few realizations in business that can easily relate to pulling weeds, their growth patterns, and their behavior.

  1. Pulling out the root-  We were all taught as little kids that you need to pull the weed from the root. If not, the weed will grow back and possibly be even bigger and stronger. You can relate this to any problem that you come across in business. If you encounter a challenge or problem, you need to find the source of the problem and act accordingly. You can’t put a band-aid on it, or pull off the leaves. You can’t ignore it, or the weed will continue to grow. You have to ask yourself a series of questions and investigate the issue to find the “Root Cause.” I knew they called it that for a reason! 

  2. Weeds tend to hang out with other weeds Have you ever been on a team where there were a small number of “problem children” that would disagree with the rest of the group? Negative people like to hang around with negative people. Once they start spewing the negativity, they are likely to pull in other people to their way of thinking. The weeds spread and start to take over the green grass. If you keep letting it go, weeds can become rampant in your lawn. Negative people in the company can become the norm. The best way to handle this is to pick the weed right in the beginning and then put in the preventative measures to ensure they do not grow again. Let the first negative person go and ensure that the HR process on the front end aligns with your company and culture, ultimately striving to hire a “perfect fit.” 

  3. Pulling weeds in a never-ending process – There will always be weeds in the end. We live in Florida. There is no such thing as the perfect lawn. It is a constant struggle to find the right people in business. There will always be negative people on the team, but you always want to be addressing those people to try and help them. HR departments and management teams need to always keep watch over the lawn, ensuring that when the opportunity to replace a weed for a comparable, positive selection, they are ready to act swiftly. 

  4. It is hard work – By the end of pulling weeds, both my hands and my back hurt (bend with the knees, not the back Ryan). It’s not a pleasant job. I really had to get in there on all fours and scour the grass searching for my next victim. Replacing negative team members, or letting anyone go for that matter, is not an easy task. It takes a level of professionalism and experience to handle the situation gracefully. However, it is an extremely important and necessary job function in order to maintain a rewarding team culture. Pulling weeds might leave you with some bumps, bruises, and dirt under the fingernails, but it is worth the smooth looking lawn in the end.

Who would have thought an after dinner, weed-pulling session would turn into a rewarding experience. I am going to make this a daily event.

Who am I kidding? I am a “millennial.” Instant gratification. Where’s the Roundup?


Hi! I’m Ryan, Manager of Service Delivery. I’m here to answer your technology questions and help you grow and improve your business! I consult with customers like you every day, and they bring up really great questions that we see on a recurring basis. We hope that discussing these topics will give each of you a better understanding on how leveraging technology can add value to your business. I’m here to provide advice and guidance as needed. Happy Reading and thank you!

Talkin’ Tech: Breaking Down The Cloud””

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear about...

Talkin’ Tech: Breaking Down The Cloud””

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear about “the cloud”? Often times, people get creeped out. They get nervous. They get shaky. But like most things in IT, it is an extremely complex term used to describe something simple, and we are here to simplify the “cloud.” We’re not talking about nimbus, cumulus, or stratus types of clouds. It’s merely referring to servers or machines residing at other locations where applications and data reside. For example, Microsoft has multiple data centers with rows and rows of servers, like a modern-day corn maze. These server clusters are allocated for their customers, and they can spin up servers on demand in order for you to utilize processing power over the internet without having to purchase hardware, software, or the Geek Squad.

So… K-I-S-S…

One of the most overused acronyms in business is back. The cloud is other people’s servers. For example, the majority of popular business applications are pivoting their offerings to SaaS-based: software as a service. Those applications are running in the cloud, IE they are running on servers in other locations like a back closet of a one-person company (hint, that’s not the one you want). Be sure to ask THAT question! Regardless, they are accessible over the internet and don’t require you to stand up a physical server onsite.

Hopefully, this helps remove some of the mystery around the cloud. The buzz around the word has somewhat faded as business owners start to get an understanding of the concept, and more businesses are adapting to the thought of utilizing the service. Remember, it’s NOT a cloud so please don’t point in the air when describing it to your brother in law. “THE CLOUD.” Your data isn’t just dissipating into thin air. Most commonly, the data resides on a server in a data center, and it gets to you via the internet!

How does your company take advantage of cloud computing?   Drop me a note at rignas@itauthorities.com to share your thoughts.

 


Hi! I’m Ryan, Manager of Service Delivery. I’m here to answer your technology questions and help you grow and improve your business! I consult with customers like you every day, and they bring up really great questions that we see on a recurring basis. We hope that discussing these topics will give each of you a better understanding on how leveraging technology can add value to your business. I’m here to provide advice and guidance as needed. Happy Reading and thank you!

Why you Need Business Security to Protect your Data in 2018

Running a business is no easy feat. It seems as though there is...

Why you Need Business Security to Protect your Data in 2018

Running a business is no easy feat. It seems as though there is always something for you to take care of. Even when business is thriving, though, everything can come crashing down if you don’t take proper security measures.

In the modern world of technology and information, we have to be aware of the danger of storing data digitally. Perhaps you store sensitive data about your customers. Maybe you only have information regarding your business’s accounts and operations.

Either way, you are likely storing data that can be used in a malicious way against you or your customers. It’s important to take these cyber security issues into consideration. You and your customers deserve the peace of mind that comes from a secure network.

Sometimes, though, you need to outsource those protection measures. Read the rest of this article to learn exactly why you should properly invest in business security measures.

Your Data is More Valuable Than You Might Realize

As mentioned above, you might be holding sensitive information about your customers. If you want to maintain a positive reputation, it’s important to make sure malicious cybersecurity threats don’t get ahold of that data. A security breach could label your business as unprofessional or insecure.

You might be thinking that investing in business security measures for your data is not worth the money. This, though, would be a mistake. Protecting your data is a crucial part of running a successful business in the modern Digital Age.

Consider what would happen if your business does become the victim of a cybersecurity attack. How much would it cost for you to recover such damages? Remember our last post that said the damages could cost you well over $500M?

Every Single Business Is At Risk

No one likes to consider their business as a victim of malicious intentions. Every business owner prefers the idea that no one would ever target them or their employees.

This, though, is not the safest route to take. When it comes to business security measures, information technology should be at the forefront of your concerns for protection.

You are not exclusive from cybersecurity threats, as much as you would like to think that you are. Don’t get left behind just because you refused to take proper business security measures. Your business’s data and information are crucial for you to protect if you want to maintain a healthy reputation in your industry.

Consider this statistic about cybersecurity threats. Around 54% of companies are the victims of cybersecurity attacks as of January 2018. Don’t count yourself as one of the lucky ones until you invest in sturdy, worthwhile business cybersecurity measures.

There Are Many Types of Cybersecurity Threats

Some cybersecurity attacks come in the form of ransomware, which is a popular malicious threat. Ransomware is usually disguised as a friendly E-mail or message to a common employee.

Once an employee clicks the link in one of these messages, the entire network shuts down. In other words, your network system is held “ransom” until a certain amount of money is paid to the source of the threat.

Another cybersecurity threat takes the form of phishing. Phishing also presents a friendly software program or message.

It seeks to gather sensitive information from an innocent user. Sometimes it’s disguised as a family member or friend in trouble. Users enter sensitive information that is then used to steal assets.

Cybersecurity threats like these happen all the time. You want to make sure your network system has every single safeguard available to prevent such accidents on the behalf of your employees.

Keep Your Employees in the Loop

You can prepare your employees to recognize such attacks mentioned above. The only way to prevent your employees from blindly providing sensitive information or clicking on dangerous links is by educating them.

You should hold educational tutorials on the cybersecurity threats they should watch out for. The more you inform them about the dangers of digital information threats, the better of everyone will be. The goal is for them to be able to recognize and avoid the threats that commonly affect businesses like yours.

Make Sure You Work With a Provider That Has a Solid Security Offering

Remember that no one is completely safe from cybersecurity attacks. All we can do is prepare our information systems as much as possible.

As a business owner, you know how important it is to maintain a credible reputation throughout your customer base. That means you prioritize business security by any means necessary. If that means you hire an IT service provider, so be it.

The important thing to remember is to look for IT service providers who are truly worth your investment. There are certain traits of an IT service provider that you should look for.

For example, high-quality service providers would have an available support staff to ensure your problems get solved. Then, you can communicate with them about your fears regarding your business’s data.

Finding IT Services

We know how important it is to take your business’s data security seriously. We are here to help you every step of the way. Remember that such an investment in IT services will always be worth your time and money.

You don’t have to be the victim of a cybersecurity attack to realize the significance of a secure information system. It’s crucial for any successful business, which is why we make our managed IT services available. Check out our IT support services to get started on ensuring your business security is completely safe from cybersecurity threats.

3 Tips to Dodge $525k in Cybersecurity Damages

Trust. It’s a word that will define the use of engagement with...

3 Tips to Dodge $525k in Cybersecurity Damages

Trust. It’s a word that will define the use of engagement with both technology platforms and companies big and small from 2018 onward. No matter the size of your organization, companies are finding themselves center-stage in embarrassingly public or financially depleting data breaches and cyber-attacks. And in the worst of cases, both.

Business Insider recently released a report outlining major consumer brands who had faced significant hacks over the last 12 months. The reality of their report is that millions of shoppers and consumers like you and me have had profoundly personal and private information potentially exposed to those who shouldn’t have access to that data. In some cases, impact is minimal, in others, it results in significant personal loss and costly legal action due to identity theft that can take years to resolve. My suspicion though is that the long-term negative effects of a data breach that take place today will be felt years down the road as hackers and data thieves become more skilled at using compromised data quickly and with specific purpose.

So where does this leave you as a business owner or as the trusted steward of your organization’s data? The reality is that it leaves you in a difficult, but defensible position if and only if the right precautions are in place, adhered to and taken seriously across the organization.

Per Webroot’s 2018 Annual Security Survey the average estimated cybersecurity attack costs small and mid-sized businesses over $525,000 per instance.

Regardless of whether or not an unexpected bill like that would put you out of business, the negative impact to brand perception, your customer base and internal slow-downs are in many ways avoidable.

The right cybersecurity approach is one that takes a holistic view of your organization and focuses on three specific areas.

  1. A premium must be put on building out and maintaining policies and procedures that are clearly documented, organized and shared cross-organizationally.

  2. Proper training for your internal employees is a must. One of the most common ways for hackers to get inside the four walls of your organization is via phishing emails. These emails come across many times as less than obvious attempts to steal your data and in most cases look like they are coming from “known” senders with requests not overly out of the ordinary. Training your team to spot and avoid these emails is key to ensuring your corporate account isn’t depleted after sending money to a rogue bank account.

  3. Pro-active monitoring of your systems via integration between both a Security Operations Center and a Network Operations Center. This powerful duo can proactively monitor all of your systems and applications and then make intelligent decisions on who and what is “normal” behavior and what instead needs to be addressed before it’s too late.

IT Authorities is committed to helping organizations protect both their reputation and pocketbooks by providing industry-leading cybersecurity support for clients of all sizes. While companies are often unique in how they go to market and differentiate themselves competitively, one thing remains true; in 2018, every organization needs a comprehensive strategy and partner to combat the ongoing and increasing threat of cyber-attacks. We are here to help, advise and partner with you. Please reach out with questions or if you would like to engage in a complimentary cybersecurity consultation. Stay secure out there!

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