The Shocking Truth Behind The Growing Cybercrime Threats You Face … And What You Can Do NOW To Protect Your Company

Are businesses losing the war on cybercrime? One recent article on ZDNet says yes. The number of security breaches has risen by 11% just in the last year. This is costing businesses even more in lost revenue dealing with these kinds of attacks. It’s wasting their time and resources.

In 2016, Cybersecurity Ventures stated that by 2021, digital crime will cost businesses a total of $6 trillion. So far, this projection seems on point as hackers continue to chip away at businesses around the world. They don’t care about the damage they’re doing.

Right now, the Internet is flooded with sensitive data. From passwords to financial information – it’s out there. Some of it is secure, some of it isn’t. Either way, because of the sheer amount of data floating out there, cybercriminals have a greater chance to get what they want. And over time, it becomes harder to protect that data.

But the cyber security industry has also grown in response. People are fighting back. In 2018, the investment into cyber security totaled $37 billion. However, it seems like it’s just not enough. When you look at small and medium-sized businesses – the targets of nearly 70% of cyber-attacks, according to SMB Group – cyber security isn’t taken as seriously as it should be.

In 2017, Harvard Business Review looked at the reasons behind why many businesses don’t take cyber security seriously. The results were interesting. It turned out, businesses don’t treat cyber security as “the ongoing process that it is.” Instead, it’s typically treated as a “finite problem that can be solved.” In other words, if you do the bare minimum for security today, the thinking goes, you’ll be protected tomorrow.

The problem is as the Internet changes and evolves, so do the threats against its users. It’s pretty much impossible to set up a one-and-done security solution. If you were to set up something like an SMB “quick fix” and walk away, there’s a good chance your business would be the successful target of an attack within a matter of months.

This kind of thinking is far more costly than many business owners realize. A study by Akouto and Alpha Logistics found that businesses that underinvest in cyber security end up spending more on cyber security in the long run as they deal with attacks – up to 58% more. These costs don’t even include downtime or lost wages caused by data breaches. In short, recovering from an attack is FAR more expensive than investing in security now. So what can you do to protect your business? You can start with changing the way you think about cyber security. You have to accept that the threats are out there and will always be out there. But there are things you can do to minimize those threats.

Start with your people. For many businesses, especially those smaller than Fortune 500 companies, your biggest threat is right inside your organization. For those of us who are Internet-savvy, most would never dream of clicking on a scammy link or responding to a phishing e-mail. We’ve been around the cyber block and we know what to look for.

However, people still fall for even the most basic scams. There will always be someone on your team who isn’t informed about these kinds of threats, or those who use obvious passwords. ZDNet points out that “only 26% of workers know what to do in the event of a breach” and that “7% openly acknowledge that they ignore or go around security policy.”

It pays to invest in a thorough and ongoing training program. It’s crucial to outline clear and firm security protocols so your team knows EXACTLY what to do. No one’s left guessing or clicking on anything they don’t recognize.

It’s also crucial to not go it alone. The single best way to stay on top of all things cyber security is to hire a highly experienced managed services provider who is up-to-date on the threats you’re facing. Having a partner means you don’t have to assume your business is protected. You’ll know your business is protected.

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Top Ways To Protect Your Business From The #1 Security Threat You Face

Today, cybercrime is more than a potential threat facing your business. It’s an unavoidable force of nature.

“It’s just like preparing for hurricanes, earthquakes or any type of natural or man-made disaster that could create business continuity issues,” says Theresa Payton, the Fortalice Solutions CEO and former White House CIO, in an interview with Cybercrime Magazine. “[It’s the] same thing with a digital cyber-event.” For many of us, it’s easy to imagine these kinds of things happening to “the other guy” and not us. The problem is that cybercriminals go after everyone. They cast a wide net because that gets results.

In fact, according to Roger A. Grimes, 11-year principal security architect for Microsoft and cyber security columnist and speaker, “Eventually every company is hacked.” After decades consulting for many businesses, he’s come to the conclusion that “every company is completely and utterly owned by a nefarious hacker or easily could be.”

Owners of small and midsize businesses might imagine that – lucky us! – we don’t have enough cash to justify some faceless hacker’s effort. We’d be wrong. The reality is around half of cyber-attacks go after small businesses. These don’t really get reported by the media. They’re not as flashy as a cyber-attack against a big bank or retailer. But it’s the attacks against small businesses that do the most damage. One 2016 study found that 60% of small businesses hit with a cyber-attack closed within six months.

Thankfully, it’s not all bad news. While some business owners have no clue what cyber security they have in place, others are looking for ways to shore up their businesses. There are steps you can take to keep the bad guys out.

Two of the best ways to do that are to simply keep all your software up-to-date and keep your team educated about the threats. As Grimes puts it, “The two most likely reasons you will get exploited are due to unpatched software or a social engineering event where someone is tricked into installing something they shouldn’t … It would be a stretch to claim every other exploit type in the world, added together, would account for 1% of the risk.”

How can you keep your software up-to-date? You can actually automate a lot of it. There are several easy-to-use tools built just for this. Many of them also let you manage your software across your entire network from one set location. Say goodbye to jumping around and coordinating updates. Even better, there are many platforms capable of updating themselves. You just want to keep a close eye on them.

More than that, it’s always a good idea to put strong company policies in place. You want to be clear about your security and help inform employees about the dangers posed by malicious files and e-mails, among other things. Take time to educate them on the threats that are out there. And keep the education ongoing, because the threats are ongoing. The bad guys are always looking for new ways to break in.

And don’t forget about accountability. Keep the conversation going and talk to your employees about what they know about cyber security. Some businesses go so far as including cyber security training in their onboarding. Education is everything.

Finally, you MUST partner with a highly trained, security-focused managed service provider or other IT organization dedicated to keeping you protected from these constant threats. Some businesses try to do it on their own only to realize they don’t have the resources. Others think they need an entire in-house IT team to handle all of these threats.

But the fact is, by outsourcing the work, you save money while keeping out the bad guys optimizing key parts of your network and software. It’s a win/win. It’s all about being proactive. When you have a group of experts working every day behind the scenes, cyber security stays top of mind in your organization, whether you’re thinking about it or not. Really, it’s one less thing you have to stress about.

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Top 3 Leadership Strategies I Learned From Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning doesn’t need much of an introduction. Whether you’re a football fan or not, you’ve got to respect his hustle: Considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, with a career spanning 18 seasons of play, he’s the only quarterback in history with Super Bowl wins under his belt from two different franchises. Not only that, but he’s been named MVP five times – more than any other NFL player – and holds the record for career touchdown passes. To top it off, he’s a consummate philanthropist: His charity, the Peyback Foundation, is dedicated to providing opportunities to disadvantaged and at-risk kids.

With so many accolades squirreled away in his trophy case, it’d be easy to assume that the friendly, easygoing Manning you see off the field is only a fabrication. As far as I could tell from seeing him speak at a recent boot camp, though, the man is frustratingly faultless. Luckily, as a born leader, he is also eager to share his wealth of knowledge with others. Here are three of the top leadership strategies I learned from the retired football icon and how to implement them in your life and business.

1. The 4 Keys To Being A Top Performer

At his peak, Manning was one of the few individuals in the world to truly reach that lofty pinnacle of being the absolute best at what he did. Asked what got him there, he cited an attitude founded on four primary pillars for success.

Whatever field you’re in, he says, “You certainly gotta have the ability.” But, of course, that’s far from enough. “You gotta combine that ability with a strong work ethic. You hear about it in sports all the time: ‘hard worker, just not very talented’ or ‘super-talented, just not a very hard worker.’” If you cultivate both traits, he argues, that’s what will set you apart from the pack.

And then, what will drive you a notch higher is your passion. “You gotta love your job. [My brother] Eli and I always used to kid – we’d never tell the owners this – we would play for free, ’cause we loved football that much.” If you lack that fire for what you do, he adds, “it’ll show up somewhere.” The final component, he says, is a sense of accountability. “That’s what always kind of drove me, that people were counting on me – coaches, teammates, fans. You don’t want to let them down.”

2. Do Your Homework

Manning had a reputation for being one of the most consistently prepared quarterbacks in the NFL. By all accounts, the sheer level of detail he would put into his game plan was second to none.

When asked what steered him toward this habit, he has a pretty straightforward answer. “I always felt that preparation was where I could get an edge on the competition,” he says. “I couldn’t outthrow anybody, I couldn’t throw at 75 to 80 yards down the field. If you’ve ever seen me play, you certainly know I couldn’t outrun anybody; I had a coach tell me once that I couldn’t run out of sight in a week – that was nice. But I thought that I could out-prepare anybody, and so that’s what I based my game plan on.”

“The best leaders, Manning says, walk the walk as well as they talk the talk.”

When he was growing up, he says, his dad was always providing him with the wisdom of sports leaders. When he was 14, his dad gave him a quote from Chuck Noll, thencoach of the Pittsburgh Steelers: “Pressure is something that you feel only when you don’t know what you’re doing.” It’s okay to get nervous and excited, Manning says – that just means you care about your work. “But pressure means you haven’t done your homework.” It’s easy to get bored of the fundamentals, he says, but their mastery will be what leads you to victory.

3. Learn from your mentor’s example, and then lead by it

Manning was fortunate to be coached for years by some of the most skilled sports leaders in the country. But one of his greatest influences was the legendary coach Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts. “He had a very unique style of leadership,” Manning says. “Never raised his voice. Never used any kind of language, but he treated you like such a professional that you just didn’t want to let him down.”

According to Manning, Dungy peppered his coaching with a lot of pithy little expressions, things like “Take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves”; “Expectations, execution”; “No excuses, no explanations.” “He was just as calm in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl as he was out there at practice every day. When your leader is calm, the rest of your team following can be calm as well.”

The best leaders, Manning says, walk the walk as well as they talk the talk. Pay attention to the habits and advice of those you admire, implement them into your own practice and success will always follow.

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Top 3 Strategies I Learned From Peyton Manning To Improve Leadership And Grow My Business

Peyton Manning knows a thing or two about success. As one of the most legendary quarterbacks in the history of football, he’s reached heights few of us can ever hope to match, regardless of our field. When looking at a career as storied as Manning’s, it’s tempting to attribute his dominance to sheer innate talent and maybe some kind of preternatural work ethic. Certainly, if you ask him, he’ll tell you that these two are essential ingredients to any kind of outsized success. But there’s a third factor that we tend to overlook from the sidelines, one that has tremendous implications for our roles as business leaders: the influence of those who coach us along the way.

Speaking at a recent conference I attended, Manning said something that really stuck with me. “I think you always need to be coached,” he said. “Whatever level of success anyone in this room has reached, someone’s gonna hit a plateau. We need a coach to unlock our full potential.”

No matter where we’re at in our work and lives, it’s vital that we seek out folks to keep us accountable and moving forward. Luckily, I found Manning himself to be an invaluable resource in that regard. While he’s not about to sit down with me one-on-one, he definitely left us with a few key lessons we could all benefit from.

1. Recognize That You Don’t Know Everything.

It’s easy to balk when you hear a quarterback with two Super Bowl wins and five MVP awards under his belt tell you to remain humble in your self-perception, but it’s also telling. “I believe in mentoring and paying it forward,” he said, “but I also believe that we shouldn’t think we have it all figured out and that we don’t need to be mentored.”

Years back, Peyton and his brother, Eli, had a shared coach: David Cutcliffe, now the head coach at Duke University. Even after they’d entered the NFL, both he and his brother would return to Coach Cutcliffe and seek his insight and guidance to refresh and strengthen their fundamentals. It was “like we were 18-year-old college freshmen in college again, working on how to take a snap,” Manning says. Even as a 14-year all-pro quarterback, he continued to seek the counsel of his mentors on the most basic aspects of the game. “The point is that the little things do matter,” he said. “Keep being coached, and keep being evaluated.”

2. Be Adaptive.

As CEOs and managers, we’re the “coaches” of our business teams. And the best coaches, according to Manning, are the ones who know the members of their team and consistently play to their strengths. For example, the best offensive coordinators that Manning played for “were adaptive in designing the offensive system … around the players that he had on the team that year.” Since Manning is not particularly fast, coaches wouldn’t structure their offense on a lot of running plays, for instance. Rather than trying to magically turn him into a faster runner overnight, successful leaders tapped into the things he was good at.

Rather than complaining about your employees’ faults, hone in on their talents.

“Design plays that your team can do,” he said. “Don’t put them in situations where they’re not going to be really comfortable and not going to be successful … Being flexible based on who’s in the room is a good way to coach.”

Rather than complaining about your employees’ faults, hone in on their talents. This will not only motivate and inspire those you work for, but it’ll also optimize outcomes in your business for the long haul.

3. Practice Seriously.

When asked how he was able to consistently thrive under such incredible pressure, Manning cited a piece of advice he received early on in his football career: “Treat practice like a game.”

“Create those intense situations during practice, during the course of the week,” he said, “so that when Sunday afternoon or whenever that big moment comes around, you’re not overwhelmed by the moment.” At Manning’s practices, the team would always strive to maintain the same level of intensity they’d bring to a big game, from their own attitudes to the piping crowd noise.

“The biggest mistake people make in that mecca moment,” he said, speaking about the Super Bowl, “is to try to do something different from what they’ve been doing all season to get them to that point.” Find what works and cultivate it relentlessly, to the point that you and your team can do it in your sleep. “The competition’s going to be tough. It won’t be easy,” Manning said. “But there’s a reason you’re there in that moment … because you’ve had great success.” Keep doing those things while keeping a mind on your team, and further success will surely follow.

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Are YOU Prepared For The End Of Windows 7?

If you’re one of the estimated 40%+ of businesses still on the outdated Windows 7 platform, consider this your wake-up call: time is nearly up for your trusty, tried-and-true operating system. On January 14, 2020, Microsoft will end support for Windows 7. That means no more updates, security or otherwise, will be offered by the company from that date forward.

The clock’s been ticking on Windows 7 ever since Microsoft ended mainstream support back in 2015, and its time will soon be up. While it’s important to note that Windows 7 will still technically be usable after next January, this upcoming shift will spell trouble for users who’ve stuck it out to the platform’s bitter end. Not only will Windows 7 become progressively more unstable as modern hardware outpaces the software, but cybercriminals are certain to flock to the operating system after support shuts down, eager to pick off easy targets left vulnerable by the lack of ongoing security updates.

If you’re running a business, this is a risk you can’t afford. It’s time to contact your IT provider and make preparations to upgrade, preferably well in advance of the January 14 deadline. Whether you’re planning on seamlessly transitioning to Windows 10 or moving on to an alternative operating system, this is a task that needs to be at the top of your list.

Don’t Leave Yourself Vulnerable

Since Windows 7 will continue to work after January 14, you may wonder why you can’t just stick it out and keep using the platform. The answer is you can – but you absolutely shouldn’t. In fact, the risks and problems this decision would pose to your business make an upgrade less of a decision and more of an eventuality.

Modern software is no longer designed with Windows 7 in mind. This includes old software that’s been upgraded since the world moved on from the operating system. As technological progress continues at breakneck speed, more and more key programs will become unusable in Windows 7.

The same goes for hardware. Tech equipment advances exponentially year by year. In order to take advantage of these massive improvements, you need an operating system equipped to handle these new capabilities and features. What’s more, as the hardware progresses, it may become incompatible with Windows 7 altogether.

However, these are small concerns when compared to the future security of your network. As time goes on, new vulnerabilities are discovered in even the most well-designed operating systems. To fight against hackers, developers continuously search for ways to remove these security gaps and release them in the form of patches. With every annoying update you’re forced to install on your machine, you’re staving off would-be opportunists on the hunt for their next victim.

After Windows 7’s end of life, these updates will dry up. That means that any users still on the platform – and there will be a lot of them – will be exposed to the increasingly crafty exploits used by hackers. Cybercriminals, attracted to the lowest-hanging fruit, will come in droves for Windows 7 users, eager to pick at the scraps.

Staying on an operating system after it’s no longer supported is like leaving the digital door open on your business. Don’t do it.

Time Is Running Out

Of course, we’re still at least six months out from the Windows 7 end-of-life date. That may seem like a lot of time. When it comes time to actually make the transition, though, you’ll need all the time you can get. Upgrading dozens, hundreds or even thousands of PCs is more laborious than you probably realize. And with so many other companies scrambling to do the same toward the end of the year, IT providers are likely to get bogged down with service requests.

Instead of putting it off to the last minute and potentially leaving yourself vulnerable, contact your IT provider as soon as possible to initiate the upgrade process. You’ll leave yourself ample time to iron out any issues as they arise without the added pressure of an imminent deadline.

When your business is on the line, it just doesn’t make sense to delay. Don’t risk losing everything you’ve worked so hard to build. Make preparations to leave Windows 7 behind today!

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Are YOU Prepared For The End Of Windows 7?

On January 14, 2020, the world will bid a fond farewell to the beloved Windows 7 operating system. Well, sort of. Microsoft has declared that, after that date, it will no longer update or support the system. It’s the final nail in the coffin for a trustworthy, oft-touted software package that’s been running on fumes since newer versions hit the scene. And, as with any funeral, there are some arrangements to be made for the millions of businesses that have stuck it out to the end. Here’s everything you need to know about the coming changes – and what you should do now to prepare.

The End Of An Era

The news of Microsoft closing down Windows 7 support may come as a surprise to some of us, but the operating system has been on its last legs for a while. In fact, Microsoft stopped adding new features and honoring warranties for the platform back in 2015. When 2020 comes, it will cease releasing patches and updates for good.

This doesn’t mean that Windows 7 PCs will suddenly stop working in January; you’ll still be able to boot up in the operating system if you keep it installed. But if you value your privacy, your data and your sanity, it’s time to upgrade.

Those Microsoft updates that pop up from time to time don’t exist just to annoy you; they patch security vulnerabilities and protect you against new viruses and malware. Without that ongoing support, Windows 7 users will become fish in a barrel to sophisticated cybercriminals looking for a quick buck.

That’s why it’s essential that you call in the professionals to prepare your business for the switch to Windows 10 – or an alternative operating system – now, not later.

It’s A Requirement, Not A Choice

Upgrading your operating system well in advance of the Windows 7 end-of-life date may seem like a decision you should make for your peace of mind, but it’s even more critical than that. Of course, as time leaves Windows 7 behind, it’s certain that pieces of software will steadily become incompatible with the OS. Programs your company uses day-to-day suddenly becoming unusable will present serious headaches, but the real problem lies in the security of your network.

Windows developers are in a constant arms race with cybercriminals looking to exploit vulnerabilities in their platform. Each patch brings a host of bug fixes and security upgrades, but cybercriminals almost always find a new way in. Thus, the developers hastily put together a new patch, and the cycle continues.

When an operating system loses support from these developers, its users are left completely vulnerable to hackers. Like maggots drawn to rotting meat, they flock to the abandoned platform and dig into the networks of those stubbornly clinging to the outdated OS. This process is expected to be especially nasty after Windows 7’s end of life, since so many businesses still use the OS and likely will forget (or refuse) to upgrade.

If you value your business at all, it’s not a choice. You need to upgrade before time runs out.

Avoid The Crunch

Not only should you enlist your IT experts to facilitate the upgrade, but you should do it ASAP. As the clock ticks down on Windows 7, tech companies are expecting a flood of upgrade requests as businesses scramble to leave the OS behind before it’s too late. Many of these IT providers will have a lot on their plate later in the year as they hurry to upgrade hundreds, if not thousands, of individual PCs. If you wait it out, you’re likely to find yourself at the back of a long, long line, potentially to the point that you breeze past January 14 without a solution. If you do, you’re almost certain to regret it.

Every day, the need for an upgrade becomes more urgent. Give the task the ample time required, and avoid needless stress. Reach out to your IT provider and ask them to start the upgrade process today.

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What Managed IT Services Is And Why You Should Demand It From Your IT Services Company

In today’s constantly shifting technological landscape, where fresh viruses and the new security patches designed to protect against them arrive by the week, it takes a proactive approach to stay abreast of all the changes. This is why, in 2019, more small to midsize businesses (SMBs) are ditching their outdated break-fix strategies and making the switch to a managed services provider (MSP) for their IT needs. But for those of us still coming to terms with the new rapid-fire reality of business in the digital age, it can be difficult to determine which approach is right for your organization, or even what a managed services provider actually does. Here’s a breakdown of the managed services strategy versus the traditional breakfix approach and how it applies to your business.

MANAGED SERVICES ARE DESIGNED FOR UP-TO-THE-MINUTE IT UPKEEP.

Maintaining the integrity, efficiency and security of your business network is a little like taking care of your car. You don’t buy the equipment with the expectation that it’ll be good to go forever; you know that it’ll take regular upkeep to stay in tip-top shape. For a car, of course, that means regular oil changes, rotating the tires, checking the alignment, checking and replacing the fluids, ensuring adequate tire pressure, changing your spark plugs, flushing the transmission – the list goes on and on. If you don’t bother with basic preventative maintenance of your vehicle, it’ll fail you sooner rather than later. We’re guessing most of our readers wouldn’t drive 20,000 miles without checking the oil, for instance. Many of these tasks can be taken care of with some savvy and time investment, but others require the expertise of a seasoned professional, especially when serious problems arise.

“You don’t buy the equipment with the expectation that it’ll be good to go forever; you know that it’ll take regular upkeep … “

It’s the same with your network. Business technology is notoriously finicky. It’ll work perfectly for months and, in rare cases, for years – until suddenly it doesn’t, at which point it’s likely too late. Suddenly all your data is locked down behind some nasty new ransomware, or your server decided to give up the ghost without warning, leaving key customer information swinging in the wind. We constantly hear about Fortune 500 companies shelling out millions for highprofile data breaches, but when these attacks come to SMBs, they often fold the company completely. What was once a thriving small business is now an empty storefront, buried under the never-ending progress of modern technology.

The old break-fix approach to IT management attempts to address the digital risks facing SMBs only after problems arise. Is your server down? Is malware giving you a headache? Is your e-mail not working for some reason? If so, they’re on the scene. Otherwise, they’re hands-off. The idea behind this strategy is the classic adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Business owners look to cut costs on IT by only addressing the most serious technological crises after they’ve already happened, rather than shelling out funds for regular preventative maintenance.

Unfortunately, just like how this approach doesn’t make sense in the context of your car, it certainly doesn’t make sense for your network. A break-fix strategy can save money in the short term, sure, but it results in more network downtime, a much higher frequency of issues and a ton of dollars spent on damage control down the line.

Instead, you should demand that the IT professionals responsible for the backbone of your business provide managed services. This means they’re in the guts of your network every day, mastering and locking down every aspect of your technology long before anything goes wrong. They’ll detect issues before they cost you money and fix them without hesitation. You might balk at the initial subscription fee, but if you run the numbers, you’ll quickly see how much money it will save you in the long run.

An investment in an MSP is an investment in the future of your business. You wouldn’t drive your car mindlessly until it breaks down; it’s arguably even more dangerous to do the same with your network. Take a proactive approach, demand managed services and breathe a sigh of relief knowing your network is in the hands of professionals well-versed in the ins and outs of your business’s specific needs.

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4 Deadly Mistakes You’re Making With IT Security

For something so instrumental to the success of your business, technology can be an incredibly unstable, confusing and ever-changing tool. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on the latest cyber security trend, hackers find a way to circumvent the process completely. A new patch arrives for an essential piece of software, and the next day, another patch is required to repair the vulnerabilities the previous patch created. It can seem impossible to stay on top of the constant technological arms race, much less stay relevant amid the exponentially increasing pace.

Today, more and more businesses are switching over to a managed services model for their IT needs. A managed services provider is a company that partners with businesses to proactively manage their networks inside and out. With MSPs, you get a full team of professionals who become intimately acquainted with the entirety of your IT structure, not only ensuring that problems are fixed long before they hit your bottom line but offering recommendations and tweaks to optimize processes and save time, money and headaches down the line.

By leaving your network up to an organization that takes the old break-fix approach, you’re leaving the health of your entire business up to chance. Here are four ways the adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is putting the security of your company in jeopardy.

1. YOU’RE BASICALLY PRAYING NOTHING EVER GOES WRONG.

The break-fix approach is pretty self-explanatory. The thinking goes that instead of shelling out a monthly fee for daily management of your network, you only pay your IT partners when a problem needs to be addressed. Typically, they’re almost entirely hands-off until something goes wrong.

Certainly, this strategy saves money in the short term, but it will invariably come back to bite you in the long term. Hiring a break-fix IT company is a bit like opting for the lowest level of insurance coverage. You may not fret about it now, but you definitely will when an accident happens and you’re forced to pour thousands of dollars into repairs. And sadly, the threat of your business being hacked is actually greater than the chances you’ll be in a serious car accident!

“… you’re leaving the health of your entire business up to chance.”

2. YOU’RE LEAVING HOLES IN YOUR DEFENSES.

Today’s tech world is a constant game of whacka- mole, with security experts frantically hammering down on every digital threat that rears its ugly head. For the entirety of your security structure to be equipped with the latest and greatest, it takes a team of genuine experts keeping an eye on your systems and ensuring everything is up to snuff. With a break-fix approach, it’s likely you don’t detect flaws in your system until long after they’ve already been exploited, costing you dearly. And it’s important to remember that every data breach has the potential to be utterly catastrophic, doing so much damage that it can close down your business for good. Better to stay one step ahead with an MSP by your side.

3. YOU’RE OPENING YOURSELF UP TO COSTLY SERVER DOWNTIME.

When the very survival of your business depends upon staying online and serving your customers, every minute your network is down – your assets are locked down behind ransomware or your tech is fried to the point that you’re at a standstill – is a minute that you cannot afford. According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime is a whopping $5,600 per minute, and that doesn’t even factor in disgruntled clients or missed communications.

The top priority of your IT infrastructure should be to prevent downtime from ever occurring, not to minimize the amount of downtime you suffer when something goes wrong.

4. YOU AREN’T OPERATING AT PEAK EFFICIENCY

One of the most insidious costs of the break-fix approach doesn’t have anything to do with your network breaking down. It chips away at your bottom line gradually and silently, without causing much of a fuss.

Without a proactive eye on your systems, chances are you aren’t implementing the processes and software that keep everything working at its highest potential. You’ll be using clunky workarounds to simple problems without even realizing you’re doing it. The seconds you waste on Internet bottlenecks will add up over time, especially when multiplied by your entire company.

The fact is, the break-fix model of doing business is, ironically, broken. Consider partnering with an MSP and invest in the long-term future of your company.

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3 Ways Your Employees Will Invite Hackers Into Your Network … And What You Must Do To Prevent It TODAY

No matter how professional they are, members of your team – yourself included – are going to make mistakes. It’s true of every organization on earth. They’ll spill scalding coffee into the company copier. They’ll work overtime until the office is empty, then head home without thinking to arm the security system. They’ll neglect key accounts, muck up workflows and waste hours developing convoluted solutions to simple problems. And, worst of all, they may unknowingly bumble into the cyber-attack that forces your business to go belly-up for good.

In the majority of cases, that will be by design. There’s a saying in the cyber security industry, coined by renowned cryptographer Bruce Schneier: “Only amateurs attack machines; professionals target people.” When it comes to repeating the same process safely and autonomously, machines are less fallible than the average person sitting at a desk. Savvy hackers looking to boost funds from unsuspecting small businesses know this. So instead of developing a complex program that dances around the security measures baked into sophisticated modern technology, they target the hapless folks on the other side of the screen.

The strategy works disturbingly well. According to IBM’s 2018 X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, more than two-thirds of company records compromised in 2017 were due to what they call “inadvertent insiders” – employees who left the front door wide-open for the bad guys without even realizing it. Negligence, lack of awareness and sheer bad luck put the best-laid plans to shame on both sides.

But how does it happen? There are three primary causes of employee-related breaches, each of them contributing to a sizable portion of hacks across the country.

1. SOCIAL ENGINEERING

Phishing remains one of the most prominent strategies deployed by hackers to lift data from small and midsize businesses. The majority of these attacks stem from an employee clicking on a suspicious link that is embedded in a dubious or absolutely convincing e-mail. To lure your team into the trap, cybercriminals often use data gathered from cursory investigations of your organization from the Internet or social media. Maybe they pose as a security expert contracting with your company or a member of a customer support team behind one of your employees’ personal devices. Whatever mask they wear, it doesn’t take much to convince an uninformed individual to click on anything at all, resulting in a high success rate for phishing attacks.

2.CIRCUMVENTED OR INCORRECTLY IMPLEMENTED SECURITY MEASURES

Even if you do everything you can to protect your business from digital attack, your team may just dodge those measures anyway. According to a report by cyber security firm Dtex Systems, around 95% of companies have employees who will attempt to override previously implemented security processes. And that’s if the security measures are configured, patched and installed properly in the first place. The IBM X-Force report lists “misconfigured cloud servers and networked backup incidents” among the chief concerns of last year.

“Negligence, lack of awareness and sheer bad luck put the best-laid plans to shame on both sides.”

3. INSIDERS WITH MALICIOUS INTENT

Hell hath no fury like an employee scorned. A strikingly large number of breaches come not from error at all, but from insidious tactics by disgruntled employees or undercover criminals looking to make a quick buck. It’s not quite a “you can’t trust anyone” scenario, but there are definitely folks out there who would sell your business right out from under your nose.

With each of these in mind, it’s vital that you incorporate extensive employee training and vetting protocols to maximize their cyber security know-how. In addition, you need to implement safe practices that reduce the room for human error, alert employees when something is amiss and protect them from the worst.

We can help. It’s difficult to overhaul your cyber security, especially on the people side, without a round-the-clock team dedicated to pinpointing the weaknesses in your organization and working to patch them up. In 2019, human error is poised to take an even more central role on the stage of digital crime. Don’t leave it up to chance.

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The #1 Mistake Your Employees Are Making Today That Lets Cybercriminals Into Your Network

In the wake of unprecedented rates of digital crime, with the cost and frequency of data breaches constantly skyrocketing year after year, companies all over the world have been forced to scramble for solutions. There’s an arms race running behind the scenes of every piece of technology we use in business today, as cyber security companies shore up their clients’ defenses against increasingly sophisticated digital threats. Billions of dollars are now poured into batting away would-be intruders from the most precious assets on global networks: most of the money directed toward the software that keeps everything afloat, just out of reach of the bad guys.

But even as each day brings a new technological apex for security solutions, data breaches continue. Despite the fact that the tools hackers use to make money are more or less the same as they were three years ago, nobody seems to question why companies are still being hacked at record levels. It’s easy to imagine a crack team of infamous hackers hammering away at a keyboard into the late hours of the night, feverishly computing the one piece of code that will break them into a system.

This may be the process behind the high-profile breaches you read about in the news each week, but in reality, most cybercrime takes much less effort. The average hack succeeds not because of overt vulnerabilities in the structure of business networks, but because of a mistake made by you or your employees. According to IBM’s X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, more than two-thirds of breaches arise from what they call “inadvertent insiders,” folks who accidentally left the network vulnerable from one action or another without even realizing it.

Most of the human error that becomes the root cause of catastrophe can be traced back to phishing. A criminal spends some time researching your organization, maybe learning a bit about an employee or two, and decides to masquerade as someone worthy of trust either within your team or from a company you contract with, or just a stock person offering something pretty much everybody wants. They mock up a somewhat convincing e-mail and send it off to 10 people within your business. Somebody clicks the included link without thinking, and there you go – you’ve got ransomware. If you haven’t backed up your data, you’re looking at a hefty fee to get everything back, if they even give it back at all.

In other cases, your team may actively duck around your previously implemented security measures or avoid the procedures you’ve put in place to keep the business safe. That can mean visiting unsavory websites, ignoring a vital security patch or another minor transgression. But when every mistake spells a potentially massive vulnerability, you can’t afford people who aren’t conducting business to the highest standards in cyber security.

Regardless of how it happens, most hacks occur because employees just don’t know better. Even in 2019, when cybercrime runs rampant and virtually everyone is constantly at risk on the Internet, most of us just aren’t well-versed in ways to protect ourselves, much less the companies we work for.

“Somebody clicks the included link without thinking, and there you go — you’ve got ransomware.”

The good news is that this problem is pretty easy to prevent through education. To keep everyone abreast of the latest threats to their livelihood, it takes a thorough set of rules, guidelines and general savvy to steer them through the troubled waters of modern cyberspace.

Of course, this will take more than a 30-minute crash course in the break room one afternoon. It’ll take a concerted effort and dedicated resources. Luckily, we can help. With a trusted partner dedicated not only to keeping your organization protected from the latest digital threats, but to keeping your employees alert and ready to spot anything phishy, you drastically decrease the chances of your business becoming another statistic in the war on cybercrime. Work with us and secure the future of your company for the long haul.

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