3 Questions Your IT Services Company Should Be Able To Say “Yes” To

At a time when businesses are more dependent on information technology than at any point in history, IT services providers need to rise to the occasion. The worst thing for your business to discover down the line is that your IT company isn’t actually as well-equipped to serve your business as they claim to be – or, even worse, that they aren’t actually fully invested in the success of your business.

Every business owner knows that finding a reputable IT services partner to steer the digital architecture of your organization in the right direction is a difficult, laborious process. Not all IT companies are created equal. If you don’t do your research, you could end up paying for more security and service than you’re actually getting.

But it doesn’t have to be so complicated. The best way to determine whether an IT company is a good fit for your organization is to ask them direct, well-thought-out questions. Here are three queries any IT services company you have in your corner should be able to say “yes” to. If they can’t, you shouldn’t be working with them at all.

1. Will you proactively manage my business’s network?

There are two types of IT companies. The first is the type you call up when there’s an outage in your network, your server finally gives up the ghost or your e-mails aren’t sending for some reason. They show up at your business, charge by the hour, (hopefully) fix the issue and leave. This is, understandably, an attractive option for many small businesses with tight budgets. Why pay to fix something if it doesn’t appear to be broken?

The problem with this line of thinking is the fact that, without a dedicated team of professionals working on your network every day, things get missed. No one’s really taking charge of driving the technology of your company into the future; no one is looking to optimize your processes and give your team the tools they need to do their best work. Security becomes a low priority because it’s assumed that everything is fine – until it suddenly isn’t.

Any managed services provider worth their salt won’t wait for your system to fail before they take action. Instead, they’ll proactively work to keep your network running at its highest level – security, optimization and everything else. When you crunch the numbers and really break down the cost of an outage or digital crisis, it’s easy to see how this approach will help you in the long run.

2. In the event of an issue, can you give me a guaranteed response time?

When you and your team are in the trenches, putting stress on the network while you go about your operations, the last thing you need is a long outage. These blips in service bring productivity to its knees, frustrating your customers and costing thousands of dollars. So you need someone on your side that can give you a definite time frame of when they’ll be on the scene in the event of a crisis. If an IT company dodges the question when you ask them for this, run for the hills – they’re not a company you want on your team.

3. Do you have extensive knowledge of the best practices for my industry?

Even if an MSP is solid and experienced, that doesn’t mean they’re experienced in your particular line of business. You need someone who’s worked with organizations like yours for years, with tried-and-tested methods for addressing industry-specific concerns and streamlining workflows. If your MSP can’t answer this question with a definitive “yes” and provide examples and insight into how they stay abreast of your field, keep shopping for an organization that can.

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4 Questions You Should Ask Any IT “Expert” Before Letting Them Touch Your Network

As businesses have become ever more dependent on technology, IT services providers have been popping up left and right. They’ve all got different strengths, capabilities and price points to consider. Some charge you by the hour and, while available to address any concerns you may have, they are pretty hands-off. Others are working on your network around the clock but charge more in turn. Many may boast an impressive record when working with a broad range of companies, but lack the experience necessary to understand the ins and outs of your specific industry. Some cost way too much month-to-month, while others try the “bargain bin” approach, but as a result, can’t afford to field the staff needed to respond to issues in a timely fashion.

There’s certainly a lot to consider when looking for an IT services provider for your business. And if you’re not particularly knowledgeable about information technology yourself, it can sometimes feel like you’re going into the process blind.

To suss out whether an IT company will mesh with your business’s workflow and industry specific requirements, it’s important to vet them thoroughly. The key is to ask the right questions. Here are four that will allow you to zero in on any IT company’s priorities and strengths, and help you determine whether they’re a good fit for your organization.

1. DO YOU TAKE A PROACTIVE OR ‘BREAK-FIX’ APPROACH TO IT?

When your car breaks down, you take it to the shop and you get it fixed. The mechanic charges you for the work done and for the parts, and then sends you on your way. Many business owners consider their computer network to be the same kind of deal. Why not just wait until an outage happens and then call up somebody who charges by the hour to fix it? That way, they imagine, they won’t be paying for “extra” services they think they don’t need.

But unfortunately, unlike your car, when your network is out, you’re losing dollars every single minute. The cost of a network outage is difficult to overstate – not only will it bring your business to its knees while it’s out, but it’ll frustrate customers and employees and result in a cascading set of problems.

Instead of a “break-fix” technician on hand, you need a managed IT services provider. These experts work directly with your company to optimize your network and its security at every turn, and are available nearly any time to address your concerns. And they’re genuinely invested in providing the best service possible, since it’s in their best interest as well.

2. WHAT IS YOUR GUARANTEED RESPONSE TIME?

We’ve all needed something fixed before and had to wait for hours, days or even weeks before anyone bothered to come by and solve the problem. Don’t let that happen to your business. If a company can’t guarantee a response time, it’s probably not a company you want to be working with.

3. WHAT WILL COST ME EXTRA?

This question is particularly important if you’re looking at a managed services provider (which you should be). The last thing you need is for a crisis to strike, only to discover you need to shell out a bunch of surcharges to get your network back up and running. Make sure the costs and services included are crystal clear before you sign anything.

4. HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE?

As scrappy as the “new kid on the block” may be, you don’t want them in charge of one of the most important aspects of your business. Make sure any IT professionals you do business with have extensive experience not only in IT, but in your particular industry as well. That way they’ll know exactly what to do to optimize processes and keep your data under lock and key.

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Employees Keeping Your Data Safe? Don’t Count On It

One morning late last year, an unemployed man was making his way across London, heading to the library to continue his job search. But on the way, he encountered something peculiar: a USB stick, peeking out among the fallen leaves and shining in the morning sun. Not thinking much of it – and perhaps afflicted with a morbid curiosity – he popped the device into his pocket and continued on his way. Once he made it to the library, he connected the USB to a computer to check out its contents. As he clicked around, he realized with a shock that this was a treasure trove of security information for the Heathrow International Airport: 174 folders packed with maps detailing CCTV camera locations, labyrinthine tunnels snaking below the building and even the exact route the Queen takes when she uses the airport.

Understandably worried, the man quickly ejected the device and brought it – for some reason – to local tabloid the Daily Mirror. Today, despite a full-scale security investigation by the airport and the scrutiny of dozens of police and security experts, it’s still unclear just where this extremely sensitive data came from. However, all signs point to the USB drive being dropped by either a hapless employee carrying around a national security concern in their pocket or a less-hapless employee looking to instigate a national security crisis.

Either way, the story hammers home a vital point: whether you’re an international airport hosting more than 70 million travelers each year or a small business with less than $10 million in annual revenue, your biggest security risk isn’t some crack team of hackers – it’s your employees.

Sure, you may chuckle at the idea that any of your employees would actively wish your organization harm. But we’re willing to guess that you probably underestimate the wrath of an employee scorned. Even if you treat your team better than any boss in the world, they are still human – which, of course, means they’re going to make mistakes from time to time. And when considering the cyber security of many SMBs, “time to time” actually means every day, leaving huge openings in your digital barriers. These errors don’t much matter, really – until the day that a hacker turns an eye toward your business and immediately realizes the laughable security gaps your team is leaving for them to exploit.

The thing about cyber security is that it’s a lot more complicated than most people are willing to admit. Today’s digital landscape is fraught with hazards, a thousand little mistakes to be made at every step, resulting in a million workarounds for cyber criminals to use. Even the most tech-savvy among us probably don’t know everything about cyber security, and very few have as much knowledge as the hackers on the other end of the equation. When you consider the uncertainty and potential miseducation of your employees, many of whom probably know next to nothing about cyber security, you might start to feel a little panicked.

The battle against digital threats can seem like an endless slog – a war that the good guys seem to be losing – but luckily, when it comes to the security of your business, there are ways to batten down the hatches without dropping a ton of cash. For instance, start with your biggest vulnerability: your team. When a new employee joins your organization, they should go through a thorough cyber security training. Their welcome forms should include comprehensive rules about security policies, from using strong passwords to how they should respond to potential phishing attempts. Deviating from these policies should come with serious consequences.

As for your existing employees, train them up! We can help you build a robust education program to get every single member of your organization up to speed on the most imminent cyber security threats. But even then, cyber security isn’t a one-and-done kind of thing; it requires constant vigilance, regular updates on the latest trends and a consistent overall commitment to protecting your livelihood. Without training and follow-up, even the most powerful of cyber security barriers are basically tissue paper, so put some thought into your team in addition to your protections, and you can drastically increase the safety of the business you’ve worked so hard to build.

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4 Ways To Keep Employees From Leaking Confidential Information

Hacking a business today is easier than it has ever been. With nearly every company in America now intimately intertwined with technology, you might think cyber security would be a priority. But the truth is, our protective measures have grown lax, as organizations fall behind the times in their trust of flimsy barriers, trusting in blind faith that they won’t be targeted.

Right alongside the rise of software that makes our life and work easier than ever, the tools cybercriminals use has advanced as well, enabling hackers to penetrate precious networks of data with minimal effort. What used to take thousands of lines of code now takes a couple of clicks. And actually, according to IBM’s 2016 Cyber Security Intelligence Index, 60% of the time it’s not some fancy tool that allows criminals to circumvent your defenses – it’s your employees letting them in.

No matter how impenetrable you may imagine your security measures are, they’ll be rendered useless if a hapless member of your team clicks the wrong file and opens the floodgates. When it comes to cyber security, your biggest vulnerability isn’t your antivirus – it’s your poorly trained employees. Here are four ways to prevent them from slipping up and opening your business up to attack.

1. STRONGER PASSWORDS

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s probably anything but to many members of your team. According to a 2015 survey conducted by TeleSign, close to 75% of consumers use duplicate passwords in their online activity. Twenty-one percent of them use passwords more than a decade old, 47% have been using the same password for five years and a whopping 54% use the same five passwords across an entire lifetime online.

As a business owner, these numbers shouldn’t just make you chuckle – they should make you mad. It may be that the entirety of your company’s data, everything you’ve worked so hard to build over years of blood, sweat and tears, could be guarded behind a password as simple as “123456.”

Make sure you train your employees on safe password practices. That means mandatory password changes to key business accounts every few months, each of them containing letters, numbers and symbols, preferably without any real words at all. It’s a small change, but it can drastically increase your odds against data breaches.

2. MAKE CYBER SECURITY PART OF YOUR COMPANY POLICY

If your business is going to survive a digital onslaught, safe online practices for your employees need to be more than a recommendation. They need to be mandatory company policies. Every new and existing employee needs to know what’s expected of them and what the consequences will be if they deviate from guidelines. For example, when an update comes through for a key piece of software, it needs to be installed immediately. Have a set procedure in place for them to follow if they encounter a suspicious e-mail or potentially malicious link. These and other practices, when set in stone, ensure that employees remain personally invested in protecting your company.

3. CONDUCT A SECURITY AUDIT

The best way to suss out any employee vulnerabilities, though, will always be to do a thorough security audit of all your systems. This means investigating the hardware and software you’re using on a daily basis, sure, but most importantly, you need to analyze the habits of your personnel and whether or not they’re complying with your high standards of cyber security. 4. TRAIN YOUR PEOPLE

As they say, forewarned is forearmed. This is never truer than when defending your business from data breaches. With comprehensive cyber security awareness training, outlining everything from the biggest digital threats to post-breach best practices, you can turn your biggest security liability into your greatest defense. If employees know the ins and outs of hackers’ tricks, it becomes exponentially more difficult for hackers to trick them and find a way into your network.

With all four of these steps, it can be difficult to determine just how to implement these policies within your organization – much less what should be included – but luckily, we can help. Contact us to find out how we can help you put a strong data security employee training program in place and patch any holes in your barriers before they become an issue.

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Do You Safeguard Your Company’s Data And Private Customer Information BETTER THAN Equifax, Yahoo and Target Did?

You can’t deny that today we are living in an era of unprecedented technological progress. Particularly in the business world, we find ourselves more empowered day by day with the onslaught of fresh applications and features promising to extend our reach and drive success. There’s a reason, after all, that business leaders like Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson argue that right now is a better time than ever to start a scrappy new company.

But this trend, in which companies become ever more inseparable from the technologies they depend on, is a double-edged sword.

Though tech continues to break down barriers to success in business, its forward motion is naturally accompanied by a newfound vulnerability. Each development is accompanied by a weakness to exploit – a back door through which hackers can wreak havoc on companies and customers alike.

This should be obvious to anyone who has even the barest awareness of the news. As the list of Fortune 500 companies that fall victim to cyber-attacks grows, we all need to learn from their mistakes and batten down our digital hatches in anticipation of a potential breach.

Last year, the country was shocked to discover that the personal data of more than 146 million people – including driver’s licenses, passport numbers, Social Security numbers and a wide swath of other information – had been exposed in an attack on the credit mega-giant Equifax. Hackers infiltrated their systems through a vulnerability in Apache Struts, a tool used to develop web applications, and proceeded to lift a staggering quantity of customer data. The consequences of this attack are still being unpacked even now, but it’s safe to say that even beyond Equifax’s plummeting stock prices and their trip to PR hell, they’ve put themselves and the people they serve in a horribly uncomfortable position.

And make no mistake, the Equifax attack was far from inevitable. You would think that a company sitting on an international treasure trove packed with data from more than 800 million customers and 88 million businesses worldwide would take pains to be responsible digital stewards. But last September, under intensive government and journalistic scrutiny, company officials confirmed that, basically, this enormous breach had all come down to Equifax’s failure to adequately patch their Apache Struts platform. You see, there was a known, publicly disclosed bug in the Apache Struts system the previous March. Despite the Apache Software Foundation’s subsequent release of a patch eliminating the vulnerability, Equifax didn’t install it in time to prevent issues, giving hackers months to easily exploit their systems and gain a foothold.

While the Equifax attack is certainly one of the most high-profile widespread data breaches in history, it’s definitely not the only one to affect millions of customers. Yahoo admitted in 2016 that a data breach way back in 2013 had exposed around 1 billion of their usernames, e-mail addresses and passcodes. When Verizon acquired the company last year, they admitted that, upon further review, it looked more like 3 billion accounts had been affected. Also in 2013, hackers infiltrated Target’s point-of-sale systems to steal 40 million debit and credit card accounts, thanks to a vulnerability in an HVAC company they’d hired called Fazio Mechanical Services.

Attacks like these – and the millions of similar ones aimed at small, midsize and massive companies every year – are almost always circuitous and confusing to the average business owner, but they’re also preventable. Problem is, especially when it comes to SMBs, most business professionals and their understaffed, underfunded, inexperienced or even nonexistent IT departments aren’t equipped to protect their precious data when the hackers come knocking.

Statistics show that, eventually, hackers are going to come for your business – it’s all but guaranteed. And if they break through and bring your company to its knees, you probably won’t be the next Equifax or Target all over the news with egg on your face. No, your business will probably just fold in on itself with nary a whimper, with everything you’ve worked so hard to build quietly buckling before your eyes.

Don’t let it happen. Address cyber-attacks before they become an issue, and get a talented, experienced, around-the-clock team to defend your livelihood. It takes vigilance, research and constant upkeep to keep the wolves at bay. Protect your business or, before you know it, there won’t be anything left to protect at all.

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Top 4 Ways Hackers Will Attack Your Network And They Are Targeting You RIGHT NOW

Most small and midsize business (SMB) owners exist in a bubble of blissful ignorance. They focus on the day-to-day operations of their organization, driving growth, facilitating hiring and guiding marketing, without a single thought given to the security of the computer networks these processes depend on. After all, they’re just the little guy – why would hackers go to the trouble of penetrating their systems for the minuscule amount of data they store?

And eventually, often after years of smooth sailing through calm seas, they get hacked, fork out thousands of dollars to malicious hackers and collapse beneath the weight of their own shortsightedness.

The facts don’t lie. According to Verizon’s annual Data Breach Investigations Report, a full 71% of cyber-attacks are aimed squarely at SMBs. And while it’s unclear exactly how many of these attacks are actually successful, with the sad state of most small businesses’ security protocols, it’s a safe bet that a good chunk of the attacks make it through.

But why? As Tina Manzer writes for Educational Dealer, “Size becomes less of an issue than the security network … While larger enterprises typically have more data to steal, small businesses have less secure networks.” As a result, hackers can hook up automated strikes to lift data from thousands of small businesses at a time – the hit rate is that high.

Today, trusting the security of your company to your son-in-law, who assures you he “knows about computers,” isn’t enough. It takes constant vigilance, professional attention and, most of all, knowledge. Start here with the four most common ways hackers infiltrate hapless small businesses.

1. PHISHING E-MAILS

An employee receives an e-mail directly from your company’s billing company, urging them to fill out some “required” information before their paycheck can be finalized. Included in the very professional-looking e-mail is a link your employee needs to click to complete the process. But when they click the link, they aren’t redirected anywhere. Instead, a host of vicious malware floods their system, spreading to the entirety of your business network within seconds, and locks everyone out of their most precious data. In return, the hackers want thousands of dollars or they’ll delete everything.

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the hacker toolbox, but today it’s easier than ever for an attacker to gather key information and make a phishing e-mail look exactly like every other run-of-the-mill e-mail you receive each day. Train your employees to recognize these sneaky tactics, and put in safeguards in case someone messes up and clicks the malicious link.

2. BAD PASSWORDS

According to Inc.com contributing editor John Brandon, “With a $300 graphics card, a hacker can run 420 billion simple, lowercase, eight-character password combinations a minute.” What’s more, he says, “80% of cyber-attacks involve weak passwords,” yet despite this fact, “55% of people use one password for all logins.”

As a manager, you should be bothered by these statistics. There’s simply no excuse for using an easy-to-crack password, for you or your team. Instead, it’s a good idea to make a password out of four random common words, splicing in a few special characters for good measure. To check the strength of your password, type it into HowSecureIsMyPassword.net before you make it official.

3. MALWARE

As described above, malware is often delivered through a shady phishing e-mail, but it’s not the only way it can wreak havoc on your system. An infected website (such as those you visit when you misspell sites like Facebook.com, a technique called “typosquatting”), a USB drive loaded with viruses or even an application can bring vicious software into your world without you even realizing it. In the past, an antivirus software was all that you needed. These days, it’s likely that you need a combination of software systems to combat these threats. These tools are not typically very expensive to put in place, especially considering the security holes they plug in your network.

4. SOCIAL ENGINEERING

As fallible as computers may be, they’ve got nothing on people. Sometimes hackers don’t need to touch a keyboard at all to break through your defenses: they can simply masquerade as you to a support team in order to get the team to activate a password reset. It’s easier than you think, and requires carefully watching what information you put on the Internet – don’t put the answers to your security questions out there for all to see.

We’ve outlined some of the simplest ways to defend yourself against these shady techniques, but honestly, the best way is to bring on a company that constantly keeps your system updated with the most cutting-edge security and is ready at a moment’s notice to protect you in a crisis. Hackers are going to come for you, but if you’ve done everything you can to prepare, your business will be safe.

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3 Deadly Mistakes You’re Making By Being Cheap With Technology

Today’s small and midsize businesses (SMBs) have an uneasy relationship with technology – even if they don’t realize it yet. As the marketplace reaches new heights of complexity and speed, and consumers migrate to cyberspace en masse to make their buying decisions, SMBs are responding in turn. Today’s savvy business owners utilize ever-evolving technologies to capture their customers’ interest and imagination, make conversions and manage their day-to-day operations with unprecedented ease and clarity. Certainly, the Internet age is a thrilling time to be in business. Each business is equipped with wildly powerful tech that has transformed the landscape of commerce forever.

But there’s an uncomfortable truth that goes hand in hand with this increased dependence on technology. At its best, IT allows us to do incredible things we never would have imagined were possible even 10 years ago. At its worst, IT is an unreliable, finicky and potentially hazardous scaffolding upon which we built our loftiest hopes and dreams. Even the best IT requires wrangling to shape it to our needs and keep it on track and safe from intruders.

Despite this reliance on technology, the vast majority of business owners consider it an extra expense rather than a foundational element of their company. As a result, they skimp on technology spending. But being cheap comes with a cost – one much bigger and more dangerous than you probably realize. Here are three mistakes you’re making by underspending on this key part of your business.

1. You’re spending on technology based on an unrealistic, poorly planned budget rather than building your technology budget around your actual needs.

When you’re an SMB with limited resources, it’s easy to see any money saved on software and hardware as a success, leading businesses to opt for cheap, clunky and outdated solutions. But in a world where the lion’s share of your day-to-day operations is dictated by the digital equipment you and your team use, where small businesses exist under constant threat of cyber-attack and data is a precious commodity that could disappear at the speed of a failed backup, cutting corners is unwise. Updating your digital approach and tightening your cyber security may not result in obvious, immediate returns on your investment. But adequate technology spending is just that – an investment. When you invest in the latest technology, you’re investing in the long-term productivity and security of your business.

2. You’re opening yourself up to disaster.

It’s one thing to have an employee’s computer unexpectedly fail or for an Internet connection to have a momentary hiccup. But if you’re skimping on technology, you’re leaving your business vulnerable to catastrophes that could cost you thousands. One of the most prominent and overlooked of these threats is cybercrime. According to the 2016 State of Cyber Security in Small and Medium-Sized Businesses report, half of all U.S. small businesses fell victim to a cyber-attack in 2015 – a number that has only continued to climb. The majority of these attacks are ransomware, in which entire systems are locked out of vital data and forced to shell out enormous sums to recover it. Even if you assume you’re secure (and you probably aren’t), there are other risks to contend with. Server failures, backup loss and system downtime can shutter businesses just as easily as a vicious hacker.

3. You’re letting the competition get ahead.

Outsmarting your competitors takes more than just mimicking whatever latest strategy the thought leaders of your industry are championing at the moment. It requires anticipating future trends and acting on them. And in business, there’s one universal truth you can count on: The future of your industry lies in technology. Cloud services, new and constantly updating software, CRMs and a staggering array of productivity-enhancing tools are just a few of the advances your competitors are considering (if they haven’t snatched them up already). If you neglect the future, your company is destined to become a thing of the past.

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3 IT Investments You Should Never Skimp On

There’s a disturbing trend underlying the business world’s increased reliance on technology. No, we’re not about to decry technology itself. Nor will we downplay the endless list of ways in which tech has enhanced business owners’ ability to reach more prospects, build meaningful relationships with clients and make the previously labyrinthine tasks of yesterday seem positively mundane today. There’s no denying that the Internet age has empowered companies of all sizes to do incredible things and that technology is forever transforming the way we do business. Today’s savvy businesses are intertwined to an unprecedented extent with the technology they use.

But there’s a problem that goes along with this increased dependence. Despite the inextricable relationship today’s companies have with IT, the vast majority of them – SMBs in particular – are neglecting key aspects of their tech. They’re skimping where they shouldn’t, cutting corners wherever possible and, as a result, leaving themselves open to a huge variety of potential disasters.

To avoid the pitfalls of our technology-dependent world, it’s important to ensure you have a firm IT foundation. Here are three IT investments where you should avoid underspending or risk shuttering your business forever.

1 CYBER SECURITY

Across the tech industry, it has practically become trendy to point out how woefully underprepared SMBs are for modern crime. But it’s true: according to the 2016 State of Cyber Security in Small and Medium-Sized Businesses report, a full 50% of all U.S. small businesses succumbed to cyber-attacks in 2015, a statistic that is rising and shows no sign of slowing down. Most small business owners assume that since they’re the “little guy,” there’s no reason why a well-equipped and highly trained team of hackers would ever target their meager stores of data. But, in fact, it’s these hapless businesses that end up being the low-hanging fruit for these operations. Millions upon millions of dollars are stolen from SMBs each year, and most of it is gleaned via vicious ransomware.

2 PROACTIVE TECH SUPPORT

It’s probably easy to imagine how a vicious cyber-attack could leave your business reeling, but there are equally insidious risks that could cost your business bigtime. Consider server failure, for example. No matter the caliber of equipment you’re dealing with, failure is an inevitable risk of technology. But instead of being proactive, most business owners just assume that downtime is a fact of the modern world. As a result, 73% of businesses have had some type of operations interruption in the past five years, causing a staggering $70 million loss, according to an infographic published in VentureBeat. The worst part? The vast majority of these outages are avoidable.

The fact is that a cheap “break-fix” technology technician is only there to put out fires, not to proactively prepare your business for success. By the time your break-fix IT guy shows up on the scene, the damage will already be done. This results in dramatically lowered efficiency and potentially thousands of dollars in lost sales – not to mention the cost of all those customers you lost while you were off dealing with a tech crisis. And that’s only one example. Finicky software, stuttering computers and lost backups may seem like small issues until you’re in the midst of disaster and the costs are adding up. It’s better to avoid these catastrophes in the first place.

3 TECH STRATEGIES TO BEAT THE COMPETITION

Technology isn’t just a crutch we use to make navigating the marketplace easier; it can equip us with a set of tools that allow us to actively surpass customer expectations and streamline our efficiency, lowering expenses and empowering our employees. You can bet on the fact that your competition is doing everything it possibly can to stay abreast of the latest technological trends. Don’t let them pull ahead. Instead, invest in strategies and software that will trim away precious seconds from inefficient processes and enable you to focus on what really matters: making your business succeed.

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The Shocking Truth Behind Cybercrime Threats

Today’s technological innovations have empowered small businesses to do things that would have been utterly unimaginable even 15 years ago. To remain competitive in a constantly shifting landscape, we’ve become more dependent on software and hardware to house even the most basic structures of the companies we run.

Meanwhile, these technologies are evolving at breakneck speed. Every day, there’s a slew of new devices to consider, a pile of new updates to install and a new feature to wrap our heads around. Every morning, we wake up and the digital world is thrillingly new.

But all over the world, there’s an insidious network of criminals keeping up with this insanely rapid pace of progress. With every new security measure designed to protect our digital assets, there are thousands of hackers working around the clock to determine a new way to break through. An estimated 978,000 fresh new malware threats are released into the world each day. The term “up to date” doesn’t mean much anymore in the wake of new developments arriving minute by minute.

There’s a price to pay for the increased efficiency and reach enabled by the digital age. We’ve all heard the story before.

A massive, multinational corporation neglects some aspect of their security and falls victim to a crippling large-scale cyberattack, with criminals lifting millions of dollars in customer data and digital assets. Equifax, J.P. Morgan, Home Depot, Yahoo!, Verizon, Uber and Target – these narratives are so commonplace that they barely raise an eyebrow when we read about them in the news.

Most business owners wrongly assume that these incidents have no bearing on their own companies, but these high-profile incidents account for less than half of data breaches. In fact, according to Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report, 61% of attacks are directed at small businesses, with half of the 28 million small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in America coming under fire within the last year.

It’s hard to imagine how you can possibly protect yourself from these innumerable threats. Statistically, you can be all but certain that hackers will come for your data, and there’s no way to know what new tool they’ll be equipped with when they do.

You may not be able to foresee the future, but you can certainly prepare for it. With research, education and resources, you can implement a robust security solution into the fabric of your business. That way, you can send hackers packing before they get their hooks into the organization you’ve spent years building from the ground up.

One huge leap you can make right now for the security of your business is to simply realize that cyber security isn’t something you can install and leave alone for years, months or even days. It requires regular updates and the attention of professionals to ensure there’s no gap in your protection. There are new shady tactics being used by criminals every day, but there are also fresh protocols you can use to stave them off.

Small business owners assume that since they don’t have the resources of a Fortune 500 company, they don’t have the means to invest in anything but the barest of security.

Obviously, hackers know this and target SMBs in droves. The bad news is that most businesses’ paper-thin barriers won’t save them in the event of a crisis. The good news is that it doesn’t take thousands upon thousands of dollars to implement a security system that will send the hackers packing.

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Security Alert! Hackers And Cybercriminals Are Now Concentrating Their Attacks On Your Business Is Your Cyberprotection Up-To-Date?

Technology exists in a state of constant flux. The most popular gadgets turn obsolete within a year or two, the sophistication of the hardware and software we use increases exponentially with each passing month and the digital foundations of modern society are almost continuously supplanted. Every day, there’s a new device to contend with, a fresh update and an addendum to the already dizzying array of features at our fingertips.

It’s a thrilling world full of possibility and potential, but our dependence on these ever-changing technologies comes at a price. The overlay of the Internet on all aspects of our lives is fraught with vulnerabilities that criminals are eager to exploit. Though new protective measures are developed at the same breakneck speed as the software they guard, so are new ways to penetrate and circumvent these defenses. It’s estimated that 978,000 new malware threats are released with each passing day. It’s clear that “upto- date” can no longer be an accurate descriptor; it always describes a system one step behind the newest development.

Today, cybercriminals are casting a wider net and catching more hapless victims than ever before. We read about the most costly of these breaches in the news each morning, including Equifax, J.P. Morgan, Home Depot, Yahoo!, Verizon, Uber and dozens more.

even comprise the majority of attacks. According to Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report, 61% of breaches occurred at small businesses, with half of the 28 million small businesses across the United States succumbing to a digital strike. Even scarier is the fact that UPS Capital reports that 60% of these businesses shut down within six months of a breach.

It’s a bleak reality to come to terms with if you’re a business owner. The truth is that it’s almost a statistical certainty that hackers will come for your data, and when they do, they’ll likely be using techniques nearly unrecognizable from today’s malicious flavor of the month. How can you possibly prepare for something that is constantly changing?

The answer is sustained attention, vigilance and resources directed toward protecting all that you’ve worked so hard to build. While it may be impossible to foresee exactly how hackers will try to penetrate your business, it’s well within the means of most businesses to implement comprehensive security solutions to give your organization a fighting chance.

It’s vital to realize that, unfortunately, security protocols aren’t a set-it-andforget- it proposition. To respond to the evasive and increasingly sophisticated tools being shared throughout the enormous hacker community, you need an equally sophisticated and regularly updating security system. For nearly every one of the 978,000 fresh new malwares developed daily, there are patches and updates designed to address them – strategies and techniques to outsmart even the most devious of criminals.

Just because you don’t have the resources of a massive corporation doesn’t mean you need to be low-hanging fruit for well-funded and highly organized cybercrime rings.

Hackers assume that a business like yours is too tiny and ill-informed to prepare for even a simple phishing scam, and they’re usually right. But if every business owner put just a little more effort into securing their data, you can bet attacks would be curbed. And if every small business pledged to implement a professionally managed security protocol, we would see the frequency of these hacks diminish drastically.

There’s a lot for business owners to think about during a year as chaotic as 2018, but your top priority should be the basic security of your company. Invest your time and resources into building a foundational blockade for potential threats, and you can rest assured that your livelihood is safe from digital collapse.

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