4 Steps to Disaster Recovery

In the wake of COVID-19 – an unprecedented situation – businesses have begun to realize the importance of planning for the unpredicted. A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is the best place to start because it ensures you’ll have access to everything you need to continue to conduct business in the event that something happens. But where do you begin, and what do you need to do to get started? We’ve pulled together four necessary steps to disaster recovery. Read on to learn more.

Protecting your business starts with a plan. We’ll help you develop yours – contact us today.

Plan for Any Scenario

Disasters come in many forms – human error, fires, floods, hacking attacks and more. Each one is very different. The impact of a deleted file versus a cybercriminal holding your data for ransom are two totally different outcomes – but you have to be prepared for both. Your disaster recovery plan should cover every possible scenario that could impact your business along with the best way to react and respond to those disasters.

Get the Right People in the Right Place

Who will your employees look to when a disaster happens? Who will jump into action to implement your DRP? Who will communicate with your customers and investors of the situation? These are the people who will ensure your DRP goes off without a hitch and ensure execution of every aspect of the plan. Once you know who these people are, make sure to include them in creating the DRP. This way, they’ll fully understand their role and what’s expected of them during what can be a very hectic time.

Test and Update Your Plan Regularly

Testing your disaster recovery plan doesn’t only give you confidence that it’ll work, but it will also help you find any weaknesses or gaps that could potentially pop up. With this information, you’ll be able to equip your business – and your people – better if a disaster impacts your business. Plus, understanding all possibilities and knowing you have your bases covered for any scenario will give you the ultimate peace of mind.

Keep Your Plan Safe and Available

Your disaster recovery plan isn’t just something your business talks about – it should be formally documented. We highly recommend having a physical copy in case something ever happens to your servers, and you’re unable to access the document. Also, the last thing you would want is having your people search around the business premises for your plan, so make sure you keep a copy in a safe but accessible location.

A thorough disaster recovery plan covers all aspects of your business, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, please know that we’re here to help. We can help you with everything from conception to deployment and monitoring to stepping into action when an unexpected event occurs. Contact us – we’re here for you.

Four Data Backup Strategies to Use During the COVID-19 Crisis

In times like these, you have enough to worry about in the real world—so it’s understandable if you have not been giving much thought to whether your organization has the proper data backup protocols in place. Businesses need to continually refine the ways they store and back up data, and now is the perfect time to do it. With daily operations interrupted in a way we’ve never seen before, you need to know how to keep your organization’s data and devices protected while your workforce goes remote. Even if you think your company has a solid plan, reviewing some simple data backup essentials now can help you avoid losing critical information both during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

Don’t face the task of backing up your data alone. Contact us today.

1. Start Backing Up Everything Now

These days, it can feel like you’ve lost out on a lot of things you usually enjoy, from chatting with colleagues at work to seeing friends on the weekends. When you do have free time, the last thing you want to do is sit around thinking about how to back up critical business files. Yet there’s no worse feeling than realizing—too late, of course—that a backup system you thought you had in place had failed and was not storing and updating your valuable data remotely after all. The only thing more terrible than losing data right now would be losing the time it takes to retrieve it. Restoring your good reputation could be even harder. Why risk it? Back up everything to the cloud now if you haven’t already.

2. Review Your Default Automatic Backup Settings

If we were to have a quick chat about your automatic data backup settings, would you be able to talk specifics without much hesitation—or would you be feeling a little embarrassed that you hadn’t conducted a more thorough investigation and set things up properly? Fortunately, adjusting the default settings for off-site and remote data backups is an easy way to guarantee that your automatic data backups are running in the background as often as they need to be.

3. Protect Sensitive Information

In addition to worrying about the health of your employees and their financial well-being, you’re now tasked with an additional set of concerns when it comes to managing a remote workforce: Keeping data secure even in the event of a loss or theft. With so many people working from home, backing up your data the right way has never been more important. It’s not enough to make sure everything is stored off-site or in the cloud. It’s time to make sure you’re working with state-of-the-art encryption programs that will keep your sensitive information safe from prying eyes.

4. Prevent Data Loss in the Future

Being able to operate virtually is vital during times like these, but when your employees are working from home, they might start using additional devices to get things done. The internet might go down while they are in the middle of a big project—and if it has been long enough since everything was saved, some critical work could be lost, resulting in significant downtime for your business. Anticipate future problems by upgrading your data backup strategies now.

Conducting business during COVID-19 presents unique challenges that you and your colleagues might not have anticipated. If you have doubts about the security and reliability of your current data backup system, it’s time to bring in the experts. As a managed services provider, we can help you back up your data and prevent it from being lost—or even worse—from getting into the wrong hands. Contact us today to learn about our essential data backup solutions.

4 Lessons Learned from COVID-19

COVID-19 has shaken up our normal and has quickly changed the business landscape. While this year has been filled with a lot of feelings of uncertainty, people are learning how to adapt and shift what a “normal” workday looks like. If you’re still struggling with the day-to-day aspects of business, we suggest you read on to learn four lessons companies can take away from the COVID-19 situation.

 

Keep a People-First Mentality

During times like a pandemic, you need to remember that at the end of the day, people matter the most. This not only includes your customers, but also the people who work with you – and for you – every day. Think about what you can do to ensure their safety. In terms of COVID-19, many businesses are transitioning their workforce to working from home. But to do so, you need to make sure your staff has the resources they need to continue to function without leaving security gaps. You need to make sure you have the tools, capacity and security measures in place to support your entire workforce.

 

Decide Who is in Charge of What

A business continuity plan gives you the ability to jump into action immediately. But to do so, you need to have the right people in the right places. You’re essentially building a team of people who has a plan, communicates with the employees and customers, makes sure everyone has what they need, and puts the rest of the staff at ease knowing that everything is under control. It’s essential to have a least one point person with support by senior leadership to help calm any uncertainties and misinformation. Also, keep in mind the necessary need for backup personnel if there are ever any changes.

 

Maintain a Clear Line of Communication

A crisis impacts everyone, and they’re all affected in different ways. You need to get your message in front of your team before they turn to panic. People are comforted by clear communication with consistent updates – this includes communicating with your staff and your customers. Let them know you have everything under control, what you’re doing and what they can expect in the upcoming days and weeks.

 

Identify Key Business Operations

The goal of a business continuity plan is to keep your business going. So you need to identify exactly what “it” is, and make sure “it” is working. By assessing your business process, you’ll be able to pinpoint critical business operations, understand your vulnerabilities and have a full understanding of how long your business can be offline before it drastically impacts your bottom line. A good place to start is to identify your high-value assets, functions and customer relationships.

A bonus lesson we’ve learned from COVID-19 is that you simply can’t do it alone. The silver lining of this pandemic is that we saw people coming together to support each other and lend a helping hand whenever they can. As an expert managed services provider, we’d like to lend our helping hand to you, too. Contact us today to learn about our business continuity services and find peace of mind.

Protect Yourself with Digital Risk Management

We know that you have a lot on your plate. From managing employees to keeping up with the latest trends, worrying about hackers infiltrating your business may be the last thing on your mind. According to IBM, the average cost of a data breach is 3.9 million dollars, so although it may not seem like a top priority, having a plan in place can make a difference in the survival of your business.

Stop worrying and start growing.

 

What Is Digital Risk Management?

Digital risk management is the combination of running your organization while having a constant eye on the current and future risks your business might face. Digital risk management is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Working with us means having someone in your corner to help you decide how much you can spend, what risks are relevant to your business and what compliance regulations you should consider. With the right support from your MSP, you’ll guarantee the best protection for your business.

What Are Some Threats You May Face?

Between disgruntled former employees, ransomware threats, cybercriminals and general human error, it can seem like the deck is stacked against you. With the constant evolution of technology, comes the continuous evolution of cyberattacks, but don’t start panicking just yet. By implementing early warning strategies, trained personnel and an attack-ready plan can take the weight off you and your partner’s shoulders.

Is the Protection Worth the Cost?

We understand that making a profit is at the top of your priorities. But how will you bring in a profit if your infrastructure has been infiltrated? How will your partners trust you if all their information has been hacked because your employee opened a phishing email? How much money can you afford to pay in a ransomware attack? Finding a digital risk management plan that doesn’t break the bank is not inconceivable. An MSP will work with you to make sure that your plan fits your unique business, what will work best considering your price point and what each alteration to the plan will mean to your company.

Never Fear, Here’s How We Can Help.

As the owner of a company, running and protecting your business can seem like a daunting task. Let us share your load. By hiring an MSP to tackle your digital risk management, you can worry less about uniformed employees opening spam emails and more on bringing in a profit. There is no time like the present, so contact us today to get started on creating your worry-free plan.

You’re Facing a Cyberattack; Now What?

In today’s digital business world, hackers are after your most precious asset—your data. Companies, especially small businesses, need to stay vigilant to keep their network secure. According to MSNBC, small businesses make up 43 percent of online attack victims, and only 14 percent are prepared to defend themselves from these threats. It’s a big job, but with the help of a business partner—like your technology solutions provider (TSP)—you can ride the waves of a cyberattack and recover faster.

Partnering with a TSP provides someone to guide you during a crisis. Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways that you and your TSP can minimize the damage following a cyberattack.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to protect your business.

 

1. Get the Word Out

Ransomware and other cyber threats can spread quickly, so don’t waste any time letting stakeholders know you’ve been attacked. Tell your employees about the attack and share the steps they need to take.

Also, keep in mind that you may need to tell the authorities and customers with compromised data about the attack. Most states and U.S. territories have laws in place that require companies to send data breach notifications to consumers when their personally identifiable information may be compromised. The worst thing you can do is try to sweep your data breach under the rug because this may cause irreparable harm to your company’s reputation.

2. Isolate the Infection

As you’re letting the key stakeholders within your company know about the attack, you should move quickly to stop the spread of the breach. To do this, you need to remove all infected computers from the network as soon the compromised machines are identified. However, before you start unplugging computers, please consult your IT specialist.

3. Determine What Was Stolen

This step is sometimes overlooked in the commotion of the initial news of the attack, but it’s a critical step. Knowing what was stolen will determine the priority of which things need to get fixed first and what steps need to be taken. The process for handling a hack may be different for compromised emails versus compromised bank account numbers.

4. Invest in New Security Solutions

Once the attack has ended and the damage contained, it’s time to start rebuilding. To do this, you’ll need to replace the failed security software and hardware with a new, up-to-date solution. In addition to software, make sure to deploy new protocols and training to strengthen your company’s security.

How We Can Help

Hopefully, you’ll never have to experience an attack that requires you to do the steps listed above. One of the easiest ways to prevent the fallout of an attack is by improving your cybersecurity before an incident occurs. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Let us protect your business. Our team of cybersecurity professionals can run vulnerability audits and fortify any weaknesses in your network before hackers can exploit them.

Protect Your Most Valuable Asset

Partner up with us, and we’ll secure your network from the unknown. Let’s Connect

4 Tips for Protecting Your Business from Ransomware Attacks

In today’s always-online business world, your company’s most precious resource is data. Your internal data and the personal information of your customers are vital components to the prosperity of your business. Unfortunately, cybercriminals also know this.

Today’s criminals aren’t breaking in through the window to steal your data. They’re using malicious software, known as malware, to hack into your network. Once inside, they’ll lock down your data and demand you pay a large sum of money to get it back. This cybercrime is known as ransomware, and it’s on the rise.

According to Malwarebytes, the number of ransomware variations has grown more than 700 percent since 2016. These variations make ransomware a difficult threat to prevent. However, there are ways you can avoid a cyberattack.

Cybersecurity Tips to Do Immediately
There are simple things you can do to make it harder for hackers to break into your network. Below are four ways to keep your IT safe from a digital disaster:

  1. Conduct Regular Vulnerability Scans – By conducting IT risk assessments periodically throughout the year, your business can identify any holes or weaknesses in your security before hackers can breakin.  
  2. Install the Latest Updates – It can be easy to hit the “ignore” button on your computer’s latest software update, but you need to be clicking “download.” Hackers exploit weaknesses in the security of outdated programs, leaving you open to attacks.
  3. Restrict User Access – Ask yourself, does every employee need access to your entire network? If the answer is “no,” then limit how much your employees can access. This practice will help your overall network security.  
  4. Educate Your Staff – All it takes is for an employee to click the wrong link or download a bad attachment for a cybercriminal to gain access to your network. Prevent hackers from getting in by teaching your team the tricks criminals use. 

How We Can Help 

If you’re a small or medium-sized business, it’s easy to put off maintaining your IT when you have so many other things to worry about. However, that kind of thinking is what hackers expect. Don’t leave the digital backdoor open for a data disaster; let us protect your data for you. Our team of technology experts can fortify your security, run vulnerability audits and teach your staff cybersecurity best practices. You don’t have to fight the threat of ransomware alone. Contact us today to find out how we can help protect your business. 

6 Tech Trends to Watch in 2020

There’s only one constant in the world of technology — change.   

Last year, we saw the cloud reign supreme as businesses big and small migrated to it to power their technology needs. So, what can you expect heading into the new year? Stay current by keeping an eye on these six emerging tech trends in 2020.  

  1. Hacking Tactics Will Escalate 

The IT industry has spent a lot of time and resources on improving data security over the last couple of years, but that doesn’t mean progress can stop. Data will continue to be a precious commodity going forward, and hackers will keep upping their game to beat current security standards. Ransomware is a popular tool for cybercriminals. According to Statista, there were 204 million ransomware attacks around the world in 2018. That’s why it’s essential to stay current with the latest security offerings.   

  1. AI as a Service   

Companies are looking for ways to use artificial intelligence (AI) to improve customer experience and business functions. One way to bring AI to the everyman is to combine it with the software as a service model. Google, Amazon, Microsoft and other major players already offer machine-learning solutions, so it’s not much of a stretch to expect that AI tasks will be provided on a subscription model soon.   

  1. 5G Data Networks

The race to 5G has popped in and out of the news over the last year, so we will start to see more implementations in 2020. 5G will offer faster internet speeds over cell phone networks, increasing connectivity and support. Plus, this may make it easier to operate drones and autonomous vehicles.   

  1. BYOD Security Improvements

As mobile devices continue offering comparable features to their desktop computer counterparts, the expectation to do everything from one device will rise. That means employees’ smartphones will need to have access to key company functions and have the security to protect business data. Expect to see more robust security features coming to the bring your own device (BYOD) model in 2020.   

  1. XaaS (Everything as a Service)

With the proliferation of the cloud, the tech industry is moving closer and closer to going all-in on the subscription model. Hewett Packard announced it plans to offer its entire portfolio as a service by 2022. Next year may be the start of XaaS (everything as a service) becoming the new normal in the tech industry.   

  1. Sunsetting Popular Windows Products

Some of Microsoft’s older products are about to ride off into the sunset. Word spread throughout the year that the tech giant is planning to end support for many popular products starting in January 2020. Some of the most notable products and services include Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008. If you or someone you know is still using programs approaching end of life, then they’re opening themselves up to threats. These services will no longer receive updates, and hackers can exploit weaknesses. You can find the full list of products that will be phased out in 2020. 

How We Can Help  

As technology trends come and go, one thing is for sure — we’ll be ready for whatever comes. Our experienced staff of IT professionals is up to date on emerging tech so they can find ways to make your business more productive and efficient. Don’t lag behind the times. Contact us today, so your business is ready for the future. 

Give Your Business the Gift of Cybersecurity

Give Your Business the Gift of Cybersecurity 

The holiday season is approaching, so now is the time to start getting your shopping list ready. While it’s important to show your appreciation to your loved ones, it’s also a great time to think about what you can get your business.  

You can always treat your business by upgrading to the latest tech, but maybe you can get something a little more valuable – peace of mindTo do that, you need to think about how you can improve your cybersecurity. 

Why Cybersecurity?  

The world is changing. As more of your core business functions are done with technology, this means cybersecurity should be top of mind when thinking about ways to protect your business. Cyberattacks cost U.S. businesses $654 billion in 2018, according to Tech.Co, and big corporations are not the only ones who need to be concerned. Small businesses are also prime targets for hackers, making up 43 percent of breach victims, according to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Instigations Report.  

What Threats Are Out There?  

Viruses and malicious software come in many forms, so you must stay vigilant to keep your business safe. In recent years, phishing attacks and ransomware have emerged as prominent tools hackers use against companies. Phishing attacks occur when an unsuspecting victim clicks a link or opens a suspicious attachment containing malware. Once in your system, hackers will install ransomware onto your server, blocking access to your data in exchange for money. According to Small Business Trends, one in 99 emails is a phishing attack. Even if you pay, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your money back as fewer than a quarter of ransomware victims get their data back, according to the Hartford Courant. 

What Can I Get for My Business?  

Now that you know what you’re up against, what kind of gifts should you get for your businessHere are some ways you can protect yourself from cyber threats:    

Employee Security Training – One of the easiest ways to prevent a phishing attack is to recognize the signs. Invest in employee cybersecurity training so your staff can browse the web and answer emails with confidence.   

Two-Factor Authentication – It’s a lot harder for a hacker to have access to both a business password and your employee’s smartphone. Two-factor authentication sends a security code to the correct employee’s phone when they try entering into a secure program.  

Cloud Technology  Cloud services are gaining popularity with businesses of all sizes because of its flexibility. If a company laptop or smartphone is stolen, you’ll still have access to your data because it’s stored in the cloud.  

How Can We Help 

This holiday season, give yourself the greatest gift of all – protection against the unknown. Don’t go into the new year with fears about the quality of your network security. Contact us today, so our team of cybersecurity experts can run a security assessment and find the best way to protect your business.  

You Can’t Afford to Ignore Security Breaches – Here’s Why

cybersecurity

It’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and what better time to educate yourself about data breaches? There were 1,244 breaches reported in 2018 alone, and small and mid-size businesses are just as much at risk as big-name companies. Unfortunately, plenty of businesses are content to ignore security breaches – but you really can’t afford to.

Here’s what you need to know about data breaches, and how to protect yourself:

The Numbers on Data Breaches

Are data breaches really that big of a threat? The numbers speak for themselves. The average data breach costs US companies $7.91 million. Part of the reason for the huge cost is that data breaches can be difficult to detect if you’re not looking for them; in fact, companies take an average of 190 days or more to identify a data breach. Think about the amount of damage hackers can inflict on your business in that time. 

Think this is just a mega-corporation issue? Small and mid-size companies aren’t immune. Small businesses account for 58 percent of data breach victims, and they often lack the resources of an enterprise company to combat an attack. Every company, no matter how big or small, needs to take the danger of data breaches seriously.  

Why Are You a Target?

You may think you have nothing of value, but think about the data you store every day:

  • Employees’ birthdates, Social Security numbers and other personal information
  • Client names, email addresses and phone numbers
  • Banking information, including account and routing numbers
  • Credit card numbers

All of this data is valuable to cybercriminals, and you need to store it to conduct your business. But with that data comes the responsibility to protect it properly. 

Why Businesses Ignore Breaches

If breaches are so common and have such significant consequences, why do so many businesses completely ignore them? There are a couple of reasons for this. 

One is the lack of an immediate financial impact. Even when a business owner realizes that data is missing, money hasn’t always been directly stolen from the company. Businesses without a defined response strategy may not think they have the time or resources to react, so the problem falls below other priorities and is ultimately overlooked. Some companies may even ignore a data breach due to fear of backlash or confusion about their responsibility to notify customers.

The Danger of Ignoring Breaches

Of course, ignoring issues doesn’t make them go away. In fact, the dangers of ignoring a data breach are immense. Some of the consequences of a breach are:

Lost business. By giving you their personal information, consumers are implicitly expressing trust in your business. If you betray that trust by failing to take every precaution, it can be extremely hard to win back.

Stolen or lost records. A data breach can result in lost or stolen data, or your employees could be completely blocked from accessing data, as in the case of a ransomware attack. Any of these outcomes means major costs, both in downtime and recovering or replacing any lost data.

Noncompliance and legal action. Failing to meet the data privacy standards in your industry can result in steep noncompliance fines. Customers whose data was exposed in a breach may also pursue legal action against your company, especially if you failed to notify them in a timely manner.

How We Can Help

Data breaches can be scary, but they don’t have to be inevitable. We protect your business with a comprehensive suite of security solutions to block or contain even sophisticated cyberattacks. Plus, we educate you and your employees on ways to minimize the chances of a breach. Contact us today to start defending your data.

Are You Ready for Microsoft’s 2020 End of Support?

microsoft ending support

Microsoft® support might not be something you think about every day. The list of Microsoft products you rely on is likely longer than you realize, but they’re just a part of your work and not something you – hopefully – spend much time worrying about.

In fact, it has probably been a while since you purchased those Office and Windows solutions, and you might not have realized that the established support lifecycle for Microsoft software has been steadily making the switch to an as-a-service model.

And now you’re hearing that 2020 is bringing with it an End of Support for a long list of Microsoft products and solutions. Maybe you’ve even been ignoring some consistent nagging from Microsoft about it. As much as you might like to, these changes aren’t something you – or your business – can afford to ignore. Let’s take a look at what 2020’s End of Support will mean for anyone in your company who is using a Microsoft solution on the list.

  • No More Support: You’ve probably gathered this from “End of Support,” but what this means for you is that calling the Microsoft help desk after the 2020 cutoff date won’t yield the results you might hope. You’ll be told these solutions are no longer supported and sent on your way.
  • Security Risks: Considering just keeping those outdated solutions running? Be aware that it’s more than just the help desk you’ll be losing out on. As Microsoft support ends, so will the regular patching, upgrades and compliance assistance you get when Microsoft rolls out fixes.
  • Buggy User Experiences: Offices that continue running these outdated solutions can expect to see ongoing issues with the user experience as patches and updates are no longer applied, which will lead to a seriously frustrating workday for your team.

What do you need to do to avoid the headaches? To state a complex problem simply, make sure your office is ready to update to newer versions of these Microsoft solutions prior to their End-of-Support date, and have a dedicated resource who can track current and future lifecycle dates to make sure you aren’t caught off-guard.

Running a business means you’re conservative about upgrades, and the old model of extended lifecycles has let you maintain that conservative approach. But change is coming, and your business shouldn’t have to suffer for it.

How We Can Help

Sound daunting? It can be, but the Microsoft 2020 End of Support doesn’t have to mean a crisis for your business. Whether you need to update your software, keep your operating systems on schedule or make sure your patching and security are proactively handled, we can help. Contact us today to talk through what we can do to support your business.