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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Why Your Business Is The PERFECT Target For Hackers Is Your Protection Up To Date?

People never think it’ll happen to them. Sure, they see the reports – 50 million-plus bundles of user data compromised by a Facebook breach; the billing information of more than 2 million T-Mobile users hacked by a mysterious malicious entity – but companies like those are massive, monolithic entities in American commerce. They’re decidedly big fish, not like you and your small business. According to a recent JLT-Harvard Business Analytic Services survey, more than half of small business owners remain locked into this line of magical thinking, blissfully unaware of the threat cyber crime poses to the health of their organization.

We hate to burst the bubble of the happy-go-lucky majority, but the reality is that this optimistic attitude just does not square with the statistics. The incidents may not make the news, but small businesses are being targeted – and breached – by hackers at an astounding rate. In fact, the National Cyber Security Alliance reports that close to half of small businesses have experienced a cyberattack and that 60 percent of the companies that succumb to one of these attacks folds completely within six months. They state that instead of zeroing in on Fortune 500 corporations, hackers actually prefer to swoop in on the little guy, with 70 percent of cybercriminals specifically targeting small businesses.

Yet according to a Paychex survey, 68 percent of small business leaders aren’t worried about cyber security despite data from Hiscox indicating that more than seven out of ten small businesses are woefully unprepared for a breach.

Of course, it’s understandable that the average small business owner shirks their cyber security responsibilities. It’s the kind of problem that’s so complicated that it’s tempting to sweep it under the rug. As breach tactics become more sophisticated, so do the softwares and methodologies designed to keep out criminals. In a world far removed from the days when buying a product and installing it into your network was enough, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the complexity and breakneck pace of advancing cyber security best practices. Our biases make the possibility of a hack seem remote, while our limited resources make the cost of protection appear too high to even consider.

The first step to getting savvy in 2019 is to accept that cyber-attack isn’t some unlikely crisis, but a virtual inevitability. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but leaving it to chance is like flipping a coin where a “tails” outcome results in your business shuttering for good.

Luckily, though an attempted hack is almost guaranteed, there are dozens of steps you can take to prevent it from doing any damage. Chief among these should be to find a managed service provider (MSP) with a long background in protecting against hacker threats to take the reins on your cyber security as quickly as you can. It’s important when auditing your internal security measures that you regularly get an outside opinion from a trusted source, in order to cover all your bases. Your internal IT departments assurances that “they’ve got it covered” are certainly reassuring, but to truly patch all the holes in your security barriers, you’ll need more eyes on the problem. You might imagine that such a partnership must be prohibitively expensive, but they’re typically more reasonable than you might think. Not to mention that when the very survival of your business is on the line, it just makes sense to budget accordingly.

The statistics paint a picture of small business owners as underprepared, unaware, and disturbingly vulnerable to the whims of cybercriminals hiding just out of view. Don’t be another one of the millions of small business owners forced to shell out thousands as a consequence of wishful thinking. Wake up to the dangers of 2019, arm yourself against them, and secure the future of the business you’ve worked so hard to build.

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Sneaky Ways Cybercriminals Access Your Network And What You Can Do To Prevent It TODAY

Hackers prefer the little guy. The high-profile data breaches you read about in the news — your Facebooks and Equifaxes and T-Mobiles — are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the digital crimes being perpetrated day after day, especially against small businesses. Today, according to a report by the National Cyber Security Alliance, 70 percent of hackers specifically target small businesses. Attracted by the prospect of easy money, they search for those organizations who underspend on protection, who have employees untrained to spot security risks, and who subscribe to woefully out-of-date practices to protect their data. As a result, more than 50 percent of small businesses have been hacked, while 60 percent of companies breached are forced to close their doors within six months.

Most business owners have no idea the danger they’re putting their livelihood in by leaving cyber security up to chance. According to a survey conducted by Paychex, 68 percent of small-business owners aren’t concerned about their current cyber security standards, despite the fact that around 70 percent of them aren’t adequately protected. In the face of an imminent, global threat to the very existence of small businesses everywhere, most CEOs offer up a collective shrug.

The tactics and software available to hackers become more sophisticated by the day, but with so many unwitting victims, most criminals don’t even need to work that hard to net a six-figure income. By sticking to two tried-and-tested tools of the trade — phishing, ransomware and the subtle art of guessing users’ passwords — they leech comfortably off the earnest efforts of small businesses all over the world.

So, what’s to be done? Well, first things first: You need to educate yourself and your team. Protect your organization against phishing by fostering a healthy skepticism of any email that enters your inbox. Make it a habit of hovering over hyperlinks to check their actual destination before you click. If an email is coming from someone you know, but the email address is different, verify it with the other party. And never, ever send passwords or personal details to anyone over the internet if you can avoid it.

Speaking of passwords, you probably need to upgrade yours. The majority of folks use the same password for everything from their Facebook account to their business email. The fact that this includes your employees should make you shudder. It may not seem like a big deal — who’s going to take the time to guess SoCcErMoM666? — but aside from the fact that simple software enables hackers to guess even complicated passwords in minutes, that’s not even usually necessary. Instead, they can just look at the data dumps from a recent more high-profile breach — think the Equifax fiasco — pull your old website from there and type it into whatever profile they want to access. If you keep all your passwords the same across sites, it won’t take them long to dig into your most precious assets. To avoid this, implement a strict set of password regulations for your business, preferably incorporating two-factor authentication and mandatory password changes every few weeks.

Of course, you can read up on hacking techniques and teach them to your team until you’re blue in the face, and a data breach can still occur. Cybercrime is constantly evolving, and staying abreast of its breakneck pace takes a dedicated awareness of the latest protective tools and measures. That’s why your single best weapon to defend you against the hackers at your door is to find a managed service provider (MSP) with a background in defending against digital threats to partner with your organization. These companies not only regularly monitor your network, they also keep it updated with the latest patches and measures to prevent the worst. And if crisis somehow still strikes, they’ll be able to get your network back up in minutes rather than days, equipped with an expert knowledge of your systems and years of experience in the field.

In today’s digital world, leaving your cyber security up to a subpar antivirus and some wishful thinking is more than irresponsible — it’s an existential threat to your company. But with a little savvy, a bit of investment and a second opinion on the circumstances of your company’s security, you can rest easy knowing that no matter what comes, you’re protected.

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The Top 3 Lessons I Learned From Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec

For Growing A Multi-Million-Dollar Business From Rags To Riches

Today, Robert Herjavec is known as the beloved “nice judge” on ABC’s Shark Tank, but if you ask him, he thinks the descriptor “fair” is more appropriate. Whatever you call him, make no mistake: he’s one of the most shrewd and successful businesspeople of our time. Despite humble beginnings while growing up in former Yugoslavia, Herjavec managed to leverage his endless drive and acumen into a long list of multimillion-dollar business ventures, including Herjavec Group, now a global leader in IT security services.

When someone gets officially dubbed a Shark and becomes one of the most visible faces in the business world, you might expect them to lose touch a little bit. But that’s just not the case with Robert Herjavec. At a recent conference , I had the pleasure of seeing him speak. It was clear that he wasn’t just there for a paycheck. He genuinely wanted to share his wealth of knowledge with all the attendees. Here are a few key lessons Herjavec schooled us on and how they can help your business.

1. YOU’VE GOT TO SHOW UP.

Right as he took the stage, Herjavec delivered a simple but vital piece of encouragement to everyone in attendance. “I congratulate everyone for being here,” he said with a smile. “Because the key to success is you gotta show up.” Whether you’re making time for an event or just struggling to survive, “if you don’t show up, you can’t win.”

The fact is that it’s easy to get caught up in the minute-to-minute chaos of running a business. It’s just as easy to get tired out, start slipping or begin questioning why we’re trying at all. But, as Herjavec was so eager to point out, we need to bring ourselves fully to the task at hand if we hope to carve out our chunk of success. Sure, we’ll have bad days, but the more we can be present, prepared and hungry to implement our vision, the better off we’ll be.

Whether you’re making time for an event or just struggling to survive, ‘if you don’t show up, you can’t win.’

2. NOTHING HAPPENS WITHOUT SALES.

Herjavec will be the first to tell you that, starting out, he knew absolutely nothing about the sales world. By his account, he was a “geeky, technical guy” who thought that as long as he offered a great service, customers would show up. Luckily, when he was 23, his friend Ross Marsden – then global VP of sales – gave him a piece of advice that would change his life. “You’re a great guy, and you really know your stuff,” he told Herjavec. “[But] unless you learn sales, you will never be successful.”

In response, Herjavec began to learn more about sales and marketing, until he realized, “You can have the best accounting system, the best CRM [and] the best tools, but nothing happens until you sell something.” The difference between those Fortune 500 companies dominating the market and the little guys who barely eke out a living? Sales. “Sales is not a foreign object that controls what you do,” he said. “Sales is an extension of what you do.”

3. “EVERY DAY, SOMEBODY WAKES UP WITH THE SOLE INTENTION OF KICKING YOUR @SS.”

After hearing fellow Shark Mark Cuban say this during the first season of filming Shark Tank, Herjavec got it chiseled in granite above his desk. “One of the hardest things about becoming more successful is success,” he said. Because when you’re no longer that “hungry, young person looking to take on the world,” you get to a point where you’re content enough to let your life (and business) stagnate. Herjavec said, “The minute you want it to be like it is, don’t forget there’s somebody out there – like you were many years ago – who wants to take it away from you.”

The antidote to this attitude, according to Herjavec, is to keep selling, keep growing and keep pushing. “If one of your top three tasks every day isn’t ‘Sell something,’ you’re going to fail,” he said.

“It’s like a mantra in my mind: constant forward momentum.” If your company isn’t growing at least at the rate of the market, you’re losing ground. Customer service and excellent products are vital, but if you lose sight of the importance of sales, you’re bound to the path of mediocrity.

Of all the wisdom Robert Herjavec imparted on us, that was the most inspiring. It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is. Sell what you have, and stay hungry.

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The Top 3 Lessons I Learned From Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec

For Growing A Business From Scratch to Multi-Million-Dollars

Robert Herjavec was born poor in former Yugoslavia in the midst of a widespread communist reform that left little room for dissidents. He might have stayed there forever except for the fact that his father was one of these dissidents – and a vocal one at that. So much so, in fact, that he was thrown into jail 22 times for speaking out against the government. After the final time, Herjavec’s father gathered his things, his children and his wife and crossed the border into Italy. From there, he got on a boat and, like millions of immigrants just like him, made his way across the Atlantic Ocean to Canada.

But that’s not what Robert Herjavec, one of the famous investors on ABC’s Shark Tank, is known for. He’s more known for building companies out of nothing, including the massive IT security firm Herjavec Group, and turning them into multimillion-dollar successes. Watching him from the audience at a recent conference event, I was struck not only by his eagerness to share all he’s learned in the industry, but by his humility. I suppose when you’re the living embodiment of a rags-to-riches story, you gain an appreciation for exactly what it takes to realize your vision for a successful business.

Herjavec had a lot to say during his talk, but there were three points in particular that stood out for me.

1. IT ALL COMES DOWN TO SALES.

The one thing that Herjavec really wanted to hammer home with each and every one of us is the importance of sales. “Nothing happens until you sell something,” he told us. “What’s the difference between really big companies that grow and really small companies that stay the same size? Sales.”

Over the years, Herjavec has bought and sold 13 companies, and he’s learned the best approach to suss out whether a potential buy is worth it or not. One of the questions he always asks is, “How do you guys get customers? How do you guys find new business? And if the answer is anything along the lines of ‘word of mouth,’ I know these guys aren’t going anywhere.” The fact is that word of mouth is hard to control and almost impossible to scale. To truly drive the growth of your company, he says, you can’t think of sales as “a foreign object that controls what you do.” You have to see it for what it is – “an extension of what you do.”

To truly drive the growth of your company, he says, you can’t think of sales as ‘a foreign object that controls what you do.’

2. NO, REALLY – IT ALL COMES DOWN TO SALES EVERY DAY.

“Nobody in this room makes money for shuffling paper,” Herjavec said. “If one of your top three tasks every day isn’t ‘Sell something,’ you’re going to fail.” The only way to create “constant forward momentum” is by bringing in new revenue, and the only way to do that is to sell.

3. YOU CAN’T BE AFRAID TO SELL.

We all know that people in any industry are always worried about overloading themselves. “We’re struggling to serve the customers we have already,” they say. “What happens if we really do bring in a bunch of new ones?”

This line of thinking will get you nowhere. “It’s a common fallacy,” Herjavec said. “Engineers want to make it perfect before they sell it. True entrepreneurs jump out of the airplane and have the confidence that they’ll figure out the parachute on the way to the bottom.”

The key is to find your niche. Sales takes a long time to learn – years and years of trial and error. But if you can “figure out who you’re selling to,” as he put it, you’re already far ahead of your competition. Find the factor that differentiates you from the sea of similar companies, leverage your strengths and sell until you drop. That’s the path to success and, as hard as it is, there isn’t any other. Go on Shark Tank sometime and Robert Herjavec will be the first to tell you.

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