Why NOT Investing In IT Can Cost You BIG

If you haven’t invested in IT security, then your business is at risk.

These days, it’s easy to take technology for granted. It just seems like everything works so well. If things are working well, why spend more on things like data monitoring or secure cloud storage?

Here’s a startling fact: a lot of business owners take this approach to network security. They might think, “This will never happen to me,” when it comes to data breaches, malware and hacker attacks. While they might be great at running their businesses, they may end up skimping on their IT security.

They see it as something they simply don’t need to invest in. But a lot of business owners end up paying big because they aren’t serious enough about IT security. A simple virus scan app or firewall just isn’t enough. Hackers and cybercriminals are relentless.

Here’s another startling fact: threats like data breaches, malware and hacker attacks are a lot closer than you think. When you go cheap with your network security or don’t work with an experienced IT services company, it can end up costing you big in the long run.

A lot of business owners skip out on things like network security, cloud backup, data protection and data monitoring because they don’t like the up-front cost or another monthly bill. In reality, while you can expect
an ongoing cost, working with a managed IT services firm can be remarkably cost-effective (and smart!).

When your network security solutions are running smoothly, you won’t know it. It all happens in the background. But because it’s not something you “see” on a daily basis, you might wonder if you’re really getting your
money’s worth. This can be a challenge for business owners who may want to see tangible results for something they pay for. The good news is that you can get tangible results!

Many IT services firms let businesses customize their reporting. You can actually get daily, weekly or monthly reports from your IT security company! You can see exactly what they’re doing for your business and the exact threats they’re protecting you from.

More than that, a good IT services company is going to work closely with you. They’ll provide you with the information, resources and tools you need in order to focus on your customers and the successes of your business. They’ll educate you and your team and help you identify the best technology for your needs. That’s the definition of peace of mind!

Here’s why it can be so costly to NOT invest in IT security:

SCENARIO 1: Imagine you’re hit with a malware attack, and it takes your network out of commission. Customer data is at risk, and your business comes to a screeching halt. You have to call in IT experts to fix the problem ASAP. This is a break-fix approach to IT services.

In this event, you’re going to be charged BIG to get your business up and running again. The IT specialists will have to scrub your network and make sure everything can be recovered. Not only do you have to pay to get your network cleaned, but your cash flow also takes a hit while you wait around to get everything fixed.

SCENARIO 2: You’re hit by a data breach. Hackers are looking for information they can exploit, such as credit card numbers, passwords and other identifying information. They often sell this information to other cybercriminals. In almost every case, this information CANNOT be recovered. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

This means you have to take action FAST to make sure stolen information cannot be used. This includes changing credit card information and updating passwords. In the event of a data breach, the sooner you inform your customers, the better. But this is a double-edged sword. Your customers need to know so they can protect themselves. At the same time, your customers may lose faith in you because you put their data at risk.

These are just two examples out of many. When you don’t take IT security seriously or you’re cheap with your technology, it can end up costing you BIG in the end. Work with an IT security company that will work with you to protect your business the right way – and help you avoid scenarios just like these.

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The #1 Mistake Companies Make With Their IT

If you’re like many businesses today, there’s a good chance you’ve made this one mistake with your IT security: you don’t budget for it.

Or if you do budget for it, it’s not enough to really protect your business.

Time and time again, business owners decide NOT to invest in IT services. Instead, they go it alone or skip it completely.

Or they might approach an IT services company and ask, “What do you charge for your services?” They don’t ask, “What will I get for my money?” or “How can you meet the needs of my company?” This is a backward approach to IT – and it’s a big mistake.

The fact is that a lot of business owners don’t take IT seriously. They think that because they haven’t been hit by a data breach or a malware attack that it will never happen to them. That’s another big mistake. Just because a business hasn’t fallen victim to a cyber-attack DOES NOT mean they’re safe.

It’s the opposite.

When you hire an IT services company, what do you get for your money?

The honest answer is that it depends on your specific needs. Many IT services companies offer everything from basic to advanced network security. You can expect services like:

  • Cloud backup
  • Data protection
  • Data monitoring
  • Threat detection
  • Technology maintenance
  • And more!

Everything is designed to protect you, your network, your technology, your employees and your business as a whole. It’s all about giving you the information and resources you need so you can worry less about outside threats and focus on your customers and the success of your business.

When you’re invested in good IT security, you shouldn’t even know it’s there. It runs in the background like a quiet but powerful electric motor. It’s there when you need it, and it’s there when you’re not even thinking about it.

For some business owners, this is a tough pill to swallow. They don’t have something tangible in front of them that they can see 24/7. A lot of business owners like to be more hands-on. They like to see what their money
is buying.

The great thing is that a good IT services company will provide you with something tangible. If you want to see what is going on behind the scenes of your IT security, they will give you a complete report. Every day (or week
or month), you can have an e-mail delivered to your in-box that breaks down exactly what your IT services firm is doing for you.

You can see things like the threats they blocked from getting through. You can see when they performed system maintenance or when your data was backed up. You can customize these reports to your needs. Basically, you can see what you’re paying for and how it’s working. This is the very definition of “peace of mind.”

Today, none of us can afford to skip out on good IT security. We can’t wait to react until something happens. Because when something does happen, it’s often too late. The cybercriminals have done their damage and moved on. Meanwhile, your business comes to a screeching halt, and you have to pay the big bucks to get everything back on track – if you can get back on track.

Some businesses don’t get back on track. They are forced to close after a cyber-attack because they don’t have the money or resources to recover. The damage is simply too much and the cost too high. If they had invested in IT security upfront, it might be a different story.

Don’t get caught off guard by a data breach, malware infection, hacker attack or data loss due to technology failure or natural causes like flood or fire. It’s time to take your IT to the next level. Protect your business the right way and avoid the mistake so many others make when they avoid the investment in good IT.

Work with an IT services firm that takes your business as seriously as you do.

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Making This One Mistake With Your Network Can DESTROY Your Business

A lot of businesses wait until something breaks before they fix it. And even then, they may take a “patchwork” approach to fixing the problem. They are reactive rather than proactive. Sometimes taking a reactive approach is fine, but other times, and depending on the circumstances, it can lead to even bigger problems.

When it comes to network security, for example, being reactive to problems can be downright dangerous. It’s not just hackers you have to worry about. There are power outages, data loss, equipment failure and more. In IT, a lot can go wrong. But if you’re proactive about cyber security, you can avoid many of those pitfalls.

Reactive IT support used to be the norm. Most network security specialists went to work after something went wrong. Unfortunately, some businesses still have this reactive mindset when it comes to their IT and network security. They have an “it won’t happen to me” attitude. The truth is that these are the people most at risk. It’s not a matter of if, but when. Hackers and cybercriminals are more active than ever.

Thankfully, proactive support is now the norm. More and more IT services and security firms have the tools and resources to protect you BEFORE the worst happens. So, why partner with an IT services company?

There are many reasons why it’s a good idea. One great reason that doesn’t often get talked about is that working with an IT services company is an added value for your customers. When they know you’re taking IT security seriously – and when they know their data is safe – their trust in you is boosted.

When you build trust, you build loyalty, and customer loyalty is getting harder to come by these days. Plus, happy, loyal customers are much more likely to refer you to others who may be in need of your services. That alone makes investing in proactive IT security worth it.

Here’s another reason why working with a proactive IT services firm makes sense: it’s MUCH easier than trying to do it yourself. Many small businesses simply don’t have the resources to hire an internal IT specialist or a team. Not only can that be very costly, but it’s also rarely practical. Think of it this way: if you hire an IT specialist to handle your network security, manage cloud backups and provide general IT support, then what happens when they take a day off or take a vacation?

Having a dedicated IT specialist on your team isn’t a bad thing, but they can be stretched thin very easily. You could be left with gaps in your support should anything go wrong. Suddenly, you don’t have anyone you can call. Working with a dedicated IT services firm solves these problems.

To take that a step further, good IT services companies are also great at catching problems before they become problems. They can catch things that might not have even been on your radar. For example, if your cloud backup service isn’t backing up your data correctly, or is backing up the wrong data, they’ll catch that. Maybe you’re saving data that’s not properly encrypted. They’ll catch that. Maybe you have an employee using software that’s months out-of- date. Again, they’ll catch that.

When you call up an IT services company and say you want to take a proactive approach to your network security, they should be willing and able to provide just that. An experienced firm will have a team with the training, certification and experience required to tackle today’s cyberthreats, while managing your network’s day-to-day needs.

They know IT because they live IT. They help with data recovery should anything go wrong; they are your help desk when you have questions or concerns and they keep your onsite malware protection up-to-date. They are tailored to your business’s specific needs. And as you grow, they adapt to your changing needs.

Put an end to the outdated way of thinking about IT security. It’s time to be proactive and to recognize your company’s vulnerabilities before they become vulnerabilities. You just have to make the call.

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This Is The #1 Thing You Can Do To Prevent Cybercriminals From Hacking Your Network

There is one thing many small businesses do that puts them at risk for a cyber-attack. They take a reactive approach to IT security. They wait until something bad happens until they do anything.

Unfortunately, we live and work in a time when you can no longer be reactive to cyberthreats. Practically every small business is connected to the Internet and relies on a network to function. It’s the digital world we live in. We have to deal with hackers, data loss, equipment failure and everything else that goes with living in that
digital world.

But you can reduce your risk and prevent hackers from getting into your network by taking a proactive approach to your cyber security and by working closely with an experienced IT services company that knows how to navigate today’s digital world and all the threats that go along with it.

Looking back 20 or 25 years, reactive IT support used to be the norm. Something would go wrong, and you could call up IT to fix it. Well, things are more complex in 2020. Threats take many forms, and simply being reactive doesn’t work anymore.

What does it mean to be proactive with your IT support?

It means your business is more secure and you’re ready to take on today’s cyberthreats. It means you’re working with professionals who have the tools and resources to protect you before the worst happens. It just makes sense.

Working with a dedicated IT firm means you don’t have to take care of your IT security needs by yourself. If you’re like most small businesses, you don’t have the resources to hire an IT specialist or a whole IT department. Having an on-site IT specialist can be expensive. Because they are in such high demand right now, they command hefty wages.

Plus, you don’t want any gaps in your support. If your one “IT guy” goes on a vacation or can’t come in one day, you’re out of luck should anything happen. When you work with an IT services firm, chances are they’ll offer 24/7 support (many of the good ones do).

When you have 24/7 support, it becomes so much easier to catch problems before they happen. If your cloud backup goes down, you’ve got support. If hackers try to break through your network security, you’ll be alerted. And all of your software stays up-to-date with the latest security patches. The list goes on. You have people watching out for your interests. Think about how much better you’d sleep at night with that kind of protection guarding your business!

Here’s another really great thing about working with a proactive IT services firm: you can tell your customers about it! In fact, you could make it a selling point. Today’s consumers are more security-minded than ever before. And with data breaches hitting major companies every year, your current (and future) customers want to know that their personal and financial data are safe.

Don’t wait until something breaks or until you are hacked before calling support for help. That puts the future of your business at risk. You need to work with an IT services company that is ready and willing to proactively manage your network. An experienced company has the training, certification and know-how required to tackle today’s cyberthreats while managing your network’s needs.

Make that call and never be caught off guard by threats that are never going to go away. Turn vulnerabilities into strengths.

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Your #1 Threat Of Being Hacked Is INSIDE Your Own Organization

Small businesses are the biggest targets of hackers and cybercriminals. They are targeted because they are less likely to have strong – or any – security in place. But in so many cases, hackers don’t need to use malicious code or cracking skills to get what they want. Instead, they rely on your biggest vulnerability: your own employees.

The #1 threat to any business’s IT security is its employees. It all stems from a lack of training. Employees don’t know how to spot threats, or they don’t know not to click unverified links in their emails. Most of the time, these actions are simple mistakes – but mistakes aren’t excuses and can result in MAJOR costs to your business.

Here are three things you can do to turn your employees from your biggest IT threat to your biggest IT asset:

Establish Regular Cyber Security Training.

First and foremost, get everyone in your business trained up on IT security. Wesley Simpson, the chief operating officer of (ISC)2, an international cyber security certification group, suggests thinking about IT education as “people patching.” Just as you continually update and patch your software and security, ongoing education serves to update, or patch, your employees. He says, “If you don’t get your people patched continually, you’re always going to have vulnerabilities.”

But don’t put the training solely on your shoulders. Work closely with a company that specializes in IT security. Doing it yourself can be stressful and time-consuming. An experienced IT firm is going to come in with all the education and resources you need to successfully train everyone in your organization on cyberthreats targeting your business today.

Keep Cyber Security Top Of Mind.

While you may have training or educational sessions once a quarter or biannually (regular sessions are recommended), you still need to keep IT security in the minds of your employees on a weekly basis. During weekly meetings, for example, talk about a cyber security topic. Or, if you share news or links with your employees in a weekly, company-wide email, for example, include a cyber security story or tips article.

It’s all about utilizing systems you already have in place to keep your team informed and this important topic at the forefront.

Emphasize Safe Internet Usage Habits.

This should supplement regular training. Employees should always know the best practices when it comes to using the Internet, email or anything else that brings them in contact with the World Wide Web. Part of it involves keeping the lines of communication open. If an employee sees something out of the ordinary come into their inbox, encourage them to bring it to the team’s attention – whether they’re telling their direct supervisor, manager or you. The easier the communication between everyone on your team, the easier it is to identify and stop attacks.

The goal is to eliminate guesswork. If an employee isn’t sure about an email, they should be trained to ask questions and verify. On top of that, you should have a policy in place that prevents employees from installing unverified software, which includes apps and app extensions (such as browser extensions), without permission. And one more thing – stress safe Internet usage habits not just in the workplace but at home as well. This is especially critical if your employees are bringing in their own devices. If that’s the case, you should absolutely have a “bring your own device” (BYOD) security policy in place. It’s just another wall between your business and potential threats.

How do you get all this started? Good question! It all starts with reaching out. If you’re ready to lock down your business and you’re serious about educating your employees and turning them into your best defence, we can help. The best IT security you’ve ever had is one phone call away.

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Employees Are Letting Hackers Into Your Network By Doing These 5 Things … Here Is What You Can Do To Stop It!

If you run a small business, you are a target for cybercriminals. At this point, it’s just a fact of life. Hackers, scammers and cybercriminals of all kinds target small businesses because they are plentiful, and more often than not, they lack good cyber security (if they have any at all). Here’s the kicker: these criminals don’t need to use malicious code or advanced hacking skills to get what they want. In reality, many of them target your biggest vulnerability: your own employees.

It’s a sad truth, but every day, employees of small businesses let hackers right in because they don’t know better. They see an e-mail from the boss, open it and click the link inside. By the time they realize they’ve made a mistake, they’re too embarrassed to say anything. From there, the problem gets worse. Actions like this can end in DISASTER for your business.

The problem is that most employees don’t have the training to identify and report IT security issues. They aren’t familiar with today’s threats or they don’t know to not click that e-mail link. There are many things employees are doing – or not doing – that cause serious problems for small-business owners. Here are five things people do that allow hackers to waltz in through your front door.

  1. They don’t know better. Many people have never been trained in cyber security best practices. While some of us may know how to protect our network, safely browse the web and access e-mail, many people don’t. Believe it or not, people do click on ads on the Internet or links in their e-mail without verifying the source.

This can be fixed with regular cyber security training. Call in an experienced IT security firm and set up training for everyone in your organization, including yourself. Learn about best practices, current threats and how to safely navigate today’s networked world.

  1. They use bad passwords. Many people still use bad passwords like “12345” and “qwerty.” Simple passwords are golden tickets for hackers. Once they have a username (which is often just a person’s actual name in a business setting), if they can guess the password, they can let themselves into your network.

Many security experts suggest having a policy that requires employees to use strong passwords. Passwords should be a mix of letters (uppercase and lowercase), numbers and symbols. The more characters, the better. On top of that, passwords need to be changed every three months, and employees should use a different password for every account. Employees may groan, but your network security is on the line.

  1. They don’t practice good security at home. These days, many businesses rely on “bring your own device” (BYOD) policies. Employees use the same devices at home and at work, and if they have poor security at home, they could be opening up your business to major outside threats.

How do you fix this? Define a security policy that covers personal devices used in the workplace, including laptops, smartphones and more. Have a list of approved devices and approved anti-malware software. This is where working with an IT security firm can be hugely beneficial. They can help you put together a solid BYOD security policy.

  1. They don’t communicate problems. If an employee opens a strange file in an e-mail, they might not say anything. They might be embarrassed or worry that they’ll get in trouble. But by not saying anything, they put your business at huge risk. If the file was malware, it could infect your entire network.

Employees must be trained to communicate potential security threats immediately. If they see something odd in their inbox, they should tell their direct supervisor, manager or you. The lines of communication should be open and safe. When your team is willing to ask questions and verify, they protect your business.

  1. They fall for phishing scams. One of the most common scams today is the phishing scam. Cybercriminals can spoof e-mail addresses to trick people into thinking the message is legitimate. Scammers often use fake CEO or manager e-mails to get lower-level employees to open the message. Criminals will do anything to trick people into opening fraudulent e-mails.

Overcoming these threats falls on proper training and education. Phishing e-mails are easy to spot if you take the time to do it. Look at the details. For example, the CEO’s e-mail might be [email protected], but the scam e-mail is from [email protected] It’s a small but significant difference. Again, it’s all about asking questions and verifying. If someone isn’t sure if an e-mail is legit, they should always ask.

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Clear Signs You’re About To Get Hacked … And What To Do NOW To Prevent It

Do you use the same password for everything? If you do, you’re not alone. We all have bad cyber habits, whether it’s reusing passwords or connecting to unsecured WiFi. These habits can make it easy for hackers to steal our personal information and use it for their own purposes – or they can sell it on the dark web for an easy profit.

These are habits you have to stop right now – and habits your employees need to stop too. After all, good cyber security practices are a group effort! But using the same password for everything or using simple passwords aren’t the only things that are going to get you into trouble. Here are three more clear signs you’re setting yourself up for a breach.

Sharing Your E-mail

Countless websites want your e-mail address. Sometimes it’s not a big deal if you’re sharing it with a vendor or ecommerce site. You want to ensure you receive invoices and shipping confirmation. But other websites just want you to sign up for special offers, notifications, e-mail newsletters and other inbox clutter. It sounds mostly harmless, but what they fail to tell you is the fact that they’re going to sell your email address to advertisers and other third parties.

To make matters worse, you have no idea where your e-mail address will end up – or if it will fall into the wrong hands. Hackers are constantly on the lookout for e-mail addresses they can take advantage of. They use e-mail for several different kinds of cyberscams – most notably phishing scams. Hackers can even make it look like an e-mail is coming from a legitimate source to get you to open it.

Whenever possible, avoid using your work or personal email. If you need to sign up for something and you don’t completely trust the source (or just want to avoid spam), create a “burner” e-mail address you can use. It should be something different from your work or personal e-mail and not associated with business or banking.

Not Using HTTPS

Most of us are familiar with HTTP. It’s short for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and is a part of every web address. These days, however, many websites are using HTTPS – the S standing for “secure.” Some web browsers, like Google Chrome, even open HTTPS websites automatically, giving you a more secure connection. Of course, this only works if the website was made with an HTTPS option.

Why is visiting an unsecured HTTP website dangerous? Any data you share with an unsecured website, such as date of birth, passwords or any financial information, may not be securely stored. You have no way of knowing that your private data won’t end up in the hands of a third party, whether that’s an advertiser or a hacker. It isn’t worth the risk.

“Many password managers are designed to suggest new passwords to you when it’s time to update your old passwords.”

When visiting any website, look in the address bar. There should be a little padlock. If the padlock is closed or green, you are on a secure website. If it’s open or red, the website is not secure. You can also click the padlock to verify the website’s security credentials. It’s best practice to immediately leave any website that is not secured. And never share your personal information on a webpage that is not secure.

Saving Your Passwords In Your Web Browser

Web browsers make life so easy. You can save your favorite websites at the click of a button. You can customize them to your needs using extensions and addons. And you can save all your usernames and passwords in one place! But as convenient as it is, saving passwords in your browser comes with a price: low security.

If a hacker gets into your saved passwords, it’s like opening a treasure chest full of gold. They have everything they could ever want. Sure, web browsers require a password or PIN to see saved passwords, but a skilled hacker can force their way past this hurdle if given the chance.

Use a password manager instead. These apps keep all of your passwords in one place, but they come with serious security. Even better, many password managers are designed to suggest new passwords to you when it’s time to update your old passwords. LastPass, 1Password and Keeper Security Password Manager are all good options. Find one that suits your needs and the needs of your business.

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5 Signs You’re About To Get Hacked – And What You Can Do To Prevent It

Hackers love to go after small businesses. There are many businesses to choose from, and many don’t invest in good IT security. Plus, many business owners and their employees have bad cyber security habits. They do things that increase their risk of a malware attack or a cyber-attack. Here are five bad habits that can lead to a hack and what you can do to reduce your risk.

  1. Giving out your e-mail Just about every website wants your e-mail address. If you share it with a vendor or e- commerce site, it’s usually not a big deal (though it varies by site – some are more than happy to sell your e-mail to advertisers). The point is that when you share your e-mail, you have no idea where it will end up – including in the hands of hackers and scammers. The more often you share your e-mail, the more you’re at risk and liable to start getting suspicious e-mails in your inbox.

    If you don’t recognize the sender, then don’t click it. Even if you do recognize the sender but aren’t expecting anything from them and do click it, then DO NOT click links or attachments. There’s always a chance it’s malware. If you still aren’t sure, confirm with the sender over the phone or in person before clicking anything.

  2. Not deleting cookies Cookies are digital trackers. They are used to save website settings and to track your behavior. For example, if you click a product, cookies are logged in your browser and shared with ad networks. This allows for targeted advertising.

    There’s no good way to tell who is tracking online. But you can use more secure web browsers, like Firefox and Safari. These browsers make it easy to control who is tracking you.

    In Firefox, for example, click the three lines in the upper right corner, go into the Options menu and set your Privacy & Security preferences. Plus, every web browser has the option to delete cookies – which you should do constantly. In Chrome, simply click History, then choose “Clear Browsing Data.” Done. You can also use ad-blocking extensions, like uBlock Origin, for a safe web-browsing experience.

  3. Not checking for HTTPS Most of us know HTTP – Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It’s a part of every web address. However, most websites now use HTTPS, with the S meaning “secure.” Most browsers now automatically open HTTPS websites, giving you a more secure connection, but not all sites use it.

    If you visit an unsecured HTTP website, any data you share with that site, including date of birth or financial information, is not secure. You don’t know if your private data will end up in the hands of a third party, whether that be an advertiser (most common) or a hacker. Always look in the address bar of every site you visit. Look for the padlock icon. If the padlock is closed or green, you’re secure. If it’s open or red, you’re not secure.

    You should immediately leave any website that isn’t secure.

  4. “Good IT security can be the best investment you can make for the future of your business.”

  5. Saving passwords in your web browser Browsers can save passwords at the click of a button. Makes things easy, right? Unfortunately, this method of saving passwords is not the most secure. If a hacker gets your saved passwords, they have everything they could ever want. Most web browsers require a password or PIN to see saved passwords, but a skilled hacker can force their way past this if given the chance.

    Protect yourself with a dedicated password manager! These apps keep passwords in one place and come with serious security. Password managers can also suggest new passwords when it’s time to update old passwords (and they remind you to change your passwords!). LastPass, 1Password and Keeper Security Password Manager are good options. Find one that suits your needs and the needs of your business.

  6. You believe it will never happen to you This is the worst mentality to have when it comes to cyber security. It means you aren’t prepared for what can happen. Business owners who think hackers won’t target them are MORE likely to get hit with a data breach or malware attack. If they think they are in the clear, they are less likely to invest in good security and education for their employees.

    The best thing you can do is accept that you are at risk. All small businesses are at risk. But you can lower your risk by investing in good network security, backing up all your data to a secure cloud network, using strong passwords, educating your team about cyberthreats and working with a dedicated IT company. Good IT security can be the best investment you make for the future of your business.

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Top 3 Ways Hackers Will Attack Your Network — And They Are Targeting You RIGHT NOW

You might read the headline of this article and think, “That has to be an exaggeration.” Unfortunately, it’s not. Every single day, small businesses are targeted by cybercriminals. These criminals look for vulnerable victims, then attack.

This is the world we live in today. It’s one where cybercriminals regularly take advantage of small businesses. Why small businesses? They’re the favorite target of hackers, scammers and other cybercriminals because small businesses have a bad habit of NOT investing in cyber security.

Hackers have many methods they use to break into your network, steal data or put you in a position where you have to pay them money to get your data back. They use a combination of software and skill to make it happen. Here are three ways hackers and cybercriminals attack your network in an attempt to get what they want.

  1. THEY GO THROUGH YOUR EMPLOYEES.
  2. That’s right, they’ll use your own employees against you, and your employees might not even realize what’s happening. Let’s say a hacker gets ahold of your internal e-mail list, like the e-mails you have posted on your website or LinkedIn. All the hacker has to do is send an e-mail to everyone at your company.

    The e-mail might be disguised as a message addressed from you asking your employees for a gift card, which is becoming an increasingly common scam. Another e-mail tactic is making a message look like it’s from a fellow employee, asking everyone else to open an attached file, which is likely malware or ransomware. A third
    e-mail scam is directing people to a phishing website, which is a website that scammers have designed to look like popular websites in order to get login information to hack accounts. All it takes is a single click from any employee to let the bad guys into your business.

  3. THEY ATTACK YOUR NETWORK DIRECTLY.
  4. Some hackers aren’t afraid of forced entry. Hackers and cybercriminals have access to black market tools and software that helps them get into networked devices – particularly unprotected networked devices.

    For example, if you have a PC that’s connected to the Internet and your network doesn’t use any firewalls, data encryption or other network protection software, a hacker can break in and steal data from that PC and potentially other devices connected to that PC, such as portable hard drives. This method of entry isn’t necessarily easy for hackers, but the effort can be worth it, especially if they can walk away with sensitive financial information.

  5. THEY HOLD YOUR DATA HOSTAGE.
  6. Hackers are relying on ransomware more and more to get what they want. Hackers rely on e-mail, executable files and fraudulent web ads (such as banner ads and popups) to attack networks with ransomware. It goes back to the first point. All it takes is someone clicking a bad link or file and the next thing you know, you’re locked out of your network.

    This has happened to dozens of businesses and even city governments in the last year alone. The thing is that even if you pay the ransom, there is no guarantee the hacker will restore access. They can take the money and delete everything, leaving your business high and dry! This destroys businesses!

All of these points are why you need to take a hard look at IT security solutions and use them. For instance, if you had all of your data securely backed up to the cloud and a hacker came in and tried to hold your data hostage, you wouldn’t have to worry. They don’t really have your data. You can tell them “no,” then all you’d have to do is work with an IT team to get your network back up and running while scrubbing it of any malware or ransomware.

Then, it would be a simple matter of restoring data from the cloud. Sure, you might be out of commission for a day or two, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s much better than losing your business to these jokers.

Hackers are just looking for easy targets and, sadly, a lot of small businesses fit the bill. Just because you haven’t had any major problems yet doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. The threats are out there and they’re not going to go away. Invest in security, partner with an IT security firm and protect yourself. This is one investment that is truly worth it!

Posted in eTechTip - AP | Leave a comment

If You Think Your Business Is Too Small To Be Hacked … You’re A Cybercriminal’s #1 Target

Many cybercriminals look at small businesses like blank checks. More often than not, small businesses just don’t put money into their cyber security, and hackers and cybercriminals love those odds. They can target small businesses at random, and they are all but guaranteed to find a business that has no IT security – or the business does have some security but it isn’t set up correctly.

At the same time, cybercriminals send e-mails to businesses (and all the employees) with links to phishing websites (websites designed to look like familiar and legitimate websites) or links to malware. They hope employees will click on the links and give the criminals the information they want. All it takes is ONE employee to make the click.

Or, if the business doesn’t have any security in place, a cybercriminal may be able to steal all the data they want. If you have computers connected to the Internet and those computers house sensitive business or customer data – and you have NO security – cybercriminals have tools to access these computers and walk away with sensitive data.

It gets worse! There are cybercriminals who have the capability to lock you out of your computer system and hold your data hostage. They may send along a link to ransomware, and if you or an employee clicks the link or downloads a file, your business could be in big trouble. The criminal may request a sum of money in exchange for restoring your PCs or data.

However, as some businesses have learned, it’s not always that simple. There are businesses that have paid the ransom only for the cybercriminal to delete all of their data anyway. The criminal walks away with the money and the business is left to die.

And that’s not an understatement! Once cybercriminals have your data and money, or both, they don’t care what happens to you. Cybercriminals can do more than just major damage to small businesses; their actions can literally destroy a business! We’re talking about the costs of repairing the damage and the cost of losing customers who no longer want to do business with you. You’re looking at a public relations nightmare!

This goes to show just how critical good IT security really is, but business owners still don’t take it seriously. Even as we enter 2020, there are business owners who don’t consider cyber security a high priority — or a priority at all. It’s a mindset that comes from before the age of the Internet, when businesses didn’t face these kinds of threats. And many business owners fall into the habit of complacency. In other words, “It hasn’t happened yet, so it probably isn’t going to happen.” Or “My business isn’t worth attacking.”

Cybercriminals don’t think like this. It’s a numbers game and only a matter of time. Business owners need to adapt to today’s online landscape where just about everything is connected to the Internet. And if something is connected to the Internet, there is always going to be some level of vulnerability.

But you can control your level of vulnerability! You can be cheap or complacent and do the bare minimum, which will put your business and customers at risk. Or you can take it seriously and put IT security measures in place – firewalls, malware protection, secure modems and routers, cyber security insurance and working with a dedicated IT security company. There are so many options available to secure your business.

The reality is that cyber security should be a normal, everyday part of any business. And anyone thinking about starting a business should be having the cyber security talk right from the very beginning: “What are we going to do to protect our business and our customers from outside cyberthreats?”

When it comes down to it, not only do you need good cyber security, but you also need a good cyber security policy to go along with it. It’s something you share with your team, customers, vendors, investors and anyone else who puts their trust in your business. Transparency about your cyber security is a great way to build and
maintain trust with these people. If you don’t have IT security in place, why should anyone trust you?

Think about that question and think about the security you have in place right now. How can you make it better? If you need to reach out to an IT security firm, do it! It will only make your business better and prepare you for the threats that are looming right now. No business is too small or too obscure to be hacked.

Posted in eTechTip - PC | Leave a comment
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