Blog

February 9th, 2016

2016Feb9_Security_AMost business owners have an employee handbook. But when it comes to the online security of their business, often times this portion is either not adequately addressed, or not addressed at all. However, with cyber crimes an ever increasing threat, and the fact that employee error is one of the most common causes of a security breach, it is incredibly vital that your staff is informed of your policies. Here are four policies that every business owner should share with their employees.

Internet

In today’s business world, employees spend a lot of time on the Internet. To ensure they’re not putting your business at risk, you need a clear set of web policies. Here are three important ones to keep in mind:
  1. Employees should be using the Internet for business purposes only. While this is undoubtedly hard to avoid without blocking specific websites, having a policy in place should at least cut back on employees spending time on non-business related sites.
  2. Prohibit unauthorized downloads. This includes everything from music to games, and even data or applications.
  3. Accessing personal email should not be done on business devices. If employees must access their own email account during the day, they can do so on their smartphone or other personal device.
These are just a few Internet policies to get started, but you should also consider including information on your recommended browsing practices and your policies for using business devices (such as company phones) on public wifi.

Email

Just like with the Internet policy mentioned above, company email accounts should only be utilized for business use. That means your employees should never use it to send personal files, forward links or perform any type of business-related activities outside of their specific job role. Additionally, consider implementing a standard email signature for all employees. This not only creates brand cohesion on all outgoing emails, but also makes it easy to identify messages from other employees, and hence helps prevents spear phishing.

Passwords

We’ve all heard the importance of a strong password time and time again. And this same principle should also apply to your employees. The reason is rather simple. Many employees will create the easiest to crack passwords for their business accounts. After all, if your organization gets hacked, it’s not their money or business at stake. So to encourage employees to create strong passwords, your policy should instruct them to include special characters, uppercase and lowercase letters, and numbers in their passwords.

Data

Whether or not you allow your employees to conduct work on their own device, such as a smartphone or tablet, it is important to have a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. If your employees aren’t aware of your stance on BYOD, some are sure to assume they can conduct work related tasks on their personal laptop or tablet. So have a BYOD policy and put it in the employee handbook. In addition to this, make sure to explain that data on any workstation is business property. That means employees aren’t allowed to remove or copy it without your authorization.

We hope these four policies have shed some light on best security practices. If you’d like more tips or are interested in a security audit of your business, do get in touch.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic security
February 5th, 2016

2016_Feb4_Browsers_AWith over 1 billion worldwide users and a market share of over 50%, it is not a stretch to say that Google Chrome is one of the best and most popular browsers available in the market. Its speed far outstrips that of most other browsers. But despite being the fastest web browser, it’s often criticized by users for occasional sluggishness and crashes. Is your Chrome slowing down your PC or browser experience? In this article, we’ll show you how to speed up the performance of your Chrome by using these simple tricks.

Disable extensions

Extensions are basically small programs that you can download from the Chrome Web Store to add more features and functionality to your Chrome. While certain extensions are very useful (like AdBlock and Evernote) if you have too many installed, Chrome’s speed may suffer from processing all of these extensions at once.

Most extensions will show on Chrome’s address bar, and you can quickly uninstall them by right-clicking on the button and selecting “Uninstall”. You can also navigate to the hamburger icon on the toolbar, select “More tools” and then “Extensions”. From there you’ll find a list of extensions that may have been inadvertently installed by a user. Simply uncheck the “Enabled” box for the ones you don’t need.

Disable plugins

When you first install Google Chrome, some unnecessary plugins are also installed and enabled by default. Over the course of your web browsing session, you may even add more plugins to Chrome without knowing. As with extensions, you can disable plugins that are not in use. Simply type chrome:plugins into the address bar and press Enter. Note that plugins can only be disabled, not uninstalled. We recommend you keep the Adobe Flash Player plugin enabled, since many websites today use Flash to display menus and videos.

Clear browsing data

Chrome has a cache database that collects URLs of the websites you’ve visited, your download history, and cookies. While the purpose of this feature is to speed up your computer by caching data instead of loading it again every time, sometimes the browsing history can get bloated with hundreds and thousands of websites you’ve previously visited. Luckily there’s a quick fix: enter chrome://history in the address bar and hit Enter. Select “Clear browsing data” and select the items you wish to delete and choose a time range from the drop-down list. Click “Clear browsing data” again to remove the selected data.

Use the Clean up Tool

In some cases the speed of your Chrome may be affected by the software installed on your computer. Google has released its very own application that will scan and remove any software that may conflict with Chrome. You can check out the Chrome Cleanup Tool here. All you need to do is download and run the application, and sit back while the program scans your PC. The app is very helpful if you’ve tried the above tips but your Chrome continues to be sluggish.

Web browsers are indispensable tools for your business. You and your employees use them everyday to check emails, research information, get work done, manage social media accounts, and more. If the browser you’re using is not performing up to your expectations, contact us today and we’ll get to the root of the problem and fix it.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Browsers
February 5th, 2016

2016Feb6_BusinessContinuity_AWhether your business is hit with a brief power outage or an extreme weather disaster, any kind of interruption to your organization’s productivity can cut into your profits. That’s why it is important to have a business continuity plan and utilize BC tools to ensure your organization can stay in operation at all times. Here are some of the key strategies many companies rely on to keep their doors open.

Backup your data, applications and servers

Today, companies are more dependent than ever on IT and their business data. If these critical components suddenly become inaccessible, can your business stay open? For most business owners, the simple answer is no. This is why backing up these elements is vital to your business’s success. Backing them up ensures they can be restored quickly in the event of a disaster, security breach, or damage to IT equipment.

Obviously, to ensure the accessibility of your IT, you need to backup all your data, applications and servers regularly. The keyword here being “regularly”. While in the past most businesses would do this on-site and with tape backups, today more and more businesses are using the cloud. Some of the prime reasons for backing up to the cloud are as follows:

  • Affordability
  • Backups can be automated, therefore saving you time
  • Cloud providers usually backup your data to multiple locations (so if one of their facilities goes down, your backup is still safe at another site)
  • Backups can be accessed from anywhere, whether it’s at an employee’s home or at an alternate office
  • If you need to use it, backups can be restored quickly

Virtualize servers and desktops

When you virtualize your servers or desktops, they can be used at any location - be it at your workplace, home, or a coffee shop in the Bahamas. In terms of business continuity, this is useful in case your main office suddenly becomes unusable due to a disaster such as a flood, a break-in, or if you’re simply unable to get there because of hostile weather conditions.

Have a backup power supply

Power outages essentially zap all your employees productivity. No electricity means no work. And that means you’re paying them to do nothing. Having a backup power supply like a generator will ensure that when the electricity goes down, your employees can continue working. A good solution is an uninterrupted power supply (UPS). When you have this, a power outage will not affect your employees ability to work. They can work seamlessly through it, as if nothing ever happened. Also, if you have a server room, the UPS will ensure your vital servers stay cool.

Utilize social media

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Google +, most people are on at least one social network these days. And if there is any kind of weather-related disaster, social media is usually one of the first places customers, colleagues, staff and vendors will check to see the status of your business. This is because even if the phone lines or local power goes out, social media is usually accessible. So when it comes to business continuity, have at least one active social media account you use to keep your customers and followers informed.

Implement Unified Communications

Unified Communication (UC) can essentially create a virtualized communication infrastructure. That means instead of your communication tools - like phones, instant messaging, video calls - all being stored locally at your workplace, you can access them anywhere. So for whatever reason if your office is inaccessible, employees can still use your phones and other communication tools from their homes. What’s more, UC tools can route business calls to your employees smartphones. That means they’ll never miss an important call, even if they’re not in the office.

So there you have it, five tools to ensure your business operates continuously no matter what comes your way. If you’d like to implement business continuity technology in your business or develop a continuity plan, we’re happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 3rd, 2016

2016_Feb3_HealthcareArticles_AThe thought of a robot doctor stirs lots of emotions in people. And truth be told, a ton of mystery still surrounds just what will become of this technology. We are still years, if not decades, from a robot doctor being incorporated into the practice of healthcare. That being said, people remain extremely curious and want to know more about them. Here are 3 things you need to know about robot doctors.

1.) Robot doctor is probably a misnomer

When most people think of robots, they think of some humanoid inspired piece of metal like C3PO from ‘Star Wars’ or the maid from ‘The Jetsons’ and assume the robot doctor will be something like this. Realistically, robot doctors will take the form of Siri, the AI companion found on iPhones, and operate on smartphones and other devices you probably already use. This isn’t saying that one day your visit to the doctor’s office won’t involve having a chat with a machine that looks and speaks like Data from ‘Star Trek’, but it certainly isn’t in the works at the moment and may never actually take this shape.

2.) The main purpose of a robot doctor will be error prevention

The companies looking into the AI technology that will power robot doctors have one very specific goal in mind: error prevention. As Dr. Herbert Chase, Professor of Clinical Medicine in Biomedical Informatics at the University of Columbia (EUA) noted during a recent Ted Talk, there are 13,000 diseases known to the world, 6,000 medicines, 4,000 medical and surgical procedures, and thousands of pieces of data in each electronic medical record.

That’s a lot of information for a human doctor to process, but it’s far easier for a robot doctor to handle all this data. They can process information given to them by patients and then pass on the preliminary findings to the doctor who will be able to analyze it more efficiently. It will also improve the breadth of knowledge physicians have at their disposal meaning the likelihood of a misdiagnosis will decrease.

3.) Human doctors aren’t going anywhere

While AI continues to improve, it simply will not be able to accurately make a diagnosis. More importantly, the companies creating the so-called robot doctors don’t want them to have the final word when it comes to medicine. It will instead be used as a tool for doctors to help them focus more on personal interactions and spend less time on having to find information. This info can instead be extrapolated and analyzed by a robot doctor, either before or during an appointment, and given to the human doctor for further scrutiny.

Throughout the years, technological advancements have transformed the way doctors practice medicine and the advent of robot doctors, or medical AI, will continue this trend. And while the way we communicate and share information with health professionals continues to evolve through app-based video calls, telehealth and eventually robot doctors, a human doctor will be paramount in the process regardless of what tools are used.

Technology continues to revolutionize the healthcare industry and it’s important you keep up. Patients want cutting-edge health solutions and you risk losing out if you can’t provide it to them. Contact our staff today for more information on how technology can help your practice care for patients more effectively.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 29th, 2016

2016Jan29_Virtualization_AVirtualization has become the cornerstone for almost all businesses today - and for good reason. It is basically a process of creating a virtual version of a physical IT device. This, in turn, enables businesses to utilize their resources more effectively, while also reducing costs that come with managing and maintaining their infrastructure. Virtualization can be done in many different ways. In this article, we’ll give you an overview of what can be virtualized, and how it can benefit your business.

Application Virtualization

This is a process where applications get virtualized and are delivered from a server to the end user’s device, such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets. So instead of logging into their computers at work, users will be able to gain access to the application from virtually anywhere, provided an Internet connection is available. This type of virtualization is particularly popular for businesses that require the use of their applications on the go.

Desktop Virtualization

Similar to Application Virtualization mentioned above, desktop virtualization separates the desktop environment from the physical device and configured as a “virtual desktop infrastructure” (VDI). The major advantages of desktop virtualization is that users are able to access all their personal files and applications from any location and on any PC, meaning they can work from anywhere without the need to bring their work computer. It also lowers the cost of licensing for installing software on desktops and maintenance and patch management is very simple, since all of the virtual desktops are hosted at the same location.

Hardware Virtualization

This is perhaps the most common type of virtualization today. Hardware virtualization is made possible by a virtual machine manager (VM) called the “hypervisor”. The hypervisor creates virtual versions of computers and operating systems and consolidates them into one large physical server, so that all the hardware resources can be utilized more efficiently. It also enables users to run different operating systems on the same machine at the same time.

Network Virtualization

Network virtualization is a method that combines all physical networking equipment into a single resource. It is the process of dividing bandwidth into multiple, independent channels, each of which can be assigned to servers and devices in real time. Businesses that would benefit from network virtualization are ones that have a large number of users and need to keep their systems up and running at all times. With the distributed channels, your network speed will increase dramatically, allowing you to deliver services and applications faster than ever before.

Storage Virtualization

This type of virtualization is very easy and cost-effective to implement, since it involves compiling your physical hard drives into a single cluster. Storage virtualization is handy when it comes to planning for disaster recovery, since the data stored on your virtual storage can be replicated and transferred to another location. By consolidating your storage into a centralized system, you can eliminate the hassles and costs of managing multiple storage devices.

Integrating virtualization into your business can be a complex and confusing process. Ideally you will enlist the help of experts to get the job done right. If you’re looking for top-quality and reliable virtualization solutions, why not get in touch with our professionals today. We’ll make your virtualization experience a quick and painless one.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 28th, 2016

2016Jan28_VoIPGeneral_AWhen it comes to saving money for small businesses, VoIP is one IT tool that is all the rage. For many organizations, it can cut phone expenses in half. So obviously the benefit of a VoIP system can be enormous. But is there a catch? With some VoIP providers, there certainly is. So when you’re ready to install this new technology for your business, here are some common VoIP pitfalls to be aware of.

  1. Poor call quality
  2. Complicated and frustrating management of the VoIP system
  3. Negative on-hold experience for customers
You’re likely aware that a drop in call quality can tarnish the reputation of your business and result in a loss of profits. So obviously, issues like the three mentioned above may sound alarming. So does that mean that you should avoid installing a VoIP system altogether? Probably not. The thing is, VoIP isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it is likely the future of telephony service for many businesses around the globe. Any technology that has the power to dramatically cut costs, such as VoIP, is here to stay. And as the service continues to evolve, it will become even more powerful and versatile.

In the meantime, what can you do to ensure your business doesn’t suffer any of these three problems? There are a couple of solutions.

Know what you want out of your VoIP phone solution

If your business handles hundreds of customer service calls a day, your telephony needs will be different than a business that is mainly using their phone system as a method for internal communication. This is why it’s important to know exactly what you want out of your VoIP phone solution. Do you want your employees using it to make sales calls? Do you want to use it to simply answer a few customer service calls a day and communicate between internal staff? Will you be holding video meetings on it? If you know what you want out of your VoIP system in advance, it sets you up to have a practical discussion of your needs with a VoIP provider. And that leads to our next point.

Find an experienced, trusted service provider

When it comes to VoIP, who you choose as your provider can make or break the success of your new phone system. It really is that big of a deal. The three problems listed above can all be avoided with an experienced VoIP provider installing and maintaining your system. They can let you know the strengths, weaknesses and limitations of the technology, and give you realistic expectations of what you’ll get from the service. This ensures you aren’t let down and that you don’t suffer a bad telephony experience that irritates customers.

A trusted VoIP provider will have experience and has likely installed hundreds of VoIP systems. They can help you define a strategy that meets your business’s specific needs, provide recommendations on system design and management, and enable your business to get the superb call experience your customers expect. Additionally, the right VoIP provider will also provide training and support to ensure you understand how to use the system most effectively, and will be a quick phone call away to help you if problems bubble up.

And if you’ve already installed a VoIP system that’s turned buggy?

Although it’s better to consult with an experienced VoIP provider before your initial installation, it’s not too late to correct course. A trusted VoIP provider can help you resolve many of the issues you’re experiencing. Don’t settle for a VoIP system that hurts your business. You can make VoIP work for your business, and save thousands of dollars in the process.

If you need advice installing a new VoIP system or fixing your current one, don’t hesitate to call us. Our experts can provide you the consultation, support and service that enables your business to enjoy the costs savings and power of VoIP. Call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
January 27th, 2016

2016Jan25_BusinessContinuity_AMost business owners don’t normally think they will be a victim of a natural disaster...not until an unforeseen crisis happens and their company ends up suffering from thousands or millions of dollars in economic and operational losses -- all because of the lack of thoughtful disaster preparedness. This post gives small or mid-sized businesses (SMBs) basic information on the vital importance of having a Disaster Recovery (DR) plan to help them survive any potential disasters.

As we all know, unpredictability is a fact of life. The aftermath of Tropical Storm Bill in Texas and recent floods in South Carolina are a grim and unfortunate lesson for many overconfident business owners who think their companies are spared from the likelihood of cataclysmic weather, technological malfunctions, or human actions. A 2014 survey by the IT Disaster Recovery Preparedness (DRP) Council reveals just how many companies worldwide are at risk: 73 percent of SMBs are failing in terms of disaster readiness. What does this mean? It means that 3 out of 4 companies aren’t prepared to handle emergencies and save their businesses from a worse-case scenario.

If it’s not clear and compelling enough for a business owner like yourself to consider putting a well-conceived Disaster Recovery (DR) plan into place, perhaps it’s time to give it some thought. Doing so can save you years of business loss. Here is some useful information about what DR is all about and how it can ensure your business’s survival in the wake of unforeseen circumstances.

What is Disaster Recovery (DR)?

Disaster recovery is a plan for restoring and accessing your data in the event of a disaster that destroys part or all of a business’s resources. It is a key component involving many aspects of business operations that requires this information to function. The job of a DR plan is to ensure that whatever happens, your vital data can be recovered and mission-critical applications will be brought back online in the shortest possible time.

What kind of disasters are likely to happen?

Business disasters can either be natural, technological, or man-made. Natural types of disasters include floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, landslides, tsunamis, and even a pest infestation. On the other hand, technological and man-made disasters involve hazardous material spills, infrastructural or power failure, nuclear power plant meltdown or blast, chemical threat and biological weapons, cyber attacks, explosions, or acts of terrorism and civil unrest.

Why does your business need DR?

Regardless of industry or size, when an unforeseen event takes place and causes day-to-day operations to come to a halt, a company will need to recover as quickly as possible to ensure you will continue providing services to clients and customers. Downtime is one of the biggest IT expenses that any business can face. Based on 2015 disaster recovery statistics, downtime that lasts for one hour can cost small companies as much as $8,000, mid-size organizations $74,000, and $700,000 for large enterprises.

For SMBs particularly, any extended loss of productivity can lead to reduced cash flow through late invoicing, lost orders, increased labor costs as staff work extra hours to recover from the downtime, missed delivery dates, and so on. If major business disruptions are not anticipated and addressed today, it’s very possible that these negative consequences resulting from an unexpected disaster can have long-term implications that affect a company for years. By having a Disaster Recovery plan in place, a company can save itself from multiple risks including out of budget expenses, reputation loss, data loss, and the negative impact on clients and customers.

How do I create a DR strategy for my business?

Creating, implementing and maintaining a total business recovery plan is time-consuming but extremely important to ensure your business’s survival. Many organizations don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to this process. If you would like to protect your company from unexpected disasters but need further guidance and information on how to get started, give us a call and our experts will be happy to discuss Disaster Recovery options and solutions with you.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 27th, 2016

2016Jan27_Hardware_AWhen servers are working properly, you would never know they were there. When they are malfunctioning, servers become the scourge of the universe single-handedly bringing your business to a halt. In many ways, your servers are the heartbeat of your business. A strong one ensures good health while down servers are likely to leave your organization flatlining. Don’t let that happen to you. Here are three questions to ask about your company’s servers.

When do my servers need to be replaced?

This is a difficult question to answer but there are two factors you will want to consider - age and performance. The useful life of a server tends to be around three years. After the third year, your support costs to maintain them will rise drastically. While it’s not unheard of for servers to function properly beyond year three, relying on them beyond this point can be risky as their health can’t always be guaranteed. This means you will have to deal with costly repairs and possible downtime that you can’t predict.

Performance is another factor when it comes to servers. Even if your servers are only a year old, it doesn’t make sense to keep them around until year three if they are slow and are costing a fortune to maintain. It’s important to do a cost benefit analysis in these situations and look at how much money you will lose in repairs and downtime and then compare it to the cost of buying new hardware.

Do I have an alternative to buying new servers?

Believe it or not, the answer to your server problems might not necessarily be purchasing more physical hardware. One way to avoid this is by embracing virtualization. This process allows your servers to be stored and maintained off-site with everything being delivered to your office via the internet. There are two notable benefits of virtualizing your servers. The first is that you don’t have to spend a bunch of money buying new equipment. The second is that virtualization is a scalable technology meaning you only pay for the space you use. For instance, if you only need two and a half servers, you can do that. This is in contrast to having physical equipment which would require your business to either make do with two servers or splurge and buy the third one even if you didn’t need all of that space.

Of course there are a few things you need to consider before making the switch to server virtualization. One of the biggest issues is security. You’ll have to ask yourself if you feel comfortable keeping all of your data off-site. While this isn’t a concern for some companies, others don’t see this as palatable. There are several workarounds to this issue including the hybrid option where you keep sensitive data on-site and everything else off-site.

Can I do anything to prevent a full-scale server replacement?

Yes. It’s certainly possible for you to buy some time and give your current servers additional life, but these are short term fixes, not long term solutions. Server upgrades are a good place to start if your servers are less than three years old but are degrading in performance. Adding additional CPUs or memory may increase server performance at a fraction of the cost of buying new servers.

You can also utilize old servers for non-critical workloads. It’s possible to extend the life of servers that may have four of five years of wear and tear on them via repurposing. Instead of swapping out all of your servers, use the old ones for the non-critical processes and purchase new ones to handle critical workloads. This will help you get a better ROI on your technology while avoiding a wholesale hardware purchase which could cripple your budget.

If you have any questions about your servers and how you can increase performance, get in touch with us today. We can help you procure new hardware or show you the benefits of virtualization.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
January 26th, 2016

2016Jan26_Office365_AThere is no doubt that Microsoft Office 365 is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to programs that are being used in today’s modern office. With timely updates and releases of new features, users and competitors alike find it hard to keep up. But are you confident that you are harnessing the power of Office 365 the right way? If the answer is no, then read this article to get some top tips.

When an enterprise purchases certain Microsoft Online services such as Office 365, there is usually a Microsoft Partner of Record that is linked to the enterprise account. One of those is MessageOps. According to Chris Pyle, CEO of MessageOps, based on the data and feedback that they have gathered from Office 365 customers, they have concluded that not all business owners understand the true power of Office 365 and know which apps are most useful. Below is the list of apps that are must-haves for the businesses of today:

1. Sway

Although still in its early stages, one app that is quickly becoming popular is Sway. This is a presentation program that is being used for website creation where users can fuse together text and media. This program, which is included in the Microsoft Office app arsenal, is widely gaining popularity among the business owners and employees who've taken it up.

2. OneDrive for Business

If you’re familiar with Dropbox, then you probably know how OneDrive for Business works. It is a single location where users can save, sync, and share their files anytime, anywhere. Some businesses use this together with Dropbox, which is a paid app. Businesses that do this essentially double their cost as they are already paying for the same functionality as OneDrive, an app that is already included in most Office 365 plans.

3. Skype for Business

Hard to believe but there are still a lot of enterprises who pay for additional meeting and communication solutions that they have already paid for with Skype for Business. This app, which is already included in many Office 365 plans, goes beyond meeting and call purposes. It can also let you know which of your contacts is currently online, and you can also launch communications from Word and Powerpoint. What’s more, your communication is kept safe with the use of encryption and authentication processes.

4. Office 365 Groups

This app is very much popular with enterprises that require sharing of ideas from a group working on a project. It provides for a single place where the group can share documents, communication, and notes. This is predicted to become a complete replacement for SharePoint team sites as it is more user-friendly, more manageable and can be set up easily, although it is just as functional as SharePoint.

5. Intranets

With the help of SharePoint Online, intranets are making a comeback. The SharePoint intranet not only enhances communication and collaboration in the office, but the end-result is an effective streamlining and organized storage of information.

Harness the power of the Office 365 in your business. We have experts on standby anticipating your every question and ready to help you with the setting up, maintenance and management of your IT infrastructure. Give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office 365
January 25th, 2016

2016Jan20_Security_AIt’s been said so many times that many small business owners are likely to block it out, but the truth remains: cyber criminals target SMBs. Perhaps the reason for this ignorance is that when an SMB falls victim to an online attack, it’s not breaking news. But this time, in a recent NY Times article, a cyber attack wasn’t focused on the Ashley Madisons or Dropboxes of the world. This time the focus was on a small business who is lucky to still be in business after a serious cyber attack.

Last holiday season, Rokenbok Education, a small, California-based toy company of seven employees realized its worse nightmare. During the busiest time of the sales year, the files in their database had become unusable, infected with malware. The hackers used ransomware, a malware designed to hold a business’s data hostage, to encrypt their files and demanded a payment to make them usable again. However, instead of paying the ransom, Rokenbok restructured their key system. To do this it took four days. That’s four days of downtime, lost sales, and confused customers who likely lost confidence in the integrity of their company. Luckily this did not put Rokenbok Education out of business. But many SMBs aren’t so fortunate, and are forced to close after such a security debacle.

So why do security breaches like this happen to SMBs?

There are many reasons, but a common one is that small and medium-sized businesses often focus on profits over security. And really, it’s hard to blame them. When you’re small, you want to grow your organization as quickly as possible. And you likely think that because you’re small, no one is going to attack you. However, nowadays hackers are on to this way of thinking. They know that SMBs don’t focus as much on security, which make them a perfect target. In fact, according to Timothy C. Francis, the enterprise lead for Cyber Insurance at Travelers, 60 percent of all online attacks in 2014 targeted SMBs.

So what can your business do to protect itself against online attacks? There are a range of options, but it’s best to start off with an audit of your current security system to see where the holes are. This audit should check areas of risk which include customer data, employee access, and assets such as servers, computers and all Internet-enable devices.

After that, an obvious thing to do is to strengthen your passwords. While this has been said thousands of times over, many SMB owners do not take heed. Clay Calvert, the director of security at the Virginia-based firm MetroStar Systems, notes that hackers analyze how we create passwords and use big data analytics to crack them. “They have databases of passwords,” Calvert said. The best way to create a strong password is to make it long with a mix of characters. Password managers that encrypt your passwords can also help.

Aside from passwords, there are many other ways to boost your business’s security that include installing a firewall, keeping your antivirus up-to-date, and moving data over to the cloud (instead of storing it on company servers). Also, since many security attacks occur because an employee clicked on a malicious website or link, training your employees is a smart move. A good way to start this training is to create an employee manual that includes security guidelines they must follow. For ongoing training, you can keep them up-to-date on the latest security threats through email updates and regular meetings. Once you feel confident that your employees are up-to-speed and your security practices are updated, you can try hiring ethical hackers to test your systems and try to break through your security. This will let you know if there are any security holes you missed.

Calling in a security specialist

However, if all of this sounds far too much to bother with, consider outsourcing your security to a service provider that specializes in digital security. This can oftentimes save valuable time and money in the long run. Best of all, this can provide peace of mind, knowing that you have a security specialist watching over your business.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to start with your business’s security, we’re happy to help perform a thorough audit and provide you the digital security solution you need to keep your business protected. Security worries don’t have to keep you up at night, and we can help you implement the measures that will protect your business from disastrous security problems.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic security